A recent New York Times article on four straight guys who’ve lived together in New York for the past 18 years set off a barrage of criticism and defensiveness in the comments and around the Internet. (You don’t say!) Any man who fails to marry and have children by the age of 40, the conventional wisdom goes, is in a state of “arrested development” and needs to “grow up.” Or if he’s going to insist on being single, he should at least have the decency to punish himself with loneliness. How dare he form a non-traditional family with his friends?
Okay, so I’m paraphrasing and exaggerating, but you get the idea. The narrative for single and childless women is similar, only it’s tinged more with pity than accusation. These people are seen as unfit romantic partners, career-less drifters, and worse. (And perhaps some of these specific accusations hold water for some of the men described in the article.) And yet, I hold that there’s nothing inherently wrong or immature about adult people banding together to save money and form an emotional support system.
I say this as someone who grew pretty fatalistic during the seven years I spent looking for love in NYC. (I realize I’m still pretty young, but I’m way melodramatic when it comes to dating, and up until I met my current man piece, I was trying very hard to accept the fact that I was GOING TO BE ALONE FOREVER.) That shit is not easy! Sure, you can go on OkCupid dates or whatever (provided you can deal with how depressing and dead end it can be), but there’s only so much control you can exert over when and if you meet your person. It’s not always an individual’s fault that they’re single. (Plus, a small minority of the population is aromantic/asexual.) And just because you’ve hit a certain age after which it’s considered inappropriate to have roommates (30?) doesn’t mean you stop having emotional needs. Some people are fine with living alone and hanging out with their friends from time to time, while others require more of a family-like situation. Is it better to get a one bedroom apartment (provided you can afford it) and count down the days until you find a partner to fill the other side of your bed? Or is it better to have an awesome life that makes you happy and if someone comes along, sees how great your life is, and wants to be a part of it, even better? Anything but the latter option would drive me insane.