It really, really is.
And there’s nothing really wrong with my friend Diezel – formerly: Lurch – either. We, like so many other singles in the world, optimistically bang our heads against the dating and relationship walls until we’re slightly worse for the emotional wear and then ask, “Why?” like a deranged Nancy Kerrigan.
Why? Why us…why anyone?
Strangely, knowing there’s nothing wrong with oneself doesn’t always cushion the blow of another’s careless behavior. Not necessarily intentionally careless behavior but definitely not cluelessly careless. It would take a pretty special type of idiot to not know that pulling a fade away on someone just isn’t the adult thing to do.
One of the languages I’ve become somewhat fluent in over my dating career is Hint. Enough so that I tend to check in and verify my Hint to English translations with people just to make sure they know what their actions are saying to me.
It’s a horrifying surprise to find out how truly clueless people are about what their body language and lack of follow through to their words and commitments says to someone else.
We’ll see how I feel about providing examples of such behaviors later…maybe they’ll just show up magically like solid friendships or relationships do. Y’know, without any actual work or effort on my part. Oh, wait.
For now, I want to focus on the fall out.
A lot of things can happen when making new friends or building new relationships, it depends on the individual and whether or not Hint is their primary language, one they’re fluent in or even one that they are completely unaware of.
I find it’s easy for guys – gay guys, most famously in my opinion – to ask if someone wants to have sex. Here in 2016, us awful people – men, not that we do a good job of living up to the definition of that word and acting like men outside of carelessly wielding an erection – tend to pretty much just barf out things like “Looking?” – or “You looking?” for the more verbose gays – to one another. Personally, I’d like nothing more in life than to use that simple action as a conduit for culling perhaps the worst elements of our society.
Is that a genocidal thought?
Let’s table that…but remind me to tell you about The Jettison Project someday.
Some other folks, let’s consider them the less desperate element at the least and more genuinely self-aware at best, might want to take a more mature approach like meeting for a safe coffee or drink and see if there’s a spark or another reason to plan future social engagements over committing to just meet up and go right to Bonetown with someone they’ve never met.
I saw in a movie once that this is called dating. It was in a movie, so it must be real, right?
So, here’s some options of what can happen, fallout-wise:
Equally clueless people probably stumble merrily along from one such instance to the next occurrence where they just “see what happens”…and are unsurprised when nothing happens again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
These good folks in the above scenario could be of the mutual hook-up mentality or you could have an instance of the mixed hook-up and dating ilk. Tragedy usually occurs when one of the participants isn’t really aware of which kind of guy he is, or – more commonly, I suspect – isn’t being honest with himself about what he wants or what his motivation is. That’s when things have the potential to get really messy.
People with a bit more focus in life, trying to live an intentional existence like Diezel and myself, tend to be affected a bit more by these messier encounters. We can easily identify what our goals are in our emotional life and aren’t necessarily looking for fulfillment based on the luck required when one simply waits to just “see what happens”. For my part, I will often push people away by trying to clarify what they are intending to communicate through their actions.
Boy howdy, so many people hate that.
Mentally, I picture those people as amusement park goers and myself as an adventure ride…they are simply not (emotionally) tall enough to ride my ride. Know what I mean?
It gets worse.
“Dan Savage Wisdom” may help teens survive the coming out process but a few decades after surviving that trauma, I kind of want to shake him like a crying baby.
Undoubtedly, if we were a bit more intentional in how we prepared our young to function in the adult world of human interaction we would probably end up with a much happier populace. I say “human interaction” because it’s not just how we date, but also how we treat each other in generic day-to-day social situations.
But, Diezel and I were recently discussing his dating life in particular.
Surprisingly, I was the participant on more solid emotional ground during our conversation. Quite a feat after my summer of Broken Poet-ry.
Diezel, not so much.
I was surprised to find that he’d been experiencing tortured evenings at home following a prior conversation where we’d talked about him successfully navigating the holidays as a single man and frequent odd-man-out in the requisite holiday socializing.
