October 05, 2007

Single, Straight, Male, w/ Vasectomy

Would you respond to someone who described himself this way in a personal ad?

According to Toby Byrum, he fits this description and he’s never been worried about meeting Ms. Right. He’s a single professional in a small community in Wyoming but he hopes to marry one day. He came to the conclusion, in his mid-twenties, that he didn’t want kids. He made the decision to have a vasectomy at 28 years old.

His story was featured recently on NBC’s Today Show. Today Show host Matt Lauer asked Byrum, with regards to dating, "How do your bring this up and how quickly do you bring this up?" Byrum responded: "The first date, if not before," he said. "I live in a small area, so some people are already aware of this. I bring it up quickly. There’s no reason to waste anybody’s time. If someone has a different idea for themselves, I don’t want to get in the way."

Lauer also asked if he ever thought about the fact that, as an only, male, child he might regret not leaving a legacy. Byrum admitted he had thought about it but thought that procreating for the sake of legacy "was too vain a reason to have kids"

As is usually the case, the viewer comments that followed the posted video clip on MSNBC are as interesting as Toby Byrum’s story. One comment in particular, disturbed me, because it came from a pychotherapist who felt compelled to do some armchair analysis, based on the 5-minute interview clip. The self-described "licensed psychotherapist in MA" wrote:

[I] can't help but wonder how much a toxic dose of narcissism fuels Todd's choice. (Baggage from childhood too much or not enough mirroring by his parents??)His choice has set the groundwork for him to focus his energy on pursuits and achievements at the expense of meaningful (and sometimes messy) relationships, but what about generativity (giving back to the world)? His choice and apparent lack of ultruism can result in a lonely old man, with nothing meaningful to review when it comes time to do his end of life stage of life emotional reflection. I do not see his sense of spirituality...is he spiritually bankrupt?
It irks me that the choice to remain childfree is still, so often, misunderstood, even by those who claim to know more than "the average bear" about the inner workings of the human psyche.

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19 comments:

Tiara Lynn said...

Commentary like that makes my blood boil. The implication that those of us who aren't having children aren't "giving back to the world" is absurd, especially when a major reason fueling our choice [my husband's and mine] not to procreate is based heavily in environmental and conservationist reasons. Sometimes I think programs like that put stories of childfree people on just to get that negative reaction.

Anita D said...

My blood boileth.

Lynn said...

Hmmm. . .it's always nice to hear from Purple Men.

How sad, though, that most people think that the only way you can live a meaningful life and leave a lasting legacy is by procreating.

britgirl said...

My blood boileth as well. The psychotherapist is an idiot and is talking a load of cobblers (rubbish).

I'm sure the kids who are abandoned because their parents decided too late that they didn't want them and really shouldn't have had them in first place feel pretty darn cool about being the results of their parents "giving back to the world."

Go Toby.

kris said...

amen, Amen, AMEN! Please read my post on this - out blood boileth in unison!

dynamitt said...

wow that comment was just...wow
I think Toby did a good choice. If he don't want kids then its good he have made sure that he can't and I also think its great that he brings it up with dates so early. A friend of mine found out 4 years into her relationship that her partner did not want kids.ever.

Teri said...

LauraS -- I am not sure how I would have responded to the post title as a description for meeting someone on a personal ad.

I'd really want to know what his interests were. If he liked to cook, what he did for fun, if he was involved in his community. I'd want to know if he cared about people who litter on hiking trails and if he recycled or conserved water at home. I'd want to know if he'd ever left the mid-West.

On a first date, I'd want to know all the basics such as where he grew up, where he wanted his life to go, and what kind of relationship he had with his parents. (If he still lived with his parents!) I would certainly admire his up-front approach to negotiating the single marketplace.

To all Purple Women: I had already fallen in love with my husband before I told him I could not have his children. It was very emotionally risky and I do not recommend waiting for this kind of news. When we had that conversation, he revealed his true colors to me. Guess what color that was? Lucky me.

To the armchair psychotherapist: You're not fit to lick this man's boots. I think you should examine your own mirror.

Anita D said...

My husband and I were discussing this post as we were driving in town Saturday afternoon. My husband said..."So the only value in being a human being is to create other human beings?!?"

LauraS said...

I hear all of you!
What is our value as a human being? Let's break it down:
A
Human
Being
Toby is being the person he was meant to be.
I applaud the man. He is more than what the editors at NBC could show in a short segment. He is smart, discerning, and self aware, and very brave to "out" himself on a national news station.

jess said...

