Pop culture rarely discusses what it’s like to be single for men who are not boys anymore. Is it a depressing table-for-one borefest, or an enviable lifestyle?
I know how a lot of people look at young, single men — you earn your dough, bake it and get baked. Supposedly, you have a lot of sex too, with an unthinkable variety of people. You party all night, somehow get through work with a hangover, and still chug a beer with your buddies later that evening because, hey, you don’t have a spouse to go home to. No homework to monitor, in-laws to nurse or EMIs to pay — all you have to do is Uber it home and crash out (or, if the world is to be believed, do the ustrasana with two hot women all night).
I’ve been single for three years now. Prior to that, I lived-in with my partner of four years (moving on wasn’t easy). My parents live in a different city. I live by myself now and have Tinder and TinyOwl right in the middle of my cell phone’s home screen. I consciously choose not to get into anything serious these days, because I don’t have the time (a lie) and I’m surrounded by a fantastic group of friends, who don’t judge my current credo: peau est une peau (Google it). They all know me as the “loose” one, the “wild” one, the “has tried everything at least once” one, and I’m absolutely fine with that.
Does singledom get to me? Of course it does, especially when I need a companion for a social do or a fashion week party or New Year’s Eve. What do you do when everyone around you is slobbering over each other when the clock strikes 12, and all you can do is smile uncomfortably at the person you befriended half an hour back, hoping she (or he) is drunk enough to make out with a complete stranger on the first day of the year? Or when you want to have a conversation after hooking up and realise that your Tinder right swipe is a total bore? And as your friends start ditching you for those wedding bells, you realise that you are losing your only support system to honeymoons, diaper-changing and play dates. More importantly, you’re losing them to fear.
If you’re a single man, you’re lucky if you have a strong sense of personal space and enjoy being with yourself. Remember Joey, after ten seasons of Friends? All of us felt a little sorry for him, although he epitomised the single man — handsome, successful, rich and very virile. Why so? Why do men want to be a Joey, but choose to be a Ross instead?
Fear, like I said. Men are as scared of being alone as women. All those guys who say “Bros before hoes” and “Single till I die” always end up on a white ghodi and smile through the sehra at their baaraat, before they hit 30. Men have biological clocks too — it ticks away with the fear of being left alone. Every married man out there will give you a list of stuff he would do if he did not have a family. Why, then, did he choose to have one? If the “single man” idea is so fantastic (and has zero shame and judgment attached to it, unlike the “single woman”), why are more men not choosing to be single? I know guys who have gotten married to their childhood sweethearts by the age of 25. Is it really love, or simply a primal fear of not finding another person who is as good, or good enough? Since they don’t know if the perfect girl is right around the corner, it seems to me that they think it’s a better idea to quickly settle down with the bird in hand, rather than an imaginary — albeit fantastic — number in the bush.
I also think some men just give up. They conform to the same society they revolted against when they were in college. They give in to their parents’ lifestyles and life choices, after criticising them in their 20s. They call this “growing up” because, for some reason, giving in to the norm is adult behaviour. “You’re in your 30s and still single, partying with friends on a Saturday night? Shame on you – act your age.” Marriage-house loan-babies- second car become priority instead of I-me-myself, and it takes a real free spirit to swim against this relentless tide. Am I going to slow down? Of course I will – livers don’t last forever, after all. Am I going to then settle down? It doesn’t seem like it.