The State of Our Hearts

Late last year, I read something on Facebook.  Go figure…me on Facebook.

It was an article re-posted by someone who is either an obscure celebrity I am unfamiliar with or someone who fancies himself a celebrity-in-the-making.

Shut up.

The comment that accompanied the article he posted was something to the effect of, “This is why I don’t date”.

Then I opened the article.  It was about a relationship ending.  Suddenly.  The author explored his state of mind over the week that followed.  The grief.  The sadness.  The self-doubt.  The return to optimism and balance.

Keep shutting up.

As I read, I experienced myriad thoughts.  The range ran from, “I feel ya, brah” to pity for the re-poster to frustration about the empty soul that dumped our poor writer-slash-emoter to the emptier one that openly admitted he won’t even try dating in an effort to avoid the risk and potential pain that love demands.  I kind of settled into a low-grade frustration at my feelings of being one of the minority who actively tries versus the quitter or the half-assed “let’s see what happens” type.  I get most angry at that last type…they pretend to blend into my group that makes an honest effort but haven’t acknowledged that the lack of effort it takes to belong to their group ultimately not only insulates them from the pain of rejection but also creates more of the group of quitters that just give up altogether.

Great.

Actually, did you even follow that?  It’s ok if you didn’t because I think my brain swelled a little just trying to type it out.  Then again, I’m writing this on my iPhone and the small screen is giving my eyes hell.  I’m sure the 6+ screen size would have made all the difference…

Let me break these Romeos down (and, full inclusion…there’s plenty of Juliettes that fall into these categories, I’m just villianizing within my own sub-group of emotionally stunted gay men):

Type 1 – The Lover and The Fighter

Talk about toiling in obscurity.  The Lover and The Fighter wants it all:  a best friend and a sexual partner, a significant other.  Gasp!

They may appear to be serial daters.  Maybe they are.  They might be seeking that initial spark on a first date versus hanging in for a few dates to see if there is a slow burn potential with someone.  Once they find it, either manifestation of the relationship flame, they can usually be counted on to go to the mattresses (keep it clean, people) for their significant other.  Hopefully, not in a Glenn Close/Fatal Attraction way…but they’ll definitely prioritize this potential relationship over lesser parts of their lives.  That can be hard to find…I’ve seen people fight for a relationship to the detriment of their friendships.  The benefit, though, to a well-cultivated Logical Family is that they are still there once balance is regained by our Fighter.  Whether that balance is the result of a relationship ending or integrating a new love into their base life…well, that’s another story.  We can only hope.

They might also know from experience what they are looking for in a lover or relationship.  Or think they do.  In this case, they become more The Fighter – perhaps too quickly, sometimes – in defense of that vision.  Do they risk becoming too closed off to a potential partner in pursuit of what they want?  I’m certain they do.

What I’ve seen – and lived – is Fighters holding on too long.  Not ending something that wasn’t what they needed in a relationship or significant other.  Maybe even fighting too hard to make something begin where nothing ultimately could exist.  Fighting too hard for hope where none was…maybe that’s fighting too hard in an effort – consciously or unconsciously – to resist returning to a life without the comfort of an intimate relationship.

I’ve been there.  In all of its behavioral incarnations…there’s one place I’d rather be, but until then, here’s where I hope to reside.  In the embrace of my biological and Logical Family.

Type 2 – The Quitter

This one’s easy enough to figure out, eh?

Best case, they have a great network of both biological and Logical Family (thank you to Anna Madrigal for introducing me to that particular expression for one’s Chosen Family) to provide company and affection for them.

The downfall to this best case scenario is that true intimacy is missing.  That sexual healing that Marvin Gaye so famously put on our map of social awareness.  There are lots of ways to meet one’s sexual needs, of course, but it’s the need for the intimacy that should accompany sex for a complete experience that many in this category of person end up missing.

That said, it’s not unusual for me to encounter people – asocially – that aren’t necessarily looking to meet a sexual need on line or on the apps, they are enthusiastically seeking a Cuddle Bud.  Guess what?  Stop being a slut or a coward and find someone to date and call significant.  The intimacy of that cuddling you want is missing because you aren’t risking exposure to the pain that also can potentially accompany someone to cuddle with.  Cuddle Buds and Fuck Buds are pretty much both half of one of the ingredients found in true happiness.

