What you need to know:
- Despite plenty of studies that show how parenthood and marriage benefit men, a growing body of research show that it’s more of a mixed-bag for bachelors than it was previously thought
- There are plenty of upsides (and some downsides) to staying alone forever. We spoke to four sworn bachelors who gave us insights on why they are not willing to say I do
When we started looking for men we could interview for this feature, I quickly remembered a friend who back in 2010 told me he didn't intend to marry for life and, by choice. The seriousness of his announcement made me giggle out loud as I had flashbacks to the two of us back as children when we envisioned making happy homes in the future. The thought of my friend choosing to be a bachelor was innately funny and true to his word he has been single despite him being in his 40s. I can count more than 10 men in my contact who are past the age of 35, and for this particular story, I only needed four.
Unlike in past decades, modern society has become far more accepting of men who remain bachelors. Also, recent studies indicate that modern-day bachelors are financially stable and have adopted an enjoyable lifestyle on their own and some find time to pursue a wide variety of women for company. Recently, popular Kenyan journalist and CNN correspondent Larry Madowo, 34, was celebrated by his fans after sharing a suggestive photo of himself being all lovey-dovey with former KTN Presenter Edith Kimani, 31. His post sparked dating rumours and Kenyans could not keep calm after seeing the pair photos. "I hope Larry and Edith are dating as we have waited for him to leave bachelorhood," one of his Facebook fans commented. Then there is the like of the governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Patrick Ngugi Njoroge who at 54 told the Parliamentary Committee that he is single by choice. "I am single by choice but I fully subscribe to the ideas of the family and there is nothing sinister in this," said the governor who is now 60, and still a bachelor.
The governor ascribes to the Roman Catholic church called Opus Dei whose members aim at living a life of "humility, justice, integrity, and solidarity" and to work "hard and well, honestly and fairly".
There is also the case of popular Kenyan radio host Maina Kageni who is a bachelor at 47 despite many single ladies throwing themselves at him. In May, Maina told entertainer Jalang'o in his YouTube channel, that he doesn't like the commitment that comes with marriage, as men are always trying to impress their partners, something he doesn't subscribe to, while adding that, marriage is not for everyone. "Mimi ni mtu wa freedom.. sai tuseme Corona imeisha na naamka nasema I want to be in the US in two weeks. Na ninaenda, do you think you can do that when you are married? You have to ask your wife and that's what I have got a problem doing," he confessed in the interview.
Marriage is not for everyone
Research shows that marriage is not always a walk in the park for everyone and for that, some men are opting to be single. Although some may explain that they want a committed relationship or marriage one day, most cite reasons as to why they continue to be single. While a stable and intimate relationship has its benefits such as companionship, the question still lingers to many on why some men choose bachelorhood over a committed relationship and what happens to them according to science.
"What single men gain in friends, they lose in money, studies show. Men who stay unmarried make anywhere from 10 to 40 percent less than married men," notes a 2001 study in the Journal of Population Economics.
Four men talk to us about their experiences as bachelors.
'We are not as lonely as we seem. We are rich in friendship'
Stephen Mutahi, 47, a businessman
"Being a bachelor is fun as I am not accountable to anyone. I believe a relationship takes work and hence, you should invest your emotions and time. But, what happens when it does not work? You end up hurting and projecting the pain to your significant others. I have closely watched my friends who are married and I don't like how their wives monitor every move they make. I love my space and this explains why I have chosen to be single and enjoy every single moment with my friends. Bachelors are not necessarily isolated and, we are more likely to have several close friends than married men. I don't find a reason why your partner should monitor who you talk to, where, and how you do it. I believe in building friendships with a variety of people helps one to live longer and stave off cognitive debility. I spend most of my time traveling as my business involves importing and exporting farming products. I have met many friends who I believe I would never have met if I was married or in a serious relationship.
Of course, I hang out with women, but I always make it clear that I am not willing to be in any relationship. I have met women who find this very odd especially after spoiling them with expensive gifts and traveling together. I treat all women equally and I don't have a favourite. Despite the peace and space, there are moments I am lonely and I just need some company. In such times, I go for a trip and by the time I am back, I have fully reenergized. Singlehood is fun but it depends on how you take it."
