One of the major life choices that many adults face is whether to get married. In the not too distant past, society assumed that everyone who could do so would get married.
These days, many older people remain unmarried. The unmarried older woman hardly raises eyebrows or questions. People just quietly assume that she has had her share of bad relationships and let the matter pass.
On the other hand, the unmarried older man has a different story to tell. His life is uneasy as a subject of scrutiny and speculation. He is often dissected and analyzed.
Not a day passes without some reference to his marital status (or lack of it). In his social circles, he is whispered about everywhere.
A senior bachelor is a man who is unmarried beyond the normal marriage age of 38-50 years. A confirmed bachelor is a variation who does not show any signs of ever tying the knot.
Once an envied, independent eligible man, the senior bachelor’s status slowly becomes like that of the lone buffalo – mysterious and dangerous.
Apart from the barrage of questions about their lifestyles, they face suspicion from every nook and cranny. The pressure for them to conform to society’s expectations of marriage is overwhelming and often suffocating.
“People laugh and make jokes about us, but we suffer quietly, being ridiculed all the time, as if being single makes us less of men,” complained one senior bachelor.
Jesse Oloo, a 47-year-old bachelor was passed over for promotion to the Financial Controller of the blue-chip company he worked for. He was the most qualified and experienced person, but he did not get the promotion because the company felt he did not fit into the corporate culture because he was still single.
Indeed, many conservative companies have a country club sort of lifestyle for the top brass where such managers are expected to mingle with other executives and their wives as part of the corporate culture and traditional image.
Anyone who does not conform to this ideal – especially a senior manager who is well beyond the ‘accepted’ marrying age, is viewed with suspicion
In his best-selling book, “So why are you still not married?” the author, Carl Weisman summarises that there is usually something more than meets the eye when a man of marriageable age goes beyond his time.
He categories the type of men who are likely to end up as bachelors below:
Financially challenged men:
Some men are forced to remain bachelors because they are perpetually broke and feel unable to support and maintain a wife and subsequently, a family. These men shy away from approaching women for marriage.
In many African cultures, men have to earn the respect of their in-laws, and this requires him to pay a sizeable amount as dowry to them.
Other men find that they simply cannot keep up the financial obligations needed to raise a family, and so they opt to remain bachelors until such a time when they can afford it. But this time never comes and many end up living their lives as confirmed senior bachelors.
The ageing playboy:
This is the man who has always lived life on the fast lane and prefers to have a series of relationships and girlfriends without ever committing to any of them.
Often wealthy, this man will lure young women with the trappings of success. He views women as game to be hunted and conquered, and is notorious for leaving in his wake, a trail of broken hearts.
He is a total commitment-phobe who will take off immediately he realizes a relationship is getting serious and he has no qualms about having children with different women that he dates.
Even in their 60s, such men will still be hunting in places where their children’s agemates frequent and sadly, because they have money, they will still be seen with girls young enough to be their daughters.
In the end however, when age finally catches up and they can no longer lure the young girls who want more action than they can give, such men find themselves lonely and miserable.
With only the prospect of dying a single, old man staring them in the face. There are plenty of such men in Nairobi.
The disappointed man:
This type has been through bitter experiences with women. He has been cheated on, and conned. He is quite scared of getting into a relationship and has vowed never to fall into the marriage trap.
He is not very happy to be a senior bachelor, but would rather stay put, than face the risk of love upheavals once again. This man has a wall around him which is near-impossible to penetrate as he is always on guard. He may date but will be too cautious for any meaningful relationship to develop even though he may want one.
The man of ill-repute:
This is a dreaded character because of the way he has treated women. No woman of sane mind will touch him with a ten-foot pole.
Such men are the kind who rape minors, spread social diseases, are violent towards woman, have served time as guests of the state for whatever reason….in other words, his character tends to lean more on the criminal or social deviants.
His relationship never last because of this unsavoury nature. Even where he manages to get a wife or girlfriend, the relationship never lasts and he will in his lifetime go through very many women.
The medically challenged man:
Some men were born impotent. They therefore remain bachelors because they are forced to. There are those who deserve mention – the psychologically castrated man who looks, talks, and walks like a man, but is not really a man in terms of his behaviour and funny attitude.
He knows only too well that is futile to marry, and so opts to remain a bachelor. Others have medical issues that would be a great burden to marriage partners.
For instance, a man who is important may fear the stigma that comes from being branded as such and prefer to remain single for life. Such a man can be very generous and loving but will never consummate a relationship.
When dating, a woman may even procreation to think about leave alone the intimacy that one expects when in a heterosexual relationship.
The fear of being branded impotent is apparently so strong that many men would rather date but take off when it comes to getting intimate.
