Many times in life we are presented with opportunities.
We are then required to say yes or no. Iyanla Vanzant mentioned this in a video I recently viewed. Being obsessed with the power of choice, I have begun looking at what occurs in my life when I respond to people, events, opportunities with a vigorous, heartfelt, maybe.
Going against what I knew to be true by wavering in my thinking or acting because I didn't want to offend or upset another has always left me fucked up, confused and ultimately mad at myself.
Dating a lunatic for four months that I fed, housed and constantly needed to emotionally corral was four months of one maybe after another.
If I could get him to stop drinking then maybe we could have a relationship.
If I could get him out of the house of a former lover who possibly, maybe had an interest in him, maybe we would have a shot at a decent relationship.
If I could get him to get a job, stop being racist, realize that he was in some serious medical danger, maybe we could move forward and actually begin to create a real relationship.
Maybes are designed to screw you up and over. Maybes are always extremely difficult to change and challenge.
A better way to live is to remind our constantly chattering minds that we have two choices that create wonderful results.
There have been times when I have been beyond clear.
Acting on this gut level intuition, my decisions and the results have been incredible,brave, productive and self esteem raising.
I have never regretted a yes or no response to anything in my life.
So many of us at one time or another have failed to make this simple and effective choice (yes or no) instead opting for the abyss that is the world of maybe.
My regrets have come from the passive and stultifying maybe that always comes back to menace and shame me in one way or another.
If I make a decision to do a certain thing, give it some thought, gather more information then go in another direction this is considered bold and powerful.
If I make a yes or no decision, then decide to waiver in the land of "maybe", I am considered weak and spineless in my own eyes and the eyes of those who love and care for me.
How do I prevent the constant doubt that accompanies maybe and the uncertainty it brings ?
I consult my gut collect and review information and then make a decision.
Maybe is not an option.
My first male to male relationship began at seventeen with a queen as confused as myself.
My second and full on living together,constantly drama-filled torturous relationship began at 20 and ended at 23.
Because I had no self esteem and had spent time being brutalized,my third shot at glory lasted a year.
Reviewing all of these abysmal interactions and the subsequent fall out (which generally meant me crying,not eating and wailing "why don't you love me ?") forces the realization that none of us knew how to date.
We all knew how to create grief and enough drama to ensure a butt load of Emmys. What we didn't know was how to offer kindness, how to get to know each other outside of the bedroom and how to build a non-exploitative relationship.
Even when pop culture attempts to create gay male relationships there is rarely love-based discussions and grappling with choices that determine the fate of all involved parties. There is plenty of sex and upset but the complexity of what men being with men looks like often goes unseen and unexamined. The one glimpse of men attempting to date (this occurred after having sex I believe) was the wonderful scene in Six Feet Under wherein the discussion (post breakup) reveals that although sex was frequent psychological visibility was not. David nor Keith had the tools to be "out" with one another and reveal what they loved and admired about one another.
This one scene sums up the reality of most gay male coupling : we understand the mechanics of sex and yet are all thumbs when it comes to psychological and emotional commitment and understanding.
As a group who still remains largely defined by what we engage in sexually, it is difficult to resist the siren call of the mainstream and our subculture that says we don't require tools for building and maintaining relationships and our relationships lack complexity and therefore should not be taken seriously.
In our community, we lack certain dating and relationship understanding because we have never seen it.
Growing up,I never saw two men date, be in love, build a relationship or a life.
The relationships that most of us saw were heterosexual and severely lacking in complexity.
If our role models and what is presented as possible is limited and tainted how can we expect to build anything of lasting value and worth ?
My mother told me in a conversation once what she dreamed and or thought about when the subject of marriage came up : Nothing
She told me that she put no thought into what type of marriage she could have or the purpose of being in a relationship.
My grandmother believed and still practices the time honored tradition of unrelenting self sacrifice and over concern for people far too old to need it.
This was my view of things growing up.
Love meant constant and unquestioned sacrifice.
One person constantly took while another (usually the female) constantly gave.
I took this attitude into my adult life and allowed it to determine my dating patterns.
Like many gay men, I decided if the person was relationship material based on sexual chemistry or whether he was "good" and I was satisfied.
Having a great roll in the hay tells you very little about the person. Ask anyone who has done the deed with any sociopath.
There have been sexual experiences I regretted not because of the mechanics but because the individual was unpardonably stupid, racist, or just plain not very nice.
These were not people I would befriend in any other circumstances nor would want friends and anybody that cared anything about me to ever meet.
There is nothing wrong with an occasional romp. But using sex or the promise of it to determine a date's "success" or whether this is someone that would make a great partner or friend isn't the best use of anyone's time.
When I challenged myself at 31 to get to know someone without a clue as to what he looked like and did not allow or encourage sexual nonsense to cloud my judgement, I produced some very different life altering results.
While we did not remain a couple for life, the opportunity to build something of substance that lasted damn near a decade is still a proud memory for me.
So have you had any great dates lately ?
"All of life's important decisions are made without enough information, and coming out is no exception. We make our decisions based upon predictions about how our lives will be affected by the possible outcomes." Olson p. 67