I haven’t posted anything in quite awhile, in fact, I can’t even remember how long it’s been and I didn’t bother to check before starting to write this post.  Suffice it to say that life happened and blogging wasn’t a priority. Everything is going well for me here in New York City, but the list of things that I can make myself do when I’m not in the mood to do them is short and blogging isn’t to be found among them.  Another of the reasons I haven’t written is because I felt like I had to explain or summarize everything that happened while I wasn’t writing.  Forget that, I’m living in the now.

Right now I’m still feeling a little out of sorts trying to adjust to working nights.  My body doesn’t know what the hell I”m doing and I’ve embraced the magic of Ambien for those times when I know there won’t be enough time for my body to decided whether or not it’s really time to sleep.

Life in NYC is amazing and I frequently find myself on street corners, waiting for the light to change (things haven’t gotten so bad that I’m selling myself), and I’ll look up and/or around myself and think how lucky I am to be living in this place.  And it’s not just that I’m living in an amazing place, it’s that I’m living in a place that I always dreamed of living in.

Life here in NYC isn’t always such a dream though, it’s still life and all the accompanying challenges do still apply.  I really do understand why most people don’t pick up and move across the country to anywhere, especially not NYC.  There is a part of me that knows I won’t live in this city for my whole life, but at the same time I cannot comprehend how I will ever live anywhere else.

Dating here is interesting.  It’s sort of exactly like everyone described it would be and yet nothing like that at all. I’ve been overwhelmed with all the gay men here.  They are EVERYWHERE!  Anyone that’s afraid of the gays taking over the world needs to just write NYC off, because we’ve already conquered it.

I think I’m done for now.  I’m going to watch the season finale of The Bachelor.  I’ve been willingly sucked into the series and I readily admit to enjoying awful television.  But I comfort myself with the knowledge that Six Feet Under is one of my favorite series of all time.  See, I’m not all trashy reality TV.

The roots of all our lives go very, very, deep, and we can’t really understand a person unless we have the chance of knowing who that person has been, and what that person has done and liked and suffered and believed.” -Fred Rogers, Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers

Just as life experience takes time to accumulate, so does a relationship. I like to think of a relationship as something that forms and grows between people. You don’t just meet a person and suddenly have a relationship. We cheat ourselves of the beauty that can come from a well-formed and nurtured relationship when we try to force those things that we want, and need, to come naturally. But those things may not come at all. And somehow I think we convince ourselves that maybe if we hurry and make it “serious” really fast we can stop a relationship from becoming what we don’t want it and need it to be; Like a game of musical chairs where if you get there first, you win. Or maybe we’re just impatient.

You cannot cheat time. It does not matter if you spend every waking moment with a person for the first 6 months that you know them, you still only know 6 months worth of information about them. “Cramming” may have worked for you on exams in school, but the same principle does not apply to getting to know a human being. Spending every waking moment with the person you are dating gives you a skewed vision of who they are as a person. They existed without you by their side before. What kind of person were they then? Because that is the person that it is important for you to know.

With forced and rushed relationships people lose, hard. It’s not that I’m saying that whether you rush or take your time getting to know someone that the outcome will necessarily be different. If the timing is right and you match up with the person in the right places it will work. But if the relationship fails then the speed that you’re traveling and the degree that you and the other person are enmeshed together is going to affect the amount and the severity of the damage done on impact.

I know a man that in the first four months of this year has gotten serious enough with a man to be calling him his “partner” and to say that they are “planning their future together.” I know a woman who met a man last summer and two months later was engaged to him. Four months after their engagement they were married and moving their children in together. All during the craziness of this woman finishing nursing school.

Whoa.

Extreme Home Makeover is a show that I enjoy watching on occasion. And somehow that came up with a man I met while I was in New York. He is an architect, and I remember him saying something to the effect that from an architectural standpoint such a speedy construction brings up a number of questions when it comes to quality and stability. How long does a fresh foundation need before you put the weight of a house or relationship on it?

