This post is a part of an ongoing series entitled MIP (Man In Progress).After my 25th Birthday I decided to improve three aspects of my life, my physical well-being, my romantic relationships, and my writing career. My philosophy is that a writer’s work and his life are irrevocably intertwined and in order to improve one, we inevitably have to improve the other.
I’ve never felt at home in the gay community. I’ve always felt a little like an alien species among other gay men. The reason why was because the guys I dated—far too many of them—always seemed so shocked that I was looking for more than just sex. It almost seemed as if “commitment” was a dirty word for them. When I told them I wanted to get to know them first before we took things to “the next level,” their raised eyebrows said everything their mouths didn’t say: “We are liberated. We worked hard to be free and be ourselves. Why would you want commitment? Why are you oppressing yourself? C’mon we’re both men. You know how men are. You know there’s only one thing you really want.”
But I could never help it: I personally find commitment very sexy. I find monogamy incredibly beautiful and not just romantic, but the deepest display of sexual desire you could ever give another person.
The sad thing is that most gay men don’t feel the same way.
Boyfriend? What Does That Mean?
For centuries, gay people had to live in the shadows and hide who they really were. Only up until very recently was having a “husband” or a “wife” a real concept in the minds of gay people (in some places it still doesn’t exist as a concept); and as far as having a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” that’s a fresh concept too, and is only about a few decades old.
No, for so long, all gay people knew was sex (pure, physical connection) as the only way they could relate to each other—and even then, it was only done in the shadows, and there always had to be a third person in the middle (usually a straight man or woman) needed in order to shield the relationship from society’s suspicion. But now that gay people can live more openly and free, the paradigm is beginning to shift: within the gay community, there are gay men and women who are starting to wake up to the “lie” that was promised to them as a reward for their coming out.
What was that lie? That the dream of finally coming out had always been to be able to have sex with as many people as we’d like, without ever having to feel guilty or ashamed about it. Now maybe that was the dream for some of us, but it wasn’t the dream for all of us. And that was the lie.
The truth is, some of us always yearned for something more than just a physical connection. We wanted relationships that penetrated beyond the skin level, and broke into the soul level. We always wanted this deeper connection, but felt uncomfortable speaking it out loud.
Because we were told to believe that our dream was free sex. But now, many of us are starting to realize that sex is not enough, and we’re starting to realize that the “dream of free sex” was never our dream to begin with. It was a myth (probably created by the gay people in our community who wanted that myth to be true for all gay people—perhaps so they could have more partners to choose from?).
The “dream of free sex” myth is prevalent even among our straight advocates. When a gay man is in a funk, his girlfriend is apt to prescribe him the most obvious medicine to cure his ailment:
“Boy, you just need to get laid!”
I don’t know how many times I’ve personally been given this “sage” advice, as if all my problems could be solved by a brief, exhilarating physical encounter with someone who only sees me as an object—just another body to be used and disposed of, like a plastic water bottle after one’s thirst is quenched.
I don’t know about other people, but what I get when I get “laid” is an empty hollow feeling. I feel even more alone, and even less loved, after that brief physical encounter than I did before.
The truth is: what gay men need is not another unavailable guy who isn’t going to give us the tenderness, respect, and devotion we deserve.
We don’t need to get laid. What we need is to get loved.
Honoring My Truth
As I progress in my romantic relationships, I’ve come to finally honor what I’ve always known to be true about myself: that what I’m looking for in a relationship is not something physical, but something far deeper than the physical. What I’m looking for is for that thing that some people call a “soulmate,” and I’m no longer embarrassed or ashamed to admit it.
I’ve always known that this was the kind of guy I was, but I often would doubt whether this was the right path for me. I would often wonder whether I shouldn’t just be the gay man other people seemed to want me to be: someone who would just sleep with a bunch of guys, and the next day share with his girlfriends, over brunch and mimosas, his crazy sex stories, a la Sex and The City.
But no, I’m not that kind of gay man.
I’m ready to own my own love story and create the kind of relationship that will serve my needs—and not someone else’s.
