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    And are you here when I hold you? / I wonder…I wonder….

    Rondi Adamson has seen Guess Which Movie and offers this:

    But…what struck me–and admittedly, I’m seeing this from the narrow and exasperated point of view of a single woman in the midst of dating horrors–was that this movie showed how men are big, fat f*&^wits even in gay relationships!

    It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is for even smart straight people to be hoodwinked into believing that gay male relationships must be easier to navigate because two men are somehow on the same wavelength in ways that men and women are not. One hates to disabuse people of fantasies in which they’re clearly deeply invested, but…well, no. Sorry. How representative I am I cannot tell, but face-offs over the course of my own relationship history have frequently centered around the following lines (and no, I’m not going to tell you in which cases I was the deliverer vs. the deliveree):

    • “Dammit, GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME! Every time we start having a discussion about something that I think MATTERS, you think you can avoid the subject by coming on to me.”

    • “Why are you so afraid to express your feelings?”
    • “I just vacuumed the floor on Friday, and it’s clean enough for me. If YOU want it kept in a constant state of perfect dustlessness, why don’t you vacuum it yourself?”
    • “Are you going out of your way to humiliate me in public? … Oh, don’t give me that! You were flirting with that waiter and the whole table knew it!”
    • “I don’t think you’re the kind of guy who’s ready for commitment yet.”
    • “Do you think I’m getting fat?”
    • “Okay, look–here is a pen, and here is a piece of paper, and here is what you are going to do for me: You are going to write down all these little rules–I have to kiss you goodbye every time you leave the house, I have to call you if I’m going to be more than 13.5 minutes later than usual getting home, and I have to say “I love you” in three different major ancient and modern world languages at breakfast every freaking third Thursday. Write them all down. I will memorize them. I will follow them. But stop getting all pissy at me for not doing what you want when I can’t figure it out and you won’t TELL ME what the hell it is!”

    Now, does that mean the dynamic is the same as in straight relationships? Certainly not. We don’t have to factor in the possibility of pregnancy or, in most places, marriage. And while in straight relationships I gather that the person who wants everything clean is also statistically more likely to be the one who wants to talk about feelings, things don’t cluster that way for gay guys. (The biggest crybaby I ever dated was a dockworker who appeared to be wholly innocent of the knowledge that it was possible to put things on any horizontal surface other than the floor.)

    Anyway, my point is that in just about any relationship, one partner is more demonstrative than the other, or wants to have sex more often than the other, or is less inclined to talk through problems than to think through them silently, or what have you. Who’s being the big, fat f*&^wit usually varies by situation; it’s not always the one who’s acting more stereotypically male.

    Added on 9 February: Okay, there seems to be some unwritten rule that commenters named John have to make remarks about the vacuuming thing. It’s slightly OT, I guess, but let me just note two things.

    One is–and I know no one’s going to be inclined to believe this, but I hope everyone here trusts my honesty–that my partner at the time was the one who was spazzing about the floors. Yes, I’m serious. I clean scrupulously, but not even in particulate-matter-rich Tokyo does the floor of a childless, petless household need to be vacuumed once every three days. I mean sure, do some spot-cleaning with the dustpan or one of those sticky roller things–I do that myself. But mewl at me that it’s my turn to do the full-on move-the-furniture-and-get-out-the-big-vacu-suck-machine maneuver when one of the two or three television shows I actually like to watch is on? No.

    The other is, John M. poignantly says, “I try and I try but I just can’t see the dirt….” Much as I appreciate the fact that this soul cry represents the sincere desire to reform, I feel obliged to point out that it gets things exactly backwards. You don’t notice the dirt. You notice the absence of clean. Once you can actually see dirt, you’ve reached the point at which getting everything ship-shape is going to be a major project. What you need to look for is the slightly peaked look that the tabletops and upholstery get when they have an invisible layer of dust dulling them up. When things are at that point, you can get them back in order–lovely sparkling, candid order–by going over every surface once and relatively lightly.

    11 Responses to “And are you here when I hold you? / I wonder…I wonder….”

    1. That’s a hoot, Sean. And you’re right: We shouldn’t assume any relationship has any key or quality that makes it run more smoothly than our own.

