The Paradox of Our Lonely World
I can’t imagine I’m the world’s loneliest man, though at times I feel like I am. I’d like to believe I’m not the world’s most wholistically unattractive man, though, from my sent-messages-to-response-rate ratio of 100-to-1, I might actually be. Statistics don’t lie and my stats tell me I might be thinking too highly of myself.
Quick affirmation break: I’m an attractive man.
Quick reality check: When you’re trying to find a relationship, it only matters what the other person thinks about your attractiveness because I can’t marry myself. =)
In a world where so many of us feel lonely and disconnected, I find myself facing the paradox of reaching out to lonely people and practically have to beg them for the chance to connect at any level, friends or otherwise. I do my best to not take it personally and to approach it with empathy. I definitely also approach it with a sense of humor.
What inspired this article?
I spoke today with a man whose profile says he’s looking for a meaningful relationship. Of course, in the world of same-sex-attracted men, you kind of have to take the “looking for a relationship” status with several million grains of salt, but, hey, I’m an optimist. I’m also a humble pragmatist. I can’t be the only person like me. =)
I took his profile at face value and sent him a message. Thankfully, he fell into the category of the 1% of men who respond.
Let the dance begin.
A quick exchange of greetings and he dives right into the meat of it. Despite me having a pretty robust profile that explains exactly what I’m looking for, I get this question:
“What are you looking for?”
No surprise. Remember those million grains of salt.
“Platonic friends and marriage”, I reply.
“Same here., So, what are you into?”
That’s gay speak for “what type of sex are you looking for right now.”
“I’m not looking for sex.”
Well, actually I am very much looking for sex and lots of it, but I’m looking for it in the context of marriage. I’m looking for it in the context of caring about you as much as I care about myself. Sex is different. We all know that. If you put sex in the mix without commitment and faithfulness, you’re going to do damage. At least that’s what I’ve observed from two decades of intense observation and I wish to be the change I see in the world.
Telling a gay man that you message that you’re not looking for sex is like telling a waiter at a restaurant that you’re not there to order anything: “Oh, I just wanted a place to sit, thank you.”
You can’t tell a gay man that you’re not looking for sex without having to explain yourself. Why else would you message me?
In this case, “We both said we’re looking for relationships, and we both swiped right, so now I’m trying to do the relationship part of it, which involves getting to know you, not try to have sex with you.”
“But sex is part of dating.”
Eyeroll and WTF.
I know that sex is a very important part of relationships. I also know that NSA is not a type of relationship. It’s the explicit absence of a relationship. I’m not going to argue anyone else’s perspective. I can only communicate my truth.
I explain that I’m not open to casual sex, and it’s a deliberate and socially conscious choice I’m making, like how I aspire to be anti-racist. I don’t mention that it’s also frustrating as hell, but let's be honest, celibacy is frustrating.
After the standard incredulity, and if I’m lucky enough for him to keep talking to me, I try to explain that one of the reasons I don’t engage in casual sex is to create a space for other men to see that I’m actually trying to get to know them.
In my mind, and through my actions, I hope it’s clear that I’m trying to get to know you, the person. While your body is definitely part of your person, so is your psyche, and your heart, and your mind, and your emotional needs. If I’m not right for all of those, then you should know that before anything happens. You deserve to make an informed choice.
As do I.
In my mind, if you’re experience is anything like mine, I’m sure you have more than enough people reaching out to you just for sex and have zero interest in you. Do you really need one more?
As I’m trying to convince this man that I’m worth meeting, I realize just how absurd my life is. From what I can tell, in the male gay world, there’s nothing more unattractive than a man who won’t put out and there’s nothing more disappointing (and unbelievable) than someone who’s serious about a relationship.
There’s also nothing more powerful than skepticism, except for hope. Part of being the change I want to see in the world is to hold out hope enough for both of us.
Quick affirmation break: I love myself
Quick reality check: Love is a lot more fun with someone else there. =)