Things can change and get dark quickly in the dating world and that’s where poor Diezel was existing lately. So much so that I was surprised to find out that his two other confidants had held a well-being intervention with him a few days after our holiday survival conversation.
They were worried about him hurting himself.
What had I missed, was there something – a tell – that I hadn’t picked up on?
He assured me that no self harm was planned. We exchanged assurances that he knew which friends to reach out to and what networks existed for people in crisis should he need them.
He can promise me all he wants, but I’m not one to assume that my loved ones won’t “pass themselves away”, to quote Ms. Evie Harris. I’m fine telling them what I want them to do when the going gets tough. Between life in general and AIDS in particular, I’ve lost too many friends already. I’ve cleaned up one friend’s bathtub after he shot himself in it. Thoughtful until the end; tile is much easier to clean blood off of versus paint and carpet…still, I’d prefer he was thoughtful enough to not deprive me of his presence in this world.
I’m selfish like that.
I’m also prone to offering helpful humor like this in between more substantial texts:
So, what was Diezel’s trigger?
A literal trigger.
He’d recently been talking with his friends about a couple of recent purchases, god help me, I can’t recall both…just the new gun that he had told me about.
Now, I recall asking about it as I mentally rolled my eyes since I have never really understood the allure of gun ownership, let alone multiple gun ownership. As he discussed the purchase I also recall my threat level returning to a neutral color from the red-level that had briefly piqued.
Not so, the interventionalists.
But, Diezel admitted that he’d spiraled a bit after we met.
I don’t think that wanting a partner in life + owning a gun = suicide. But I’m still glad that our friends are secure enough to discuss their concerns when they have them. That’s super scary emotional ground and can be really awkward, but better safe than sorry.
I also don’t think that suicidal thoughts are as uncommon as people maybe would tell themselves.
I have had them.
I have them.
Friends sometimes share theirs with me when they have trouble banishing them back to the darker corners of their psyche where they belong.
I am a doctor, after all, so why wouldn’t they?
Well, I am if you listen to a few folks from my past that didn’t appreciate the guidance and comments I had made in regard to their actions and what their motivations might be. But that blog post is still in draft form…stay tuned, the working title is The Doctor Is In(sane), because I’m ultimately no better or worse than anyone else, maybe just at a different point in my journey and able to offer some outside perspective. People don’t have to listen…it’s not like I’m holding a gun to their heads.
Which, figuratively, brings us back to Diezel.
Knowing that he wants a boyfriend or a partner, partnered with how we both know Basic Gays, I offered this advice:
Don’t beat yourself up over wanting a partner, just check your expectations around having one so you can remain realistically optimistic.
He admitted to failing in the realistic optimism, offering “despairingly pessimistic” as his current state of well-being and admitting he had been thinking about seeing a therapist.
So, here we go…I admire that he openly discusses this with me. Like suicidal thoughts, I think the majority of Americans – aside from New Yorkers of the 90s – consider seeing a therapist as a sign of weakness.
I think that admitting to oneself that they need that outside help is hugely beneficial to the self and incredibly brave. Why do we have to live in a culture where getting help being the best and happiest that we can be as individuals has the connotation of weakness? To beat another of my favorite drums for a second, consider the difference between amateur and professional sportspeople…is it coaches? To me, this is the difference between people who get therapy and people who don’t.
People who don’t ever get therapy might be lucky, they might be living in denial, or they might be amateurs at living.
Chew on that for a minute.
So, what’s next when confronting the demons of dating?
You’ve bloodied your forehead against the wall of the dating world, be it a bathroom wall in a bar – and not in the good way – or against the screen of your smart phone.
You’ve gotten help. A good debriefing of the good, bad and ugly of dating with your friends can go a long way. Sometimes you have to pull out the heavy artillery and get a therapist or life coach to provide some clarity.
Then maybe all that’s left is the old chestnut: If you can’t beat them, join them.
That last one is risky. You know I’m a strong supporter of being a part of the solution versus part of the problem – again, you’d probably be surprised to find out how many gay guys hate being asked to consider whether their actions are part of the problem or part of the solution. But, someone has to be the pariah.
