I read somewhere recently that we assume men are single by choice and women are single by force. The entire quote was really dope, but I’ve been digging through the thorns of Tumblr for ten minutes trying to find it to avail, so suffice it to say that was the main point.
The title of this post sounds like I’m about to get really angry and condemn the modern rules of dating. So let me dilute it a bit with the disclaimer that I have made a lot of the assumptions about single men vs. single women that I think too many people are guilty of. There is a lot that I could write in this post. I could talk about how single men having lots of random sex are labeled players and single women who do it are labeled whores. I could talk about how men staying single until age 50 are lifelong bachelors, but women who do it are lonely cat ladies. But, there are a host of dissertations you could probably read on either of those topics, so I won’t belabor those points.
Instead, something I’ve considered a lot recently is how men who hate being single are perceived up against their female counterparts.
I know a lot of men who are serial daters–some of whom I’ve dated and others who I just know. They jump from one relationship to the next. If they find themselves inhabiting single status, they can’t seem to survive without at least one potential interest to text at any given moment. They require a consistent source of attention (in addition to other activities) from the opposite sex.
What’s strange is that I never really considered men who serially date as being insecure, desperate or clingy. But, those are the same words we would probably sling at women who possessed those same serial dating tendencies. When men say how much they love relationships and being in love, it’s very easy to go, “Aw, he’s so sweet!” But, when a woman says that, the natural reaction is to raise our brow and feel compelled to hand her a self-esteem pamphlet. Women get out of relationships and we encourage them to take some time for themselves. Men get out of them and we don’t think twice if they are in another one six months later.
I haven’t called someone my boyfriend in four years, so for all intents and purposes, I’ve been single for that amount of time. Do not ask me about one-sided infatuations, “talking to someone” or other forms of millennial romantic connection because those don’t count. What I’ve learned during these four years is that there is an enormous difference between not liking to be single and not being able to be single. It’s one thing not to enjoy being single; I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with that. Despite the “Being single is the best thing since sliced bread” rhetoric that runs rampant, some people are just relationship people–they function better as part of a unit. (I am not one of those people, but I get it.) But, it’s another thing to not be able to gather the patience and independence required to be single.
Because, that’s pretty much what being single is about at its core–patience and independence. Most of us are made to love (cue John Legend), so I assume we believe that there is someone out there for designed for us. That’s the patience. And, the independence is obvious. You have to carry those groceries up the stairs by yourself a hell of a lot. Beyond that, you have to collect and maintain your self-esteem, your interests and your entire life independent of another important person cheering you on, challenging you or validating your choices.
Whether you are a man or a woman, I take issue with someone who requires attention from the opposite sex constantly. Attention is nice and cute and all of that other cupcake-y stuff, but it’s also sickeningly ephemeral. Usually. The same people who we have marathon text sessions with become irrelevant specks in our history. First we’re driving into them in a head-on collision and a few months later, they are mirages in the rearview mirror. That is why when I get worked up about men, I remind myself that this, too, shall pass. It always does. It always has. And, until I settle down and hyphenate my last name, it probably always will.
So, I see it as a problem if you can’t make it through a week without someone jumping into your DMs or blowing up your phone. Begging for attention invites a lot of shallow characters into your life, people who will capitalize on every insecurity you have. They’ll eat away at your self-doubt and try to disguise it as love. Building your core based on the shiny object of other people’s attention ensures it will never be able to stand on its own. It will always be rotten. And, that’s a promise, no matter what shape your genitals are.