Unknown sexual orientation:
This group of senior bachelors could be gay or bi-sexual. They opt to remain unmarried to avoid complicated situations, which could inadvertently crop up. The belief among many people, is that a modern, healthy, good-looking man who has it all going for him - a man who will frequents all the posh clubs in town, but who does not want marriage way past his 45th birthday is probably gay or impotent.
Indeed, women will tell you that they are wary of such men because there is usually some skeleton in the closet which they prefer to keep there. Such a man, if he is no gay, will be seen with all the beautiful girls in town and he will even have serious affairs but somehow, he prefers to live on his own.
Some people believe that such a man prefers to stay single because he is bisexual and therefore prefers to stay away from the complications that come with marriage.
The fussy idealist:
This type is still waiting to marry an angel. He flees from women at any sign of imperfection. For him, the perfect woman exists somewhere but not in a place where he can meet and date her.
Steer clear of such a man if you want peace in your life because nothing you do will ever measure up. He has remained single for so long that he has become completely set in his ways. It would take a determined woman indeed to stick around and try and fit in.
How society views senior bachelors
Everyone has his or her opinion about men who have never married, according to marriage and guidance counselor, Pastor Margaret Muinde, based at AKC church. As a pastor, I believe there is nothing wrong with being single, according to 1 Corinthians: 7.
His mother: It is natural for mothers of senior bachelors to be worried and concerned about their sons future. This anxiety starts when he gets to 35 without showing any signs of having a serious girlfriend.
At this stage, she asks questions such as “when are you going bring me a visitor” or, if they follow the African traditions. “When am I going to be born”?
Other family members: His friends and relatives often drop hints pertaining to weddings, and will often ask jovially “so, when is the big day?” and other related questions. The hapless fellow is often at a loss when faced with all these questions, especially since he has no answers.
Society at large: People wonder about such men. Some put forth the theory that he might be jinxed, while others speculate that he must be extremely fussy. At work, his colleagues never cease to tease him about being single for so long.
Even the playboy is expected to get married at some point so when a man gets to 40 and he has no woman around him, questions begin to be asked. Never directly, but you can be sure people start to speculate especially if there is not even a child to speak of.
Married folks: Men shy away from him, believing they do not have much to discuss in common. Some often get into trouble with their wives if found talking to senior bachelors, especially if the bachelor in question happens to be an ageing playboy. The wives believe that these men will introduce their husbands to young women.
Single women: Single women have mixed feelings. Most of the ones who are seriously looking to be hitched will usually ask themselves why such a man is not married, given the number of available women.
They will usually strive to find out the truth, before dismissing him. If he is well off, the younger ones will not question his status; preferring to enjoy the luxuries, he provides.
Who are his friends?
Kindred spirits have a knack for finding each other. The stray bulls find company together. They form alliances as drinking buddies. To take care of their sensual needs, they pursue ‘chips funga’ women (one-night stands) in pubs.
They are experts at spotting such women. “You can always tell the ones you will go home with,” bragged one 56-year-old senior bachelor as he sipped his drink. “It just takes just a smile and a round of drinks and your needs are taken care of for the night. If the worst comes to the worst, we hit the streets. The women out there understand men like us, and do not ask questions, or try to get into relationships, unlike the women in the pubs.”
The life of a self-confessed senior bachelor:
Porque Ignatius is a self-confessed senior, confirmed bachelor. He is of Goan and Kenyan descent, currently residing in Britain.
The Satmag team tracked him down in Laikipia, where he owns a private wildlife sanctuary and horse riding school.
At 51, he has a penchant for younger women. “I chased women the way I see my animals chase their prey.”
In a brief but surprisingly candid interview, he reveals why he is not married.
“No woman was ever good enough for me. I have a son, who is now grown up and lives in the UK with his mother. My peers have their families around them, and sometimes it I feel sad watching them.”
When asked whether he intends to marry at all, he laughed and shook his head. “I am too set in my ways,” was all he said.
Are you dating a senior bachelor?
In her book, “How to avoid the10 mistakes single women make, Michelle McKinney Hammond gives several tips. This author is holding a Diva weekend conference in Nairobi soon, and is a best-selling author of several self-help books in the US. She says:
• Ask the right questions. – Find out exactly what you getting into. Does he have children somewhere? Does he have a history of loving and leaving women?
• Take him as he is. – Do not try to change his past because you cannot.
• Tread cautiously – He may be well past your age group and knows a lot more than you know about love and dating. He could take advantage of your ignorance so be careful.
And always keep in mind that it’s very are for a man who has been single for over 50 years to suddenly decide he is ready for marriage so if involved with such a man, have your fun and be ready to move on.