Reader “Jim,” a 47-year-old single male, is curious as to why so many married women find single men so intolerable:
Dear Dr. Helen,
I am 47 years old, never married (not gay) and have very mixed feeling about the notion of being married someday. I have known — socially — many women in my years, and have found many of them striking and engaging, strictly from a character point of view. Yes, many were attractive physically, but that is neither here nor there. I hold the state of marriage in very high regard and have two parents who held high standards to thank for that. But I am not attracted to the thought of being married. I am not against it at all (sometimes I daydream about it); it is just not a priority in my life and much as I would welcome a spectacular woman into my life, I don’t believe it to be very likely.
Here’s my question: Why do so many women find single men to be a social cancer? I am forever surrounded by married women who look at me like I’m a freak who needs to be “bagged and tagged.” What is it about single men that makes married women (never men!) interrogate us as to our continued bachelorhood and seeming refusal to “settle down?”
I will confess to you that most women scare the crap out of me. Sir Compton MacKenzie knew what he was talking about when he said, “Women do not find it difficult nowadays to behave like men, but they often find it extremely difficult to behave like gentlemen.” The female of the species is deadlier than the male. Hell hath no fury…you get the idea.
I know I am not a male chauvinist pig. My mother made an effort to bring me up right. I have known several women, personally, who held position of power and did so with genuine class and integrity. My father made the effort to marry a woman who was, to say the least, not common.
But I am somehow not attracted to being in an intimate relationship with a member of a group of people (here comes the Freudian slip!) who seem to regard me as an accessory. Most women I know want children, but not a husband. They merely see a husband as an accessory, like a GPS, to make having a family a lot less burdensome. I have known too many women who so ulcerate in their desire to validate their uterus that they marry morons who ruin their lives. But I digress.
What is it about being married that makes women find single men so intolerable? You may make of this what you like, but I know I am not alone in my feelings. I would welcome the chance to know how you and your readership feel about the topic.
Bagged and tagged? I am not exactly sure what you mean by that but nothing good, it sounds like. Perhaps you are using the phrase as hunters do, to mean bag and tag their prey or perhaps you refer to the military usage where to “tag and bag” a fallen soldier or an enemy means that they are put in a body bag with a toe tag and that they are no longer alive. Either way, what I gather from your use of this term and “social cancer” in relation to single men is that you perceive that married women view single men as a scourge on society and in need of extinction.
In my opinion, there are different reasons that married women might be prone to asking questions or interrogating you about your singlehood — some positive, the others, not so much. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to these ladies and say that their reasons are altruistic. They are happily married and think you are missing out. They might be “interrogating” you to find out what kind of woman you are looking for and to see if they can help find you one of their single friends to date.
Or perhaps they are projecting their own feelings of how they would feel if they were still single onto you. That is, they think, “If I were still single, I would be lonely and feel like a social pariah and therefore, I must do all I can to help this poor soul not to feel this way.” Some people really don’t understand how others can be happy single and think that it is a “problem” to be fixed, and they would feel good about “fixing it.” They might not truly understand that people — both men and women — can be happy single and there is no problem to solve. I am always surprised at how few people realize that at least 10% of the population has no business getting married and are better off on their own, but people often want others to be like them.
Okay, let’s move on to the less altruistic reasons for the nonstop questions and interrogation and look at some other possibilities that I suspect you wonder about. Could it be that some married women are threatened by men who are single — especially a man in his forties — for a variety of reasons? Sure.
The first reason is that the sight of a happy single man might be an inspiration to their husbands, for if their husbands are friends with single men, they might get fed some ideas. Let’s say that a husband is kept on a short leash by his wife, but every once in a while the guy gets a reprieve to go hang out with his buddies. The single men who are happy are a shining example of what the husband is missing. If the single guy was miserable with this state, then the married guy would feel okay about his restricted status — but seeing a free happy single guy just exacerbates his feeling that he no longer has control over his life and is too domesticated to put up a fight. Perhaps some married women want all men to be domesticated to keep them in line and not to be out having too much fun. To them, a single man who’s happy is a threat to their way of life.
In addition, the single man has the ability to be out dating all kinds of women and she may fear that he will fill her husband’s head full of fantasies that she feels she cannot live up to. Her husband could wonder what it is like to be free like his buddy and dating a variety of women. Other married men don’t typically pose as much of a threat. If all single men were married off, this problem would cease to exist — hence the tagging and bagging etc.
Finally, the single man might look like he is having too much damn fun. If other men see this as a possibility — that a single life is a good one — they might not need women so desperately and women who count on sexuality as power over men won’t have as much to work with: if men don’t care if they have a woman or not, they can’t be controlled and/or manipulated as well.
In conclusion, as long as a single man is miserable or looking desperately for Ms. Right, he is not seen as a threat, but merely an example of what could happen to a man who is not lucky enough to be hooked up with a good woman. But if single men are happy with their lot, not looking for any one woman and maneuvering their life fine on their own, they might cause trouble for those married women who need men to want women more than anything else. If men can make it on their own, the power these women wield will be limited and their own husband may wonder what he is missing out on. Or perhaps it is as simple as “misery loves company.” Maybe the married woman is miserable herself and wants others to join her. Why should others be having a good time when she is not?
So Jim, I would suggest you keep doing what makes you happy and not worry too much about what married women (or men!) think about your status. A simple, “I love being single” might suffice in response to being questioned — you don’t owe anyone an explanation for how you wish to live your life. If you do desire that one of these concerned citizens fix you up, say so, and ask if she knows anyone she thinks might be a good match for you. Otherwise, change the subject.
So, that is my response, I now turn the floor over to the readers (especially single men) who have had experience with married women having a problem with your singlehood — or not. Is your bachelorhood seen as intolerable, a problem, or do you think married women perceive you as lonely and in need of a date? Are you seen as a threat? Or do they leave you alone?
If a married woman, does it bother you if men are single, particularly if they hang around your husband? Or could you care less?
If you have a question you would like answered, please leave it below or email me at [email protected]. Your questions may be edited for length and clarity. Please note that your first name only or no name at all will be used to identify your question — if you want me to use your name, tell me; otherwise you will be referred to by your first name or as “a reader,” etc.