Sunday, October 02, 2005

This bachelor thing...

You know, being a middle aged bachelor is in some ways just weird. I've been divorced for over 7 years now and, although still single, I wonder why. Well, maybe not all that much. I'm sure if I really wanted to be in a committed relationship or married again, I could be. And it's not like I haven't had girlfriends since being single again (even a serious one, or two). But it just never seems to jell.

I think the reasons some of us (well, me at least) stay single is one of three things.
First, I wonder, as we get older, if we just get used to the being alone. You know, get set in our ways. I like my space. I like being neat, but in a cluttery way. I like having a laptop on a little stand hooked to the internet via wifi in the john. I have a REALLY big cable running from the third floor of my house (and some equipment there) down the staircases to my basement where it's hooked into some more equipment, and that works for me. I like smoking my pipe. I like having a computer, mixer and big black (some would say 'phallic') studio monitors in the living room as my stereo/streaming audio station. I like fast cars. I like the little data center in my basement. (I could go on, but you get the idea). Hell, I'm a guy. It's a 'this is my cave and I like it that way' kind of thing. I eat at odd hours. I sleep when I'm tired and work when I'm awake (which can mean I'm up at 3am and it's, well, normal). You just can't do that if you're not alone. Call it 'the lifestyle' reason.

The second reason, I suspect, has to do with addiction. Or, in my case, the fear of addiction. Being a recovering alcoholic (I've been in AA for 24 years now) I'm REALLY careful about anything that feels like addiction. I have to be in major pain just to take an aspirin... anything that's mood altering is suspect. what sparked an understand of this is when I saw a study recently that compared someone's MRI scan's when they were shown a picture of the person they were 'madly in love with' to a heroin addicts MRI. Identical. The same areas of the brain become highly active when you're minds eye see's the love of your life, and when you shoot up. I often wonder if this is one of the reasons I'm still single. The feeling of being in love has alot of similarities to drug and alcohol addiction. My subconscious senses it and slows it down. Call this one "the remaining free of addiction for reasons that aren't very logical" reason.

This, by the way, is something of a bullshit reason. But it’s also a visceral reaction on my (or any recovering drunks) part. One I’ve only really begun to understand fairly recently. So, maybe, we can take that one out of the running as it becomes better understood and within the conscious mind instead of lurking down there deep in the subconscious.

The third reason, and I think this is the most common, has to do with The List. You know the list... 'the person I'm looking for has these traits... 1, 2, 3...' and down the list you go. This list get's REALLY long as you age. And it becomes more difficult as time passes to find 'the one' that fits that list (or even some of it). Women, I suspect, do this more than men (make a list) but we do it too. Women, also, I'd bet, compromise more than men do on that list. Maybe I'm way off base on that last comment, but there's no doubt women are the more balanced and reasonable (as a group, although I've known some individuals that wouldn't fit the bill) of the sexes. Call this the 'ever lengthening list of traits I’m looking for' reason.

When we’re younger, and our list is shorter, we find ourselves with someone that's close to fitting the list, or reasonably close. And even though we may not be 'happy' (whatever happy really means in a relationship), we stay. Even as, over time, they change, we change, the list gets longer and the differences become wide and deep. Sometimes we stay because of money and material comforts we'd lose if we didn't stay. Often it's because of children (a good reason). Many of my middle aged male friends get divorced 'once the kids are gone'. And it's not to run off and find some 25 year old blonde babe. It's more often their wifes divorcing them. They've given 20 years of their life to this man and these children and, damn it, it's their turn. But men do it too (and some do buy a motorcycle and hit the bar scene, but less then you’d suspect).

If you've remained friends over that time, it works. But if you've lost that friendship part of the relationship, I think it's doomed long term.

I have many friends, and many more acquaintances. Some are women, some are men. Some I've known for decades. Back before I was married, some of the women would, from time to time, become lovers, then not, but still friends I wonder why those never turned into more. Some almost did... but one of those three reasons (or sometimes two or all three) would kick in and keep me single. Sometimes it was them evoking one of the three reasons.

Ahh.. who the hell knows.

Someday it’ll happen, and it’ll be because I’m not worried about it or actively gearing my life toward looking for it, but beting open to it regardless.

I’m a day at a time guy. Yesterdays gone. Learn from it, but don’t dwell on it. Tomorrow’s not here. Plan for it, but don’t obsess about it. Today is here, and it’s pretty much the only real thing there is. So, whatever you have in that day, that moment, that’s life. That’s our real life.

I’ve got today, and I think I’ll take full advantage of it while it’s here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


That whole lifestyle excuse?

I like smoking pipes too... guys get weird when women smoke pipes...

The cable on the stairs... if it's tacked down, I don't see the problem, personally. If it's flopping around threating to trip me as I come up or down... then I'd have issues.

The phallic speakers --- okaaayyy... I personally prefer them equally impressive but hidden so they only dominate the room aurally, but whatever...

I'd keep your hours if I didn't work somewhere that meant I had to be there 8:30 - 5:00. I eat when hungry, etc. Though I DO think it's nice to eat with your lover, partner, mate, spouse fairly often.

If I could have MY space in the house too, we'd get along fine. ... or if you didn't mind yarn in random places... :-)

The addiction element is a really nifty insight. I'd like to see how that plays out in your head over time.

And as for the list.

As we get older, we trade in the list of things the perfect man has for one of things the perfect man does NOT have or do. As long as you DON"T do those things, we can work things out :-)

All in all though, I think it's the friendship element that is the absolute key. Sex can keep you going for a few years. Friendship can keep you going for a lifetime.

An excellent read from an ex-evangelical.

  As you know, I once was an evangelical megachurch pastor and my pastoral career stretched over many years. Eventually, I could no longer t...