Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Connection

To review, when I first introduced this blog two years ago this month, my intention was to reach out to single, gay men who were on the verge of giving up hope they'd ever be in relationships.  I wanted to show them if I could be in a relationship and sustain it for (at the time) nearly seventeen years, they could, too.  Also, my intention was to be a resource for other gay couples, who may not have known other gay couples they could run ideas past or ask questions of.

As I learned soon enough, a blog is a living, breathing thing.  In my case, I started out with one intention but ended up writing on other subjects.  Among other things, I wrote about Chris's and my move back to the Lower Mainland; the details of setting up our new home in the Fraser Valley; writing and creativity, as I turned attention to fulfilling my dream to be a writer; and, later, my mid-life crisis, since turning fifty was more difficult for me than I'd anticipated.    

Most of all, I used my blog as a counsellor, someone I talked to frankly about long-term and ongoing issues I had with being gay.  In particular, I wrote about insecurities with my masculinity, a common problem for gay men; daily challenges gay men face; changes I'd like to see in the gay community in general and in gay men in particular; the shame of yet more young people committing suicide for being gay and bullied at school; anything that came up in the media I was concerned about; and others.    

Now, if you read any of the posts I've written since the beginning of this year, you'll notice I've taken on the topic of low self-esteem in gay men, or, more precisely, gay men learning to recognize the lack of love they have for themselves, how that affects their lives in so many ways, and how to remedy it. Seems like a stretch, given the title of this blog and the fact that what I write about now seems to have little or nothing to do with gay relationships.  Or does it?

If gay men now are anything like gay men twenty or so years ago (and I'm sure they are), around the time I met my partner, Chris, then one of the biggest goals in their lives is to find the right man and to settle into a long-term, committed relationship.  Sure, some gay men are confirmed singles and will never settle down--hooking up with different partners central to their existence--but I'm confident most would rather love and be loved as opposed to risk growing old alone.

The problem is many gay men can't find the relationships they want.  They go out to the bars, join groups, take courses, pursue hobbies, go on cruises, work-out--in short, they do a myriad of things to improve themselves and to ensure they're in the right places at the right times to increase their chances of meeting someone.  But, more likely than not, all their considerable efforts still don't yield what they most want.  So what are they doing wrong?

If someone had asked me years ago, when I was desperate to meet the right man, if I loved myself, if I saw the connection between loving myself and finding the love of my life, I would have stared at him with I'm sure a dumbfounded expression on my face, as if to ask, what the hell are you talking about? At the time, I thought nothing was wrong with me.  I believed I was fine just as I was.  The problem, as I saw it, was all the gay men I met.  They were the reason I hadn't been able to find someone.

What I failed to see was I was the problem, because I had no clue about loving myself.  Love myself? What's that?  Thus, I made bad decisions--decisions I see now showed me to be homophobic, weak, insecure--in other words, unattractive, all manifestations of low self-esteem.  I went out to the clubs on a regular basis, arguably the best place to meet a man, but do you think I had the balls to walk up to anyone and ask him to dance?  Thank God I finally grew a pair the night I approached Chris.

How many Saturday nights did I stay home, staring at the Vancouver skyline from my West End apartment, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting anxiously for someone to take me away from my miserable, unhappy life?  Who the hell was going to call me?  It's not like all these young, eligible men were lined up to take me out and show me a good time.  I was so filled with self-loathing, I repelled people instead of attracting them, as I so desperately wanted.  There's no excusing my shortcomings.

My point is this:  The connection the title of this post refers to is the one between loving yourself and finding a relationship.  And I want every gay man who wants to be in a committed, long-term relationship--who wants to know real and true love in his life--to find exactly that.  I want him to know what that is because it's truly life affirming and life transforming.  My hope is I'll write something here that will resonate with you, will get you thinking your own self-esteem might just be holding you back.    

First and foremost, you must understand the person in your life who most needs and deserves your you.  Second, if finding a relationship is important to you, then it's important to me, too. Because I know from experience there is no substitute for living your life with that special someone, enveloped by the enduring love of the one person in the world who's there for you, who's on your side. There's nothing quite like knowing the love of your life is on his way home to you at this very minute.


  1. Hi Rick,
    Another great post! You know what also might help people, is to see how to handle things in your own relationship, how you compromise, how you argue, how you resolve things...all part of relationships, and it would probably be really great for new couples, or people looking to be in long term relationships to see how you guys have handled things. (...unless, of course, it's been cherubs and rose petals every day... :)

    This is one of my favourite pieces of writing on marriage/coupledom, by Kahlil Gibran. I guess I like it because it's how I like a relationship to be: equals who come together to share, without being needy or smothering...

    On Marriage
    Kahlil Gibran

    You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
    You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
    Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
    But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
    And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
    Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
    Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
    Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
    Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

    Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
    For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
    And stand together yet not too near together:
    For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
    And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

  2. oops.. I meant "how YOU handle things in your own relationship", meaning you and your husband.

  3. I'm sure you're right, Rick. Most people are looking for a secure, loving, and lasting relationship with the right person. Your relationship with Chris is a great inspiration for me, and I'm sure others. I think it's also important to note that being in a relationship is not the right thing for every person at every point in their adult lives. Also, a relationship that ends should not be regarded as a personal failure. Certainly loving yourself is as important as loving your partner, and people need to cultivate a relationship that grows with them. So we need to know a few of your secrets! P.S. I'm sure there were a few eligible guys back in the day wanting to ask you out, but they were too shy : )

  4. My thanks, Sarah and Doug, for your comments.

    @Sarah: What a beautiful poem you shared with us. The point of it sure comes across clearly. Words to live by, surely.
    And thanks for the suggestion to get back to writing posts about my relationship with Chris. I guess I thought I'd run out of topics to write about us, but maybe I didn't. We'll see.

    @Doug: Thanks for saying you're inspired by my relationship with Chris. I think what he and I have is pretty remarkable, and I'm thrilled to have that man in my life, but I guess I thought what I might have to say about us wouldn't be that interesting after all. You've gotten me thinking about pieces I could write, so maybe I'll take a detour from the self-esteem theme and see what I can come up with.
    And thanks for the comment about being sure a few eligible guys may have wanted to date me way back when. It's fun to think that may have been the case.

    Thanks to both of you again. I appreciate it.