It’s the complex detail of anything, be it architecture, people, or a relationship, that make them truly beautiful and worthwhile. Detail takes time to form and to appreciate. Something significant is lost when we rush. Great damage can be done when we try to cram another person, and allow ourselves to be pushed, into a space that doesn’t truly fit the intricate details of their, or our, individual humanity.

Take a breath. Recognize that something that is right today will still be right tomorrow, then enjoy today for what it is and where you are. Trying to be where you want to be in the future today will always be a futile effort. You lose the present when you fail to live in it.

Published in the March 1, 2008 edition of QSaltLake.

I believe that every human being is in some way broken. And when I think of broken things I picture sharp, jagged edges. If you’ve ever had experience with such sharp objects then you know they can harm you. This same principle applies to human beings. Our broken parts make it highly likely that we will hurt other people, usually those we care about.

If a person is not ready for something they are seeking, then I believe they will unwittingly drive that very thing away. So it is that our jagged edges often keep what we desire from coming within our reach. The challenge is recognizing what parts of ourselves need some smoothing.

Now, our jagged edges are not always a negative or unnatural thing. After a break-up, no matter whether it was “clean” or “messy,” a person has any number of jagged edges that make him or her unsuitable for any kind of serious dating relationship. A responsible, self-aware adult will make every conscious effort to smooth out these hurt parts before they let another person get close.

A very common form of false advertising in the dating world is to present yourself as available when you’re not. Recently, I’ve been struggling with this challenge. I plan on relocating after graduation, and I’ve come to realize that this has rendered me undateable. Right now it doesn’t matter who I meet or how spectacular they are: I am just not in a place where I’m going to allow an intimate relationship to happen. I need to graduate and live as an adult with a real adult job before I’m going to be open to any kind of serious dating. That’s my truth right now.

I say this like I really believe it, but if I’m being honest with you, which I am, then I have to admit there’s a part of me that doesn’t believe what I’m saying. I’m a hopeless romantic and my heart wants to believe that if the right person came along tomorrow, I’d be open to that possibility. But in my head I recognize that this isn’t true. And while my heart often chooses the direction, my head picks the course.

While I’m unavailable due to my outwardly changing life situation, I have a good friend who is unavailable because of an inwardly changing life situation. While the outward appearance of my friend’s life is very organized and stable, he recognizes that he needs to be at peace with a lot of internal issues before he can find the relationship he seeks.

I have another friend who has found himself on the other end of this situation twice, in just the last six months. He keeps meeting men who present themselves as available, they’re really not. These men are in transition themselves and have refused to recognize, or have not yet recognized or accepted, that they are not in a place where they should be seeking a serious relationship. My friend has picked up on this fact in a much clearer and more straightforward way than these men have. I think my friend’s ability to notice this has to do with the fact that his life is conducive to that which he seeks.

If you imagine the state of being capable and ready for a relationship as a beautiful and unique landscape, then you can imagine why those who are not ready for it would be incapable of accurately describing it. And how this in turn would be the bullshit detector those who have seen this landscape could use to determine whether another truly has seen it.

No matter what a person appears to be, she or he radiates their truth. And while you may not be able to put your finger on what about them puts you off, your core will often sense what they don’t want you to know. Often, this is something they themselves don’t even realize.

What I Want

July 3, 2008

Published in the January 1, 2008 edition of QSaltLake.

“Why yes, yes, I am. And I hope you are, too.” At least, that’s what I wish my response would have been when someone said, “Oh, you’re one of those picky bitches, aren’t you?” Sometimes people ask what my type is or why I’m single. “Why” questions, in general, are often self-defeating. As for what I look for in a guy, well, that one is simply a difficult question. Let me explain: Imagine that each letter of the alphabet is a character trait, physical feature, life goal or direction, etc. You have to realize that nobody is going to be every letter of the alphabet to you. Some people might be letters G-M, which happen to be what you’re looking for physically, but they may be missing letters A-F, which are all the positive character traits you want in a partner. Any person could be any combination of what you’re seeking. But which letters of your ideal relationship are most important to you and which can you live without? 