'Remaining single is a safer bet and avoids marital disasters'
Samson Gitau, 50, Marketing Manager
"I often look at my close family and married friends and I can state with conviction that marriage is not a bed of roses. I have interacted with friends who feel compelled to cheat yet they are married, others abandon their children or some couples who argue and fight over everything. Rather than go through such marital disasters with someone I genuinely care about, I rationalise that remaining single is a much safer bet that will never cause harm to self and others. I hate making someone suffer because of my actions and hence, I would never want to commit to a relationship that is not bringing joy to the other party. I believe in giving the best in all that I do and hence, I have decided to be single and enjoy life. I love the freedom I have as a bachelor as I can go out with any woman I want without being controlled or inflicting pain to the other party. I enjoy the space that I have as I can travel anywhere in the world at any time without having to worry about anyone. With this, I have met many people from diverse cultures, religions, and races and this sparks joy and allows me to enjoy the beauty in the world."
'I had an absentee father in my childhood'
Stephen Oscar Omondi, 38, Customer Care representative
"Life was tough when growing up as I experienced my father abusing my mother physically as he spent night outs with other women. My mother is prayerful and her prayers made me be the man I am today. I learnt never to give up in life no matter the circumstances. In my childhood I witnessed my father being repeatedly unfaithful, and a mother who was unhappy in her marital life. I lacked a good role model to draw from and this brought so much fear of ever settling down in marriage. They say time heals all wounds but it does not erase the scars. I am not against marriage, but the pain I saw my mother going through made me avoid that path in life. Being a bachelor has its own challenges because there are times I crave companionship. There are moments I wish I had a wife to build a life together but then, the fear of settling in an unhealthy marriage drifts my focus to enjoying life alone.
I spend most of my time working and pursuing my dreams and during weekends I visit my mother who has been unwell for some time as a result of the psychological pain that my dad inflicted on her. It's quite sad seeing my mother go through depression and ulcers while my father is enjoying his life with multiple women. If this is what marriage entails, then I am not for it. That's why I have chosen to be single and take care of my mother who has no one else to look after her. Being an only child comes with its challenges and hence, I am here to sacrifice my time, emotions, and finances in helping my mother rise again."
'Marriage makes it hard to balance professional goals'
John Mwajala, 29, founder of recovery spa
"Being a bachelor has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life. It has given me the greatest opportunity to build myself professionally and invest. I have had a chance to discover my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Men are expected to be providers and when this is not attained, most end up stressed or depressed. I find it difficult to balance professional goals with relationships. I believe a man should attain the same level of occupational stability and success before settling down with a partner. I fear that settling down in marriage may hinder me from making the career strides I envision and I believe it's difficult to have both a successful career and marriage. I hope to marry in the future. Marriage is a serious unit that requires a lot of stability and hence, one can't get into it blindly. You must be fully prepared and that's why I am fully enjoying my singlehood.
Being a bachelor has its challenges as there are times, I envision having a wife and sharing all my dreams with her. Also, I encounter so much pressure and pestering with people constantly asking, 'utaoa lini, miaka inaenda'. I have learnt to ignore such pressure as I am fully aware that finding a good wife is not easy and I would rather be single than settle in the wrong relationship. I believe marriage is a beautiful thing but it is not a cup of tea for me. Being a bachelor has tremendously enhanced my self-development. I have learnt to be independent, focused on my career and life, and experience so much peace alone."
What research says:
According to studies, there are many reasons why some men never marry or become fathers. Medical studies suggest that men may experience a period of regret and bereavement when they are single and when they don't have children. With this, they are more likely to be judged harshly by society. Bachelors with children are far less likely to feel disenfranchised.
The good news for bachelors is that recent studies are finding out that single men without children report deeper connection to friends, family members, and parents, as well as their work. Relationship experts also argue that single men are likely to have a heightened sense of self-determination and grow in every aspect of their lives. Bachelors also demonstrate a high sense of emotional self-sufficiency, particularly when dealing with negative emotions.
According to Dr. Florence Wamaitha, a counselling psychologist, it is time for society to embrace men who choose to be bachelors as they know why they have chosen the path. Despite warnings of a loneliness epidemic in modern-day life, the relationship expert says that single men have the freedom to interact with people and hence have a deeper connection to the world. Also, most men are financially stable as they do not have many family responsibilities.
Reasons why men are opting to be single
1. Freedom: When you are single you go where you want and with whoever you want. You are the sole master of your free time.
2. Excitement: There are so much opportunities for adventure and meeting new people without control from anyone
3. Fantasy quest: Some men have an image of their ideal mate and when they have not encountered one, they choose to be single. As long as they hold on to the dream of finding the right match, they will never be able to commit.
4. Fear of responsibility: Marriage comes with responsibility and for some men, it is too hard to handle.
5. Painful childhood experiences: Lack of good role models while growing up causes men to remain single.
6. Pursue career: Some men opt to be single to pursue their dreams in life.
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