Friday, September 19, 2014

Astute Observations from a Recent Reader

I have to share this with you.  It's a response I received from a recent reader to a post I published here some years ago titled "The Trouble with Many Gay Relationships" (if you wish to read the post, you'll find a link below).

Every comment Simon's written me, on a variety of posts, has been noteworthy, but this one goes a little deeper and is, to use a common expression today, brutally honest.  I hope you'll appreciate what he says, especially if you still insist on finding Mr. Right (a myth, by the way).

(Note:  For clarity, I've edited Simon's comment slightly, but I've left in a few words some readers might find offensive--they are original to the comment and help set the tone for the piece.)

Thanks, Simon.  I look forward to hearing from you again.

It's true, and very very sad.  The world has so few models for healthy relationships, and the gay world has even fewer.  This notion is self-perpetuating, really.  If we don't have models for healthy love, then who are we to aspire to be?  Oh, fuck it, just go get laid...that's what men are meant to do, etc. etc. is the main rebuttal.  Why not try to become that healthy role model, as best as you can?  Why not seek out role models instead of magazine models?

The ease of getting laid as a gay man, coupled with the ease of communication and instant gratification in the new digital age, gives us a lot of distraction from ourselves.  It's a permanent candy store mentality.  By the time we find someone we click with (and it's always an accident), we don't know what to do.  So we stare into our phones, and dream of getting free from them.

I know many men who were presented with someone that worked well for them, but they got bored and dumped them to be single again.  How many times can a gay man do that?  Just as many times as he can, given the current climate of instant gratification, until he's left a graveyard of lost love in his wake, and wonders how it got there.

At this point for him, it's all too easy to keep self-medicating with sex, claiming that no guy is good enough to really partner with, and maybe going so far as to be honest that they really aren't either.  

"Hey, I need to have a partner that's attractive.  If he isn't attractive, then it isn't going to work!"  I've heard this one a lot.  I've even heard the laundry list that some of my gay friends rattle off, which would include all the attributes they require, many of which they don't even possess themselves.

Well, "attractive" is something that morphs in time.  What's attractive to you in your youth can be very different from that in middle age, and ideally it should be, I think. When I was young and coming out, I wanted someone young and boyish looking like myself, and I never got to have that.  I got interest from older guys, and was all, "Um, no".  When I got older, I wanted guys my own age, and these younger, boyish-looking guys are simply cute, but not interesting to me now (even though I did get to have a few fun encounters with them in my 30s).

But I know guys my own age (mid 40s) who are still hung up on getting a cute young thing...and sometimes they get one, and it's fun for a while, but that's how they still define 'attractive', and what must be for them to retain interest in a mate.

Ultimately, attitude is important.  If your attitude is that you will never get a mate, then you probably won't...or you'll get a masochist who wants to prove you wrong. If your attitude is that you deserve a mate, and where the fuck is he, well, then you'll attract a sadist who will tolerate your demands.

If your attitude is that you're willing to be open to it, and try to meet as many people as you can, in as many ways possible, while continually doing what makes you happy, and nurtures your soul, without a mate...then IF you do meet someone, you'll be more likely to discover that it's the right one. 



  1. Hi Rick, Sorry to hear about your arm!! That's terrible!

    I didn't know where to ask you this question: But, I recently broke up with my first-ever boyfriend (I'm in my 30's). We had a very good, very respectful and loving relationship between two "whole" people. I've worked really hard over the past several years to overcome a great many of my problems including abuse, confidence (not the least part of which was that stupid seeking-validation-in-unattainable-straight-men). I have worked hard at being fit (used to be gigantic) and have many good friendships, male and female alike.

    However, during my relationship with this incredible man, I developed a severe and debilitating illness. It caused me to get extremely weak at the gym and to gain weight. It disconnected me from a number of my relationships because I could no longer be active. And while my boyfriend was willing to stick it out, my sex drive took a huge hit too which was very odd.

    But here is what I'm writing about. During this period, suddenly, i'm fucking attracted to straight men again--i mean friends who have been friends for years. I have no interest in them. Except, apparently, now I do. I tried to unpack it, and see if maybe the illness had left me needing more validation or questioning my masculinity (Idiot thought: its not very masculine to be taken down by microscopic shit). But I don't understand why, when I have a great man in my arms who I love and is very sexy, suddenly, I'm thinking about having sex with my gym partner. I've not thought about straight men for years and now these thoughts are raging back.

    Any insight you have would be appreciated. Do you sometimes feel like the past, that you've worked so hard to escape, will keep you from having a present and a future?

    1. Hello! Good to hear from you.

      Should you wish to contact me again, please click on SEND MAIL on the upper right of my blog, and I'll receive your email in my inbox.

      I'm not sure how much reading you've done in my blog, but I've written posts about needing to be validated by straight men. So I know what you're talking about. I totally get it.

      I'm sorry to hear about your debilitating illness. I hope you're better now, if that's possible.

      If I may offer a bit of advice. I was extremely active before my cycling accident, and achieved normal weight for my age and build. But after the accident, I was a lot less active (I walk briskly daily now), and I started to gain. The trick is to reduce how much you eat, and the number of calories you consume, while you're less active. Or to increase how active you are in a way you're able to. Hope that helps.

      Your second to last paragraph leaves me with a question: Since you recently broke up, are you alone now, and, among other things, looking for companionship in straight men you know? There's nothing wrong with that, of course. That you want it to turn sexual, though, is interesting.

      Since you've struggled with insecurity about your masculinity in the past (haven't we all), I'm guessing your renewed attraction to straight men has something to do with that, especially since you're alone (I think), you've gained weight, you're not who you were or want to be, and, essentially, you need someone to tell you you're okay. In short, you're feeling insecure again.

      Ask yourself, if I were to follow through on my sexual attraction to my straight gym partner, what do I think I'd gain? I believe validation is at the core of it, particularly if you're not, under normal circumstances, interested in your straight friends. Something is going on that's turning you on to them.

      Sit quietly somewhere, take some deep, refreshing breaths, reflect, and figure it out. Or do what I do to understand myself better: journal. Write it down. See what comes out of you while you explore your feelings and motivations. The answer is waiting for you. You just need to dig a little for it.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for writing.

  2. Argh! Comment erased when I reloaded!

    Thanks Rick for writing. I actually had read a lot of what you've written on the subject, which is why I felt comfortable asking the question--especially in the context of having already intentionally dealt with those attractions years and years ago.

    I think you were right on by saying that I'm just looking for someone to tell me that I'm okay. That really resonated, especially because with this stupid illness, I've not been able to confidently or believably say it to myself anymore.

    I am indeed single now, and unfortunately health is a long way off (if ever?). I'm glad to hear that you're being active again, as a cyclist myself, I know what it's like to be off the bike...

    1. Thanks for your second comment. I appreciate hearing from you again.
      All the best, and I hope everything works out for you.