When I came out as gay, I set off on a quixotic quest of finding a boyfriend. I just had to have a boyfriend. I needed to be accepted. No, I needed to feel accepted. If some cute guy accepted and loved me, then I could accept myself. I’d be okay being gay. I’d feel I was fine. I would finally feel loved.
I made some mistakes in those first few feeble attempts at finding love. At 25, I was now living those angst-filled teenage years of trying to figure out what I wanted in a partner. I would sleep with them on the first date, and never hear from them again. I then realized that giving away the farm was no way to hang on to them. So, I decided not to sleep with them on the first date, and I still wouldn’t hear from them again. I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t.
So, I stopped dating.
I tried focusing on making friends and seeing where things went.
I had joined two social groups, one for gay teachers where I went to one event and never went back. I also joined an Evangelical Christian group offering support for LGBTQ Christians, and that lasted a few years until my spirituality evolved.
I eventually met my first partner through a friend who I met outside of those groups. Because my future first partner did come back after the first date and the second and third ones, I was finally feeling happy. I was ecstatic. At last, I had a boyfriend!
We eventually moved in together and life was grand.
I felt complete.
And then he died.
And I moved on.
With the first man who came along afterwards.
And things were good and comfortable and I was happy again. We were doing things my first partner wasn’t comfortable doing. We were going to social clubs as a couple. We joined a gay square dance club as a couple. We went to Pride together as a couple. We had a social life that included other gay men. (It seems that my first partner was a bit insecure and felt threatened by other men.)
In time, things changed. And I am single again.
In both relationships, I could never describe myself as hopelessly, ecstatically over the moon, happily in love. Neither man could fully give me what I wanted or needed in a relationship as much as they wanted to. And I take ownership for that because I wasn’t clear on what I wanted or needed from them. Yet, I stayed, hoping things would improve. They never did.
It seemed I was searching for someone else to complete me when the only person who can truly do that is me.
It seems I was attached to the idea of a relationship rather than seeing a relationship for what it should be.
A perfect relationship is when two people come together to offer unconditional love, support and encouragement to help the other reach their greatest good and highest potential all the while striving to reach your own highest potential as well.
No relationship is perfect. Nor easy.
I say I was attached to the relationship. I did love both men, but I loved the idea of being part of a couple more. Attachment is when we use outside elements to fill an internal void. We become dependent on them for internal validation. We can be attached to material possessions to fill a void of low self-esteem; we might think "if I have the perfect car, the best house in the best neighborhood, the most impressive job title or career, a trophy spouse or even just a relationship then other people will think highly of me, therefore I can think highly of myself. If I don’t have all those things, or even just the one that’s most important to me, I’d feel incomplete."
And yet, not one of those things is permanent. Car accidents happen, house values collapse, careers fail, trophy spouses tarnish, relationships end, then what?
The only thing that is permanent is one’s own sense of self-worth.
I believe the most important relationship to have is a relationship with your Self.
But, how do you have a relationship with yourself?
The same way you have a relationship with someone else; spend time with YOU!
- Go to dinner and a movie alone;
- Ask yourself those questions you’d ask someone on a first date, or a fifth date;
- Meditate-see what comes up;
- Learn to enjoy your own company;
- Practice self-care;
- Find out what you want;
- Find your passion;
- Find out what gives you joy. Then pursue it.
In short, find out WHO you are, your truest, most authentic self. The more grounded you are in your authenticity, the less you will rely on someone else to complete you.
It’s easy, and tempting, to go from one relationship right into another after one ends. Our ego wants us to feel validated, desirable, and loved once again. Mine did. But, we need adequate time to reflect over and grieve the end of the first relationship before embarking on another one. We need to be as healed as possible before subjecting ourselves to potentially being wounded again. By doing this repeatedly, we might even run the risk of becoming relationship dependent. It’s like an athlete who strains a muscle. They are told to rest for a given period of time allowing that muscle to heal. Yet, many athletes get anxious, restless, and eager to get to training again. So, they return full force to their sport before they should, often aggravating the muscle even more. Our heart is a muscle, literally and figuratively. We need to treat it with love, gentleness and respect allowing it to heal between relationships.
I’ve learned if you place your happiness in the hands of others, they’ll drop it nearly every time.
In this time I’m spending on my own, I’m learning to validate myself, so I don’t need anyone else to.
In this time alone, I’m learning to love myself first, so I don’t need anyone else to.
In this time on my own, I’m learning to create my own happiness, so I hang on to it.
In this time, I’m learning to enjoy my own company, so I don’t end up with someone just to avoid being lonely.
I’m developing this relationship with my Self, so that if someone does come along, and I choose to be with him, it won’t be out of a need, a fear, or some other reason.
It will be because it feels like the right thing to do.