We all know one, that friend of ours who is good looking, in excellent shape, mentally stable, fun, friendly, and successful. They come to our parties and maintain witty and entertaining conversation, often know the most interesting things to do in the city, and let's face it, are a ton of fun to hang out with on the weekend. They may even be involved in a charity and all in all are an amazing package; or as I like to call them, "husband material".
And yet for all the years you have known them, they have dated occasionally, but never really found a person they wanted to settle down with and create a relationship. They don't seem to be sad or lonely and don't even seem to be bothered by being on their own. In fact, they seem to thrive in their singleness.
Sometimes you will chat about them with your other friends and wonder who you can set them up with. Amongst all of your fabulous friends there must be someone that would be a good match for them. It's as if they are such an anomaly that their life choice causes a tiny bit of discomfort in the back of your brain.
What if we were all wrong and they are actually completely happy exactly as they are? What if they are so content with who they are and the life they have created that they don't need our well-intentioned concern? And why does someone else's commitment to eternal bachelorhood bother us?
Some of the answers to these questions may lie in our attachment to what is considered the socially expected path in life, especially these days when marriage is a viable option for gay men. This message that being in relationship is the expected path is a constant conversation in the world around us. The social construct that is supported by popular social media, movies, books, and television is that everyone should be in a relationship and if they are not, there is something woefully wrong with them.
This is the life path story that we have witnessed since we were small children, and even as gay men it was sold to us. Finding a good job, buying a house and being in a relationship where injected in to our brains as the pinnacle of success. Notice how much value we give to men in long-term relationships and even the joke that one-year in a gay relationship is equal to seven years of a straight relationship. Sitcoms sold us the idea that relationships were the place to be and every obstacle could be overcome in twenty two minutes, romantic comedies always ended with the star crossed lovers getting together, and so many articles in the media, both gay and straight, encourage men to get their acts together and get settled down in a stable relationship.
I want to suggest that we need to shake off that media barrage and learn to appreciate and love our gay bachelor brothers for exactly who they are. Amazing, intelligent people who have the opportunity to share their lives with us and help us to grow in our own belief systems. Rather than seeing them as an oddity or a damaged person who needs our guidance to help them find the right man, let's create an environment where they feel supported and loved by the people in their lives.
When the party conversation turns to "How do we help/set-up so and so?" why not stop the conversation in its track and suggest that they seem content just the way they are. Become a champion for their life story and encourage your other friends to let go of the "less than" image they have built up about this person who has chosen not to be in a relationship.
Even a well-meaning conversation built on the theme of "Tell me why you've chosen to be single?" has a pejorative tone to it, which supports the dominant story that everyone should be in a relationship. Instead, celebrate them for exactly who they are and express interest in their day-to-day discoveries and adventures.
And if you are one of those amazing gay bachelors and you are reading this article, I respect your decision and celebrate the journey of your life.