The Age of the Bachelor

The Age of the Bachelor

The age of the millennial bachelor has dawned. Born in the 80’s and 90’s we’re the single guys who now outnumber our married counterparts in record proportions. Midlife bachelors were once harder to come by but now that our movement is growing we’re starting to ask what it really means to be a bachelor and more specifically, a Catholic one. You say “bachelor” I say “party” and maybe that’s true but the reality is that our lifestyle is not without its challenges.
First of all, the situation came for most of us as a surprise. The 90’s dream was to meet your sweetheart in college, graduate, sign a career contract and be married soon after. That’s not how it has worked. Maybe it was the multiple economic recessions or the fear of becoming a divorce statistic. Maybe you found out from a Zimbio quiz that you’re actually a superhero and so can now only marry Wonder Woman. Whatever the case, it’s 2014 and you’re still single.

I myself joined the crowd a few years ago upon finishing a prolonged fling with living abroad, vocational discernment and grad school. All of the sudden I had a lot of new decisions to make. I’m making money now, I have evenings off, I’m on my own. After saving, future planning, and building a social life came the bigger questions about relationships. Seriously now, is it OK to go out with someone born nearly a decade after you? I realized that being 21 and single was different from being 31 and single.

Pop culture has been quick to try and answer our questions. Magazines and journals are now begging to be subscribed at $1.07 an issue. A glance at GQ will make sure your cloth is still relevant and that you aren’t dressing like your parents even if you are back to living with them. Practical first date advice from AskMen: pick up the tab buddy! And if you want to stay in bachelor shape but only have 16 seconds a day to do it, there’s Men’s Health. As always, like a good neighbor, Hollywood films are there for you too.

An earlier film like Wedding Crashers (2005) showed that bachelor life should be fun and adventurous. We’ve all been there: get on the guest lists and get invited to parties way beyond our pay grade. More recently, however, movies have attempted to dramatize the real-life challenges of the gentleman. Don Jon (2013) addressed the explosion of internet porn. It did an OK job at showing that erotic internet was bad for you although at the expense of saying that casual sex was therapeutic and religion useless. That Awkward Moment (2014)? Apparently an attempt at choreographing girl-buddy fidelities, but it simply felt awkward watching the trailer. Enough said. I know everyone in Hollywood is really doing their best to win an Oscar, but the serious bachelor man will have to go beyond films if he wants solid advice.

“So what is our Church doing?” we then ask. For starters, college young adult groups graciously began extending membership to the big three-zero once they saw that a lot of us weren’t getting hitched. Some parishes are getting adventurous and successfully starting young professional’s groups. In general, though, you’ll find a Vatican-level response to our particular guy situation to be a little less boisterous than that of the entertainment community. In part, it’s because the Holy See thinks more carefully about the answer she’ll give; and in part because she liberally leaves us only the principles to live by and hopes we actually use them to build a life. So after the blogs, dating websites, Church groups, and maybe one or two close buddies who share your refined ideals, it’s simply going to be up to you to decide how to build a life worthy of both the words “bachelor” and “Catholic”. Some consider that a challenge, others an opportunity. I say go ahead and make your Catholic mark on the age of the bachelor.