Saturday, March 22, 2014

Are committed relationships possible. . . ?

Posted: 21 Mar 2014 05:25 AM PDT
Richard_b500I heard from a friend recently who told me about a recent conversation with a young friend over dinner.  Seems the young guy had recently split with a boyfriend after finding out that his man had been sleeping around.The conversation turned to gay men and sex. Why is it so hard to find a gay man who is interested in monogamy?  

Why is it so hard to find intimacy and sexual connection in the same person? My friend told me he was stumped and found the questions a bit haunting. What is it about gay men and sex? Are all gay men 
promiscuous? We may wince at the word “promiscuity,” but research and personal experience both indicate that gay men have more sexual partners than heterosexual men. It’s reasonable to question why that might be, and to think about the costs and benefits of our sexual choices.

Sex is important to gay men. In addition to the obvious reason – sex is highly pleasurable – until recently sex between men was illegal, disapproved of and marginalized in most parts of our country. And gay male culture tends to be both sexy and sexualized. Ellen DeGeneres tells a joke about looking in the gay yellow pages when she first came out and remarking, “Wow! Look at the abs on that mortician!”

Gay men have always had long-term, committed and monogamous relationships, of course. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider all the obstacles placed in the way of such relationships’ success: lack of legal recognition, frequent lack of family support, etc. But gay men don’t always assume that sexuality can only be healthy in the context of a committed relationship. (Contrast this with the situation of heterosexuals, where sex is supposed to be only within marriage, yet sex outside of marriage isn’t at all uncommon.

Pleasure makes the sexual urge very strong, but that doesn’t mean our reasons for having sex aren’t complex.Sex can be lovemaking – celebrating the passion and connection with a partner we love. But there are all sorts of other reasons why people choose to have sex: maybe they’re horny or lonely. Maybe they’re drunk or just bored. And some men have learned to use sex as a way to escape from stress.

Sex can be a deep expression of intimacy, but pursuing many sexual partners can reflect just the opposite – a fear of real intimacy. Casual sex can allow us to scratch our itch to physically connect with another person without requiring us to do the hard work involved in having a healthy relationship. Over time that can decrease our ability to have those sorts of committed, fulfilling relationships.

Does the gay community encourage gay men to have a large number of sex partners, particularly outside of relationships? The sexual infrastructure of our community includes cruisy bars, circuit parties, bathhouses, sex clubs and Internet hook-up sites with names like Manhunt or Cruisingforsex. Sex is instantly available to anyone with a car or Internet connection. It’s not that recreational sex is a bad thing, but sex can become compulsive and unhealthy if it becomes the source of our identity or if it becomes compulsive. When we become preoccupied with sexuality or anything else, life loses its balance.

Back to my friend’s dinner conversation. Is it difficult to find gay men who are ready for committed relationships? I don’t think so. Our community presents lots of alternatives, though, and guys who spend a lot of time in the hypersexual parts of the gay community aren’t good candidates for monogamous life.
Chalk up another reason why it’s good to take plenty of time to get to know the person you’re dating before you imagine giving your heart to him.

John R. Ballew, author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHERor John R. Ballew, M.S. -



Gary Kelly said...

My guess is that when heteros commit to a permanent relationship, it's not just about sexual attraction but more about establishing a home, a family and a future together.

If those priorities are missing from a relationship, gay or straight, what's the point of pursuing it?

JustinO'Shea said...

Editorial Note:
Thanks to all of you who posted comments on the previous post. . and for the kind of sharing, for the openness and honesty. I think these help us all to better understanding ourselves better.
I hope the discussion can continue on this new post about "committed relationships."
ciao ~~ justin

JustinO'Shea said...

Point well taken, Gary.

GreginAdelaide said...

Something that has always had me puzzled.
It's a basic fact that for survival of their particular species all creatures on this earth are (usually) wired to reproduce.
Without reproduction to continue the line a species will die out.
Those less efficient at reproduction, when their death rate exceeds their birth rate die out.
A species that has a tendency for like attraction to the exclusion of breeding dies out.
Natural selection in action.

How is it, that after such a long period, in evolution terms, are there still creatures that are attracted to their own sex? How can they continue to reproduce that mix of genes etc that produce same sex attraction?

Should that tendency not have died out aeons ago?

Or are we abnorms just statistically irrelevant in the scheme of evolution?

A depressing thought.
I'll go look at some sexy gay porn to recover.

GreginAdelaide said...

Continuing on the gay-evolution theme:

Heteros are wired to reproduce. Part of their wiring is to find a mate and nest then reproduce. That is the species in-built purpose, or else it dies out.

