At 30, love feels like a game of musical chairs: everyone is trying to find a steady seat to move on to the next stage, because no one wants to be left standing alone.
If you are a single male from the millennial generation, chances are you spent your 20s like mine: you graduated from college, got your first job, got drunk on the weekends, wined and dined various women, attended music festivals, traveled abroad and may have even lived in different cities. You were young. You were free. Nothing stopped you.
Then we turn 30.
Our knees become sore after playing a pickup game of basketball. We wear casual dress shoes to Sunday brunches in trendy neighborhoods with carefully-designed graffiti. We no longer dance at nightclubs because we are dancing at weddings. In the palm of our hands, our Facebook newsfeed is bombarded with baby pictures. After each long day, we forever-uncles come home to a lifeless apartment, a barren bed asking ourselves, “What am I working so hard for?”
For the first time in your life you feel lonely and incomplete. You believe — convinced by your observation of others — that the remedy to your solitude is finding a relationship. You sign up for dating sites, hoping to find either The One or anyone. You’re not so picky. On first dates, you envision a life and starting a family with each woman. You have lost yourself. The once-playboy has gone from DTF to DTM: desperate to marry.
DTM is harmful in many ways. First, it could lead to depression and loss of self-worth. You spend your day fantasizing about love, but because of your disappointments, your hope of finding the woman of your dreams has become an expectation of finding no one at all. You lose interest in social activities because you are skeptical on the motives of going out — what’s the point of going to dinner with friends, I’m not going to find anybody ringing in your head like a death knell. Second, the impatience could lead to fruitless relationships — settling for someone less than what you deserve — or in the most unfortunate scenario, a failed marriage. Settling for the next warm body is not the solution to DTM.
Here is the prescription to DTM: Stop. Stop seeking to be the groom. Be the BEST MAN.
The Best Man is constantly growing. He capitalizes his time by learning something new each day. When he is not at work, you can find him reading at the local bookstore, taking salsa lessons at a studio, or hiking a mountainous trail. He learns from the old and mentors the young. He’s a hoarder of knowledge and experience.
The Best Man is confident yet humble. He holds a strong sense of identity; he knows who he is and what he wants. His confidence is not dependent on other’s validations of himself; he does not crave attention. He is always qualified, never glorified. He is not a push-over; he sets boundaries and does not tolerate unacceptable behavior. He is not afraid to confront wrongdoing.
The Best Man saves for the future. He does not care for shopping. Petty materials and luxury are not as meaningful as to financial security for his future: retirement, purchasing property, starting a family.
The Best Man is honorable. He is a man of morals, a hero of honor, a don of dignity. He does not play games like deliberately waiting hours to return a text message. He speaks only the truth, even if it hurts. He expresses his dating objective early so that he does not lead women on. He treats his body with respect and intends to share it only with his future wife.
The Best Man values relationships. His family always comes first. He is the son who buys his mother roses and chocolate not only on Mother’s Day, but also on random days, just ‘cause. He is the brother who supports his siblings, available any time they are in need. He is the guy who all the friends wait to greet and hug when he enters a room. He is the person who all his friends can trust.
The Best Man maintains both mental and physical fitness. He escapes into the wilderness to meditate, to journal, and to reflect on life. He is subscribed to periodicals that keeps him inform on current events. He champions physical fitness and despite his busy work schedule, he finds time to run and lift weights at the gym.
The Best Man is dedicated to his purpose. A man on a mission, he commits his life to achieving his goals. Whether it is his career or a passion for art or music, he is goal-oriented and is determined to overcome any challenges that are in the way between him and his ambitions.
The Best Man is ready for love. He has years of unspent love and is ready to unload it on one special woman. He is the starry-eyed student of love who sits in the front row and who can recite Chapman’s Five Love Languages. He has learned from the mistakes of his past relationships, determined not to cross the same path. He is not afraid to express his deepening feelings for someone. He is ready for love.
You heard it before, “You need to love yourself before you love someone else.” That is about the laziest, possibly the worst, advice one can give a friend who is seeking for love. The story of Narcissus supports my claim. This is not an article to promote conceit; rather its goal is to help you optimize your potential of becoming the Best Man you can be.
You can be the Best Man every day by striving to be a better, wiser, and stronger individual than the one you were the day before. You will not only be a groom’s Best Man, you will be everyone’s Best Man. The qualities you develop will attract the influential people and the exceptional woman you want in your life. So do not be DTM. Do not aim to be the groom. Aim, instead, to be the Best Man.