Life is about compromise, balance and work: What do you compromise on? How do you maintain balance? And how much work are you willing to put forth in any one aspect of your existence? 

I have to be honest, when it comes to gay relationships, I haven’t seen too much that I really want to emulate. That doesn’t necessarily say anything negative about the gay relationships I’ve encountered and become familiar with, they’re just not the kind of relationship I hope to be in someday. It doesn’t mean they’re bad or not as good as what I want, they’re just different from what I’m seeking. I feel that knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want. 

When I was a young Mormon boy, I dreamed of getting married and having a family, although I never spent too much time imagining my wife – that was one detail I left rather fuzzy. When I came out, I reevaluated the dreams and desires my religious upbringing had instilled in me. I asked myself what I really wanted for my life and what I felt was really possible in my future. 

One of the conclusions I came to was that I do want children. Not because God commanded that we should multiply and replenish the earth, but because I think I’d be a good dad. Also, I feel having children is an unparalleled human experience that anyone is lucky to have. 

I also decided that I still want a committed, monogamous relationship. Not because society frowns on less traditional relationships. But because everything I’ve learned from observation, personal experience and formal education on the subject leads me to believe that this is the type of relationship that will bring me the most happiness and fulfillment. Also, I don’t share well. 

Some of the most difficult things for me to verbalize are what I’m attracted to physically. But I can tell you this: I look at the chiseled, hairless, model type of man the same way I used to look at the cadavers in my college anatomy class. They’re interesting, sometimes you want to lean in for a better look, and they can make you marvel at the human form, but I don’t want to touch them. 

I believe that if I pull myself together and get my life on track, that if I take care of myself, then I will in turn be able to recognize someone who also loved himself enough, and valued his life enough, to have done the same. Someone with whom I can live happily ever after because we worked for our happily ever after every day we were together, and a good number of our days before we met. 

And what if I never meet a person with whom I can live happily ever after? Well, I’ll still be in a good place, because either way I found myself first. 

But I’m not telling you any of this because I think you actually care what I want. I’m telling you this because I know what it feels like to wonder if you will ever find what you want. It’s a discouraging thing to know that and be unable to find it, especially when so many of the people around you don’t seem to have the same problem. I shared what I want and have not yet found, because I believe that every human being seeks validation for his or her feelings – validation that is often found when realizing that others have felt what you’re feeling, feared what you fear, and found joy despite it all.

Dating: Empty Scrotums

July 3, 2008

Published in the December 1, 2007 edition of QSaltLake. 

A few months ago I was on a date and the man sitting across the table told me that he could see and talk to dead people. Specifically two dead people, but I’ll spare you the hour and half worth of details. People, I hadn’t even gotten my entrée yet! What do you do in that type of situation? I’m still not sure. All I could think to do was drink more wine.

But, hey, we’re all a little crazy. I can handle crazy. But what I seem to be running out of patience for is all these timid gay men. Logically we know that every man should have two balls, but, surprisingly, many gay men don’t seem to have any. How can this be? And where did all those balls go?

To answer that, let’s talk about timidity. You never know the potential of anything until you try. Of course, nobody wants to be vulnerable, but the vulnerable spots in which we consciously place ourselves can also be the most rewarding. And when it comes to human relationships every spot is a vulnerable one, particularly because we fear being disappointed or flat-out rejected. Rejection can be brutal, but it can’t kill you, which means it can make you stronger. I should know, because I’ve been rejected many times. I’m not saying that rejection doesn’t sting every single time – it’s not a pleasant thing – but being accepted or rejected doesn’t lessen or alter what you have to offer.

It’s OK if someone isn’t into you the way that you’re into them. Think of it this way: There are plenty of people who you don’t want to date or who you don’t find sexually attractive, right? The same is true for everyone. Chemistry between people is a mystery. And while attraction is difficult to understand, the lack of it on one end does not reflect poorly on the other end.