What about us gays?
We cannot reproduce. We cannot have offspring, we cannot ensure our particular subspecies carries on.
But we've not died out. I said previously, that is perhaps just because statistically our departure from the norm, the survival path of our species is statistically irrelevant, we can be tolerated as a glitch in the survival process.

However, is that nesting tendency, that pairing off, that permanent pairing off instinct any less powerful in us?

I don't know.
Maybe it is, maybe it is overcome in the majority of us due to the social environment in which we live.

Is the pairing off instinct stronger in later life?
Do we learn what is really important in our lives as we grow older to ignore the social pressures and wish to seek out a permanent partner to live and share with, not just the sex?

Once the sex cravings of youth die, do we try to pair off permanently or do the social pressures and circumstances prevent it happening in a significant number of instances?

I certainly have wondered, have wished for a partner as I have become older. Obviously not for (just) sex... I'm not all that attracted to the thoughts/mental picture of old men in bed together, heehee!

So, are same sex attracted people any less wired to pair off?
Is it just social environment that suppresses this?

Is it just opportunity that suppresses this?

Is it a feeling that we older guys are not attractive to other older guys that prevents us from seeking partners and making ourselves available?

Or is it just not there?

(I should have thought about this some more before posting my usual rambling crap, but no apologies, if I thought about it too long I'd not post it...and perhaps that would be a blessing haha)

J said...

I have a friend who was in a committed relationship for seven years, starting when he was 18. It ended last summer. He's told me that the sexual part of it foundered after three years, and that both of them were seeing other boys until they realized nothing was left to justify their staying together. Now he just serially picks up boys in bars and over Grindr, sleeps with them for a night (or in rare instances, two)and has nothing to do with them afterwards. He says he isn't interested in anything permanent. I've told him that I find this sad, but he doesn't see it that way, and believes that because gays are boys they aren't meant for permanent relationships. It's all about the sex, and when he's in the chase he can't get enough of it. Other than that, he lives the life of a hermit with his dog when he isn't attending college classes. I've decided that promiscuity is built into homosexuality, and that relationships are sustained only if they are open and the parties are close friends otherwise. As for marriage, Bill Maher was right when he said gays should be married, because they are entitled to be just as miserable as straight married couples are. I notice that ice skater Johnny Weir, who was desperate to get married in 2011, has separated from his husband after much crying and fighting. I sure wish this assessment is erroneous, but am afraid it isn't.

JustinO'Shea said...

GREG. . .there are [older] profs who have said "Sex drives? Those die 15 minutes after we do."

Obviously I cannot verify such a statement. . ho ho. . nor do I have any desire to!
Que sera sera. . .the future's not mine to see. .que sera, sera!

JustinO'Shea said...

J. . muchas gracias for this contribution. Before I make any comment I do need to ponder this further. . . but no promise I will find anything 'logical' to add. . but if true. . shit, man, that is truly sad!!!
Opps I said that before "further pondering". . LOL

Richard said...

To all:

Go back and read this piece again while mentally dropping the modifier "gay" before man or men.

Two years ago, just shy of our 30th anniversary, my younger partner (by 12 years) decided that he wanted to take early retirement and move to Central America. Before he made that move, however, he found someone closer to his age who also wanted to become an ex-pat.

In all our years together I never once strayed, although I know that he did on at least a few occassions.

Sometimes a stiff penis has no conscience, as the saying goes.


GreginAdelaide said...

Hell Richard.

What can I say?

What can I think?

Luck of the draw?

Is it just that?

Are gays more likely to break a heart after so long?

I guess all I can do is chalk that up as another reason to be thankful I've ended up on the (single) path that I'm on?

Dunno, still thinking on that.

GreginAdelaide said...

I wasn't saying that (all) older guys have no or less sex drive, no not at all.
But I am sure it is tempered by experience and laziness by the time many of us get old.
That basic animal desire was uncomplicated and unfettered when we were young....well, most of us anyway.
Sex and common sense are not always good bedfellows when we are "young, footloose and fancy free"
But I am sure that activity, if not the desire fades as most of us get older.....?

JustinO'Shea said...

Hmmmm. . . .things fade with age. . .but its gotta be, too, that things grow and blossom as people improve and age. . .From my viewpoint, seems to me things have to improve when we are working on it. . . and I guess much will depend on the guy I am willing to love and share and grow together with. . both of us "doing it". . .
why not? ;-))

JustinO'Shea said...

