Which one sounds better? A nice, quiet stroll down a beach on a clear moonlit night, then have a nice candlelight dinner with a smooth vintage wine. Gazing into each others eyes and when you hold hands it feels like fireworks are going off. Amazing chemistry and this feeling of euphoria consumes your entire being. Passion erupts into this beautiful declaration of endless love, an oath to share eternity together and you physically unite to demonstrate this affection.
Or how about meeting up with two other men in the industrial district. Upon your arrival where you all convene at, you know the building designed to withstand heavy weight in harnesses and chains. Masks and gags are applied to heighten the experience. There’s a passionate exchange and you never see them until ready for the next encounter. Two vivid, yet very different scenarios of real relationships. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different. And until adulthood, we only refer to the quiet dinner.
One of the fastest things we learn about when we enter the gay community is how different/same relationships are between partners. If we’re honest with ourselves, it does not resemble the trademark couples of Mr and Mrs Beaver or any other sitcom on nuclear families. The perennial image of two people meeting as a result of destiny or a higher power that are meant for each other for the rest of their lives isn’t always the standard. But to be fair, this is not the case of straight couples either, no matter how often or loudly those religious zealots claim. And yet we are still hardwired to seek out these types of relationships where two people settle down and make a life for each other.
Even with all this knowledge of how relationships work (or don’t work) it is the one thing as gay men we seem to struggle with the most. Maybe it’s because we want the fairytale, And who wouldn’t? Despite the research that claims as men we are sexual nomads that have to quench this neurological thirst to sow our seed. Some of us want to be the Prince Charming sweeping that special guy off his feet and show him a w whole new world. Dance so his feet never touch the ground. To be completely swept up in a moment that time stands still and how our love will become a tale as old as time. It’s okay to want that.
But sooner or later, we learn that this isn’t always the case. We begin to see that some have more than one boyfriend and that is a perfectly acceptable rule in the relationship. Or that each partner can have sex with as many other men as they want as long as there is no emotional investment involved in these encounters. That more men in our community are open to having relationships that don’t require more than having a traveling toothbrush and a package of condoms. Because sometimes sex is just sex. Most of our relationships don’t even begin the same way as we were taught. Sometimes relationships d start off in the smoky, dimly light club or raunchy house party. Sometimes the greatest relationships we have start off online with not a clue as to whether or not they are real.
We learn that everyone else in the world has a different definition of what relationships and love means. Most times this lesson is hard but we grow from it. Most of the time. And the longer we live, the more we discover because of our experiences that we change what we want from relationships. The idea of what it means differs from each point in our lives. But what makes it different when it’s between two men?
So many questions come from thinking about this, whether single or in a relationship. Because our definition of what a relationship changes. We change everyday. Whether it’s small, incremental notes or huge leaps there is still change. We mistake sex for a meaningful relationship when sometimes, it’s just sex. It makes me wonder sometimes if we just settle for the ideal and pursuit of monogamy because that’s the only thing we know. Because that’s what fairytale and books and our parents taught us as children. The concept of true love only seems to happen in made up stories when you see everyone getting a divorce or hear of one or both of them have had infidelities.
We change so why not our perceptions on relationships? I know mine have in the long-term relationships I’ve had with men. In fact, the first relationship I had with a man was an open relationship. Even though the circumstances to it being open was because we weren’t out yet we still had all of those components that we defined. But our relationship didn’t end because I couldn’t handle it, we simply grew apart. My rules are of course were different then they are now because I want that closed type of relationship.
It all boils down to semantics. Because we need to be clear, no matter what your position on it, to understand where you stand on relationships and make that clear with the person(s) that you have this relationship. Communication is always the savoir or the downfall to every relationship so talk about what it means for you.