If you’re interested in someone, but you’re afraid to make a move, then you need to suck it up and get over it. If you’re insecure (who isn’t?), then you need to find a way to get a handle on that. In learning how to cope, it’s okay to accept that you’ll probably always be a little nervous, especially when it comes to talking to someone you want to go out with. The point is to not let your insecurity get to you and run your life.

Sometimes I wish a light would go on over people’s heads if you were interested in them and they were interested in you. But there is no easy button for dating, and really, it’s probably good that there is no such light. It would be pretty upsetting if half way through a conversation you saw the light turn off.

Someone told me once that you should mirror the other person’s actions. Although people can often be impossible to read, it’s a good idea to follow this rule: If you’re the one making all the moves or sending all of the text messages, then that probably isn’t a good sign. But you don’t have to learn to read the signs that someone else is putting off. If all else fails, you can just use your words. Be honest, communicate and cut out the games. Don’t make assumptions and don’t reject yourself for the other person. Focus more on communicating your desires and interest and less on protecting your ego. Egos can be ugly things, they can push people away, and they’re often used to guard against genuine human contact.

I respect anyone who has the balls to approach a total stranger. It takes courage and a sense of self, and for most people it’s very difficult. So the next time someone approaches you, in person or otherwise, and you’re not interested (for whatever reason), I hope you will communicate that as gently as possible. And if you ever approach someone who makes it clear they’re not interested in you, please remember that their reason doesn’t matter and please don’t ask. Then handle the situation with some grace. If the person you approach is rude in their rejection of you, then recognize that you’ve just been handed the opportunity to be the bigger person; the bigger person who just found out that someone on whom they took a risk doesn’t deserve you.

I know that there are a lot of good people out there who have a lot to offer, but who don’t go after what they want for various reasons. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche, “Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves?” So go for it, and no matter the outcome, be better for it.

Published in the September 1, 2007 edition of QSaltLake: Utah’s Gay and Lesbian News & Entertainment Magazine.

I recently received a message on a social networking Web site from a man I met several years ago. We went out on a handful of dates, and things faded out. Sometime later, his profile read that he was “in a committed relationship.” And that was that…at least until he contacted me a few weeks ago with a profile that read “single.” I replied asking how he was doing, and he never wrote back. Now the main photo on his profile shows him and his (ex?) boyfriend. Oh, and his status has returned to “in a committed relationship.” 

Sound confusing? 

Sound familiar?

Getting back with an ex is something many people — gay and straight — do. But under what circumstances is this a good idea? A relationship ends for good reason, and usually several good reasons; I mean, two people don’t just suddenly realize that they’ve broken up. Typically, a lot of thinking and soul-searching happens before you reach that outcome. 

I suppose, to a certain extent, that it’s natural to want to get back with an ex, particularly immediately — and by immediately, I mean in one to six months following a break-up. Think of it like the person next to you in bed suddenly rolling over and taking the covers: Your first instinct is to pull the blankets back and regain the warmth and comfort you’ve just lost. Just like a blast of cold air int he morning, being single after a long relationship can be jarring. 

People don’t change very quickly, and usually they don’t really change at all. Even if they do, you probably don’t have the patience to wait it out — in most cases, I would hope that you have the intelligence not to. 

Of course, there is something to be said about not giving up and for giving things one (or ten) more shots. But it’s important to know why you want to work things out. You can love someone with all your heart, you could be really good for that person in a lot of ways and he or she could be even better for you. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you two should be in a relationship. Sometimes people use love as an excuse. 

I’ve heard people give a lot of reasons for getting back together with an ex. Being “so unhappy after the break-up” is one of the usual ones. Now, I suppose my life experience could be the exception here, but unless I’m mistaken, life isn’t always happy. Sometimes you feel alone and sad. Sometimes you get depressed. But none of those feelings mean that there is something wrong with you. Just because you make a decision that brings a period of hardship doesn’t mean the decision was bad: Sometimes the hardest thing to do is also the right thing to do. 