THANKS GUYS for all your sharing of ideas and experience. This is helpful: your various views...because they are YOURS. . .help me to think, compare, investigate, learn.
I hope other readers find it similar
~~~~ Justin

Coop said...

Is there that big of a difference between gay men who sleep around & straight men who sleep around? Or gay men who have affairs when they're in a committed relationship & straight men who do the same thing?

I've never heard anyone say that monogamy (whatever the gender of the person involved) is always a piece of cake. It's what people do in response to temptation that counts.

I also think there's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy here. If a guy goes to certain bars looking for a date or has a Grindr account, what does he think he is going to get?

Gary's take is so obvious that I wonder why I never thought of it before. It makes perfect sense.

I think there's something else in his comment... the generational divide. It was harder for gay couples to (literally) live together & build a life, I suppose. It was even hard for unmarried heterosexual couples to do that. Now that my generation of gay people can look forward to a future as a pair, all that will change.

I look at some of the gay cultural institutions from the past and I cringe. Bath houses? Cruising? I don't need those things. I can meet a man and have a real date for chrissakes.

JustinO'Shea said...

applause..applause...applause. . ;-))

Radical Joe said...

Reading the comments above, I never wanted to get married, honestly... Then I did, cause I couldn't be home forever. I have
had my cake and ate it too. I guess that my children are very much like me, except they are all
straight as an arrow. They had a
hard time accepting that their dad
is gay. 75 years and still as horny as when I was 15, Wife still
feels I am a Bastard for not being honest with her, of course no sex ever with her in last 14yrs
but I just think that I have to ask God for His Help.........
Sounds sort of like I could write a book, but many other folks have
similar Problem Lives.... So Be It. eh Justin?

GreginAdelaide said...

"From my viewpoint, seems to me things have to improve when we are working on it. . . and I guess much will depend on the guy I am willing to love and share and grow together with. . both of us "doing it". . .
why not? ;-))"

Yes Justin, why not?
Work at it, work on it, do it!

JustinO'Shea said...

OK, Greg-Boy, what are you waiting for? hmmmmm? ;-))

GreginAdelaide said...

Gary said "My guess is that when heteros commit to a permanent relationship, it's not just about sexual attraction but more about establishing a home, a family and a future together."

I certainly agree, and took it a step further in earlier comments...those wandering wondering thoughts on how humans (and others) are genetically wired to reproduce and how futile and wasted that drive is in the gay section of the human race.

But my question was, where do "we" gays fit in as couples?

Are we missing that vital part of the reproductive process that tends to make us not commit to permanent relationships? If indeed that is the case.

Maybe Coop is right, the changing/improving social climate might make a difference to how this subject is viewed in 100 years when he said
"Now that my generation of gay people can look forward to a future as a pair, all that will change."

I surely hope so.

Coop said...

I noticed a few experiences here with guys cheating on their significant other that led to the breakup of a relationship.

Is it that gay men can't be monogamous? Or is it that *some* gay men in a relationship are not honest with their partner? Either 1. open up a dialogue and try to save the relationship or 2. end the relationship before they investigate the supposedly greener grass on the other side of the fence.

So gay men can't be monogamous?

JustinO'Shea said...

OK, Coopsta. . .do you think the "toxic environment vis a vis gay relationships in our society and among ourselves -like this. . "Since society and its various branches do not honor and respect gay or same-gender relationships. . .and they dont, in spite of the pious rhetoric. . .could it be that we ourselves are infected with their attitudes. the attitudes in which we were raised and now live, affect us gay guys/gals also. . and result: we really do not love, honor and respect our same-sex monagamous committed relationships. . .and act out the toxins with which we might be infected. . .and are unfaithful to ourselves and our partners???

Your thoughts, gentlepersons. . . hehe


Coop said...

Gay men don't honor their relationships because society does not? I suppose that could be true.
I don't approve, though. :-)

It's an explanation that borders on an excuse. "I don't have to be faithful to my boyfriend because society says I don't".

JustinO'Shea said...

Gary. . .nor do I approve. Might it not be an unconscious attitude absorbed from society but never thought out and deliberately chosen.

Much like a rather prevalent attitude today. "Unless you go all the way you didn't have sex." Sex = intercourse.
A blow-job is not really "sex". [To follow that 'logic' I cannot call a BJ 'oral se
x because of the S-word. A blow job is like a goodnight kiss. .same category.
Now all this is gobblegook IMO. . .Much is just assumed and rarely thought through and chosen. . it is absorbed. And "absorbing" is not a conscious and chosen decision.
Gary, there are any numbers of excuses we do not own.

JustinO'Shea said...

Oooppps.....sorry 'bout that, Coopsta. . .I addressed my last comment to the last gentleman. . .
Mr Man, I am so bizzy/dizzy I meet myself coming and going.
Not noice. ;-)