How is this gentleman being narcissistic by stating he doesn't want to have a child simply to "leave a legacy"? This makes no sense to either me or my husband.

Since when is it professionally kosher for anyone in the mental health profession to diagnose within five minutes of not even meeting someone?

I will add that my blood boileth forsooth!

Anonymous said...

"It's very sad to see people with little or no real direction or purpose to their existence... and when that happens they only can appease their immediate desires. I am a married man with 5 children, and while it hasn't been easy, I believe that marriage and family is at the very core of what we are doing here on this earth. It's sad to see a man choosing what he considers an "easier route" for him, but in the long run will, instead, provide him with loneliness and unfulfilled memories. The only way to happiness in this life is to do something outside of yourself."

These people are the biggest assholes in the world. "Doing something outside of yourself." How would YOU know? I hate them.

Michelle L. said...

I find the idea that having children is altruistic, is riduculous in the extreme (not ultruistic as our licensed phsychotherapist claims).

In biology, altruism is an act that negatively impacts the individual's ability to pass on their genetic material, but positively impacts the species as a whole.

Therefore, what he has done is altruistic in the extreme. He has chosen to not further negatively impact our planet by adding to overpopulation. Something that benefits the rest of the species.

Reproduction, in fact, is the opposite of altruism where biology is concerned.

Add me to the "blood boileth" list. You would have thought that someone with a graduate degree would have not only known how to spell altruism, but would have known what it was.

Kate said...

Wow. Are those commenting on the tv site really so insecure about their parental roles that they must villify this man's well-reasoned life choice? That stuns me.

That said, I would respond to an ad like this if the rest of the ad appealled to me. I have never finished a second date without having this discussion, as I don't think it's right of me to waste someone else's time if he's set on parenthood.

Feh23 said...

Add me to the pot of boiling blood.
Seriously, I can not understand why people feel the need to comment on this guy so much. It's not THEIR LIFE, and I'm sure would take just as much offense if someone they didn't know felt the need to comment on their lives in a similar manner.
"What you had kids that you are treating as your best friends and never say No to? Are you INSANE?!"

Anita D said...

I know a few women who are now oldish who never had children. One is a missionary in China. Her life is so full. She teaches English to her students in China. Her home is always open to them and they all call her Mother. She is in her 70s and when I look at her life I don't see loneliness or unfulfilled life...I see the complete opposite.

It seems the general idea among women who have children is that it's the only way of being unselfish. But, I've noticed a theme running through the blogs of my friends who have children. They are often so consumed by their own families, raising their children, protecting them from harm that they keep their doors closes to those around them in their community.

I tend to think that those of us who have chosen not to have children have that liberty and freedom to open our lives up to others around us by giving and helping.

Dave said...

lol - man here - vasectomy at 28 is nothing, had mine at 24.

childfree and loving it! been married for 8 years now. Got hitched when she was 18 and I was 20, now 28 and have lots of great memories of our time together - no kids to spoil the fun.

we are just getting to the point where our breeder friends are beginning to separate themselves from us - this part really sucks but is going to be something we have to learn to live with i guess.

LauraS said...

Dave--Good to hear from you!
Be glad you are a man. Getting a tubal ligation at 24 is near to impossible if you have never had a kid.
Yeah, the friends with kids will drift away but, if you haven't yet, check to see if there is a childfree meetup group or a No Kidding! chapter in your neighborhood, or join a hiking group that meets on saturday mornings-- I did the latter and found plenty of empty nesters and childfree singles and couples there

ognywogny said...

for anonymous; I have two grown children and got a vascectomy at 27 Of cours Todd won't know of memories of children but you have no idea about the things he will have gained remaining childless, as you have 5. Would you people mind your own damned business and leave people alone with their choices

Linda said...

I wish I had met an enlightened, honest man like this one years ago. These wet-nurse wannabe men make my stomach turn. I don't like children. I don't want children, and I had to wait until I was 29, a victim of rape, and forced to bear one that I gave up before I could have my tubes tied. To say we are put here to procreate is pure stupidity. Truth be told, probably 60% or more of the pregnancies that occur in the world today SHOULD NOT. And they wpould not if the churches would stay out of bedrooms and stop trying to control other people's genitals. My blood boileth bright red, but my soul is purple through and through.