The Male Spinster: It’s Complicated. (Well, This One Is)

Last week, I was “forced” to cook dinner for a guy I dated a lifetime ago. I wanted to IMG_1673interview him for this blog and the only way he would agree to it was if I cooked for him. (Sigh). So I did.


Though we didn’t make it as a couple, he and I have remained friends through the years and it was a fun night.  Why didn’t we make it? There’s no one specific reason,  but I do know that we have different sensibilities about a lot of things.  For example, he didn’t understand why I would get mad when he would use my toothbrush.  Eeeeww!


41px-Silhouette.svgJohn (as in “Doe”, because he won’t let me use his real name) is a youthful 54-year-old executive in the entertainment industry. I wanted to interview  him because I write a lot about my own spinsterhood and was curious about the male experience.  I don’t pretend that John is representative of other men who’ve never been married, but I found his responses to my questions rather intriguing.

John has always dated a lot, and I find what he’s doing now particularly interesting…meaning I don’t know quite what to make of it.  He has a woman… and then another 2-3 on the side, so to speak. He’s a nice guy, though, and this is a reminder that I often don’t know what some women are thinking.  (More about this, later.)  Here’s John’s take on a few things:

How his family impacted his view of marriage:

My Mom didn’t really have a life outside her children.

My Dad shocked me.  When he was dying, he expressed regret that my sister had not married, but he said he didn’t recommend it for the boys.  He and my mother were married for 45 years and I couldn’t believe he was saying this.  I later found out that he had another woman.



Why he hasn’t gotten married:

Marriage is not something I foresee because there’s no benefit.

I probably also have some fear of commitment…being held accountable to another person, losing my freedom.  I don’t want to hurt anybody.

I always struggled with whether I could be faithful.  Some of my married friends say ‘Get married and f*&^ around.’ I didn’t want to do that.  Divorce is traumatic.


On dating:

I like knowing lots of women…having semi-relationships with them.  A desire for safety keeps me from wanting to connect to them on a deeper level…because I don’t know what that deeper level even means.  I’m just not that kind of dude that needs somebody all the time.


On relationships:

I’m in a relationship up to a point. A woman wants your time. She wants to know ‘why can’t we spend weekends together?’ I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be with one person that much.  And how would I explain it to the others? I haven’t met anybody, yet, who’s made me want to give up everybody else.


On that relationship:

I guess you could say she’s my girlfriend. I want her in my life, but I’m not turned on by her anymore. We haven’t had sex in 5 years. She’s like a ‘safety’ for me. We’ve been together 13 years and have seen each other through a lot. We’re in each other’s lives. I do love her.

This relationship doesn’t allow me to get emotionally close to anyone else. I know this is dysfunctional.

NOTE: So, John has a girlfriend who he’s been with for 13 years, but they don’t have a sexual relationship.  He fulfills that need with the 2-3 other women in his life. As far as I can tell, this works for everybody involved.


Sex…then and now:

When I was young, I never went a weekend without sex.  Now, sometimes I don’t want to be bothered.


On being a male spinster…okay, bachelor:

I’m alone, but not lonely.


On the societal pressure of having never been married:

I don’t pay attention to it.  I’m busy trying to handle my business.  It never feels awkward because I meet too many married men who are unhappy.  I don’t believe marriage works.


Because he works in the entertainment industry, John spends a lot of time in clubs.  He left dinner the night of our interview at 10:30p to go meet a client at a strip club. That’s the nature of the business.  He laughed that he would have preferred to go home.

I think one thing I was struck by was how many women he has access to.  A 54-year-old man can still date as much as he wants.  I think the pickin’s are a lot slimmer for a 54-year old woman.



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27 Responses to The Male Spinster: It’s Complicated. (Well, This One Is)

  1. Lucy says:

    Your friend sounds deeply selfish. Even down to the detail of only speaking to you for this blog as long as you perform a service for him. I’m sure he’s charming but he doesn’t sound like someone I’d want to know.

  2. Nissa says:

    oops typo alert – that’s Cote du Rhone

  3. Nissa says:

    I have to admit that I agree with John when he says:
    -there’s no benefit to marriage
    -I don’t believe marriage works
    -[he] doesn’t need somebody all the time
    -I’m alone, but not lonely

    Male or female, I relate to those sentiments. I would guess that not having children strongly informs these beliefs, as protection of children is a reason many people give for getting married.

    Other than that, John already has access to all the things for which people utilize marriage – emotional support, sex, companionship, etc without many of the things people dislike about marriage – having to share decision making, finances and space. I would also guess that while the “other” women probably don’t know about each other, they are likely to have an idea that they are not exclusive. Maybe they are ok with that, and maybe they are hoping for more, but I believe in the idea that they deserve the space to make that decision (even if it is perhaps a lesser choice for them, that they should have the choice).

