Never-married heterosexual men over the age of 40 have always had a stigma. Especially back in 1970, when they represented only 4.9 percent of the male population. As marriage inches toward the take-it-or-leave-it category — for both sexes — and there are more never-married men between the ages of 40 and 44 than ever before, is being a hetero bachelor still considered creepy?
Apparently, yes. Anyone with salt-and-pepper hair who shows up in your universe as “Never Married” might as well come with a flashing Warning Sign, say women with marital aspirations who date them anyway. They are Workaholics. Playboys. Commitment Phobes. Gay. Definitely gay.
Oh, we can collectively cry, Double standard!! over the sad fact that never-married women of a certain age aren’t players; they’re pitied. See Bridget Jones 1 and 2; in 3, she’s a 51-year-old widow, cougar and mother of two.
But in a way, steadfastly heterosexual single men over 40 are sort of pitied too. Or, rather, they are dissected, thoroughly examined — not by a class of seventh-graders using microscopes but by a table of 30-something women, well into their third bottle of wine.
New York City over the years has become a hub of never-marrieds.
Men who want to enjoy the intimacy of a lifetime commitment of marriage will likely be married younger (despite financial resources or their access to technology that feeds a feeling of entitlement and ongoing search for ’the best’).
Indeed most guys approaching 40 who’ve never been married are likely to stay that way. The chances that a man will marry for the first time diminish even more once he reaches 42 or 43. At this point, many men become confirmed bachelors. They may enjoy having relationships but struggle with the requirements of intimacy and dependence that marriage requires.
But the question — apart from the obvious crime of leading someone on — is whether there’s anything really wrong with being a confirmed bachelor.
Turns out, most men are fine with that.