Ladonna Moore wrote an excellent column in the Salt Lake Metrocalled “Grieving Lost Relationships.” My favorite quote from that piece is, “have the courage to stay with emotions.” If you feel sad, then acknowledge your feelings, and let yourself grow. We all have occasion to find ourselves in the shadows, but the darkness always dissipates. If you feel that things won’t ever get better, there is help. There are people who will step up if you let them know you are struggling. They can be friends or family members, even trusted clergy and therapists. 

I would never claim to know what is right for another persons’ relationship. Most of the time, I’m not even sure what’s right in my relationships. But I do know that people grow at their own unique paces, and that there are different planes of emotional and intellectual existence. Timing, while not everything, is really important. And sometimes, you have to let go if you’re ever going to get a better grip.

Only the Lonely

June 26, 2008

Published in the May 1, 2007 Edition of QSaltLake. 

All alone I didn’t like the feeling,
All alone I sat and cried,
All alone I had to find some meaning; 
In the center of the pain I felt inside. 

-“Sand and Water” by Beth Neilsen Chapman

I feel that loneliness is an important part of life and personal growth. I know that the loneliness I have felt in my life has left me with no other option than to “find some meaning in the center of the pain I felt inside.” There is meaning in the pain we feel. 

In my nursing classes they teach us that pain is an indicator that something is wrong. We’ve been taught that “pain is whatever the patient says it is and exists whenever the patient says it does.”

I think it’s wrong to dismiss or belittle your own or someone else’s pain. In my own life I try not to ignore my pain. I’ve tried to look at it closely, to see exactly where it hurts, why it hurts, and what really made it hurt. It’s only in doing this that I’ve known how to treat my pain; whether to cradle it until it eases or whether to run it off on a treadmill.

There are so many lonely people in this world. I’ve encountered a lot of loneliness in the gay community. Sometimes the loneliest people are the ones that appear to have the most friends. Realize that people can still be strangers to you even if you know their names, even if you see them every day of your life. 

Loneliness is something every human being experiences. It’s an emotion that could unite us all except for the fact that we so quickly forget what it feels like as soon as it passes. It’s hard to relate to someone living under the crushing feeling of being alone when you aren’t feeling that same thing yourself. I think it’s a gracious thing that human beings so quickly forget the details of pain and suffering, but sometimes I wish people could relate just a little better to those on a down-swing in life.

When loneliness and pain set in, people panic, they try and run from it. This running takes on different forms. Sometimes the person latches onto a new boyfriend rather than losing the familiarity and comfort of such a relationship in their life. Some people try and lose their pain and loneliness by moving from where they’ve felt it so often. Others try and cover their pain and loneliness in ice cream and potato chips. A few even compromise who they are inside and what they want in life in order to fit into a group, any group, that will take them. But you can’t run from something that is inside you. And the only person or thing in this world that has the capability to complete and comfort you on the inside is you.

True loneliness, lasting loneliness, is not being comfortable with yourself. I dated a man that couldn’t stand on his own two feet. He always had to be in a relationship. So much so that before one relationship had ended he would begin a new one. In my view this is the worst kind of loneliness, the kind where you can’t even stand independently happy. This man’s loneliness and the actions that came from it caused me incredible personal pain. But I believe it’s hindered his life in a much greater way. 

Three months ago I began swimming with Queer Utah Aquatics Club or QUAC as they are more commonly known. The first time I went to a swim practice I went alone. I was overwhelmed with how friendly everyone was. Standing there in my speedo I didn’t feel judged at all. – Now, my friend Sutton assures me that I was being judged, but I didn’t feel that judgment. – All I felt was an overwhelmingly friendly welcome. 

I would like to suggest to you that maybe there is a person within your realm of existence that could benefit from an outstretched, friendly hand. I would also like to point out that if you do reach out to someone and they don’t accept your invitation of friendship and inclusion, that does not lessen the value of what you offered. Sometimes a person just needs to know that they were invited to the party, even though they may not be in a place where they can actually accept such an invitation.

