It’s Hard Out There For Single Men In Their 40s :(
Yesterday’s New York Times Style section had a sobering little piece about single guys (mostly straight, though two gay men were quoted as well) in their 30s and 40s who are starting to realize that a successful career won’t massage their aching, aging knees and being the last guy to leave the club is not a good look. With most of their friends already married, these greying bachelors are torn up about the future. Something is missing. Is it time to give up some of that precious freedom and entitlement to do what they want, when they want, for something more meaningful and decidedly less fun, like a relationship with someone they would actually consider marrying?
Forget asking if women can have it all, 2016 is about asking if MEN can have it all.
I know. I was on the edge of my seat too.
“Tonight I’m doing nothing,” French hairstylist Jean-Marc Choffel, 42, told the Times. All his friends have significant others and children, so there’s no one to go out and get drunk with. “I could go out, grab a girl, have sex, have fun. But the sense of life is to have kids and try to give them as much as you know. I believe in the power of the universe. I believe the day you go somewhere where you aren’t supposed to be, you end up falling in love and having babies. Definitely, I’m not giving up.”
Ahh yes, a single man who is used to doing and getting what he wants, bravely refusing to give up hope that even more is in store. It’s a tale as old as the universe itself, obviously.
But for some men, this fear of dying alone sends them “plunging … into a dark place,” because what if “all the really good girls that [they] would want to marry are taken,” as matchmaker Maria Avgitidis put it, having been snatched up by men “four years younger”?
This is where I paused to do some mental math, and quickly realized that, for a piece focused so much on age, it sure does tiptoe around making any direct reference to the age of the women these men are concerned they’ve missed out on. But with many sharing Choffel’s belief that the “sense of life is to have kids,” odds are these lonesome straight bachelors are opting to date women with plenty of child-bearing years left. And sure enough!
“I just turned 40,” Jonathan Lee told the Times. “Thinking about the math, the longer I wait to start my own family, you start to think, ‘When I consider someone to marry, I have to find someone young enough to have children. And the age difference. What’s acceptable? What’s O.K.? What doesn’t work?’ There are a lot more challenges the older you get, and I realize that now.”
Yes, I’m sure it’s very challenging to wake up one day, the hungover stench of male entitlement and vodka turning your stomach to the point where the nausea feels like loneliness, and realize that what you want is a wife and kids, and when you want it is now-ish, so to be safe, you should probably stick to dating women under 35. Or 32. Maybe 29. Twenty-seven wouldn’t be too weird, would it? Whatever. It’s challenging!!! Especially when the competition is younger too! Can’t imagine what that’s like, nope, not at all.
Allow me to ask the question the piece goes out of its way to leave unacknowledged: What about straight single women over 35 who are seeking commitment and maybe even a family? If single 30- and 40-something men are either still out at the club keeping the Pussy Posse alive or tending to their sudden desire for a more “meaningful” existence by settling down with women who are younger, where does that leave all the “really good” grown ass single women* who, FOR THE LOVE OF FUCKING GOD, just want to be treated like human beings and not costars the universe provides to enhance the stages of too many men’s glacially-paced journey towards understanding that life is more meaningful when you actually give a shit?
I found myself getting worked up about this piece despite it being fairly innocuous – it even features the nice story of 40-something guy who decided he wanted to settle down, went outside his comfort zone and ended up meeting a future wife and baby mama that my cynically-motivated Google stalking revealed is actually pretty age-appropriate. It’s not that I completely lack empathy for single men in my age range who are only now starting to crave deeper bonds; I just find it frustrating that the guys interviewed, not to mention guys I know, seem to think being emotionally available is a laborious buzzkill. It doesn’t help that trend pieces like this one talk about “meaningful” relationships and experiences as if they are things you acquire once the keg is tapped and you’ve gotten bored of playing with all the shiny objects in the room. It irritates me that even just really, truly caring about a woman poses such a threat to male freedom; that it’s seen as a burden that can’t possibly be juggled until that day arrives when they’re suddenly “mature” enough to appreciate the ways in which it benefits them.
Of course, not five minutes into their quest to have what remains of “it all,” these aging bachelors are already panicking that all the “really good girls” might be taken, especially since, heavy sigh, they’ll need to date younger too, so their seed can spread someday. And because they’re so used to doing what they want, when they want, they’re impatient as fuck about seeing results. I’m sorry, but I, as a single 36-year-old woman who has seen nearly every promising new relationship combust the millisecond I’ve even hinted at having feelings and needs of my own, I just cannot muster up the fucks needed to even raise this tiny violin to my chin, let alone play it for these sad sacks.
*Well, the good news is, there are options! While financially strenuous, women can become parents on their own, without a male costar beyond what was ejaculated into a cup. Single women can also raise children with friends or family members as part of their core support system. Of course, there are certainly single men upwards of 35 who date similarly aged single women and, if they want children down the road, are open to all manner of options for making that happen, from fostering to adoption to IVF. There are also younger men who are down to date “older” women and share a similar outlook on navigating future life stages. There are single men of all ages who don’t see “fun” and “meaningful” as mutually exclusive, thank god.