I’m learning that you should always own your own love story. Everyone else will see your love story through the prism of their own romantic past, and they will try to define what it is for you. Don’t let them do that. Don’t let books, songs, movies, magazines, or anyone else tell you what love is supposed to look like when it comes around. You love story is your own, and it doesn’t matter if it isn’t real for anybody else. It is real to you and that’s what counts.
And if you feel you need a soulmate, I don’t think that’s such a silly or “unrealistic” thing to need. That’s a wonderful thing to need.
From now on, I proudly honor that truth for myself.
Soulmate? What Does That Mean?
In Calling In The One by Katherine Woodward Thomas, Katherine defines a soulmate not as someone who “completes you”—as is often the misconception—but as someone who compliments you, because you are already whole all on your own. This part I already knew. But Katherine goes on to add that a soulmate is still someone you need in your life and that they’re someone you’re destined to meet because they’re here to help you fulfill your purpose—just as you’re here to help them fulfill their purpose.
This part of the definition of a soulmate is new to me (although it should’ve been obvious). I guess I was always too proud to admit that I needed a spiritual partner in my life. I was far more comfortable saying that I wanted a spiritual partner, because then I could keep the image of myself as a fiercely independent and self-sufficient man—an image that I worked so hard to achieve and didn’t want to let go.
But Katherine taught me that there’s nothing wrong with needing someone. We’re perfectly comfortable saying that we need a mother or a father, or that we need a brother or sister, or that we need a friend, or that we need our pets. So, it’s perfectly okay to say that you need a romantic partner.
There’s nothing wrong with needing love. We all need love. We all need a soulmate, and part of the journey of finding that soulmate is admitting and honoring this truth—especially in the conversations we have with family, friends, and colleagues who might think that our needs are purely physical, leading them to recommend people and experiences that do not truly fulfill us, but only make us feel more lonely, confused, and hurt afterward.
So, today, I honor my truth: I need commitment. I need love and tenderness. I need a spiritual connection. I need someone who is mature and wise enough to admit to himself that he needs that, too. I need someone with his own personally destiny, yes, but someone whose destiny is also to love me. His soul, just like mine, has been yearning for me, just like my soul’s been yearning for him. His soul has been dreaming of me, just like my soul’s been dreaming of him. His soul has been looking for me, just like my soul’s been looking for him.
Several years ago, I learned that each of us has a soul, and that each of our soul’s has a purpose. When we honor this truth, our world fundamentally changes for the better. Today, I’m also learning that, when it comes to relationships, the rule is the same: each one of us has a soul, and just as each of our soul’s has a purpose, each one of our soul’s has a mate.
As Emmanuel Swedenborg says: that which we deeply desire to have in the present, is already ours somewhere in the future—why else would be so magically drawn to it? Spiritual logic ascertains that if I have a deep desire for a soulmate today, it means that I will have this soulmate tomorrow—how could it be any other way?
And maybe the only thing that has been separating the two of us, up until now, is that neither of us has had the courage to admit that we’re meant for each other. Maybe it’s because we fear our relationship wouldn’t fit into the mainstream view of what we should want: pure physical pleasure. Or maybe it’s because, even though we are both whole and complete all on our own at the moment, it would mean that we would still need each other.
And that’s kinda scary for both of us to admit.
Well, I don’t know about my soulmate, but I, for one, don’t want to be afraid anymore. I’m setting out to look for my soulmate and working as hard as I can to be with him for the rest of my life.
Because I need him, and deep down, I know that he needs me, too. And because I’m so tired of everyone else trying to write my own love story for me.
I’m so sick and tired of trying to get “laid.” I’m ready to get loved.
Today’s Courage Exercise
If you, like me, always knew that you looked for a deeper, spiritual connection in your romantic relationships, but were too afraid to honor that truth for yourself, change that today: start affirming that you are ready to be with your soul mate. Affirm that you are ready to draw him, or her, in to your life. Affirm that you ready to get loved, and are no longer interested in a purely physical connection.
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