I have a love/hate relationship with this quote. ALL I have to do is FORGET what I feel? Really? I wish it was that easy. For some people, perhaps it is, but for me being the emotionally invested and aware guy that I am, it isn’t that easy. However, the sentiment behind the quote has merit. It makes sense and is the basis of this idea of “Investing In Me.”
I recently read an article on Facebook about why gay men suck at dating. http://www.gayguys.com/2014/04/reason-gay-men-suck-dating/
What resonated with me is the idea that my generation of gay men are now “nomadic.” There isn’t anything necessarily tying us down, like kids, and most people change jobs as often as every few years. So, why not move to a different city? Absolutely, go do that, but I’ve worked 14 years here in Chicago and my life is here. I’m not necessarily looking to move. According to the article by Jerry Plaza, “We want to move away, travel and achieve big dreams. Not that there’s anything wrong with the idea, but it sure does put a damper on anyone who might see a future with you.” Right, you want a future with me? Stay in Chicago or make millions so I don’t have to work! Boom! But in all honesty, if you want to be in a committed relationship, you need to be congruent with each other and for me that means you probably need to stay here, with me.
Natalie Lue from http://www.baggagereclaim.com would call this establishing dating boundaries. My dating boundary is that I live in Chicago and don’t plan to move anytime soon. As I worked through the heartbreak of my ex moving to NYC for a job, over looking for one in Chicago and choosing to stay with me, I realized I needed to listen to him. In March of last year he told me, “I can’t give you what you want.” For so many reasons I just wanted it to work. At the time, I would have done anything to stay with him.
“I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.”
I’m looking for a guy who will choose to stay with me because he values me and loves me. My ex could not love me like this. His friends, I think, probably convinced him that he should stay with me. Why not, right? I do know that I have my shit together and the guy who I end up with will be lucky. So we worked things out and two months later he was gone. I should have “listened” to him. In Natalie Lue’s Handy List of Commitment and Availability Issues List of Phrases, the FIRST phrase is “I can’t give you what you want.” Listen to him! If you learn one thing only from this post, please, LISTEN TO HIM! It doesn’t matter if you beg him to reconsider, beg him to stay, or if his friends think you are fabulous and tell him he’s a fool to leave you, LISTEN TO HIM!
And just when you think listening is enough, now listen and set your boundary. Take your head with your heart-Invest In Yourself.
As I began dating again I made a commitment to myself to be authentic to my life and my life goals. I was not going to shy away from speaking MY truth and MY desire to find love and commitment here in Chicago. The first guy I dated I met running. I loved that about him. We had a ton of fun and he was super cute and energetic. The first mention of not liking his job and “maybe I’ll move”, see ya buddy! “My ex did that and I’m not doing that again.” We’re friends and he is great, but “maybe” I took seriously and that is not congruent with my life. Then a few months later I met THE next ONE. He’d recently moved back to Chicago to be close to family. Not having a job, he was seeking. On our second date he mentioned the dreaded three words in my world, New York City. I told him my ex moved there for a job over me and that if he wanted to look for jobs there he should, but that this would be our last date. “Oh the draw of New York. Everyone wants to live in New York. I lived there in my 20’s. It was great but I moved back here to be close to my family.” My response was very direct and clear, “That’s great, but if you do seek jobs there, don’t date me.” It could have been the cold and snow of this past January and February in Chicago, and loving a warm body next to me, but I fell head over heals for this guy. We dated for 7 weeks filled with laughter, hours of YouTube watching Whitney clips(he loved her too!), flowers at the door and ice cream in bed and rainbows and glitter(ok, no rainbows and glitter), and just an amazing time. After 7 weeks, he moved to New York City, for a job.
So here I am, now in June, after taking a few months away from dating, Saying YES to Life!, I’m back dating again. I’ve met some really great guys, however, I continue to find these nomadic gay men. Why do the guys I date think “I might live in NYC one day.” I’ve pondered this for the past week or so since I met a really handsome, fun guy. Is it that I’m attracted to younger thirty year olds? Perhaps. Or is it that my generation of gay men aren’t settled and don’t plan on settling down? Has the instant-ness of hook-up/dating apps changed the type of guys we are meeting? Or are we changing? Are jobs so fluid now that staying put in a city and working at a job for more than a few years a thing of the past? Perhaps. With these changes, can men dating now find love? A quote from the Broadway play and recent HBO movie, The Normal Heart, struck me. “Men do not naturally not love. They learn not to.” Are we learning not to love in order to keep our hearts at a distance and not settle down into commitment?
For me, however, I have to choose to “Invest In Me” and not only be upfront with these guys and my intention to stay, but say goodbye when they mention the idea of “one day” living somewhere else. Short of sounding bitter, because I’m not, I hesitate to believe that “Love Conquers All.” No matter how great I am, if a guy wants to live in say, New York City, he’s going to do it. All I have control over is my life and my desires and running the other way, fast, when the mention of living elsewhere is brought up. So I’m working on it. I’m not perfect, and this very handsome guy who’ve I’ve recently met is worth getting to know. But, I’m going to listen to him and I’m going to take my head along with my heart.
It is just about summer break around here. Last summer sucked the life out of me, but this summer I’m Saying YES to Life! and “Investing In Me.”