      I was just relieved to see, while I watched the movie, that men aren’t reserving their remoteness and emotional distance only for me!

    2. John says:

      I’m betting you were the deliveree on that third bullet point. 😉

    3. Toby says:

      1 (repeatedly), 2 and 5 for me – excellent post!

    4. tanoki says:

      True enough, Sean. Gay relationships don’t have some of the headaches and stresses of straight relationships. One I can think of right off the bat is the worry of pregnancy (which can be a nightmare, especially when you’re still in school–try sticking a thermometer in Atsushi’s mouth every morning to see if he’s ovulating–not much fun.) But, having said that, I imagine that on most other fronts, the same issues crop up as with straight couples. The old adage (?) that guys must be able to understand each other better *because they’re guys* ignores reality. The same holds true, probably, for women. Each person is different regardless of gender, and it’s how you manage those differences that, at the end of the day, determines whether your relationship sinks or floats.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:


      I don’t know what your sister’s life is like, but my lesbian friends have recounted basically the same tedious arguments, too.


      Beg pardon? That’s not very gallant of you, buddy. (BTW, while I have your attention–could you hold that cookie over the plate while you’re eating it? Crumbs, you know. Thanks!)


      Thanks. I think we’ve all participated in repeat performances of 1.


      Forgive me for asking such an intrusive question–it’s the thermometer that piqued me–but did you and the girlfriend use the rhythm method?

    6. John Mahoney says:


      OMG – so true. My BF needs to be alone when he’s upset – I need to be comforted. Causes more problems…

      Oh, and I can’t get the house half as clean as he can. I try and I try but I just can’t see the dirt….


    7. tanoki says:


      We used it for a while (around two months or so) but don’t any more. I’m a worrier by nature (the girlfriend’s not, which helps to balance my neurosis) and couldn’t handle the constant fear that she might ovulate at an odd time or even release more than one egg in a month, so we decided to do what a lot of couples do in that situation–we put her on the pill.

      Having said that, I think the rhythm method can work as long as the guy has a decent measure of self-control (sexually, of course–how you manage your temper in the board room is of little use to in bed), you check the woman’s temperature each morning (and act accordingly), and the woman doesn’t suffer from irregular periods or ovulations. I suppose it all boils down to how willing you are to risk having a child with the person. For us, we’ve been serious about marriage from early on, so an unexpected pregnancy wouldn’t have sent me running for a bottle of aspirin and whiskey. For the less committed, though, the rhythm method could put you in a tight spot (pardon the pun) quickly.

      Oh, and no need to worry about asking me about the personal (within reasonable limits, of course). I feel fairly certain my anonymity is safe on this board.

    8. Sean Kinsell says:

      The joke in the church in which I grew up is that there’s a word for people who use the rhythm method: parents. Was just wondering.

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      John Mahoney:

      “OMG – so true. My BF needs to be alone when he’s upset – I need to be comforted. Causes more problems…”

      Hmm. Do you have trouble leaving him alone, or does he have trouble figuring out the right thing to say to comfort you? I mean, you’re under no more obligation to answer that than tanoki was my question about his girlfriend’s, you know, cycles. I only ask because my tendency, when someone presents a problem to me in a way that implies he doesn’t know what to do about it, is to…well, suggest a few things he might do.

      In certain past relationships, that has notably failed to go over well. It took me AGES to figure out, in case of two exes, that they wanted me to keep telling them that I was there for them and everything would be okay…but IXNAY on the advice, which each of them interpreted as my being bossy. (As if!)

    10. John Mahoney says:


      He totally knows what to say to comfort me. It’s just that we he’s upset I want to hold and comfort him – but he just wants to be alone to deal with his problems in his own way.

      For example, after a bad day at work he needs to be alone for about an hour and then he is fine for the rest of the night. For me, I need to vent.

      Oh, and one DOES NOT even conceive of offering him any advice – oh no – no, no, no…. shudder…

      His advice to me has allways been very helpful however.


    11. Sean Kinsell says:

      “He totally knows what to say to comfort me.”

      Then he’s way ahead of me. I mean, in terms of relationships I’ve had with need-to-be-comforted-when-upset guys.

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