A mate of mine, 31 years old and recently chucked by his girlfriend, told me this week that he doesn’t know a single other person that’s not in a relationship. I laughed, but then we listed all our mutual friends plus his numerous other friends, and it was true. None of them were single.
Some are happily married or as good as, but just as many are in what I’d call fakelationships. They’re not necessarily bad relationships; they fancy each other and they have fun together. But they know deep down (or often, just one of them knows) that it won’t last. Or at least, it will last until they can find someone better.
This is all well and good in your early twenties, but when you’re hitting 30 and beyond it’s possibly prudent to start thinking about a relationship’s long-term prospects. So why do men stay in these relationships? Often, I simply put it down to fear of singledom. Here are four of the big reasons why many guys are scared to be unattached…
Can’t turn down sex
If this makes men sound like insecure, randy, pathetic Neanderthals, then you’ve hit the nail on the head. From the age of around 14, chaps spend an unhealthy proportion of their lives pursuing sex with girls. And one of the best things about being in a relationship is that this activity is easily accessible. So understandably, some men are loath to give that up. Sex is a commodity to men – a valuable one - and discarding it seems like the height of decadence. It’s bad karma. And we fear that by ending a sexual relationship we might be setting ourselves up for the dreaded ‘dry spell’.
Fear of single self
Your boyfriend might seem like a caring, reasonable and mature man as you rest your head on his shoulder while watching ‘The Apprentice’ on the sofa. But within him lurks a beast that once roamed nightclub dancefloors at 2.48am leering at drunk women… and that beast could one day roam again. When men are single, they are drawn back into a world of nights out, booze and questionable sexual encounters - and they might not want to go back there. True, some men revel in their inner beast, but many others would prefer to have it taken into a field and shot.
Has your boyfriend ever taken you to a mate’s wedding? Were all his other mates there with their girlfriends? I bet it was a fun day out… but imagine if you hadn’t been there. He’d have been stuck on a table full of couples at dinner and ended the evening necking shots at the bar with just Alcoholic Uncle Frank for company. Having a girlfriend makes social occasions easier. Plus if he finishes with you now, at the next wedding they’ll all ask where you are and it will be awkward. If most of his mates are single, this doesn’t matter a jot. But if they’ve all got girlfriends…
The need to always be in a relationship is sometimes perceived as a female trait, but there are plenty of guys like that too. When one affair ends, before you can say “plenty more fish” they’ve already shacked up with someone else. And we’re not talking flings, but proper self-proclaimed Facebook relationships – even if they only last a few weeks or months. Often, the reason for this quick turnaround is that relationships are all these guys know. It’s borne of a fear of loneliness, but also a fear of the unknown. If you’re with a man who has never been single for more than a month or two, ask yourself whether he’s keeping your relationship going for the right reasons.
Next week: Are you in a fake relationship?
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