By Craig Harper
One of the many interesting things about being a life-long, single male in his early forties is people’s reactions to that single-ness (yep, a word). Everyone has an opinion on it. Depending on the person’s thinking, it can place me anywhere on the scale from ‘complete social outcast’, to ‘coolest bloke on earth’ and ‘luckiest man alive’. And elicit responses ranging from pity and ridicule, to envy and admiration. Or in the case of my mother, complete devastation. My darling mum (mom) sees me essentially as a means to a grandchild and to be honest, I have been a bitter disappointment. Sure, she wants me happily married, but what she really wants… is that kid!! And yes, she lets me know it.
I love the mentality that says “single at that age, must be something wrong with him!”
Yep, had plenty of that.
“He’s how old?.. and no woman, must have a lot of issues.”
Interesting psychology that. Yet, very common.
It’s like they have a picture in their mind of me sitting at home every night in my underwear, in a room lit by candles, eating meatloaf flavoured ice-cream from a paper plate, with my pet rat Eugene on my shoulder, my feet in one of those foot spas, a little ‘Enya’ playing in the background and some strategically placed cushions with images of my ex-girlfriends embroidered on them, lying around the room.
That’s okay right?
If I had said tuna flavoured ice-cream, now that woulda been weird.
Waddya mean the cushion thing is creepy?
We all know that married people have no issues and that if, per chance, they do enter into their matrimonial journey with a few problems, the marriage ceremony will alleviate those instantly and forever. Great how that works isn’t it?
What people think about me being single doesn’t bother me at all, but it does interest me. For some bizarre reason, my single-ness is fascinating to some. I personally don’t think it’s interesting at all, but you would be shocked by the number of people who want to interrogate me regarding my ‘lack of wife’ status, in an attempt to discover what’s wrong with me. “There’s gotta be something, it’s not normal” someone told me not too long ago. I wonder if I wasn’t single, whether people would say “so Craig, why are you married?”
Apparently, as a Personal Development speaker and writer I should be married. It’s a rule. People have suggested that my career would benefit from my extrication from the world of single-dom. Doesn’t matter if I’m happily married or not, as long as I’m married.
A woman said to me recently, “I thought someone as evolved as you, would have found your soul-mate long ago.” I actually laughed out loud at her. “Clearly, I have a way to go”, was my response. Her friend (in the same conversation) suggested that I was probably gay but didn’t know it, or want to admit it. “Oh, I’m pretty sure I’m not”, I shared. “You think you’re sure”, she said. “All the pretty girls you meet, and not one wife?” I didn’t realise ‘pretty’ was the determinant for a life partner. Missed that memo. Okay, note to self: if she’s hot, marry her. There’s my big mistake; stupidly, I’ve been looking beyond appearance. Idiot.
Apparently, my single-ness is some kind of indicator of dysfunction. That’s it, I’m gettin’ married this week. That’ll fix me. Weirdo that I am.
I would never have thought to write an article on this topic, but some people seem to be fascinated by the whole single verses married discussion and in my little world, the conversation seems regularly to be directed back towards me. Of course there is no wrong or right, only opinions, so that’s what I’m sharing. People often want to hear my thoughts on marriage because I’m single. Don’t know why.
“Do you have marriage issues”, I got asked last week. No, I love the idea of marriage and maybe I will be happily married one day, but if I don’t get married, that’s cool too. What I do have a problem with is, marrying someone who I’m not desperately, hopelessly in love with; marriage for the sake of not being single – seen it a million times.
For some people it’s like…
“Yep, he (she) ticks all the right boxes, definitely a candidate. Let’s see, money – check, good family – check, career – check, looks – check… marriage it is”
“Er, yeh but I don’t really love him.”
“Stop being unrealistic, your thirty four, your biological clock is racing, you won’t do any better.”
Over the years I have had many people say to me, “Hmm, you’d be a good catch… you need to meet my sister/daughter/cousin/girlfriend!” And their reason for saying that I’m a ‘catch’ is not because of my values, personality, integrity or all-round good-bloke-ness (a word), it’s because they see me as being moderately successful and financially secure. A safe bet.
I find that sad.
“Yes, he ticks enough boxes, put him on the list Sally.”
To me, some people seem to be more in love with the ‘idea’ of marriage than the actual person they’re marrying or are married to. I see this as a catastrophe in waiting. It’s also apparent that some people are so petrified of being single, that finding their ‘soul mate’ gets compromised down to “is he or she breathing? Wouldn’t have been my first (or tenth) choice but hey, I have limited options, so giddyup cowboy(girl), get me that ring.”
I have had literally thousands of conversations over the last three hundred years (you know I’m immortal right?) with people who are miserable in their marriage, yet amazingly, do nothing to fix it, or change the situation. For many people, marriage is something to be endured, tolerated even and of course for others, it’s the best thing that will ever happen to them.
Okay, here are some random thoughts on the matter. Feel free to correct me or teach me a lesson – I am just a single bloke…
1. I am not against marriage in any way. Most of my friends are married and I know it can be an incredible part of the human experience. Given the opportunity with the right person, I would love to share my life with someone but, I’d rather be single forever, than married for the sake of it. And yep, I’ve been close a few times.
2. I don’t believe that people need to be married to be fulfilled, functional, balanced or happy; those things are not dependant on marital status. You don’t need to be a researcher to discover that marriage doesn’t (automatically) equal happiness, just open your eyes. People seem to struggle with the thought of me being single and happy. They think I’m lying. It bothers them.
“You’re not really happy, you only think you are… you’re just trying to convince yourself.”
“Er, okay. I didn’t realise how miserable I am – thanks”.
3. Some people are so terrified of being alone that they will compromise themselves to the point of actually losing their identity. “I’ll be whatever you want me to be..” You’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve been it. Misery and frustration is always the result. It’s important (for many reasons) that we learn to be comfortable and secure on our own before we launch into a life partnership.
4. A person who really gets to know themself and is truly comfortable with their own company, will be more attractive to a potential partner.
5. Too many people enter into marriage wearing those rose coloured glasses, only to have them ripped off by about day three. They spend a year planning how to have a great wedding and zero time planning how to have a great marriage.
6. People who have that sense of urgency to get married are less likely to find marital bliss and less likely to appeal to a potential partner. Note to all wanna-be brides and grooms: Desperation – not attractive.
7. While I’m open to the idea of marriage, and I would love a little Craig or Craigette one day, I love my life right now and I gotta say, singledom… not as horrible as some would have you believe!!!
Okay, now that I’ve opened that can of worms, I’ll let you play with them.
I’m off to finish my meatloaf ice-cream and revel in my dysfunction.
Hey, where’s Eugene gone?
Craig Harper (B.Ex.Sci.) is the #1 ranked Motivational Speaker by Google. He is a qualified exercise scientist, author, columnist, radio presenter, television host and owner of one of the largest personal training centres in the world. Motivational Speaker & Conference Speaker – Craig Harper