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Ask Dave-I Prefer To Always Stay Single


Is there anything wrong with loving singlehood at 40?

By Dave Singleton

ear Dave,
I am 40, gay, and single. I like being single. Some people are not cut out for long-term relationships. I am one of them. I am too much of a free spirit to be with the same guy day after day. There are some things love does not conquer. A free spirit is one
I don't think being single is the best way for everyone to go.
of them. If I wanted a relationship, then I'd marry one of my many friends. I love my friends dearly. I have much in common with my friends. I don't want to hang out with my friends day after day.

I have a question: Is there anything wrong with me because I want to be single? I am not against relationships. I know they are a great thing for people who are suited for them. I don't think being single is the best way for everyone to go. There are plenty of people who need the companionship and the benefits a loving relationship brings. I happen to be a guy who doesn't want or need that.

Thanks for giving this a read.
- Live-Alone-and-Like-It John

Dear John,
Normally, starting a letter with “Dear John” isn’t a good thing. It indicates that a breakup is imminent. But in your case, the only “Dear John” letter you might get is from dates wondering why you don’t want to be with them.

Your letter is important because it spotlights an issue that dating and relationship columnists like me don’t get to address much. That is, the case of the happily-single person. Most of the time, the letters I receive ask for advice on making dates go right and stopping relationships from going wrong. You want to know if it’s OK not to care about either dates or relationships.

No, there’s nothing wrong with liking the single life, or not wanting a serious romantic tie. After all, despite how we idealize romance in our culture, relationships are often about trade-offs and compromise. You care about someone and he cares about you. You share, laugh, love and, one day, maybe integrate lives. But you also take on someone else’s burdens, arrange your schedule to accommodate, and constantly navigate the balance between needs for space vs. connection, joint communication vs. silent reflection, and “I” vs. “We.”

The search for the right balance does not end with the words, “I do.” It starts with them. The great hope is that love will lead you through difficult times and the pluses will outweigh
It’s all about finding the level of connection you want.
the minuses. People in successful relationships seem to understand that, and keep their expectations realistic and in check.

I certainly understand why you might feel a little defensive about this subject. The world often seems to conspire against single people, making those without a partner feel like they are incomplete. The constant reinforcement of this expectation through society, media and overzealous friends and family doesn’t help. The cacophony of noise from others makes it hard for you to hear your own voice, which might be telling you that you like your life the way it is.

Forget about society, media and overzealous friends and family for a moment. Ask yourself how you really feel about being single. Are you running from a relationship out of fear (the common fears include intimacy, losing yourself, and rejection/abandonment)? Do you feel you are missing anything by not pursuing a relationship right now, or are you satisfied?

Since this is an advice column, I am supposed to ask questions like these and look under the emotional rug a little, just in case there’s truth between the resolute lines of your letter. In the spirit of questioning, I refer to a few comments you made in case you are conflicted in ways you don’t realize.

For instance, it sounds like you equate a serious relationship with death to your free spirit. Have you ever considered the possibility that your view of what a relationship should be is too rigid? People can choose whatever relationships they want. You don’t have to see each other every night, get married, or even date exclusively. It’s all about finding the level of connection you want, and finding someone who shares that.

When it comes to companionship, are you afraid of intimacy? Have you been burned in the past? It sounds like you have great friends, so you aren’t lonely. By 40, you’ve lived a fair amount of your life and had plenty of dates, so it’s possible that you’re making an informed choice. Life is self-adjusting, and what we once needed may not be as important to us at another stage.

But one thing is for sure: Life is not static. The truth could be that you’re far happier single than many couples who are in it for the wrong reasons. On the other hand, you could miss out on a deeper connection that would have brought meaning to your life. Or, you could walk into Starbucks and meet the love of your life when you are 50. The point is, none of us knows what’s coming next, so why not keep an open mind?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being happily single. The only thing I wonder about is why you’d want to make a decision today about how you’ll feel tomorrow. If I had to choose between feeling open about life’s possibilities or making a firm decision today about how my life is going to be tomorrow, I’d choose the former.


Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Visit Dave’s website and send your dating questions and comments to him at davesingleton.writer@gmail.com.
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