Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Never Give Up Hope

Last Friday, I received the following comment on a post titled The Gay Lifestyle, which I wrote in March of this year:


What you stated is true if you are one of the minority of gay men who wanted a relationship and has found that. Otherwise, the choices are simply to either find some other purpose in life (in other words, be a busy bee) or to seek someone out, which means being subjected to what you described as the typical gay lifestyle (you've hit the nail on the head except that you neglected to mention the high degree of mental disorders and the callous nature of adult gay men toward other gay men). 

I am your age. Although I was certainly an intelligent, masculine, reasonably attractive guy, 30-plus years of searching netted nothing. Love has to happen [for a relationship], and part of that is having access to a number of [potential] partners who would be relationship-oriented and to whom I would be attracted. I have found that I can be more alone when I am with someone than when I am actually alone, so no sense putting a round peg in a square hole if the relationship doesn't work.

In addition, I have been jolted severely probably 20 or more times. I watch women who have fatal attractions to men, and I honestly cannot find the commonality that is evident in such fatal attractions. At any rate, the resultant depression from all of this has led me to job loss and financial ruin, and certainly an inability to retire. I have been in psychiatric institutions 3 times with severe depression, suffered as a result of having been emotionally jolted. 

Like you, I ignore my orientation at this point although I find myself no longer wanting to associate with straight people, including family, who typically have partners and children. 

This is not a good life. The structure of the male gay community is merely focused on commerce, sex and vanity. It is too late for me, but I would hope that things could be better for future generations. 

I know this reader speaks for many gay men in the same situation, so I decided to feature his comment, and my response, in a dedicated post.  I hope something I've written will be helpful to him and to others.

Here is my response:

Wow!  Your comment is powerful in its detail and honesty.  I'm taken aback because, even though I've received many comments from readers over the years--some clearly reflecting the pain they're in--I haven't gotten one quite like yours:  a middle-aged gay man who's waited most of his adult life to be in a relationship, did what he could over no fewer than three decades to find one, and whose health and wellbeing suffered because of his lack of success.  You are not alone; there are many just like you.          

I feel your pain, I genuinely do.  Even though I'm in a long-term relationship, if you’ve read some of the posts I've written here, you'll know Chris and I didn't meet until I was 32.  That may sound young to you now, but I really believed at the time that was it for me--if I hadn't found someone by 30, ancient in gay years, it wouldn't happen--in the same way you believe it's now too late for you.  And, believe it or not, I'd made my peace with being single and over 30.  No sense being miserable; what would I gain by that?  

So let me say I have no intention of writing that the man of your dreams is right around the corner (although he may well be), and, when you meet him, all the problems in your life will go away.  I'm familiar with other gay men who've had the same challenges you have in finding the right person, falling in love, and building a life together.  And, as much as I don't want to admit it's possible, I've had to accept not everyone finds a relationship--regardless of whether they're gay or straight.  Loneliness is an epidemic.  

I want you to know if I could change that reality--if I could play a hand in ensuring every single person who wants to be in a relationship is in one, fulfilling all the many reasons why they value a relationship in the first place--I would.  Because I know as human beings, we're meant to love and to be loved. That's why we're here.  And if we don't encounter the opportunity to share our love with, and to receive love from, a significant other, the toll can be enormous on us, physically and emotionally.

I want to respond to some of the comments you made about the gay male community in general. While it may be your experience that only a minority of gay men want relationships, I don't agree with that assessment at all.  When I was in my late twenties (shortly after I came out), I knew a lot of gay men, who like me, were desperate to be in relationships.  And desperate is the word.  We lived for the day when it happened, and we did everything we could--within reason, of course--to make it happen.

But, for a number of reasons, I don't think finding relationships is easy for many gay men.  One of biggest reasons is the contradiction between the need to love and to be loved--in our case, involving someone of the same gender--and the message we've received countless times, and internalized, that homosexuality is evil and immoral.  The need to love and to be loved doesn't go away just because we're gay and supposedly evil and immoral, so many gay men redirect that need into the only option they see open to them--sex.             

