Running shy of the bunny boilers

October 7, 2013

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© Jacquie M Boyd

Tom is in his mid-forties.  Handsome and sporty, he cuts an impressive figure, fly-surfing in the winter waves off the beach near his cliff-top home on the Sussex coast.  Tom sold his medical supply business when he was 39:  he was able to retire on the proceeds and pursue his sporting interests, travel and manage an extensive property portfolio.  He was married, briefly, in his early thirties and doesn’t have children. 

‘I’ve been called a lot of things in recent years:  bastard, stringer, serial monogamist, time-waster and little boy lost – those are the printable descriptions.  I have also been described as being emotionally immature, selfish, self-obsessed, narcissistic, a closet gay, also vain.

‘I suppose there’s no smoke without fire, but all these and other less than complimentary descriptions of my being have come exclusively from women I have been out with.  This bewilders me as I can honestly say, hand on heart, that nobody else – friends, acquaintances, family, neighbours and former colleagues – would ever describe me in these terms.  I’m quite a nice guy, really.  These epithets all have to do with the fact that I openly enjoy being single and have no wish now, or as far as I can see in the future, to live with or marry a woman (or a man, for that matter).

‘There was nothing wrong with Julie (my wife), but I just found the institution of marriage stifling.  I’m very controlling and found I couldn’t be accountable to another person.  I agree that I lacked the emotional maturity and any sense of responsibility for somebody else:  I was great at managing my business but utter pants at marriage!  It felt like I couldn’t breathe and suddenly there was this pressure to become a father – my life became governed by fertility dates, thermometers and a calendar dictating when we must have sex.

‘As for children and babies, I have never wanted them. Julie didn’t ask, she just assumed that is what we would do – have kids.  I grew up with two brothers and my father spent all his time philandering about with other women.  He wasn’t really there with us to do boyish things like football and build tree houses.  My memories of my parents’ marriage were of fights, shouting and tears, followed by a relentless and inevitable round of suitcases, taxis, slammed doors and separations.  To me, marriage just didn’t look like a great prospect.  I’m too selfish to be a husband or father – I enjoy my freedom and an uncomplicated existence too much.’

Although Tom has long been released from ‘the confines’, as he describes them, of marriage, he continues to find himself ‘fair game’ at the hands of an expanding group of women.  According to him, ladies of a certain age, ‘can’t believe their luck’ when they stumble across this most eligible of men.

‘I don’t go looking for relationships, but they have a way of finding me.  I may sound big-headed, but all the women I meet seem to think I am some kind of prize and I’ve been waiting all these years for her to show up.  If I begin a relationship with someone, after a short while her eyes glaze over and she begins to think, as if she has some divine powers, ‘I can change him.  No one else has been able to convert him into a husband and father, but I can!’  They look around my modern, minimalist house, fretting about the dangers of the cliff at the end of the garden and the open plan stairs, worrying about the safety of our – as yet – unborn children.  Some have even secretly looked at property details so that we can move to a more family-orientated house.

‘I’m always straight with them.  My feelings towards them are purely amatory – I don’t want anyone to move in, I don’t want to get engaged, married or have children, either in or out of wedlock.  But this seems to make them more determined than ever.  I’m also not interested in anyone who already has children.  Why would I want to give up my surfing or golf so that I could take someone else’s kid to a party or a swimming lesson?  I don’t want children of my own and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s.

‘I’m not looking for someone to share my life with, but my ideal woman would be financially independent, independent in nature and independent in spirit and without an urge to procreate.  It’s not very romantic, I know, but I do feel victimised by every woman I meet.  Perhaps my ideal woman would already be married to someone else, who has no intention of leaving and just wants a bit of fun.

‘I had a great time in my teens, twenties and early thirties, and always went out with women of roughly the same age.  I may be emotionally immature, as I’ve said, but I really don’t want to hang out with women decades younger than me.  I might be mistaken for being their dad!  While I might still have concupiscent yearnings for nubile young women, I’d prefer to give clubbing and camping at rock festivals a miss.  I do find the company of women in their thirties and forties most stimulating – they are more worldly.  I just don’t want to settle down with them.