I wish it was someone else, but really only so their blog name could be Pariah Carey.
So what do I mean by joining them? Who are them, anyway?
The hook-up guys.
Seriously. When I left my ex up in Seattle (working blog name: The Lost Caretaker, standby…) one of the Fabulous Baker Girls offered me this advice, “The easiest way to get over one man is to get under another”. Which is just bullshit pop psychology…conditionally. Medicating with sex is a dangerous path. A path that leads to pathologically avoiding real life in favor of the potential mistaken gratification and validation that can be inferred from a hook-up.
After I was gay bashed in college, I spent a little time in denial. Then I spent a lot of time self-medicating with sex in order to prove to myself that I had value as a person, was desirable as a sexual object and had the stamina of legend.
A lot of time.
Don’t ask me my number. It makes other gays golf clap when they hear it. That was not a humblebrag.
I wouldn’t recommend this as a long-term coping mechanism, but I didn’t have any real friends at the time that I could rely on. I was fucking them all. Oopsies.
Yet, when Diezel and I were continuing this conversation this morning, I observed that he had had a very social weekend, according to Facebook. He commented that he had but that he’d been having too much sex lately and needed to stop that behavior. FBG5 (yes, there’s five of these fantastic sisters!) and her pithy advice popped back into my mind and I was able to share with Diezel that it’s not bad to self-medicate with sex. It’s bad to get lost in sex and abuse that particular form of medication. Particularly if you aren’t honest with yourself about the need you are feeding or with the partners who are effectively your pharmacists. Again, part of the problem or part of the solution? Your solution can’t be part of someone else’s problem. Right? So you’ve got to be emotionally evolved enough to talk about expectations.
I used to flat out tell people “I’m never going to call you again” when I was self-medicating and would pick guys up in bars. It was the 90s, we didn’t have the Scruff or the Grindr. Hell, we didn’t even have smart phones. That might be a little crass or jaded as far as behaviors go, but at least it was honest. And I was too fucked up to be anyone’s boyfriend, anyway. Yet, sometimes guys would ask if they could give me their number or have mine when bye-bye time came around. I just looked at them. I said something like, “Did I literally fuck you senseless?” to one poor guy. Optimistic dating-type guys hooking up with 90s-damaged-me…I’m sure I would have been lucky to date him.
If you believe in karma, you could feel a lot less sympathetic to my dating woes after reading that little admission, eh?
But I think that approach is a lot less injurious to the other guy(s) than people who are confused about where they are in their sexual/emotion evolution. The guy that thinks he’s a dating-type but is really a hook-up-type. Or the guy who vacillates between the two, but at least he’s probably optimistic about becoming a dating-type eventually. And I see – meaning: meet on dates – those optimistic guys every now and then.
I met a guy that wanted to hook-up a few weeks ago. It was late, so I put him off until the next day. We actually texted throughout the day and then decided ultimately to meet for a drink first.
During which, he decided I was dateable. Yay, Galby.
On the second date, what? New Year’s Eve? Crazy. Yay, Galby!
That NYE spirit got the best of him, or that Galby charm overwhelmed him and he put his mouth on mine. Me, pitching a perfect game that night, apparently drove him to the edge of his self-control and he ended up sticking my hand into his pants. Yay, Galby!
Also, yay, him…I’d have saluted him if my saluting hand hadn’t been busy bearing witness.
But then by date three, the reality of his situation sank in and he friend-zoned me in a fit of Hint-o-nese over dinner and drinks. Naturally, I pushed for clarity and he shorthanded a recent heartbreak.
And that’s just an example of how people can optimistically be dating-types. He will be a legitimate dating-type someday. Not today, apparently, which isn’t at all helpful to my favorite person.
But sometimes it’s just about bad timing, and I’ll take that over the potential that someone is truly a bad person any day.
I hope I don’t get a “cease and decease” from Grumpy Cat. Yes, I didn’t mean to type Cease and Desist.