Dear Ms. Behavior
I am a 23-year-old gay man. After a string of failed relationships, I decided that I was the common factor. If I want things to change in my love life, then I will have to be the one to change.
For a long time, I was making all these wrong decisions. I would fall for men who would not treat me right, and eventually leave me. I also would go out as often as I could, get drunk, and hook up with the first guy whose eye I caught. This only led me to feel slutty, worthless, and alone.
It wasn’t until recently—after almost breaking up someone else’s relationship by first having a threesome with both members, then later sleeping with one of them on the sly—that I came to the realization things needed to change. Not only was I hurting myself, but also I was hurting others.
Then, I read your column about how to meet the person of your dreams, and fall in love. That seemed to have put things in perspective for me. Although I haven’t completed everything on your checklist (which includes flossing, using great skin care products, things to improve yourself, etc.), I have made great changes to my own personal lifestyle.
I’ve been staying in more, drinking less, and cultivating my own hobbies. While I haven’t been waking up hung over in stranger’s beds, I have been extremely bored. Staying in alone on a Friday night, watching Ugly Betty, has led me to feel like a bored, lonely housewife.
I realize that I am not ready to be in any sort of relationship, and not even sure if I’m ready to be intimate with another person, yet I still want to go out and meet people, and at least be on the right track to finding love.
I know I shouldn’t be focusing on bars to meet people, but I can’t seem to meet other gay men anywhere else. Believe me, I’ve tried. My eyes are constantly on the prowl. I’ve tried bookstores, and joining a soccer team. Even my college campus is pretty limited.
So, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to meet people without being a drunken slut, and how not to be absolutely bored out of my mind.
—Bored and Reformed
Dear Bored and Reformed:
It may be a relief to stop feeling “slutty, worthless, and alone,” but in the long term, if you don’t find other activities to replace your usual routine, life is bound to feel monotonous.
Luckily, you really don’t have to choose between being a “drunk slut” and a “bored housewife” (or even a drunk housewife and a bored slut). You are neither a virgin nor a whore. You are a man who needs to find some balance, which means you patiently will have to explore (or discover) your other interests.
OK, so you went to a couple of bookstores, and you kicked a soccer ball around a few times, but that hardly sounds like an exhaustive list of new activities. Think about how much of your thoughts and energy you devoted to supporting your time in the bars: searching for the right jeans to wear, whitening your teeth, choosing your signature scent, and perhaps even perfecting your special blow job technique.
Nothing’s wrong with any of these activities, but the question is whether you’re willing to devote the same time and energy to cultivating other interests. You could try joining a book club, a cooking class, a ski group, a volunteer activity, a political organization, or a poker game.
No one’s saying you need to behave like a Boy Scout, but you’ve said that bar life doesn’t work for you any more. This doesn’t mean you need to give up on life, and resign yourself to staying home with bad television.
However, going through a mildly dormant period—where you evaluate your life, and decide what you want to do next—isn’t necessarily the worst thing. It enables you to reach out to new people, and to think about what you value.
You’re at the right age to begin figuring out who you are, and what you want. It’s actually a lot easier if you start now than if you wait until you’re 40 or 50.
If you follow your own interests during this fallow period, you’ll find new friends and new opportunities. If all else fails, check out a gay AA meeting or two. You might meet some cute men who are experts at booze-free fun.
© 2009 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <email@example.com>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.