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December 13, 2005 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Is bachelorhood socially acceptable?

I'm 28 and coming up on the anniversary of the end of a long, disasterous relationship and I find myself not missing relationships at all. I haven't felt lonely or longed for someone to "really get me". I guess I'd say the experience has been like quitting smoking (which I also did recently). I have the odd craving but to call it momentary overstates it considerably. I really don't think I'm bitter either.

For most of my life I thought the words "confirmed bachelor" just meant gay. I mean, isn't that what Batman was all about?

Anyway, has anyone else come to the same conclusions I have? Has your bachelor status affected your social standing? Have your friends started to treat you like an incorrigible sitcom character? Am I a freak? Romantic Sociopath? Nietzschean Superman?
posted by SinisterPurpose to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"confirmed bachelor": SinisterPurpose, for crying out loud, you are *twenty eight years old*. If anything screams confirmation, it's your youth!

By the by: my most significant and long-standing relationships began when I was least expecting to start a relationship - so consider yourself warned ;)
posted by seawallrunner at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

From wikipedia:
In literature during the Victorian era, the term was sometimes used as a euphemism for a homosexual man (particularly in the phrase "confirmed bachelor").
posted by agropyron at 8:44 AM on December 13, 2005

Of course it's socially acceptable. I'm a bachelor (at 34, and straight) and while I haven't committed myself to staying that way, I'm not really looking for a wife. I date a fair bit, and sometimes that leads to relationships. Eventually I might meet someone whom I'd like to marry (actually, there have been one or two in the past that came close, but these things don't always work out).

Many of my friends have got married, and I stay friends with those that don't move into the suburbs or do something equally heinous. Some of my married friends (and, god, my parents) think it's time I settled down with someone, but most of them leave me alone.

There's also the reality of divorce: by the time I'm 40, a lot of the people who got married at 25 will be single again, and we'll all be in the same boat - except that I'll have more practice at being single, and they'll have alimony.
posted by flipper at 8:52 AM on December 13, 2005

Prepare yourself for obnoxious relatives. I'm twenty-three, and I still get the barrage of "So who're you dating?" "No one." "....oh."

And God help you if you don't want to have kids.

Socially, I don't think it's impacted me - my friends are good about not making me the fifth wheel, it's not keeping me from jobs or anything. The most annoying part will probably be relatives who don't understand why you're not constantly on the pootie-tang hunt.

*cough* Not that I'm bitter.
posted by kalimac at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2005

Heh, sorry, coffee's still hitting. Replace "pootie-tang" with "wife", since bachelorhood doesn't require chastity :)
posted by kalimac at 8:54 AM on December 13, 2005

Well not that we've got the obligatory "your either young or gay jokes out of the way....
posted by SinisterPurpose at 9:04 AM on December 13, 2005

My dad has basically resigned himself to not having grandchildren because both my sister and I are still single in our late 30s and not really dating seriously. Of course it's still possible one or the other of us will spawn, but my dad believes he's going to die any day now. He's more worried about me not going to church than not being married, though.
posted by kindall at 9:05 AM on December 13, 2005

I forgot to add that my other relatives don't talk about it and I've never caught any flak from any of my friends either.
posted by kindall at 9:06 AM on December 13, 2005

If you don't make a big deal out of it (i.e., public or semi-public proclamations, vows, proselytizing, or rants) chances are no one else will. The older I get the more I come to appreciate the value of flying under the radar and being quietly effective and contented with one's own choices — and open to other possibilities.
posted by orange swan at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2005

I just turned 45, a bachelor, straight, and in my experience, no one really cares either way. It hasn't impacted my social life. I get the occasional who are you dating questions, but for the most part my family has given up on the whole 'settling down and having kids' question.
Life is for enjoying, and ignoring the labels they'd want to place on you. The labels are for their convenience, and shouldn't have any bearing on who you are, who you want to be.

If you're a bachelor, you're a bachelor.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by willmize at 9:15 AM on December 13, 2005

I've only just come into a proper serious relationship at the age of 31, and it's amazing/ridiculous how suddenly I'm far more popular with my friends. Beforehand, I was always the slightly weird lonely single guy in the corner - now I'm part of the group.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 9:16 AM on December 13, 2005

Yeah bdb, you're on it. I've seen a friend of mine consistently have to make self depricating jokes "c'mon guys I kissed a girl once" in order to fit in. And part of me wonders if it has to be that way.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2005

Some people will act like you have a disease that might be catching. Many are more comfortable when everyone's paired off. And see singleness as something that only someone who can't get a date would choose.

Others will be okay with it. I find that the more I act unbothered by the situation, the more everybody else chills out. I'm 27 and feel more and more okay with singleness. Relationships are a lot of work and compromise.

The worst part is when one of the coupled ones starts eyeing you, or the other one suspects they are. Then you're screwed, figuratively. Maybe this is more female-specific but I doubt it. The other worst part is being set up with other singles. Nature abhors a perceived vaccuum. Pretending you're asexual and not ever talking about your dating life in front of coupled people makes it easier.
posted by Marnie at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2005

What about Condi Rice?

When noises were made early this year about her running for president, wise voices said no way would she win because of three strikes: she's black, she's single and she's a she. So if were talking presidential material, bachelorhood is not acceptable.

(Was previously, of course: Grover Cleveland.)
posted by Rash at 10:23 AM on December 13, 2005

To be honest, I think there is a sense of "if he's not/never been married by now...." At least from women. The end of that elipse would be speculation about being gay, having "commitment issues" or some other quality or flaw that would make you unfit for serious dating by women. But you don't want to date seriously, so who cares what they think?

