Sunday, May 11, 2008

City Life

The Bachelor Life Without Regrets
By Jenifer Carbonara

Grow up, get married, have kids. This is the default setting programmed into almost every child from birth, and one that your average person forecasts for his or her future. For Donald Choi, and so many other New York City bachelors, however, this is simply not the reality.

Choi, 40, is the now-retired former CFO of Diane Von Furstenburg’s fashion empire. By all accounts, this man is a catch: handsome, demonstrably wealthy, and extremely successful. Choi is lacking one thing, though—a wedding ring.

“I always thought I would get married,” says Choi, “but it just never happened. And I’m not sure that is a bad thing.”

Donald Choi says he doesn’t regret
the single life.

Choi is one of many men who have become life-long bachelors. Instead of a wife, kids, and the white picket fence, he chose travel, yachts, and the ultimate bachelor pad. He traded diapers for diamonds, and one woman “till death do they part” for 20-something models for “as long as it’s fun.”

His lifestyle is not the typical example of how a 40-year old man lives, but it is certainly one that is enviable to many. Like most bachelors, Choi is protective of the life he has established as a single man. His worry that marriage would not be “fun” gets trumped by his concern he would be robbed of the things he enjoys most.

“I like to be spontaneous, and being single affords me the ability to do whatever I want whenever I want to,” Choi said. “If I want to travel, I do it. If there is something I want, I buy it. Being tied down would mean I wouldn’t just be making choices for myself; I would be making choices for my family, too, responsible ones. I worked hard—I am always responsible. In my personal life, I would rather just be.”

Choi isn’t the only one who feels this way. The latest census bureau indicates a steady drop in married couples and in American families since the 1970’s. Married couples used to make up more than 40% of the U.S. population; they now are at 25%, a statistic even with single person households.

The number of American families dropped from over 80% to just over 70% as well between 1970 and 1995. By comparison, single person households rose from 17% to nearly 25% during that same period. And, of the men in that statistic, nearly three-fourths of them are men between the ages of 25-64 who have never been married.

Chalk it up to rising divorce rates? Or perhaps the fear of a messy divorce? Whatever the reason, the American bachelor is becoming a new breed of man that is on the rise. To cope with this rising statistic, the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble are flooded with quick-fix books to “Tie Down Your Man Now!” and other such remedies for the single life.

However, the likelihood of finding a fast and easy way to tie down the Hugh Hefner wannabes seems slim. In Choi’s case, nearly impossible. According to him, it takes more than a genuine smile and a good home cooked meal to ask these staunch bachelors to trade in their nights of hot, new club openings, days of idle relaxation, and apartments equipped with the latest gadgets, leather couches, and even a stock supply of blow dryers, razors, perfume, and feminine products.

“I never say never, though. All I am saying is that I don’t regret staying single,” said Choi. “I have had a great life! There are so many people who wish they could have experienced what I experienced—it would be rude to say that I have not had a very lucky life!”

Choi, like so many other men, are beginning to see the value of a life that might be non-traditional. He believes that finding love and having children should be a choice, not a requirement. Choi is an example of the changing values and attitudes of the average American.

Though many may question the fulfillment of a life that is devoid of a marriage and family, Choi responds that he is very close with his parents and siblings, and enjoys the company of many great friends whom he cares for deeply. “I have a lot of love in my life,” he says.

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