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7 replies for gay guys to straights who ask: ‘Why are you single?’

7 replies for gay guys to straights who ask: ‘Why are you single?’

Are you still single? That's better than being in the wrong relationship | Photo: Pexels

‘WHY are you single?’ – interchangeable with ‘HOW are you STILL single?!’ – is the epitome of a back-handed compliment, isn’t it?

The not-so-hidden meaning seems to be: ‘Yeah, you look alright, your personality isn’t completely insufferable, but seriously, what – WHAT?!?! – is so wrong with you that I can’t immediately see?’

When uttered by a straight person to a gay man (or I imagine any LGBTI person, but I can only write to my personal experience), it can sometimes be rooted in prejudice and harmful stereotypes, too.

‘Is he a sex addict?’ I imagine the inquirer secretly wondering, when you get energy that they’re asking you to embarrass you. ‘Is he crazy? Or maybe he’s simply too feminine for the guys he goes for?’

Actually, none of the above applies. Although I can be paranoid, second guessing what people are thinking sometimes… Because yes, although it sometimes comes from a bad place, the ‘how are you single?’ question from straights is often meant innocently. (By the way, I discuss my relationships with straight friends all the time  – too much! – and they’d never bring them up so inelegantly as to make me feel bad.)

It’s still almost always awkward though, and usually related to the straight person being a bit ignorant about queer reality. So the next time it happens to you, I’ve prepared these handy responses…

Response 1: ‘Because the last guy I was with was too tight’

Say it just to see the look on the person’s face.

Response 2: ‘That’s a rude question’

Fair point regardless of sexuality, no?

Response 3: ‘How are you still single?’

It’s not a kind response. But, depending on the person’s intention – if you’re certain they’re trying to humiliate you – turn the tables. And if they’re a total c***, but not single, say…

Response 4: ‘Because I’m holding out for a better relationship than the one you’re in’

Again, a pretty cutting remark. But there’s truth to it. Over half of the straight relationships I know are not relationships I would want to be in. Same for many same-sex ones.

Because, newsflash: people all around you are settling. Faking it. And worse, they expect you to like their Instagram photos! It really is endemic among straight people, too, especially of a certain age. Many of those relationships are destined to fail.

True, sometimes you fall unconsciously into that situation. I’ve been there. Sometimes it feels better to fake it than to be alone – we’re only human. But if it’s not your first time at the rodeo, and you know what you’re doing to another person – or you know what that person’s doing it to you – why do it?

Ironically, it hurts in the end regardless. So why not avoid the unnecessary aggro until you find someone worth the risk? Which relates to my next point….

Response 5: ‘I’m single because I choose to be’

People who take ownership of their single status are my heroes. Doing so isn’t easy. And I don’t just mean people who actively don’t want a partner, but people who are open to a relationship but only when it feels right. When you fall into that category, it can be difficult to see the wood from the trees; you fail to realize you’re single, at least in part, by choice.

If, in recent memory, you’ve broken up with someone – or let a relationship run its course, or politely declined a second date, or turned someone down – you’re arguably single by choice.

Most of us could could be coupled up next week if we were willing to settle for someone who isn’t right for us. Many do, as per response three. But finding the right person takes energy and/or time, depending on which side of the ‘looking for love vs. letting love find you’ debate you fall on. Granted, some people are just lucky. But that’s as random as winning the lottery.

Response 6: Because I have fewer people to choose from than you do’

This is where we start getting into real talk. Before you go there, ask yourself: ‘Does the person I’m talking to deserve my truth?’ If they do, and you’re comfortable disclosing it, this is doubtless a relevant starting point.

If you’re exclusively looking for a same-sex partner, there is a much smaller fraction of people available to you than for someone open to an opposite sex partner. This is reality.

Then we have our… preferences, which narrows things down further. How real and justified those preferences actually are is another op-ed entirely. But I for one have pretty broad tastes and am still unbelievably fussy. Then there are a million other legitimate mitigating factors: location, for example. (Which takes me back to my days of wanting someone hyper-specific as a 16-year-old in a countryside village of 3,000…).

These reasons, along with many others relating to the fact we’re an oppressed and stigmatized minority – from potential partners being closeted to LGBTIs being more likely to suffer mental health issues than straight counterparts and this affecting relationships – is, again, another op-ed entirely.

Response 7: ‘Because heterosexual pressures don’t apply to me’

To end on a more positive note: singledom is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve repeated this to straight friends until I’m blue in the face and some – for whom a wife, husband and kids is non-negotiable – refuse to believe it.

It’s wrong to pursue such ‘stability’ to fit in with society, for the sake of external validation. But if gay men and other LGBTIs pursue such convention because it’s what they really want, because it’s going to make them truly, fundamentally happy, then they of course should be entitled to do so.

Equally, we shouldn’t judge, but celebrate those who live fun, fulfilling and happy lives dating around, having more than one partner and/or choosing sex over love and romance – so long as they’re not leading people on and hurting their feelings in the process.

Put simply, when someone asks ‘why are you single?’, just say ‘why not?’

See also: 

Gay men over 45 far more likely to be single – and these are the reasons why

At what age does a gay man give up looking for love and resign to being single forever?