Taking their best case existence and making a total shit show of it are the people fortunate enough to find that Logical Family and then risk it by muddying the waters with sex.  Popular amongst gay men in particular – especially since in heterosexual friend circles, only 50% of the circle would be a candidate for a sexual partner, right? – where I’ve seen many a friend group taken down by a STD.  Why?  Because men are sluts by nature and have poor judgment.  These friend groups I saw decimated by introducing sex – either openly or covertly – into the group?  They were missing communication and honesty.  Maybe along with a dash of integrity and too much selfishness.

Well, that’s the whole “Don’t sleep with your friends, Dummy” piece of it.

Worst case Quitters?  Kaczynskis and Crazy Cat Ladies.

No, Fabulous Baker Girl #5, not like you…you pretend at your CCL status and have a rich and full life outside of that assumed identity.

These are the asocial types that refuse to participate in the shambles our social culture currently exists in, a big part of The Problem, simply because they refuse to be part of The Solution.

One of the reasons I *enjoy* the occasional social pariah status I endure is that I end up there by calling out behaviors – respectfully, I swear – that I find more harmful than helpful to our society.  People who are part of The Problem tend to not appreciate that.  Go figure.  But, I tend toward standing my ground in the hopes that they come to understand my perspective.

That doesn’t always end up being the case.  I had the pleasure of running into two such people the other day.

Two in one day.

Ugh.

I swear there aren’t that many of them.

The first I encountered somewhere I would rather not meet anyone I know – as I was leaving an adult store and he was entering.  What?  I needed something.  And who buys lube at Fred Meyer?  Of course, this was three blocks from my house and three miles from his, so I suspected – as I held the door for him and said “Hey there” – that he was there for some arcade time.

Ugh squared.

No.

Don’t get me going on that diatribe.

Do.  Not.

Anyway, his response was a throw away “Hey.  Thanks.” right before the temperature dropped 10 degrees, just as our eyes met.

Ok, too soon.  For him.  It has only been a year, after all.  Of course, that could be due to the fact that he won’t accept that I call him an acquaintance and he wants to be friends.  Well, buddy…stop having sex with your friends and I will give that some thought.  A mood stabilizer wouldn’t hurt, either, in my opinion.  In the meantime, your friends are a group of people for which I would rather not be mistaken.

There’s a trap that comes with association within this guy’s sub-group.  It’s that “Let’s see what happens” mentality.  I’m not sure that this mentality exists exclusively here.  It’s basically a front for dating that provides a means to the sexual end one might be searching for in the short term.  Does it start as a hook-up and end with “Let’s see what happens” or start with a hang out and hope what happens is sex followed by “Let’s see what happens”?  Who knows?  What I know is that this is frequently the person you sleep with on the first date.

What I have lived and observed happening with this person is that nothing happens.  The hope of The Lover and The Fighter in me being that it ends up being the person you sleep with on the first date that never leaves…The Lover and The Fighter in me gets fooled by this a lot by this type of person.  So much so that I tend to ruin any potential for acquaintances or even a friend, perhaps, because I shut down the hook-up or hang out by asking questions to clarify the initial true intent.  Do I miss out on potential sex?  Sure.  That doesn’t actually hurt me as much as the potential loss of a friend, but I can’t build a friendship on a foundation of meaningless sex.  For me, when I engage in a hook-up, I am accepting and expecting to never see that person again.  Hence, the adjective “meaningless”.

The second occurrence wasn’t so much a Quitter as much as someone who quit me.  I told him he wasn’t treating me like I expect my friends to treat me.  He tried crossing the friend-to-lover barrier and didn’t know what to do once he initiated his campaign.  His response to my challenge was to excise my presence from his life.  That being the case, I wasn’t surprised to be met with an obstinate “Hi” when we passed on the street while I was en route to meet a friend at Scandals for a drink.  I was surprised to find out that he had just left Scandals when I had encountered him…after finding out I was meeting our mutual friend there.  Here’s what I know:  people who are right tend to not run away.  I think he’s just young and hasn’t figured out that balance between being true to oneself and flexible at the same time.

