Why the mid-life bachelor stereotype is WRONG

Being an eternal bachelor is NOT as fun as it looks! Mid-life single men are full of self-loathing, too scared to change their ways and more Miss Havisham than James Bond, experts claim

  • ‘Mid-life bachelor’ conjures an image of an ageing lothario who refuses to give up the freedom, attention and excitement of his youth
  • But in reality these men are more Miss Havisham than James Bond, experts say
  • Explained there are a variety of reasons why they are still single, including being unwilling to embrace change and having an intense feeling of self-loathing 

‘Mid-life bachelor’ conjures an image of an ageing Lothario who refuses to give up the freedom, attention and excitement of his youth. 

Celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, 47, Jamie Foxx, 54, and Jared Leto, 49, are the poster boys. They’ve had relationships, even children, but have never walked down the aisle. 

But this stereotype of the bachelor as a man-child or ‘Peter Pan’ who refuses to grow up is wrong, relationship experts argue. 

In reality there are a range of reasons why a man might not commit, from a feeling of self-loathing to an unwillingness to compromise on routine. 

Almost all of them are to do with issues they need to address in themselves, rather than a potential partner being the right or wrong fit. 

‘Mid-life bachelor’ conjures an image of an ageing Lothario who refuses to give up the freedom, attention and excitement of his youth. Leonardo DiCaprio, 47, and Jamie Foxx, 54, are the poster boys. They’ve had relationships, even children, but have never married

Speaking to FEMAIL, British psychotherapist and relationship expert Lucy Beresford argues bachelors are more Miss Havisham than James Bond and are full of self-loathing that sabotages any meaningful relationship. 

‘The mid-life bachelor is more like Miss Havisham,’ she explained. ‘He is locked in a world of apparent freedom where anything can happen – the spontaneous trips abroad, the thrill of the chase, the buzz of one-night-stands – but where nothing of any actual consequence does.

‘Miss Havisham of course was left high and dry at the altar, so she lived out her years as a permanent spinster, dressed in her wedding gown, the marriage feast and decorations congealing on the table, frozen in time.

A-list bachelor: Actor Jared Leto, 49

‘It’s a form of grief, for sure, but it’s an act of supreme self-sabotage driven by the deepest fear. Fear for the future. Fear that it might be wonderful, or at least amazing enough to eclipse the pain you’re currently feeling.

‘The mid-life bachelor is trapped by fear. Fear that they won’t be a great husband or dad or partner. Fear that they won’t be funny enough in the long term. Fear that they won’t be enough full stop.

Revealed: Signs you should give up on ‘taming’ a bachelor – and when it could still work out

Tina Wilson, relationship expert and founder of dating app Wingman, said: ‘A woman that waits for the right guy to come along is praised, but when a man settles down later in life, it can be seen as a red flag and assumed that they are a playboy, have “peter pan syndrome” or are scared of commitment. Whilst this can absolutely the case, it isn’t always the rule and there is some upside to dating someone with history.

‘The most important thing in any relationship is timing. If a man has spent all of his time focussing on his career, it’s not going to be easy for him to slip into a perfect coupledom because he has been used to living as a bachelor, but it is absolutely possible and in fact when they decide it’s the right time, they will absolutely focus on making it work.

‘But for other men the older they get they can also be unwilling to compromise, set in their ways and it can take even longer to find the right person to settle down with due to their reluctance to up route their comfortable, easy and familiar life. They love the freedom and solitude that being a “confirmed bachelor” brings and this is the real reason they are still single. They are not interested in playing the field and playing up to the typical bachelor type role. Instead they prefer to live alone and not have any responsibilities or ties.

‘There are however some eternal bachelors who do play the field and are best avoided, unless you are up for something casual. Men, who have been adored from a young age, will generally seek new attention and flattery, wanting to flutter their peacock feathers. Whilst you might want to be the one to convert them to settle down (we all love a chase) it is generally nothing to actually do with you, and more to do with the guys’ own belief system and timing in his life.

‘If it doesn’t work naturally, do not push it – and do spend time on a man who is on the same page as you.’

‘And a fear that someone will connect with them so fully that they will discover the darkness within.’ 

After so many years as a singleton, men might also be reluctant to embrace the change in routine that comes with entering a relationship, according to psychologist Aaron Surtees.

‘Whether the change is good or bad, the human mind can also find change difficult to process and a big challenge emotionally,’ he explained. ‘It can bring feelings of shock, uneasiness and being scared to take the leap into the unknown. 

‘Many men today will happily walk away from a romance or not even court a relationship to embrace other desires including being able to do what they want, when they want.

‘It is also true the mind can become less tolerant as we age, for both men and women, and we naturally become more selfish which consciously or subconsciously can hamper a potential romance from occurring.’

Relationship expert and psychotherapist Neil Wilkie agreed that starting a relationship gets more difficult as bachelors age. 

He explained that as mid-life bachelors get further down their solitary path, they might find themselves doubling down on their decision, too afraid to admit they might have been wrong to eschew long-term romantic connections. 

‘They may pretend, on the outside, that their life is fun and full of freedom. After all they need to tell everyone that they made the right choices,’ he said. 

‘But the unspoken and growing realisation that they have made a big life mistake will lead to a hardening of attitudes.

‘The mental blinkers will go on and they will become even more determined to continue on the one-way road, that their inner self will know, can only lead to a lonely and disappointing old age.

‘The reality is that, inside, they feel they screwed up and there is no going back.’

This level of self-containment also renders some bachelors of ever finding love, explained Lucy.  

She added: ‘If you have had your heart broken by a man like this, who your friends rubbished (when you were sobbing on their shoulder at three in the morning) as a self-indulgent man-child, know this: it’s not that the man didn’t like you, or love you. 

‘For all the trips abroad and multiple godchildren and hobby obsessions and frenetic sex life, they are afraid to peer into themselves and work out how to love themselves.’

Are YOU a mid-life bachelor? It’s not too late to change – here’s how 

Neil Wilkie is a Relationship Expert, Psychotherapist, author of the Relationship Paradigm Series of Books, advised: 

  • Let go of the past dreams and be in the now.
  • Work out what your core values are (e.g, Happiness, Success, Friendships, Love, Achievement). Calibrate these out of 10 and work out what you need to have happen to get you to a perfect score.
  • Understand what has driven you to get to get you to where you are. Has it been seeking external validation from parents, teachers, friends? Or have you been pursuing your own, inner validation?
  • Get some large paper and coloured pens. Draw two pictures, one representing life as it is right now and one representing your ideal future. Look at these and work out what is different. See what is needed to change to get you to your ideal future. Think through how desirable and achievable this future is. Plan your steps forward and take the first one.
  • Who do you need in your life to help you to be feeling happy and fulfilled? Do you have these at the moment? If not how do you find them?
  • Write your own funeral eulogy. To someone you would like to be presenting this and write what you would like them to be saying about you and your life. Reflect on this; is this what are you would want to be hearing from beyond the grave?
  • Find somebody that you can be totally open and honest with. Talk about how you’re feeling now and how you’d like to be feeling in the future. Get their support to hold you to account.
  • Carpe Diem. It is never too late to change!

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