Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Joys of Being Single
“Life is short. Life is Dull. Life is full of pain and this is a chance for something special.”
Casual Dating. This seems to be a foreign concept in the gay community. Oh sure, many people do it but good luck getting them to publicly admit it. No, all gay men want relationships. That is the end goal. And those gay men who are already in relationships oftentimes look down on those of us who are single. As if they had acquired a Doctorate while the rest of us are still struggling to earn a GED.
The irony of it all: Many men in relationships are actually still single. Or at least they act like it. They continue to “date” other people even though they are committed to another person.
Full disclosure: I’ve never cheated on anyone that I was exclusively dating. I have, on the other hand, cheated “with” guys who were dating someone else. Meaning, I was the side piece. In every case, they made the initial moves on me and I reciprocated, not the other way around.
After a few or more initial dates I eventually found out that some of the guys were already dating someone else (or in relationships)…and like Positive K I replied, “What ya man got to do with me?”
When I have this conversation with some of my gay friends, they give me the expected judgmental glares and head shakes. On the other hand, most of my straight friends shrug at this, as if its normal behavior, especially for a single man.
I can’t imagine any of my single straight male friends even hesitating to “push up” on a girl he KNEW had a boyfriend. He’s single, who cares. Also, I honestly can’t think of any of my female friends who doesn’t empathize with the woman in the movie about to get married but actually longs for this other more compatible guy on the side. These films even have scenes where the “male side piece” shows up at the fucking wedding to declare his love for the woman!
Think about it, the most popular scripted television show on Thursday nights features a “side piece” named Olivia Pope as the main character we should sympathize with.
One of my dudes actually played the following video for me and said, “This is you.”
I shrugged it off and happily woke up next to his fine ass the next morning.
IN DEFENSE OF THE SIDE PIECE
Hold up. Side piece is such a negative term. Admittedly, I don’t view the man/woman “on the side” to being the villain in these situations, especially if the secondary person is single themselves. I’ve already gone into detail about why I think that “homewreckers” are a myth so I won’t repeat myself here.
To summarize my thesis there: The person who made the promise of monogamy is the “bad guy” for breaking that promise, not the single individual who has no obligation to keep someone else’s relationship intact. Not even for so-called “good karma.”
SIDE NOTE: Speaking of karma, many people say that a person who dates someone who is already in a relationship is MORE likely to be cheated on in the new relationship. In my experience, 100% of the people I’ve personally known to cheat on their significant other (straight and gay) were 100% single when they first started dating their boyfriend or girlfriend or wife. So I’m not sure where this misconception comes from. Men who want to cheat, will cheat. No matter how the relationship started.
I don’t want to rehash that whole “homewreckers” debate again. Instead I want to examine this whole gay exclusivity thing. Especially when it comes to casual dating, the period before a couple is actually in a full blown committed relationship or marriage.
That’s something we should define as well. What is a “relationship” in the gay world? Homosexual men throw that word around more than unused condoms at a Gay Pride event. I’ve met many men who were supposedly in so-called “relationships” after only one or two dates. They even announce it on Facebook.
ONE DATE, ALREADY PICKING OUT THE CURTAINS
With “the gays” there seems to be an unhealthy and irrational emphasis on exclusivity after just one date. On the contrary, there should be a period of time where all parties explore their options.
Should you really expect the man you just met and had a first date with on Sunday to sit around and not talk/text/meet other men for a week or two just because you’re not available until then?
There’s an old expression: “I’m single and ready to mingle.”
The key word is “mingle.” Meaning interacting with multiple people…not trying to marry the first person who gives me their number. I freely admit that I casually date multiple people, especially within the first 3-6 months of dating. During this time you’re still getting a sense for who the other person is and if the both of you are actually compatible with each other.
Sometimes you know very quickly that it won’t last but you think he may make a good time-filler. A person to chill with and see where it goes until the next guy comes along.
To give context, here’s a personal story:
I once dated a guy for about several months. From the beginning I learned a handful of things. He could never host at his place, he didn’t like talking on the phone or texting and weekends were the only days we could link up due to his work schedule.
So many Red Flags started waving that I thought I was in China.
This raised eyebrows and, like most people would, I assumed that he was likely already dating (or living with) someone. But you know what, I didn’t care. I never asked him that question. It wasn’t information that mattered to me. He was very attractive and intelligent, I was single and we both enjoyed each other’s company.
I didn’t walk into our first date looking at him as a potential life partner. I walked into it hoping for an enjoyable interaction with another man. We were clearly on a date, that much was made clear, but there was no pressure. If we eventually elevated to another level after more dating, all the better.
I was the initial aggressor, asked him out and never once did I ask if he was dating anyone else along with me. It didn’t matter. It was just a few dates, not co-signing the mortgage to a new house.
Long ago I learned to try to live a confident dating life Javier Bardem’s character Juan Antonio in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Check out this amazing scene from the movie.
“Life is short. Life is Dull. Life is full of pain and this is a chance for something special.”
Such a great line.
Side Note: One of the women in this scene was engaged to be married. Not once did Juan Antonio ask. He gave no shits about a fiancé.
Back to my time-filler. I didn’t walk away from that situation thinking I wasted 4 months on someone who wasn’t long-term. Instead I walked away with some really great memories and learned a little about myself in the process. Both of us may or may not have been seeing or communicating with other men at the time, but since neither one of us had promised exclusivity to each other, it didn’t matter. We were casually dating. If he had a man, that had nothing to do with me.
Before I go on, let me put a few things out there.
