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    If she knew what she wants

    This weekend I wrote to another blogger that I was going to try to put a lid on the fifteen-paragraph posts slamming friends who needed to complain sometimes–you know, as if it were an earth-shaking deal.

    I’d just like to note here that I made it at least a good forty-eight hours. Maybe it would have been longer had I stayed home all weekend.

    There seems to be a certain type of person who arrives at the coming out phase and thinks, Hmmm….Lots of affectionate pity from friends…extra lenience for bad behavior [overdrinking, overspending, screwing over friends, screwing over boyfriends, screwing over friends with their boyfriends]…a ready excuse for not dealing well with my parents…I could learn to like this, and decides to camp there indefinitely.

    I doubt that that’s a conscious decision for the most part, you understand; it’s just this whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Nearly everyone starts out in gay life wondering whether he’ll make any friends and whether any guys will go for him at all, let alone whether he’ll ever find love. It’s kind of scary at first. No shame in that. Reasonable people figure that, hey, a little open rejection every now and then is way better than a lot of being closed off and closeted and borderline-suicidal all the time…and besides, if a few million other guys and girls can do it, so can they. And they’re right.

    By contrast, the determined whiners are the boys who in five years go from a tentative Will anyone ever be interested in me for real? to the confidently crabby I hate the bar scene–everyone’s so shallow! without ever stopping at Maybe it’s MY behavior that’s flawed and I should GET OVER MYSELF and try modifying it in between.

    When one of these characters starts getting wound up–here as at home, you generally know you’ve got trouble when the words “bar scene” are uttered–it is, I have learned, a mistake to try to head him off at the pass by suggesting that he might want to try other possible ways to circulate. Guys have a bizarre way of objecting to Internet classifieds as “kinda pathetic” immediately after complaining that they’re dateless and friendless at bars. And recommending that someone join a sports or activities group is useless when his whole problem is that he thinks happiness should bestir itself to come and find him.

    Well, all right, you don’t like bars, but you don’t like the other options any more, so you’re stuck here unless you decide to go into a monastery. How about doing what everybody else does? You talk to people. Some of them won’t be interested, and some of them won’t be very nice about the fact that they’re not interested. That stings, but it won’t kill you. And talking to guys who don’t seem likely to become boyfriends or best buddies reminds you that you’re not the center of the universe and everyone has problems. You’ll eventually have a relationship that doesn’t really go anywhere, or that lasts a year or so before you realize it isn’t good for you. You call it a learning experience and move on. That’s one of the things that happen when you choose for yourself rather than letting family elders and other matchmakers filter out possible partners. If liberty’s not working out for you, maybe you’d prefer to go back to the older system and get your parents to pick. You probably won’t be any happier, but at least with you and your wife sharing the same loveless marriage, she might have some empathy to draw on while listening to you mewl.

    4 Responses to “If she knew what she wants”

    1. John Mahoney says:


      I think in the past 3 or 4 years that meeting online has totally lost its stigma. Indeed, for many giving someone your AIM or Yahoo screen name is more intimate that giving out your phone number.

      Online seems to work better than bars/clubs because how often can you carry on a conversation in a club… On a more purient note, if one is looking to get one’s freak on – online is much faster/easier/better than a bar.

      Oh, and am I the only one with close friends who used to be hookups/F**K Buddies? I have a friend who on moving to Boston exclaimed: “I need to sleep arround and make some friends….


    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      In Japan, where being openly gay during daytime/work life is still risky for a lot more people than it is in the States, Internet dating was a big boon. It’s taken a noticeable bite out of the bar population–no more worrying about whether someone from the office will see you on the street heading into Shinjuku 2-chome.

      At the same time, how well it works for you depends, I think, on your personality. Anyone who goes to a club with an object other than (1) dancing and (2) getting beer spilled on him is going to be disappointed, but even when I was younger and unattached, I liked the more pub-like bars that are boisterous but quiet enough to talk in. The slightly cocky irony I use to flirt works much better face-to-face than in e-mail, where your only choices are to underline a joke with a subtlety-destroying emoticon or to play it straight and hope that it’s not misinterpreted.

      As far as how to make friends goes…I’m not about to discuss whether any of my friends and I have or have not ever met under fabric-optional circumstances. I do think the point is well taken that you shouldn’t box guys in before you get to know them. Sometimes someone who seemed to be clearly just-friends material on first meeting becomes the love of your life, and sometimes someone who was apparently a shallow, frisky trifler ends up being the sort of friend who’s a rock in time of need.

    3. tanoki says:

      What I’ve found is this (admittedly cheesy, but true)–you don’t find love, it finds you. I met my significant other (soon to be fiancee, provided I don’t really foul things up here at the end) quite randomly, at a youth hostel the two of us just happened to be staying at. I wasn’t expecting to meet any ladies there (in fact, I thought my room would be single-sex–i.e., guys only), but alas, it was co-ed, and I met and was instantly captivated by the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with (My apologies for the gush…I’m in that kind of mood). That was it. No bars, no nothing. Before that, I always felt as if I needed to go out and *make* things happen–whatever that means. Sure, I suppose some people are able to meet in a club and have wonderful, happy-ever-after-style relationships, but I never got lucky (!?) like that.

      I’m not too sure what it’s like on the gay scene, but I’d imagine it’s not too different. Bars are for hook-ups, and that’s about it. Not too satisfying (unless, of course, that’s what your looking for). For me, though, I was (and am still) happy to have met the person I want to be with without looking. It also makes for a more romantic cocktail story…

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, guy, while it’s true that you can’t make love happen, it’s also true that you can do your best to prevent it. Taking every opportunity to alienate people means that you not only miss out on potential life partners but also on potential friends who could introduce you to other people they know. And then there’s the whole problem with only thinking a conversation is worthwhile if it’s amusing you at a sustained pitch of 100% fabulosity. But sometimes you keep talking to someone who’s a little trying because it’s obvious he needs cheering up and you’re doing that, or what have you. I agree that it’s more important to be receptive to meeting new people as you encounter them than it is to try to force things, but the point is that you have to have an open mind and think about what you can offer, too.

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