Why gay men don’t know how to date

By | October 14, 2012

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 ?

4 thoughts on “Why gay men don’t know how to date

  1. John

    Good article. The part about one person engaging in extreme self-sacrifice really applies to most of my relationships, a role I learned from my mother.
    One thing I heard years ago that might be mentioned here is that dating is practice for a committed relationship. Lesbians and Gay Men don’t usually get the chance to date a person of the same gender and are therefore lacking in that phase of experimentation.
    It has also been said that Gay Men get into so much sexual dilemma when they come out in their 20s or 30s because they are engaged in adolescent sexual experimentation straight Men get in their teens.
    Certainly, few of us can go to dear old Dad and ask advice on building a meaningful relationship with the boy next door.

  2. Mark P. Behar

    Excellent observations, but one omission, in my opinion. Effective communication between two people requires speaking, hearing, understanding, acknowledging. So often in my past relationships, I would rehearse a conversation in my mind, with all the possible options of discussion, somewhat mentally exhausting. And in most cases, that would be that. In my mind, the mental exercise of practicing a discussion actually replaced the reality of actually sitting down to “speak, hear, understand, and acknowledge”! Not very effective! And the outcome were communication and relationship failures. I believe that both partners in a relationship suffer from this inability to effectively communicate, and those communication styles differ based on one’s age, education, religious, ethnic, racial, and economic differences. THAT is the other major deficiency in how we collectively are socialized. What do you think?

    1. Anthony Post author


      All of your insight was great. I agree that so many times we do everything but be clear and emotionally honest. Mind reading is another hobby most of us have demanded that our loved ones engage in. Age, race and even socioeconomic backgrounds influence but shouldn’t dictate how we interact and yet it often does. We have to ask ourselves “how important is it that I or you (my partner) be heard. Not agreed with or even understood but heard ?” Then fight like hell to make sure this happens !!!

  3. geraldine

    I enjoyed this one as well, I can not wait to meet you in person I hope your interview is as lively as your writing


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