I was raised to honor monogamy, but in the gay male world, I rarely, and I mean rarely, see it upheld either in practice or in theory as a desirable element of a relationship. I believe that gay men are capable of monogamy, and I realize it may be a struggle to maintain, particularly in a digital age that makes sexual connections possible with a few mouse clicks, but I also believe that it's highly unlikely for it to be maintained over the long run. For years, I was resentful, but as a middle-age man, I've more or less resigned myself to the fact that my chance of finding a partner who will be both monogamous and compatible with me otherwise is slim.
Intellectually, I understand why people may not be naturally inclined toward monogamy, and I want to move forward with a focus on the other aspects of relationships that make them worth having, but on an emotional level I still crave a one-on-one relationship. As a result, when a casual dating situation begins to turn serious, I get uncomfortable and fearful of the day when I will have to deal with the issue of nonmonogamy in the relationship, I shut down or find excuses to get out of the relationship. I'm left wondering if I should even consider having a romantic relationship if I can't emotionally come to terms with potential nonmonogamy. I'm in therapy to address this and other issues, but no amount of therapy will change the gay male playing field as it exists in 2011. So, how do I reconcile that fact that what I am looking for is largely unavailable, and even if there is a slim chance that I will find it, I am emotionally too afraid to take the risk?
You’re coming from a very strong presupposition that being a gay male and being monogamous are mutually exclusive, and while I don’t doubt that that’s been your experience, I believe there are exceptions.
The problem is this: When we have a presupposition about something, our mind naturally hunts for evidence that our belief is correct. Often this happens at both a conscious and an unconscious level. You can’t control the unconscious aspect to it, and hopefully your shrink will help you unveil it, but you can certainly control your conscious focus. And you can begin by looking for examples of monogamy, even if it’s not limited to gay men. One of my closest friends is a gay male and he is in a monogamous relationship. Of all my gay male clients, only two are not in monogamous relationships. My wife and I just had dinner at a couple’s house who are gay men and most definitely in a monogamous relationship. There are examples out there, but because it’s so deeply entrenched in your belief system that these examples don’t exist, you’re missing them.
At the risk of sounding trite, I believe that we get what we focus on, even if what we’re focusing on is something that we don’t want. I see this all the time with my clients. They walk through my door strongly aligned with a goal (because they know I’m goal-obsessed) and then they tell me that their goal is, for example, to not be depressed, to not be disrespected by people who they date, etc. I immediately get my client to establish what they want verses what they don’t want. In your instance, rather than hyper-focus on monogamy, I’d encourage you to focus on finding a great guy to date, and look (relatively) within your own age group. If you’re dating men in their 20’s, you’re less likely to find someone who’s interested in the same things you are. You should be dating men in their 30’s and 40’s, you should be finding these men using online dating sites and you should clearly state that you’re looking for a long-term, committed relationship.
At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself if your actions (what you do on a day-to-day basis) are aligned with your goals. Are you hanging out with other couples or is this an emotional blind spot, evidenced by the fact that you're hanging out with single men who are more interested in quantity than quality? I think we both know the answer.
Writer's Stats: Gay, male.