I’m 29. I’m a guy. And I’m single.
The male single doesn’t have it as bad as the female single — of that I am distinctively aware. I don’t have a body clock determining when I can give birth to a living being, and I don’t have to deal with the obsessive interest of the opposite sex, which often leads to degradation and objectification.
Nevertheless, I think we struggle with many of the same desires, trials, and sorrows. I have no need for the neon-flashing marquee sign hanging over my head proclaiming my relational status every time I enter the church building or hang out with my friends, and I certainly have no need for the reminder that God’s plan is infallible, and that I only need trust Him.
What I do need is to be treated as a real person – not someone temporarily stranded in the singles-aisle of life, waiting desperately for a return to the bountiful aisles of dating, engagement, marriage, and happily ever after.
One thing must be made abundantly clear, if for no other reason than to forestall the numerous encouragements: “Trust God, He knows what He’s doing.” Or, my favourite: “Think how free you are to serve God in ministry!”
I understand the origin of these statements. I feel that people use these messages as a way to run away from having to deal with their single friends. Instead of sympathizing, empathizing, or trying to relate, people throw these well-meaning, shallow little gems down like a Batman-esque smoke bomb and run for the hills. Subsequently, the recipient of this seeming-encouragement is left feeling dismissed — their feelings relegated to the sidelines, reprimanded to return their attention to what really matters. Instead of stepping alongside us, we’re slapped in the face with these comments that assume we’ve forgotten all about God and need to be reminded.
The reality is that we’re often well aware of the theological implications of our singleness. We’ve studied the Bible for hints on how to deal with it and found many wonderful assurances. One of the Christian faith’s greatest evangelists was a single man, and in his first letter to the Corinthians he explained that “it is good for them if they remain” single. But Paul similarly goes on to commend marriage and its virtues.
In other words, one is not better than the other. Rather, each have benefits that are not found in the other.
It might seem to the uninitiated, then, that I and other singles are simply going to whine unceasingly, dismissing any input in an attempt to continue feeling perpetually jealous and envious of those in relationships. Let me be very clear — in all likelihood, we are over the moon for you and your partner. Our guardedness springs from experience — past lessons reminding us not to get our hopes up, reminding us we won’t get what we want.
But what is it we want?
The answer is simple. Treat us like you would have liked to be treated when you were single. Come alongside us and involve us in relationship with you — both of you. Spend time with us; I’m speaking from experience when I say that we desperately want to be loved, not just romantically, but in friendship, by couples and singles alike.
Simply put, we want to be in your life.
So if you are a newly married couple, please don’t just step away from us because we aren’t newly married — it may very well be that we can still be friends, and a support in your new stage of life. Don’t drop shallow insensitive comments that imply I am ungrateful or discontent. Let me be involved in your life. Remember me. Just because I’m single and you aren’t, doesn’t mean everything has to be thrown out the window.
I’m 29. I’m a guy. I’m single. My life is in a constant state of flux. And I would really like it if you could treat me as if I’m not cursed or ignoring God’s plan. I would really like to be me.
Flickr photo (cc) by Oscar D.