    I actually feel that his life is not so different from mine. Most of the women I know have at least one man they could inspire to a “friends with benefits” situation if they so chose. For myself, I find that I miss the sex less and the companionship more (that’s why I have dogs). But I don’t think that because John finds value in sex vs companionship makes him a bad person – it’s just his choice for what is right for him. Also, I know that I tend to give my all in relationships, and I love myself too much to shower that on someone who is less than worthy. So I choose to move in that direction. However, I feel that there is great value in allowing each to make their own choice and see John’s choices as having equal value to my own.

    I also wonder if John has more women because he has a quality that women are not finding in other men. For example, is he charming? Does he enjoy a nice Cote due Rhone after a night of dancing? Does he speak fluent Italian, own art and a house in the Hamptons? It is possible that these women are just enjoying the company of someone that is comfortable in his own skin, someone who is providing something that these women don’t get elsewhere. I’m pretty sure if George Clooney wined and dined me, I might just enjoy the journey without wondering where it was going. Just a thought!

  4. SJA says:

    Eleanore, when you said that “as far as you can tell, this works for everyone involved,” does that mean that John’s women know about each other?

    Just curious….

    • Eleanore says:

      I said that based on nothing but my gut…meaning I think women always know what’s going on, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. I say “it works” because they’re all still there. I don’t know whether he has had that conversation with any of them.

  5. Arii says:

    He doesn’t seem like a very appealing man. Perhaps, if I could see him, I could understand why some women are attracted. Maybe those women, although attractive, lack some other qualities (e.g., confidence and sanity…?). I don’t get it.

  6. Q says:

    It is very clear you have chosen an interesting topic that has obviously touched a sensatentive cord with women from every walk and generation In life. As you stated what if you had interviewed a woman for this subject but had men to comment on the interview. It would be interesting to see how many if any negative labels would have been used to describe her if she had the attitude the man in the interview shared with us.

  7. SJA says:

    Here, here Deborah! I completely agree. Better yet, he should have taken Eleanor out to a nice dinner. If he were smart, he could have done that and then deducted it as a business expense, since this blog is for entertainment as well as educational/informational purposes.

  8. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for the interview Sis. I met a guy in the entertainment business and he said he wishes he could find a woman who would just come to his house and have sex with him and then go home. He wanted to spend time with her when he wanted to and not have to answer why he didn’t call, if he didn’t for weeks. I told him good luck I had to get off the phone, I had already given him 25 minutes of my time and Whole Foods was closing. He couldn’t believe I was getting off the phone with him, I couldn’t believe he was serious. But I guess some women are happy to get “scraps”. He blew my phone up after and I never answered again. I’d rather be alone than a side piece.

  9. Deborah says:

    I actually didn’t see anything John said, that warranted your having to cook for him. He should have cooked for you for giving him a platform.

  10. Charlotte says:

    I find this really fascinating for a few reasons. You’re absolutely right: a woman doesn’t have as many options (on average, I’d have to say) as a man in this position. Also societal pressures are a lot worse for an unmarried 54-year-old. I absolutely respect that marriage isn’t for everyone and I think his view is completely valid and respectable, as long as it in something all parties can agree to. Personally, I would have a hard time dating someone if I knew there were other girls on the side. I have immense respect for him that he realizes that marriage is simply not meant for him and that he doesn’t want to do it for fear that he won’t be faithful. If that’s a concern, then yes, I don’t think marriage is write for John.

    Nice investigative reporting, Eleanore! 🙂

  11. I applaud “John” for his honesty. Most people, men and women, aren’t this honest with themselves and/or brave enough to live their truth.
    On the other hand, I’m sure the streets are lined with broken-hearted women with whom he’d been involved who didn’t get any of the insights and honesty that he shared with you.

  12. Michael Ann says:

    My most recent “relationship” was with a man like this, whose relationships don’t last more than 3 -6 months. He was married once, but he told me on his wedding day, he knew it wouldn’t last. He was just doing it to see what it was like! He likes having a woman in his life for company and sex, but he really doesn’t NEED anyone to help his happiness. He likes to be alone and doesn’t feel lonely. This is totally opposite of everything I need and want in a man, so obviously it didn’t last with me either. This guy isn’t a “bad” man, just like your friend. It’s just how he is and what he wants in life. He is extremely attractive, intelligent, fun to be with and has good job and life. I enjoyed my time with him but I was falling in love and I knew he wasn’t. I do think there is more going with this type of person. Definitely fear of commitment. Fear of Committment is a huge thing for men AND some woman (Eleanor?)

