Misunderstood Single Men
- Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I feel misunderstood as a single adult male when people I meet assume all single males are alike. As is often the case, this comes out most clearly in the way they joke with me. One person at my church makes a "bachelor" joke every time we see each other. Sometimes it's a comment about the way I dress, other times it's about what I must be eating since I don't have a mother or wife to cook for me. Some comments make me out to be shallow and self-absorbed, as if all young single males are just extending adolescence until a girl comes along to "domesticate" us.
This is really unfortunate, because it only perpetuates the myth that singles have no place in society or are somehow harder to interact with because we're in a life situation that isolates us. The truth is, the single male experience is a rich cornucopia that varies not only from man to man, but also within each individual man. I believe I have a lot to offer if the people I interact with will take me seriously.
I look forward to the day when I meet a woman I can share this "cornucopic" experience with. But in the meantime, my life isn't on hold. I attend church, sing in the choir, go to movies and plays with my roommates or by myself, enjoy eating and yes, cooking good food—all the while having great, long conversations because I don't have a family making demands on my time, and deepening my relationship with the Lord. Those who pigeonhole me according to their predetermined assumptions about single males rob themselves and me of some potentially great friendships.
-Jonathan, 24, never married
To me, this issue is really more about expectations than misunderstandings. I wish churches had higher expectations for single guys and would get more involved in mentoring, coaching, and challenging us to grow and serve. Unfortunately, expectations for older single guys are far lower than they should be; we're getting a free pass and grow quickly in selfishness and bachelor crustiness. Even younger single men can avoid maturing altogether, prolonging a college-like free-floating-ness into their 30s.
It would be very helpful if pastors and elders, even other guys in our men's groups, fixed the spotlight of accountability on this demographic in order to motivate us toward responsibility and maturity. This would promote mature leadership and provide our Christian sisters with many potential and qualified "marital candidates."
-Steve, 50, never married
As a single Christian man, I feel misunderstood in three main ways by three groups. First, I feel misunderstood by single women who frequently mistake my friendly interactions with them as a desire to pursue romantic intentions. This leads to them either becoming aloof if they aren't interested in me romantically, or clingy if they are and I'm not. Second, I feel misunderstood by most members of our society (and, unfortunately, even some in the church) who cannot fathom a single man in his 30s who isn't interested in partying and has a desire to remain chaste. Finally, I feel misunderstood by the church, who frequently views single men as somehow "defective" or suspect, and unable to fully contribute to the church body until they're married.
-Kent, 37, never married
In thinking through this question, I'm reminded of Matthew 11:17, where Jesus spoke of that generation's take on him, saying they were like children in the marketplace calling to one another, "'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.'" Clearly, Jesus could identify with the plight of being misunderstood.
I take comfort in that.
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