The Single Life
- While hanging out with friends at a trendy sports bar, one of my boys mentioned his desire to hook up with a young lady he'd met a few weeks before. He talked about her witty personality, her love for the Indianapolis Colts, and how her sex appeal was like nothing he'd ever experienced.
I was curious about his intentions (since I know how he is) and I asked if he planned to start something serious with her. His response was: "Yes--I 'seriously' want to see her naked."
I chuckled a bit too. But I began to wonder why a 35-year old man, who has a great job, good health and maintains a fairly even temperament, would still be chasing skirts rather than focusing on a meaningful relationship and marriage.
That's when I realized that we (guys) embrace our singleness while many of our female counterparts do not. The trials of the independent woman
have been well documented over the years, and most sistas I know are still fighting that battle.
Men, however, relish the benefits of being single. We don't possess the social or psychological thirst for long-term relationships like women. Men want to be married, but we also want the benefits of singlehood. This is exactly why men get married and block off part of the house and call it a "man-room." I've seen men build additions onto their houses, or convert attics and garages into solitudes of manliness. With a choice of movies, gameware, food and alcohol, these man-spaces are a symbolic step back into the single life.
So what is it that makes the single life so enjoyable for men? And why do women eagerly give up their independence in the name of love?
The idea of being permanently and legally attached to another human being is a mind-rattling concept for men. Rather than meditate on the lifelong growth, support, love and companionship we will receive, men often think about the loss of freedom a relationship brings. For many guys, being locked down to one woman is scary. What if she nags too much? What if she tries to change me? What happens when I want to look at, and be with other women? Questions like these permeate the minds of men and may push them to choose the single life over married life.
Some psychologists believe that men are socialized to crave several women. Sowing our oats; playing the field; testing the waters. We've all heard the cliches. And sadly, we play the game with our double standards, an increasing divorce rate, and a ridiculous number of fatherless children. Entertainment and media contribute to the problem with its one guy/multiple girl music videos, and misogynistic themes that encourage boys to label women as objects.
The problem with this lifestyle is its direct contradiction to the institution of marriage. For men who crave the single life, being married means never again having the alternative to be with different women. It also establishes a bond that you can't simply walk away from when things don't go as planned.
A man's desire to have multiple options can arguably be traced back to our African ancestry. Polygamy (a marriage in which one man has two or more wives) existed all over Africa as part of culture and religion. These marriages have been more common than not throughout the history of Africa. Many African societies saw children as a form of wealth. Thus, polygamy was part of empire building and it was taught as a way of life. It was only during the colonial era, when polygamist ideals conflicted with European interests, that plural marriages were perceived as taboo.
Let's not forget about black women though. Many sistas enjoy the single life too. Most of them will tell you that they love hanging out with their girlfriends and appreciate the joys of dating different men. No strings attached dinners, movies, traveling, and companionship can be a pleasant experience. But most black women, unlike black men, prefer to be in a meaningful relationship that eventually leads to a bouquet being carried down an aisle.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 96.6 million Americans 18 and older were single in 2009. Of those, 53% were women. And I'd be willing to bet that most of the 53% would rather be in a long-term relationship.
Recent data also shows 88 unmarried men age 18 and older for every 100 unmarried women in the U.S. It's no wonder the single, independent woman is having such a hard time finding something she truly desires. Not only are there fewer men overall, but there are fewer single men to match up with. The situation is even bleaker for our sistas since many single men--like my boy at the bar--aren't breaking any speed limits to track down single women and start relationships.
But maybe this is what happens when you mix people who desire to be in relationships (women) with people who could go either way (men).
Maybe somebody should document all of this singleness (men) and undesired singleness (women)? What about a "singles day," or "singles week" where bachelors can think about how much longer they want to be single, and unattached women can show them what they're missing?
Actually, such a thing already exists. "National Singles Week" was started by the Buckeye Singles Council in Ohio in the 1980s to celebrate single life and recognize singles and their contributions to society. The week is now widely observed during the third full week of September (Sept. 19-25 in 2010) as "Unmarried and Single Americans Week," an acknowledgment that many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word "single" because they are parents, or have partners.
Whether a man uses the term "unmarried" or "single," the fact remains that he is unattached. Those who study our African ancestry and research specific biblical passages will argue that there's a natural tendency to desire more than one woman. But even while allowing polygamy in the Old Testament, the Bible presents monogamy as the policy which most resembles God's plan for marriage.
Men shouldn't make the mistake of believing that their enjoyment of the single life, and being sexually attracted to women, is indicative of a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship. It simply isn't true. Wanting to hang out with the boys, or gaze at beautiful women doesn't mean you're incapable of committing to one woman. It just means you're a guy.
We never get tired of fantasizing about women. But at some point, most of us realize the "grass is greener" mentality fails horribly. Still, some men (like my boy) are convinced that they're missing out on something if they settle down with one woman.
I think I'll have a serious talk with my friend to see where his confidence level is. He's told me in the past that he wants to be married (eventually), and there are so many women to choose from--approximately 53% (or 51.5 million) of them.