Shush.  I’m flexible.

Type 3 – The Lothario

By far the easiest group to spot.  If you are active on any asocial media site or app, you have undoubtedly run into these peeps.  By running into them, I mean that you probably knew what their genitals looked like before you knew their name.  If you even ever found out their name.

They usually lead with such dynamic attention-grabbing conversation starters as “Sup.” or “Looking?”

These people.

Quitters of the worst ilk.

Not content to simply be part of The Problem, their toxic actions tend to actively even if inadvertently recruit other Quitters.

With a little effort, they could be empty shell people.  Presently, I think of most of them as little more than sex dolls.  And if I wanted a sex doll, there’s Spartacus Leather a few blocks from me at SW 12th and Burnside…I’m sure they sell them.  And if you’re going to have a sex doll, which is more important:  pulse or accessibility?  I’ve found that a good deal of these sex doll people have jobs or significant others to work around, which can be inconvenient.  That last part is a whole different blog entry.  Oh, or drug problems.  Those gems.  If I never see the word “parTy” again in my life…

But, assuming an absence of any desire to improve themselves…even inasmuch as learning that what you put out on the internet not only lives forever, but also matters.  What is their life like?  A lot of “Let’s see what happens” types fall into a pattern, knowing exactly what will happen after they get the sexual bandage they seek…nothing.  Well, nothing barring a potential for an occasional repeat.

Why?

Because they don’t harbor a secret desire to have an intimate relationship?

Probably not the case.

Because they don’t actually know how to pursue an intimate relationship and behave respectfully toward a second person, making the initial sacrifices of time and openness one must in the beginning?

Maybe.

Because they don’t want to risk rejection?

More than a maybe…either consciously or – more likely – unconsciously, I think this is the risk many in my Quitter and Lothario archetypes are unwilling to accept.

But, of course, this isn’t as black and white as someone simply falling into one of the pigeon holes I have created.  The world doesn’t work like that…existing at my whim.  Nor are people that easy.  The complexity they offer is that they will hop back and forth between those scenarios – and more!

Here’s a little Case Study:

A friend of mine was in a relationship that ended a few years back.  In a rather surprising manner.

Why was he surprised?

Because he is a Lover and a Fighter.

His boyfriend was a Lothario.

The Lover and the Fighter accommodates.  The Lothario provides challenges.  Totally oversimplifying, as both brought advantages and challenges to the relationship, for sure.  However, our Lothario stepped out frequently during the relationship and the Lover and Fighter…well, he fought for the relationship and ignored the subtle signs and forgave the obvious infractions.

Ending up dumped all the same.

Surprise.

In the years that have passed since then, I’ve maintained a friendship with one and an acquaintanceship with the other.

I’ve seen The Lover and The Fighter do what he does for men that weren’t worthy of his efforts, salvaging a friendship out of one of those ill fitting relationships along the way, to his credit.

The Lothario has spent his time finding himself to some degree.  I see his struggle mostly from a distance, but during our infrequent conversation, I can see the growth.  He’s made mistakes, both in ending the relationship or its manner of execution, and in dating experience since then.

It’s a bit of an honor to be able to observe.

Even if sometimes I pay the price when it comes to those observations.  I suspect that recently he has found a new potential beau.  A couple of weekends past, he asked if I was up for grabbing a beer.  Of course, I was.  Nothing ever happened, but he did reach out at the end of said weekend asking about meeting up over the coming week.  Nothing ever happened again.

Two plus two to me means he met someone else.  I could be wrong, but that would be more surprising than him actually blowing me off to spend time with a potential new lover.

The variable here?  That sexual compulsion that led him astray during his relationship…who knows whether he met someone that he wants to “see what happens” with or if he simply met someone that he knows “what will happen” and he wants to make *it* happen as often as possible before the situation implodes, to the detriment of his other relationships.

…well, his other relationships are likely – as in my case – stable and insulated enough for understanding once whatever will happen…happens.

Time will tell.

The State of Our Hearts

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