Three short blocks away from where Chris and I live lives another gay couple. They've been there at least as long as we've been here (nearly six and a half years). One is Filipino and I'm guessing in his early 40s; the other is Caucasian and I'm guessing in his late-40s or early 50s.
In six years, we've crossed paths with this couple and quickly said hellos. They've always been cordial but aloof with us, and we've always been cordial but aloof with them. We've never introduced ourselves–the opportunity's never come up, or we've never made the opportunity.
And, honestly, I'd like nothing more than to meet them, or to have another gay couple as friends–to go out for dinner or see a movie with, or to go out to the local gelato shop for a treat on a hot summer evening. It's just Chris and me now–mostly has been during the twenty-three years we've been together–and we could use some friends. We really could.
The other night, I was reading through some of the search words readers have used to find my blog. And no fewer than three out of ten were people who were older, in relationships, and wanting to meet other people like themselves.
Which made me realize Chris and I aren't alone (what a relief that was). My experience has been that single gay men find it relatively easy to befriend each other, but gay couples don't find it easy to meet other gay couples, and I've wonder why that's the case. I've wanted to write about this for years but didn't know what I'd say. Perhaps, in the process of writing about it now, I'll figure it out.
The truth is, if you're reading this, and you think I have answers as to how gay couples can meet each other for friendship, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. If I had those answers, I'd have used them by now myself, and Chris and I would have a small but meaningful network of friends (because I don't believe in spreading myself too thin over lots and lots of friends, and I haven't had great experiences with friends in the past, which has made me leery about meeting new people).
As I write this, it occurs to me there are two types of loneliness.
Of course, there's the loneliness you feel when you're single (which I'm still all too familiar with). You may or may not have lots of friends, but, because you don't have that special someone in your life yet, you still feel lonely, like something's missing. (Because I've been both single and coupled for long periods of time, I can tell you something is definitely missing when you're single–although many single people say they're happy to be single and wouldn't want it any other way. I have my doubts.)
And there's the loneliness you feel when you're coupled. Just because you have that special someone in your life doesn't mean you don't feel the loneliness of not having friends outside of the relationship you can talk to and do things with, either singly or as a couple.
But therein lies the problem, at least for me. Chris and I are secure in our relationship. We've been together for a long time. Perhaps one of the reasons why we've been so successful as a couple is because we haven't had the distractions of friends. I suspect a good many relationships have failed because one or both people in the couple focused too much time and attention on their friends and not enough on each other. I want to spend my time with Chris. I want him to be my best friend, which he is. It's just that I'd like our world to be a little broader than it is now, to include other people.
Why haven't either Chris or I introduced ourselves to the couple living a mere three blocks from us? I can't answer for Chris, but I can for me.
Because I'm worried they already have full lives (as most people do), with a wide circle of friends, and don't have enough space to fit us in.
Because, even though they're another gay couple, Chris and I may have nothing in common with them (who wants our sexual orientation to be the only thing we have in common–that's not enough, at least for me, to sustain a friendship).
And because (I'm being honest here) I don't want, in any way, to jeopardize what I have with Chris.
I'm not saying the couple down the street have an open relationship–maybe they do, maybe they don't. But, if they do, and one or the other takes a liking to either Chris or me–or by our interest in them as friends, they think we're open to playing around–things could get complicated. And I don't want to shit in my own yard, so to speak. Chris and I already had problems with a straight neighbor that caused a lot of grief, on both sides, and I don't want to go through that again. I can't go through that again.
So, for now, Chris and I remain a lonely gay couple, eager to meet other gay couples, but not sure how to go about it, and, if we're honest, not sure, in some respects, if we really want to.
If we meet other gay couples, we want them to be the right ones. By right ones, I mean people who like us, and who we like, as human beings (that is, have the same, or similar, values, etc.). I mean people who support us and don't interfere, or try to tell us how to live our lives. And I mean people who don't complicate what Chris and I have, because what we have is pretty terrific.
I guess that sums up where we're at now, and how I feel. In writing this, I haven't come up with any answers to help us with our challenge. If you've been in a similar situation, and you've figured out what to do, let me know. I'm open to suggestions.