Firstly, I do not purposely target men in relationships and try to “steal them.” There are far too many eligible single gay men in my Atlanta field of view for me to need to do that. Also, in the previous times that I dated (or just fooled around with) men who were already attached, I knew nothing of the boyfriends in the beginning…didn’t know they existed, didn’t know what they looked like and didn’t know their names. They could have been Thor or Zeus or imaginary for all I knew.
Secondly, I don’t believe that a dude in a REAL monogamous relationship can be “stolen.” If he’s really attached and committed, he won’t even give me the time of day.
I can’t steal anyone…if anything, I get CHOSEN by them.
And I don’t even consider myself a pimp, by any means. I’m just a tall, decent looking, well-articulated, masculine gay nerd who some others find attractive. And I’m single…no obligations to anyone but myself.
I’m also a child of rap music. One thing that machismo filled Hip Hop lyrics have taught me is that being with another man’s “girl” is a badge of honor.
To be honest, this aspect of Hip Hop has always confused me. No, I get that it’s obviously a boastful display of power. Dig deep enough and you’ll even find lyrics where popular rappers proudly claim they could get their male enemies to “suck their dicks” or even anally rape them.
For Realz. Take a look at some examples here.
But for the most part, rappers and urban singers are REALLY interested in other men’s women.
Trey Songz proudly wears the “Mr Steal Yo Girl” moniker.
Drake has an entire song where he’s telling a woman that he KNOWS is in a happy relationship, “Fuck that nigga that you love so bad I know you still think about the times we had. I’m just saying you could do better.”
Chris Brown, in a “loyal” top 20 radio hit sings, “Just got rich, Took a broke nigga’s bitch.” As if that was a difficult achievement and something to brag about.
In one of the newest club hits, ILoveMakkonnen sings, “Got the club going up, on a Tuesday, Got yo girl in the cut and she choosy.”
These are recent examples but there are plenty from 00’s, 90’s and 80’s music…maybe even further back than that. Popular male Rap & R&B culture celebrates being with other men’s women. While I’m sure the opposite does exist, it’s very rare to find black male performed music on the other side of this situation. On the side of the emotional heart-broken person who has been betrayed.
I say all that to possibly explain why I have this devil-may-care attitude when it comes to dating.
I don’t look at first dates as auditions for life partners. On the other hand, I don’t look at them as disposable hookups either. I put in lots of work on my dates and if we make it past a week or so, that means I actually really like the guy.
So what the hell am I saying? Am I really using 2500 words in this essay to reveal that I’m just a typical messy black gay man who loves drama?
Possibly, depending who’s reading this.
But remember, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re talking about people just dating, not married couples or super long-term relationships. I have no desire to hookup or fall in love with a married man, be it straight or gay.
On the other hand, I love men of all types…and I’m single. Shouldn’t a single man be allowed to enjoy himself?
THE MARY J BLIGE SYNDROME
There is a large part of the gay dating community that cheats on their significant others. Most of the black gay web series and films portray this in detail. There is the obligatory tear-filled scene where the wronged Bottom discovers that his Top was either a whore or on the Down Low with a girlfriend or wife. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
So to read some jerk like me blather on about dating multiple people or knowingly dating those already dating others, many gay men do not identify with the hetero rappers and male singers I listed above, instead the identify with this:
News Flash: Many gay men instinctively identify with scorned black women.
Here at Cypher Avenue we call it the “Mary J Blige Syndrome.”
Even when they’re doing dirt themselves, they are quick to play the scorned victim.
When it comes to gay men, bragging about how many men you pull or can “take” from others is a no-no in a community that primarily identifies with the wronged black woman who’s “waiting to exhale.”
I will say this though, if you do find out your “monogamous” boyfriend is cheating, don’t feel as if you can’t mourn the promise that was broken. Even if it is done stereotypically gay while drinking a bottle of Chardonnay as you listen to Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart.
WHAT ABOUT THE SEX?
As you can already tell, I’m probably the last person to be giving relationship advice. I’m a guy who will date someone already dating others, I don’t mind sex or sexual interactions on the first date and I don’t even mind being one of many people someone is sexing [for the sake of this discussion, “sex” means ANY sexual interaction, including mutual masturbation or oral, not limited to penetration].
As gross as that may sound, this is pretty common. Especially since we’re (obviously) talking about protected sexual encounters. True, your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted infection increases if you’re having sex with a partner who’s having sex with other people on the side. However, you also run a risk of infection if you wait 3 months after meeting a guy and then have sex.
I’m saying all that to say, being careful is one thing, being a paranoid sexless eunuch is another. I’ve casually dated (with sexual contact) in Atlanta for the last 10 years and I’ve never had a STI…ever.
And I’m actually not a whore. There are long periods where I go sexless by choice.
If you make smart choices with who you do the dance with and be sure to use protection, most likely you will see that the paranoia is unfounded.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Admittedly, I’ve been all over the place in this essay. The gist of what I’m getting at is that I believe many gay men are falling victim to three “gay traps.”
1. Perpetuating the fallacy that casual dating with multiple people leads to disease or “slut-shaming” and should be shunned.
2. Being in a gay relationship makes you more special than other gay men and it should be the end goal to EVERY dating exchange.
3. Missing out on many potentially great real human interactions because of a paranoid imagined fear of “negative karma” or getting a Sexually Transmitted Infection.
While adhering to the preceding advice may not get you a long-term relationship any time soon, I guarantee that you’ll have loads of fun and great experiences. Once you truly enjoy the benefits of being single, longing for the Storybook Long-term Gay Relationship that you don’t (and may never) have becomes less of an issue.
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