Regardless of your gender or orientation, the world tells us our early twenties is a time reserved for learning experiences; dating the bad boys, drunkenly hooking up with strangers, or experimenting with sexuality like the way we try new ethnic cuisines. But, what about for those of us who already know what we want? Affection, belonging, stability, balance. We’ve had our bad break-ups, we’ve reflected, we’ve grown as individuals, and now we are ready for something of quality to offer us what our singleness cannot.
There are a lot of fish in the sea, but the eligible dating pool for us who have been diagnosed with an early-onset sense of maturity is about the size of one of those grimy, unkempt pet store aquariums. Now take that tank and shrink it down to a counter-top fishbowl, one you’d probably win as a consolation prize at a local fair, and you have all the space you need to fit the other gay males in their early twenties who are also looking for mature relationships.
Let me start off by saying, I have absolutely zero resentment over my orientation. I value the fact that the relationships I have with men are adaptable, free of set, traditional roles, and can be extremely versatile in terms of support and affection. However, what I do resent is the fact that for those of us that are not “obvious gays” there is a constant routine of coming out to coworkers, friends, and new acquaintances that make assumptions, albeit harmless assumptions, about our straightness — or lack thereof.
Apart from the awkward attempts we make to slip our sexuality into conversations to set the record straight, it makes it nearly impossible — short of wearing “Yes, I am gay” t-shirts — to inform others guys who may be interested in getting to know us that we are, in fact, on the same sexual wavelength. Coincidentally, we suffer from Impulsive Impotence. Impulsive Impotence is a social disorder that straight-acting gay men all over the world suffer from, where our gaydars aren’t finely tuned enough to conclude the sexuality of the guys who catch our queer eyes. So, to avoid unreciprocated flirtation, we don’t approach.
We pretend we are just as straight as we assume they are, give them a head nod or a “hey, man” in passing, and half hope they make some sort of move that gives away their “similar interests”. But they never do. They disappears from our lives and we add a tally to the wall of Chances Never Taken.
Of course, there are gay bars. “Lots of gay guys at gay bars,” they say. Duh. However, while the unashamed dancing, remixed Whitney Houston hits, and neon-everything is the perfect equation for a transcendently spectacular night out, gay bars provide little service on the road to a mature relationship. You try having a meaningful conversation with the guy handstand twerking on the wall and see how far that gets.
So what do we do? We swipe, scroll, roll our eyes, and test the limits of our optimism on these apps that have taken over the way we define our singleness. We do this because we find comfort in the fact that we know 100% of the guys we meet via these dating services will bypass our fear of wrongly guessing another’s orientation. However, by participating in the cyber gay world we unfortunately, reluctantly, and unwillingly become members of the Hookup Any Time Club, of which, we have no interest in paying our dues.
Between the messages that begin, “hiiii sexy,” “looking for fun?” or “where do you live?” to the unflattering torso mirror pictures that unwelcomingly meet out our eyes, we find ourselves watching the last drops of hope in finding some resemblance of decency in the gay community leak quickly through our cupped hands.
Yet, we persist. We tell ourselves that if we have found our way onto these dismal cyber sex-worlds reserved exclusively for the most desperate of gay men, then maybe, just maybe someone else as relentless and vainly hopeful as we are will find us sifting through the same rubble. It’s a Hail Mary at most, but we haven’t been left with a even a handful of options.
Yes, I am a guy — I have wants, needs, desires, and sport every color of the testosterone-fueled spectrum. In a relationship, I am as intimate as they come. However, that doesn’t mean that I am some sort of maniacal sex-crazed fiend that hooks up with whichever set of holes and appendages is online and nearest to me.
Those of us who want a mature relationship know that our passion, our intimacy, our caring in every sense of the word is derived from a mutually-held respect for our partners as an individual. Our happiness isn’t found between the bed-sheets of whichever guy can “host.” It’s found in the sharing of our hopes, dreams, and daily triumphs. It’s in the genuine excitement they express in return. It’s the wholeness and balance that fills in the holes left by our own imperfections.
But where can we find such a creature? They are mythical, they must be. Certainly, there have been more sightings of Bigfoot riding atop the Loch Ness Monster than a gay male in his early twenties wanting to invest time and effort into a meaningful relationship. There is no way to speed the clock past this sexual experiencing phase everyone but us seems to be stuck in. There is no “gaydar” to tell us who to flirt with.
There is no secret location where the “good ones” are being held. There is only the time we have and the love we hold, and the only thing we can do is to take that recipient-less passion and transform it into individual growth and productivity.
We just need to remember, Patience is a generous gift-giver.