Given the prominence of the ongoing campaign for same-sex marriage, I feel obligated to remind people that you do not have to find a partner and, as they say, "settle down" in order to have a full and satisfying life. You can have a full and satisfying life as a single male-that is, as a bachelor.
Not so long ago, men worked 48 to 60 hours a week and needed a partner to do the laundry, cook meals, and in general run the household. But toward the end of the 19th century, institutions developed that allowed single men to live easier lives. Rooming houses and YMCAs offered housing, boarding houses, cafeterias and automats offered inexpensive food. This whole phenomenon is recaptured in a fascinating book, The Age of the Bachelor, by Howard P. Chudacoff. At the same time, many men moved to cities to find companionship, safety and independence; many of these men were doubtless gay.
Nowadays, modern analogues of those institutions continue to exist. Many apartment buildings provide laundry facilities, nearby restaurants offer inexpensive meals, grocery stores sell a wide variety of "heat and serve" frozen foods and their deli counters offer a variety of already prepared foods. And there are cleaning services to freshen a dusty or dirty house or apartment. It no longer takes two people to run a household.
Just as "men's clubs" used to provide a place for companionship a hundred years ago, we might say that taverns and bars serve the same function today-most obviously in the case of gay bars. And there are numerous clubs, organizations, and interest groups of various sorts that can provide an outlet for social expression.
None of this is to ignore the satisfactions of having a partner to share experiences with, of having a warm body next to you in bed, and the reassuring feeling of loving and being loved. It is just that those arrangements are not for everyone, do not happen without effort and do take a certain amount of luck to work out well over the long term. And let us not forget that some men are simply not cut out for long-term relationships; they neither need nor want them. As a bachelor, you can come and go as you want, do what you want, and not have to check with anyone else if it is convenient.
Bachelors, instead of concentrating all their emotional energy on a single relationship, usually develop a network of friends they can rely on for affection and emotional support. The friends offer various types of friendship, some based on mutual interest, others based on simple amiability, and yet others on physical appeal. The comparison might be of one single ray of bright, white light versus that light refracted through a prism, emitting a variety of different colors.
Some people seem to feel a need for a partner in order to complete themselves. Others don't seem to feel that need but are happy to have close friends as "add-ons." Whether friends or partners, think of another person as another way to experience the world, an add-on to the self, not a completion of oneself.
At least some of this should be good news to young gays who feel a pressure to find a partner and are failing to do so. It should also be reassuring to older gays who are just coming out or whose partner recently died and who are trying to develop a new life. Equally, I would remind younger gays that no one needs to stick with a relationship that is unsatisfactory, unrewarding, and sometimes even abusive.
All these are reasons not to hasten into marriage or other legally binding relationships that can be difficult and painful to undo. Dating was a good idea heterosexuals had. Get to know the other person well, not just feel attracted to them.