‘I haven’t gone so far as having a vasectomy, but I am extremely careful when it comes to sex.  I don’t take any chances and am genuinely fearful that I will be tricked into making someone pregnant.  A girlfriend sees that I’m wealthy and even if she decides to go-it-alone on the parent front, she knows there is some financial security waiting for her.  If a relationship progresses (in my case beyond six weeks), the woman begins to feel I don’t trust her (which I don’t), and that creates tension.  We split and then, often as not, she reveals her true colours by turning into a crazy bunny boiler.

‘I’m extremely wary of starting any kind of relationship.  Women seem to interpret this fear as playing hard-to-get, and my ‘shyness’, as one 38-year-old put it, ‘is my most attractive quality.’  One-night stands fulfil a physical need, but I’m not in my twenties anymore, and there is something a bit grubby about just being in it for the sex.

‘This relationship thing does blight my life.  I feel hunted.  The more freedom I have, the more intense the hunt.  I’m not like other guys, and I hate the feeling that I have to do so much rejecting and create so much disappointment after just a few months.’

Asked what would be his advice to women who are hoping to get married when they come across an eligible bachelor, who is proactively single, like himself, Tom replied:  ‘Believe him if he is adamant he doesn’t want commitment.  He will be very clear about this. True, there may be stringers out there who lead a merry dance but a large proportion of the blame must be attributed to women who have left it too late.  These women are hell-bent on getting a wedding and a baby, and like some bonkers evangelist they set about trying to ‘convert’ male ‘candidates’ into husband material.

‘Single women in their late thirties and early forties who don’t want to be single are rapacious and scary.  They come across as predatory and calculating, and try to get what they want through stealth.  If a woman does find someone and the prospects for her look good, I would say, don’t force it.  Don’t imagine a glorious summer wedding under silk-lined canvas when you’ve only just met.  Guys may not be as intuitive as women, but they will read your mind on this one, you can be sure.  Don’t sacrifice everything you have achieved so you can rush headlong into a relationship.  What about being a bit aloof – make him curious about you?  If you’re the right person and he thinks he might lose you, he’ll commit.  If he lets you go, then it was never going to work anyway.’

I asked Tom if he thought the time would ever come when he would decide that he might like to settle down and have a family.  Would he still be happy and fulfilled in twenty years’ time if he was on his own?  ‘Who knows?  I know I don’t!’ was his reply.

Two of Tom’s old flames from the 1980s (both now married with children), give their responses to this interview:

Rosie:  ‘Oh Tom, what a wanker you have obviously become!  You used to be such a dashing, gorgeous hunk and I really thought you loved women!  You were always so bold and innovative in everything you did; you pursued the things you were passionate about.  Now, you just sound like a narcissistic nutcase!  I think you just want to hang onto all your money and keep away those gold-diggers and would-be yummy mummies itching to lay their hands on your cash and bear your children.  Chill out, Tommy!’

Jessy:  ‘Tom, you are so wrong!  Wrong about women in general, and wrong about kids. .You obviously crave a lifestyle where you are served by other people in restaurants, as tenants, in your business – other people’s children in fact, yet you are blinkered to the joy that having your own children could bring.  Ask any guy who’s a parent whether he would have preferred to be single, without a woman in his life and without his kids – I think you know the answer.  Poor old Tom!  You appear to be consumed by selfishness.  So on second thoughts perhaps you would be a lousy dad and husband after all.  Pity, back in 1986 you were quite a catch.’

Louise, who has never met Tom before, but read this interview, says:  ‘I feel rather sorry for Tom.  He has obviously been deeply traumatised by something in his life.  As with women who become fixated on getting a man, Tom should relax a little and try not to be alarmed by every encounter he has.’

©  Text Annie Harrison

Extracted from Finding Mr Right by Annie Harrison.

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