Now, to put my money where my column is: If you have ever wanted to learn to swim, or to be a better swimmer, or if you just want to meet some fun new people, then I would invite you to swim with QUAC. The details are on their website: quacquac.org. I have an email address attached to this column. And if you would like to try QUAC out and don’t want to go alone, then drop me a line and I will be happy to meet up with you beforehand and then get you headed in the right direction at practice. 

Loneliness is a universal human experience, but remember that it is always temporary. Next time you feel it, acknowledge it, learn from it, and be better for it. But maybe more importantly, try and keep in mind that there are people who feel much more alone than you do. Look for them.

Dating: Tips

June 26, 2008

Published in the February 1, 2007 edition of QSaltLake. 

There are two types of gay men. The type that seem to be perpetually single and the type that never stay single for longer than a few weeks, maybe a few months if it’s the slow season. And I think we’ve all heard the joke about lesbians bringing the Uhaul on the second date. That being said, it would appear that there are quite a few gay men that are also lesbians. 

The relationships and dating patterns I’ve seen in the gay community trouble me. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I can do for a happier and more stable single-gay-man-dating future. I don’t want to fall victim to the pitfalls of express relationships. I want a deep and balanced relationship with another human being and I’m willing to wait for someone that is capable of that, which brings us to my first dating tip: 

-Do not settle! Double check, maybe triple check to ensure that you don’t have unrealistic relationship standards, but never settle. You won’t be content if you know in your heart that you chose a situation that is less than you deserve. 

-You need to know what you want out of life and whomever it is you’ll be dating. If you don’t know what you want then almost anybody will do just fine. 

-If you’re not ok being single then I don’t believe you are either ready or mature enough to create a healthy long-term relationship.

-Realize that once you really know yourself and what you’re looking for, it’s probably not going to be easy to find a person that you really click with on that level. 

-It might be easier to recognize what you don’t want rather than what you do. Start there. If you don’t want to be one of those men that cycles through boyfriends at the same rate that they go through their toothbrushes or their car leases then evaluate what you think you can do to have a different outcome. 

-True emotional connections are rare and worth waiting for. Oh, and they take effort; sexual and emotional chemistry will only get you so far. 

-If someone pays you a compliment, JUST SAY THANK YOU. I don’t care if they just complimented the one part about yourself that you loathe more than any other. Insecurity is unattractive no matter how you wear it. 

-You can’t have the relationship you really want as long as you remain in a relationship that isn’t what you want. The dating pool would flood the earth if all the people staying in relationships for the wrong reasons left those relationships. 

-Do everything you can to get yourself in a good place before you put yourself out there on the dating scene. While nobody will know, it shows that you considered the hearts of those you will eventually meet and date. 

-Have consideration for your partner even before you meet him and especially after. 

-Logically we know that every man should have two balls, but, surprisingly, many gay men don’t seem to have any. How can this be? And where did all those balls go? If you don’t have any, you need to get some. Good things come to those who wait, but better things go to those that take some initiative. 

-You can’t expect something in someone else if you don’t possess it yourself. You can hope that the other person will have qualities that you don’t, but you can’t expect them. In other words, if you’re dishonest then you can’t expect the other person to be honest. If you want to date a gym body then you should probably get to a gym on a regular basis as well. 

-Don’t be an ass. Karma’s a bitch and she can’t wait to get even with you. 

-You ought to have your shit together. If you’re a mess emotionally and don’t know what you really want AND WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET IT, then chances are you will ruin the relationship you’ve been looking for if it does come along.

Remember, being single does not make you a leper. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you and it’s ok if you don’t appreciate the shock of total strangers that you’re single even though you’re “so cute.” It seems that once a person gets into a relationship they totally block out what it was like to be single; as if it’s really that bad. 

Dating is hard; it’s destabilizing, and it can be incredibly draining. It takes energy and time to get to know people. Take your time, follow your heart, and always treat the people you’re dating the way you would want to be treated.