Relationships are hard. Gay relationships, however, are even harder. Many factors are attributing to the reasons, many of them are societal, others historical. Many still are simply biological.
Leaving the gay aspect aside for a moment, men are generally more sexually driven creatures, leading to the sexual aspect of a relationship to shove its way to the forefront among other factors. The drive for sex is a normal human one, of course, but for gay men in the modern age, it is so easy to attain, that it often pushes back the vulnerability and commitment required to sustain long term monogamy.
Historically, gays have been prosecuted, often with death, for who they were biologically attracted to and congregated with. In an attempt to escape prosecution, many gay men lived in denial of their real urges and feelings and lived closeted, sheltered lives lacking in true romantic fulfillment. Many dared to cater to their natural urges in secret, living in secret relationships or being exposed at times to dire physical or social consequences.
Society was no help either. Straight relationships are hard but there is an embarrassment of riches in terms of how straight men learn about relationships (books, television, movies, plays). With the shame and stigma associated with gay relationships, many young gay men did not grow up in a society rife with such examples, so much of their own sexual and romantic evolution is based on primal needs. This lack of clarity for many as to how to approach a relationship would become a factor once countries all over the world began to chip away at archaic anti-gay legislation and gay men were able to be free of the confines of secrecy.
However, with the lack of role models, many men have reverted to pursuing the most natural male drive: sex. With the stigma of homosexuality at an all-time historical low, the liberation of sexual freedom has been intoxicating to many. Better yet, sex is easy to come by. Simply visiting a gay bar is a walk into a pool of people who are there almost certainly looking for hookups. Coming up from that sort of environment with a meaningful, fulfilling relationship is quite a bit harder.
There is no wrong way to be gay, nor is there a right way, but a gay man does need to look within himself to figure out what he actually wants in terms of dating, hookups, or relationship aspirations. This is made even more difficult by the fact that when a gay man does find someone, the circle of natural urges drives them to engage in sexual acts quickly, often creating a confusing situation for the relationship right from the start.
Growing up in a no-gay friendly world, most gay men bear deep scars acquired through self-discovery and public stigmata of their formative years. While coming out is very liberating, the internal uncertainty and strife are still ever-present. When one cannot be fully vulnerable with themselves, it’s hard to shake the guarded nature around others as well. The childhood and early adolescent shame causes them to build walls to prevent them from getting hurt all over again. Building walls is clearly not conducive to being a fully vested party in a relationship.
Because coming out happens at different times for different men, some are well into their 30s or 40s when they finally hit the gay dating scene. And while they may be older and more mature in many ways, the concept of gay dating is foreign and new, meaning that they begin to explore a world where one is left to their own devices. Add in many attractive men, alcohol, drugs, and sex…and a formula for potential danger arises.
It is also easy to get lost in ideals. This affects everyone, not just gay men, of course, but as males with egos, gay men always strive to be better at everything than others. Unfortunately, those expectations also tend to creep into the expectations of mates. This causes the visual of an ideal partner to be one that scores an A+ rating across looks, body, success, and everything that one wants their mate to be. It’s crushing to discover that no one meets these expectations. Even when a gay man finds his “unicorn,” it is likely someone who is out of another relationship and that comes with baggage and potentially unforeseen issues.
There are a variety of reasons that straight women are looking to quickly partner up with straight men: there is a biological clock component in play. Gay men do not have that concern, so they are in no rush. When they do find a prospective relationship partner, the dynamic is different than a straight couple’s. While there is a firmer expectation of monogamy with straight couples, the dynamics in a gay relationship can be different. Straying from a relationship, even if it is an open one, tends to lead to feelings of jealousy and looking to escape from the hurt, cutting many gay relationships short. Add to this that gay men’s social circles are typically full of bachelors and the temptation to stray is often there.
On the heels of such a temptation comes the fear of commitment as well. Until very recently, gay marriage was outlawed, and even though it is far more accepted now, and is generally legal in the civilized world, there is a subconscious effect that drives gay men to take the idea of committed relationships less seriously. When things don’t go ideally, they will quickly bail from a relationship, often not sticking around long enough to find out if things can be worked out.
It seems that history and society are doing a double team number on the community of gay men. It is interesting to observe the evolution of dynamics in a gay relationship, and it will surely evolve with the times as it has to this point, but until then dating in the gay community will continue to be plagued by brevity and uncertainty. It takes a change of mindset for oneself to truly recognize the issues at play, to be able to consciously overcome them, and to achieve true happiness in dating and relationships.