I'm single because I want to be.
I don't know that this statement needs defending, but if I were forced to do so I'd say that "It's just the way I'm wired." I love being alone. Just me, two cats, and an empty house. It's bliss. I'm totally set. Tried the whole relationship thing multiple times and it wasn't a good fit, so I decided I'd rather live for my friends and occasional hook-ups than be miserable.
Or, if I'm being honest, making somebody else miserable. Because haven't women suffered enough?
Men get to be alone. Sure people tend to think we're gay for wanting it, but we're largely left to our own devices. Women, on the other hand, are labeled "UNFULFILLED" and "SAD" and "A DETRIMENT TO SOCIETY" when they want to be alone. As if not wanting a husband and children somehow makes them "less than." Which would be laughable if it weren't so harmful. Personally, I can't understand why people give a shit. Some people want to be on their own, so just let us be.
In the last decade there's been a lot to be said about the incels. Meaning "involuntarily celibate men." These are guys who are alone because they can't find a woman willing to put up with their superiority bullshit... and blame women for it! And since it's "totally not their fault because they're just being an alpha male" they feel justified badmouthing women at every opportunity and committing heinous acts where they lash out against society (in general) and women (specifically). It's a serious, serious problem, and the violence born out of it is no laughing matter.
Where it all takes a turn are the men who own the "incel" label... but claim it's because a terrible women did them wrong. To them it's justified. They hate on all women now and it's a woman's fault. To an extent, I do get that. A bad relationship can easily cause enough pain for people to lash out in illogical ways. I've been there. I'm not going to go into the crazy details, but suffice to say that when I was in my worst relationship I was lied to, betrayed, cheated on, and exploited. It was awful. It resulted in me drinking too much and contemplating self-harm. And for years after I dug myself out of that hole, I felt I'd rather be alone the rest of my life than to risk going through that again. I didn't blame "all women" for what she put me through, but I can see how a guy could make that leap. For a while. But to turn it into your entire identity for life? That's on you. And women not wanting to be with that is also on you.
But that's not the only road that gets traveled.
Over the weekend I was scrolling through the cesspool that is social media and ran across what I thought was an incel rabbit hole. But as I continued to scroll... I saw that the men participating in this new trend of sharing their feelings about being alone are not blaming women for their situation at all. They're just expressing how sad they are that they can't find a partner to share their lives with. They're not violent about it. They don't feel women "owe" them anything. They're not raging against all womankind.
They're just... lonely.
After a while of watching I was overwhelmed with compassion.
But, since this is the internet, "compassion" is not the normal response. There's loads of people branding them as "beta males" and "weak" and, of course, "incels" (from the other side of the spectrum). Telling them to "buck up" and "be a man" and "stop embarrassing yourself." Despite the fact that these guys have done absolutely nothing to deserve any of it. Men don't get to be sad and vulnerable out of loneliness, you see. That... that... deserves to be mocked, belittled, demeaned, and dismissed.
And so now I'm feeling bad for being a part of the problem.
Here's me, absolutely loving being single and alone watching guys pour their heart out about how the crushing loneliness is breaking them. And the first thing to enter my head was to lump them in with men who don't want to change their shitty behavior so that a woman might actually want to be with them. As I was watching, I kept waiting for them to unload the "I'M ENTITLED TO SEX BECAUSE I'M A MAN AND WOMEN SHOULD DROP TO THEIR KNEES AND BE GRATEFUL THAT I'D WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM!" rhetoric. But I didn't see it.
Well, I did, because TikTok can't distinguish between lonely single guys and hate-filled incels, but the majority of the videos were not that.
And of course it's not just guys. Plenty of women being crushed by loneliness too. Not surprisingly, society is no more kind to them than they are the men.
Being alone is exactly what I want and I don't ever feel lonely because of it. So it's difficult for me to comprehend the mindset of somebody dying of loneliness. Of dying from a broken heart that they have never been able to give to another person. But I don't have to understand it to feel for people who are in this boat. Everybody deserves to find love, and somebody who has never had it deserves every bit the compassion as a guy whose wife of 60 years just died. A broken heart is a broken heart.
My first reaction was a bad one. I hope I can do better in the future.
And I really hope that I can be less dismissive of my fellow men who are hurting and just want to be heard. To be treated with kindness when they're in pain. That's really not a lot to ask.
Despite our toxic society telling us otherwise.
Be kind out there, my friends.