Sex, Love, and Relationships

When I was coming out at age 17, a major theme in my writing was that sex and love were essentially the same thing…there was (and could be) no difference between the two. “How can you be with someone if there’s no love?”, I asked. “How can gay men be so promiscuous?” “Sex without love is meaningless.” I was very young and idealistic. I was later to find that sex and love were not necessarily related in any way.

As I aged, I began taking to heart the 70’s texts which were the only ones available in the Greensboro Public Library . Gay relationships did not need to “ape” heterosexual marriage. A relationship not based in total freedom and mired in jealousy and suspicion is invalid from the onset. Queers are free to develop new concepts where love is concerned. Even now, I don’t disagree; I’ve developed a whole lifestyle based on divorcing the concept of sex and love. It has suited me well for many years.

Or has it? Sometimes I think I have rendered myself incapable of having a relationship based on love, trust, and (assorted gods forbid) monogamy. I tell myself repeatedly that this is not what I want.

I spent a lot of time alone as a kid, and I’ve continued doing so as an adult. In junior high and — to a lesser extent –high school, I was not what you would describe as popular. Most of my weekends were spent alone, reading, driving around aimlessly, and immersed in thought. A positive result of this is that I’ve become quite comfortable with my own company. I don’t need someone around in order to complete every little activity like eating, going to a movie, traveling, etc. In fact, I often prefer to do many of these things alone. Unfortunately, the experience has also left some of my critical social skills a bit lacking.

Also, I am selfish by nature — blame it on being an only child if you like — and I often see myself as totally unwilling to commit myself to another person. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because I shouldn’t expect anyone else to do the same for me. But there’s a paradox here. Sometimes I do find myself willing to commit, and then I expect the return, which is often not forthcoming.

Is it any wonder the longest “relationship” of my life lasted a scant six months? It’s a very unusual thing when i find myself willing to commit to a relationship, and when I do this, I tend to expect a more than satisfactory return on my emotional investment. If I’m going to suffer and pine away, I want the other person to suffer and pine away just as much. If I’m going to break all my own rules and get completely “hooked”, I expect the same in return. No wonder things get so strange; life and relationships just don’t work that way.

Of course, communication is a big factor. I often complain that “I don’t know where I stand”. I think this is a pretty universal problem; there is precious little actual communication in most relationships. In my case, I realize that it stems from my inability to let myself show traces of vulnerability by actually admitting how involved I am. So how can I fault someone else for not doing the same thing? Also, I have a big fear of screwing things up by over-analyzing and of scaring other people off by “talking about it too much”, even though I realize I’m screwing up even more by NOT talking. Maybe I’m too worried about causing the other person problems to pay attention to the wear and tear I’m exposing myself to.

Why can’t sex just be sex? What’s wrong with a series of “fuck buddies” with whom you may also share friendship, but not necessarily traditional “love”? I’ve always thought I’d grow old with a few good, non-sexual friends and get my urges taken care of on the side. I have really high standards for the people I call my “friends”; very few manage to make it for the long haul. But what happens when someone meets these standards and there’s also a “romantic” connection? Is it time to re-evaluate the concept that the people I really like and the people I have sex with should be completely separate? Is it not possible that I’m not always after “the wrong boy”?

Obviously I have a lot on my mind right now, and while this current round of analysis may have been triggered by a specific scenario, it’s a pattern I often ponder, and obviously worry about as well. Boys will continue to come and go, but will I allow myself to keep them around for a while?

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