And 29 isn't an age you hear that. Maybe if you're 29 and you've never even tried a "long-term" (ambiguous length there of course) relationship, as opposed to marriage, you'd get the same kind of stuff. Sounds like you have given it a shot, though, so you're probably safe from that, too, for now.

In general, though, I think everyone's experience differs and in the long run no one cares much what other people do. They may dish, but really they're mainly wrapped up in their own stuff.
posted by lampoil at 10:44 AM on December 13, 2005

There's nothing wrong with being a bachelor.

That said, the longer I stay married, the less I can relate to single people. It's not that I shun them or feel superior or anything; it's just that I find myself with little to talk to them about. You'd think there would be a WORLD of non-marriage things to discuss -- movies, politics, the web, etc. But though I don't generally think about it, when I'm around single people, I'm suddenly made acutely aware of how much my life centers around my marriage. So I find myself seeking out other married people for friends.

My wife and I don't have kids, and we're not planning to have any. So the same dynamic occurs there. People with kids gradually become People With Kids. And I find fewer and fewer of them in my social circle. And they seem to prefer hanging out with other people with kids -- rather than with me and my wife.

My few remaining single friends sometimes lose patience for me -- and vice versa. Many decisions I make must be made in tandem with my wife. I'm cool with that. That's what marriage is about, for me, and I like it. My wife and I are "one flesh." But my single friends get irritated when they ask me out and I say, "let me check with my wife." And I get irritated when they are less-than-understanding of this situation. Eventually, when they find a partner, they start acting exactly the same way I act now -- and I feel resentful because I'm now expected to honor their marriage when they didn't honor mine.

All of this is to say, if you want to be single and have married friends, it's fine. Just be aware and sensitive to the "cultural" differences.
posted by grumblebee at 11:06 AM on December 13, 2005

Bachelors are much more socially acceptable than bachelorettes. What's the word for an old bachelorette? Cougar. Spinster. What's the word for an old bachelor? An old Bachelor. No, I wouldn't think any less of a guy if he was single at 28 (!), since I met my bf when he was 36 and quite single. The only person who would complain would probably be your parents if they want grandkids soon.

Although men who are MUCH older than you (say late 40's or so) and are still single tend to get quite weird (up in Canada, at least) since most pedophiles fall into the 40+ single caucasian male category. Must be the cold.
posted by Sallysings at 11:32 AM on December 13, 2005

Interesting how people have to profess their straightness as others have done in this thread. Its 2006 and it really says how old fashioned someone is if being a bachellor means one is gay. But I guess that all depends on your location, lifestyle, who you hang out with, etc. Or it may just means that one is enjoying life single, as I did in my 20's and all others are jealous. I hope you are at least having lots of sex with other women while you can. Oh btw, gay and in a ltr until I can legally get married. AND come on...batman was sooo gay. :P
posted by _zed_ at 11:40 AM on December 13, 2005

I think it depends on your profession too. If you're an eccentric academic or, better still, a mathematician, no one will bat an eyelash.
posted by phrontist at 11:42 AM on December 13, 2005

It sounds like you're pretty comfortable with yourself in your current situation. That's a good place to be. Enjoy it. Why worry about what anyone else thinks?
posted by normy at 2:18 PM on December 13, 2005

You're dwelling on the problem from the perspective of other people too much. Forget what other people think you should be doing, and do whatever the flying fook you want to do. If you don't want to freakin' be in a relationship now, the grapevine can just float and sputter.

I'm 28 and have no intentions of starting any romance at the moment. My aunt recently asked me if I'd like to have kids someday, and I replied, "No way," which gave her some mild whiplash I think. She retorted, "Well, that's going to cut down your spectrum a bit," warranting a recompense, "Favorably. I'm not looking," conversation over.
posted by vanoakenfold at 2:29 PM on December 13, 2005

I don't think so, but I have neither strong family nor community ties, so there's very little pressure on me to find a permanent mate. Most of my friends are still single, some heading into their 40s, and although there seems to be more emphasis on long-term boyfriend/girlfriend status than there used to be, the subject of marriage doesn't much come up.

Then again, I've discovered recently that a surprising number of my friends were married very early in life and divorced quickly, so that might have something to do with it.
posted by Errant at 4:23 PM on December 13, 2005

Given the plethora of choices available to us today, I think it's silly of you to worry about whether or not bachleorhood is socially acceptable--particularly as a guy in your late 20s.

Generally speaking, I believe that people fall into 2 camps: those that get married soon after they've graduated and are on their way along their chosen career path because it's perhaps "time" to get married, and those that are independent and choose to settle (or not) when they're ready.

It sounds like you fall into the latter and there's really nothing wrong with that. Just be aware that as some of your friends couple off and settle down you'll probably have to find new, single friends to hang with.

(It's really funny how some of the comments in this thread remind me of Sex and the City as I just recently bought the complete series and have been watching it.)
posted by phoenixc at 5:07 PM on December 13, 2005

I went through the end of a relationship about a year ago. I have really enjoyed some periods of "me-time" during these months. And some periods of female companionship.

The "me-time" phases definitely require some explanation. It goes like this:

"dating anyone?"
"no, but that's okay..."

Although come to think of it, the dating phases require explanation too:

"dating anyone?"
"yeah, there's someone I've been seeing."
"who is she? are you in love with her? will you marry her? is she The One? when can I meet her?"

I don't personally think that anything except marriage is socially acceptable. But I don't much give a shit.
posted by scarabic at 11:22 PM on December 13, 2005

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