    • Eleanore says:

      I think fear of commitment is a big issue for many men and women…not all of them single. I heard a therapist say that married people who regularly cheat also have a fear of commitment.

      • max kors says:

        Why does everyone say that they have a “fear of commitment” I’m not interested in marriage at all because it’s unpleasant. I don’t “fear” anything. I don’t want anyone around all the time. I don’t find that life appealing and neither do most of the married people I know. THey just assume that’s what they’re supposed to do. It’s just a stupid idea to begin with. And then they wonder why it doesn’t work out. It’s a no brainer!! Why should I pretend to like doing things that i don’t want to do. THen people will say that you’re selfish. That’s code for “you won’t let others use you”. That’s right. I won’t. And I have no “need” to use or rely on anyone else.

  13. Janine says:

    Your friend’s views, even his arrangement, are not as unorthodox as you might think. Internet dating has made this an almost standard arrangement for men, who have a zillion more options than we do. What we don’t hear is what the women ‘on the side’ REALLY think. I have met such women throughout my life and not one of them was happy about it, but it’s the best she can do. I refuse to believe this claptrap that women are just like men now. It’s simply not the nature of the beast. How glorious for him, though, to never feel the stigma of age or marital status. As we all know, there is no such thing as the male spinster. He’s just a man. A stud. A top bloke. A silver fox. And women just encourage that with all their tittering about how men grow sexier as they get older. What a crock! When did you last see The Naked Retired Footballers Calendar for sale? (actually, what ever happened to the Naked Footballers Calendar?)
    I’m curious to know how frequently you and your readers actually crave sex as they age. I just turned 47 and I can tell you the answer, quite honestly, is never. So it’s now unlikely that I’ll be dating again, given that all they’re offering is quick, and always appalling, sex. I’d sooner seek the company of a woman now than the pathetic bunch of entitled cads who are at my disposal. I don’t mean this to sound bitter – it’s just my truth – and unlike many women, I’m not in the habit of sugar-coating the facts surrounding modern love. Let’s explore this more. I’d like to see you interview more modern males – and perhaps gay ones too – as I feel they’re more likely to relate to OUR situation.

  14. Denise says:

    Does “John” have children? There was no mention about any of that and I was curious to know if not, what his reasoning was.

  15. "Q" says:

    Let us not forget James Brown song: “It’s a man’s world”.

    In the end no matter how much we gain as women we will never have the same opportunities as a man!

    • Eleanore says:

      Agreed. And imagine the reaction if I had interviewed a 54-year-old woman who said “I have a man, and am also sleeping with 2-3 others.”

    • Pheena says:

      I love James Brown and his music as much as the next person. However your comment, is the reason why society believes we will never have the same opportunities as a man. I think in this day and age, many women have become far more sucessful than many men, yet men don’t want to recognize the accomplishments of such great women. Although this topic is not about women’s sucess, I feel as if we have to compete with men. But that is not the case. I have been a single mother for 10 years, and thers is nothing that gives me more great pleasure, then raising my children by there selves. And if I have to have a one nite stand with a man to make it thru until i find a time worthy, stress free relationship, so be it. We, as women, have not only reversed the roles of sucess in the business world, but we have come in close to reversing the roles of one nite stands.

      I don’t blame “JOHN” for not wanting to settle down, however I can only say that he will be a lonely man as he gets old. He has taken to much for granted. And in the words of Snoop Dogg, Its a Doggy Dog World….

      • CH says:

        You’re making an assumption that he will be “lonely” just because he is not in a committed relationship or has kids. Your comment also indicates a stereotypical way of thinking. Marriage and children will not guarantee that you will not live out years of your life unhappy and alone. 1) Couples divorce and children leave the nest. 2) Spouses and children can die leaving you alone or 3) you can be unhappily married and have children who turn out to be nightmares causing parents stress and misery. I work around individuals who fall into every single category. All any single man or woman can do is live what he/she feels is his/her most fulfilling life. And we as a society should simply stop assuming that just because one chooses not to conform to society’s views of what is acceptable that the person will end up in a rocking chair in some old house surrounded by cats…let’s evolve in our thinking.

  16. kk says:

    Interesting discoveries. I’d have loved to hear more about the dysfunctional attachment of 13 years 😉

    • SJA says:

      Yes! And if the 13 year relationship woman is not having sex with “John” is she getting any at all? It seems that John is using her as a convenient excuse to avoid (admittedly) a deeper connection with one of his side “dishes” or another woman.

      But, as others have said, at least he was candid. At 54, he can have up to four women at a time and get another attractive former girlfriend to cook for him. Not too shabby!

  17. Mary Gates says:

    I think that is very interesting. Because as a newly single 45 year old, there are not as many to date. It so different that it use to be. But, he can have as many as he wants.

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