Another reason why I think finding relationships is difficult for many gay men is because we think we need to be blown away when we meet someone, before we consider being friends let alone partners. When I was single, I knew just the man I wanted to meet, and he was the only one I saw myself with. Then Chris came along.  He was nothing like my ideal.  Did I settle?  Not a chance.  Someone knew better than me who I needed to be with, and Chris turned out to be so much more than I ever could have imagined.  

Is being gay a bitch sometimes?  Sure it is.  But I want you to remember we don't have to accept those parts of it that are not consistent with who we are as human beings and individuals.  I've written a number of posts here to say we must be gay on our own terms.  Don't buy into the commerce, sex, and vanity that you believe (as I do) are the unfortunate focus of the gay male community in general.  Don't allow yourself to be defined or victimized by it.  Be the gay man you were meant to be and define yourself in that way.

Even though you write that you think it's too late for you to have the relationship you've always wanted, I don't think you believe it for a minute; if you did, you wouldn't have taken the time to write or to send your comment.  As long as you're still alive, my maternal grandmother would scold you, and open to the possibility, it's never too late.  In her mid-eighties, she met a man her age, and they were together and happy for a number of years.  You never know when what you want most will finally be yours.  

In the meantime, remember you have no control over other people and what they do (including other gay men), but you have control over yourself.  As a single man, think of this time as an opportunity to work on you, to be the best person you can be--for yourself and for that future significant other.  And while you await the happy occasion of your paths crossing--if they do--you must find within yourself what you most want from another man.  In other words, you must be your own best friend and you must love yourself.    

While you work on that, take a look at your daily or weekly routine and make some small change to it. What you're doing right now hasn't yielded the results you're looking for in terms of meeting someone. To me, that means, if this is important enough to you, you must do something different.  Change your attitude.  Change how you look at yourself.  Get involved.  Become creative.  Take a risk.  Try something you've never done before.  Don't give up.  You're still far too young to throw in the towel.    

And, finally, love comes in different, but no less validating, ways.  With or without a life partner, you must always be open to those who love you, be they family or friends.  Don't give up on straight, married people with children just because they're not gay, single, and childless.  Give generously the love you have to share, and it will be returned to you tenfold.  All of us have an infinite capacity to love--ourselves, family and friends, and when the time's right, a partner--and we are called upon to give it freely.       


Never give up.

The perfect man for you may enter your life today.  Are you ready?     


  1. Rick,
    I read both the post and your comments with interest. As a heterosexual woman I would like to add that when I was in my early 20's I lived on my own, I worked a full time job, I had a pet cat, and owned my own condominium. I was also very single and looking for the man I would share the rest of my life with without much success. It wasn't until I was 25 when my future husband literally walked into my life as I was washing my red, 1977 Honda Civic in the back parking lot of the condo building I lived in. Up to that point I hadn't dated in in over a year and had decided to live my life on my own terms, see the Island in my little red Honda and enjoy whatever life had to offer me. I was happy and content with me. Now, sure, this happened in my mid 20's and we were friends before a romance began but it has worked for over 25 years. I was young, I'm now 52, but I know that love can happen at any age, at any time, and usually, as we get older, when we least expect it. A woman in our office who is older than I and divorced for many years has recently found love. It's beautiful to see. Never give up! The best advice I can give to anyone looking for love is to love yourself and step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons and be the kind of person you would be happy to spend your life with regardless of whether you spend it single or in a relationship.

  2. Loretta, I can't thank you enough for what you've written here. Your words capture one great piece of advice after another.

    I don't care if you're gay or straight, we all want to love and to be loved, and there is no school anywhere (that I'm aware of) to teach us how to do that. All we can do is learn from each other, and what you teach us, based on your own experience, is on the mark and timeless.

    Your last line sums it up beautifully: love yourself, step out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons, and, most important of all, be the kind of person you want to spend your life with, whether you remain single or find a partner.

    I understand what the reader, whose comment inspired this post, has gone through, and why he is where he is today (I could even be him). But, if he wants a relationship, he needs to pay attention to your advice. And he needs to embrace people, not push them away.

    I only wish I could be there in person to befriend him, and to help him see how truly special he is and how much he has to offer those in his life now and in the future. Hopefully, my words and yours will inspire him to become more of who he was meant to be.

    Thanks for caring enough to share your own experiences and for being a part of this important conversation. I appreciate it.