“The gays can’t stay in relationships because they’re always looking for the next best thing,”
Is it true that gay men have a harder time than heterosexual couples sustaining and developing romantic relationships?
“The gays can’t stay in relationships because they’re always looking for the next best thing,” said a friend of mine when asked the aforementioned question.
Was he onto something, or should the veracity of his statement be questioned?
Truth be told, I didn’t buy it.
If we look around, the marriage equality movement is undoubtedly moving at a steadfast pace. It seems as though every few odd months or so, another state is coming to its proverbial senses by allowing those who identify as LGBTQ the right to marry. Be that as it may, how many of us actually know someone—who identifies as LGBTQ, specifically—who has jumped the broom? Never mind the marriage chatter—how many of us actually know someone whom we could see tying the knot in the foreseeable future?
If you’re me, you certainly won’t need your toes for this calculation. Hell, a second hand isn’t even necessary.
Sure, there are many guys out there who are “looking for the next best thing”—as my friend contends—but that is hardly the entire story; in fact, I believe it’s a red herring. In order to fully understand why some gay men struggle with longevity in their relationship, I believe we need to consider the following:
After we realize and accept the fact that we are attracted to men, we then take time to get to know ourselves and to figure out what it is we want. Growing up, I’m sure there weren’t many archetypical gay couples—if any at all—that we could look to and say, “Oh! So that’s how it’s done.” Ergo, most of us spend quite a bit of time trying to understand where we fit in, figuratively (and perhaps even literally) speaking. Moreover, most of us usually do this while still in the closet, since…
…Many of us don’t even “come out” until we are young adults, or even older. Ponder this: If an individual isn’t comfortable with himself such that he lives and dates clandestinely, how can we expect him to be comfortable with another person?
Regrettably, many of us don’t feel as though the environments in which we submerge ourselves—whether familial, professional or even public—are welcoming and supportive, namely because of our sexual orientation. If we have to spend the better part of young adulthood—which is typically the time most individuals meet and settle with their significant other—overcoming these mental obstacles, then we have to believe these battles impede on our ability to fully invest in a romantic relationship.
Labels, labels, labels. I’ve argued ad nauseam against the overreliance of labels in the LGBTQ community, but, honestly, I’m swimming upstream on this topic. These labels—top, bottom, masculine, feminine, trade, fish, etc.—are concerted attempts to draw comparisons to our heterosexual counterparts, whether we want to admit it, or not.
Often, people claim that they lean on these labels to help make dating easier, insofar as matchmaking is concerned. However, I believe that these labels actually strain the development of relationships.
Society considers same-sex relationships to be second-tier. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously posited that the existence of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was proof that our society viewed same-sex marriage and unions as “skim milk,” relative to heterosexual unions. And while DOMA was eventually declared unconstitutional, she certainly was on to something.
How often do you see images of same-sex couples in public advertisements, in movie trailers or even television commercials? The answer: Not very. If society hasn’t fully embraced same-sex partnerships, could it be that we’re subconsciously relegating our relationships to a lower status?
Yes, there are some us who simply haven’t been, and aren’t in long-term relationships because we are “looking for the next best thing.” Honestly, quite a few of us probably aren’t even looking for anything at all (and there’s nothing wrong with that, either).
However, the next time we ready our diatribes against gay men and their alleged aversion to settling down, let’s stop ourselves and think about why that may be the case.
After all, things aren’t always what they seem.