By the time everyone around you is throwing barely concealed hints and suggestions about your single status you know it is a big deal. The pressure to marry coming from older folks is expected, and if you are like me you even have designed ways of fending off the unsolicited advice without sounding offensive. I tell them not to panic. “Slow but sure wins the race” or some other similar cliché are words I commonly use, which then leads to a philosophical discussion about how patience pays and so on and so forth. The next thing you know, time has run out and you have to part ways. I think to myself, I am getting good at this – I should stay single forever just to spite some of them. I chuckle and move on. But it is impossible to fend off the surprising pressure that comes from even my own generation. By now I have a good number of married friends. They range from childhood buddies to contemporaries at university. In fact, many are having their firstborns now so I have learnt to pick gifts for their children when I am invited for those inevitable birthday parties. It would be fun if the buck would stop at my being good old Uncle Matthew, but it doesn’t.
At a recent kids’ birthday bash, a friend whose firstborn daughter was turning one said to me, “You shouldn’t hold off for too long, it would be nice if we moved together.” Call me slow but for a moment there I thought he was mumbling to himself, before what he was talking about finally dawned on me. It turns out that a bachelor like I is not good company for married guys. We remind them too much of themselves, remind them of this thing called freedom – which is not necessarily a nice thing to have by the way. And so their nice wives warn them about us – all of it well intentioned, of course.
The ‘move together’ comment means that since we are of the same age, give or take a few years, we share many similar experiences and are already friends, so why not keep it that way? To the single, it always feels like married buddies are moving on with the times and you are either stagnating or backsliding. And there may be some truth in that because if your contemporaries can no longer hang out with you till the wee hours of the morning playing mortal kombat (video game) or knocking back cans of beer, you will have to find new friends. There is a good chance the new friends will be younger. What would you call that if its not slipping back? My circumstances haven’t gotten that dire and don’t let yours do, either.
Now for some philosophy just so you know (or be reminded) that all is not lost – it is never lost unless of course one dies. For many, singlehood is a transitional state or stage that people will go in and out of until the day they find ‘the one’. They will then say ‘I do’ and everyone will hope they stay together happily, forever after. I do not have any figures to prove but nevertheless believe many people do in fact want to be involved with someone in a relationship that should lead to marriage.
Guys and girls in my shoes if you know that being single is a transitional stage then you also know that soon enough, and when the time is ready, when you find Mr. or Ms. Right – or they find you – you will cross the threshold. But here’s the funny thing – pressure will not end there. For next the people will be asking, “When’s the child coming?” And soon after, “When are you giving your first born a play mate?” Maybe that is what life is about; the next step, what do you think?