I like to read foreign newspapers on-line. They give me different points of view. In the Sunday (London) Times, reporter Joseph Dunn wrote, “There comes a point in every adult’s life when he or she must check out of Guyland…This is the place in a man’s life when he lives singly and without responsibility. It’s also known as bachelorhood and the age at which he should make his way to the departure gate is 35.
“This is when a man should start thinking about finding a good woman and settling down. The reward for doing so is a life of simple bliss, where he lives longer and happier, snuggled up in the warm embrace of a loving relationship.”
Hmmmm…despite the value of “growing up” and – at some point – becoming an adult (a good thing), I found this kind of rigid life planning to be pretty outmoded. Does it apply to us LGBTers?
In recent years there has been a huge focus on the LGBT community coupling up, settling down, getting married (when we can) and raising families. But what about all us single people?
Every year, as traditionally-oriented “Family Holidays” approach, many of my single clients tell me that it’s so hard to be single and happy, especially during traditional holidays. It’s as if these days – Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day – are set up for couples to sail through with ease while the rest of us barely hold on to our self-esteem…single and alone.
At present, a lot of LGBT media encourages us to envision same-sex marriage as the ultimate LGBT achievement. In this way, we were encouraged to think like straight folks: single is okay until “a certain age”, then you need to “grow up” and “settle down” like the heterosexuals do.
God forbid you are over 40, 50 or 60 and not “married”: Like many of you, I worked for the OPTION to marry. But is marriage and coupledom the best outcome for all? Can’t we be single and just as happy, if not happier?
Traditional logic claims that if we continue walking single file, we will – eventually – be suicidally unhappy and statistically more likely to be heading for an early grave. We will drink more, do more drugs and slowly fall apart.
I don’t buy it. From the workshops I’ve facilitated with “the 50 and over club”, my illusions of someday being “sad, old and alone” have been shattered.
Many of these men and women are partnered, but many are happily single…having created lives for themselves full of friends, love, activities they enjoy and – yes – sex! They may love their homes and gardens or they may be like one 78-year-old bisexual woman: traveling the world and having lots of adventures (including a juicy, fulfilling erotic life).
Marriage can be a wonderful thing, but let’s not get sucked into the illusion of marriage as “security”. Coupledom is no solution to our fears of loneliness, alientation, lack of direction and motivation.
We may falsely believe that if we are married, our life will be easier. Well, in some ways it may, but in many ways it’s likely to be more complicated, confusing and emotionally volatile. You may have someone to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with, but what of the drama that goes on behind the scenes as you decide where to go, whose friends you will have to miss this year and how can you stand your partner’s awful brother for the next 3 days?
It’s a trade-off: many of my single clients crave to “wake up with someone wonderful”, while my married clients often wish for “a good night’s sleep without her/his snoring and tossing and turning”. Single people are afraid of being lonely and alone. Married people fear feeling alone and not appreciated in their marriage. Ultimately, we’ve all got the same “demons”, single or not…having the illusion that marriage (or singledom) will solve them is a set-up for suffering. For every happily single client who tells me, “I genuinely pity most of my married friends…they’re trapped, bored and frustrated”, I have a married client who says, “I feel so sorry for my single friends…they’re so lonely, scared and insecure.”
And what about all that stuff about single folks dying early?. Maybe they do, but if you dig into the research, it has more to do with smoking, drinking and diet than marital status. And if you can keep these things under control, maybe you too can be single and love yourself (in a non-Narcissistic way, of course).