QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What REALLY Makes Someone A Boyfriend?
The gay community is obsessed with dating and relationships. But then again, who isn’t?
My own heterosexual brother spent 15 years obsessing over it until he eventually got married to his wife, now with a young child. He could never stay single and when he was, he would constantly work hard not to be.
This got me thinking. Since I was a teenager watching heterosexuals around me casually dating and coupling up, the terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” were often thrown around without a second thought. Especially if the people had been seeing each other for more than a month or so.
I’ve even seen female friends meet a guy at a day party on a Saturday, then introduce that same man as her boyfriend to folks at a dinner party the following week.
True, the title does hold weight, sometimes even baggage…but for most human beings, the designation is tossed around as casually as a person appearing in only ONE porn film still being called a “Porn Star.” (Don’t get me started on that)
Think about it like this: If you saw one of your male heterosexual friends out at parties, dinner or the movies with the same girl multiple times over the course of a month or two, what would you call her in your mind?
Most people would say she’s his Girlfriend, regardless whether they’d had “the conversation” about it.
That got me thinking even more.
Gay men are VERY cautious about using the Boyfriend word.
Maybe its because of the whole Banned Gay Marriage thing. Regular “Boyfriend Status” has replaced “Marriage Status” for many of us.
As I’ve stated in the past, gay men put a LOT of weight into the “Relationship” word. For many gay men, it’s the coveted Title to have, above all others.
I would argue that for Homosexuals there are only two states: Being Single and Being Married (aka “in a relationship”). No inbetween. No casual dating, period. No “Boyfriend” status without an assumed Marriage-like dedication, commitment and monogamy.
But think about the high school, college and post-college heterosexual couples you’ve ever seen. What made them “A couple” in your mind when you saw them out together more than one time?
What would make a woman seen to be your Girlfriend if you were straight?
For me: Seeing her consistently for over a month or so, breaking plans with friends to hang out with her, buying unexpected gifts for her, stocking my home with her favorite foods, cooking meals from scratch for her, binge watching whole seasons of TV shows with her, meeting her friends, spending hours talking to her on the phone in the middle of the night when we both have to work in the morning, spending the night at each other’s place without asking in advance, helping her when her car breaks down on the freeway….the list goes on.
As a gay man, I’ve consistently done all of this with MANY guys that I’ve never officially called my “Boyfriend.” In every instance, it wasn’t just a physical bond, we spent tons of quality time together bonding emotionally. Time together that we regretted ending and were eager to repeat.
I’ve stocked boxes of shitty Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal in my crib (that I don’t even eat) just so the dude I was dating would have his favorite breakfast when he stayed over. I’ve driven 10+ miles to help a dude I’d been seeing who was having car troubles. I’ve cooked meals and had meals cooked for me. I’ve blown off best friends just to cuddle up and watch Netflix movies with a dude I was dating, no sex involved.
Were these boyfriends?
Even just on a short-term basis?
If I were a heterosexual college student, the answer would most likely be “Yes.”
These would have been short-term girlfriends.
In the Gay world, is there a hesitation to making that distinction, even when it walks, talks and acts like a duck?
Don’t get me wrong, I know its all complicated and really varies from situation to situation. Even if you’re heterosexual you could theoretically be dating a woman for months and still not know if you’re boyfriend/girlfriends.
There have been entire shitty Zac Efron/Michael B. Jordan movies made about this very subject:
So my question, what REALLY makes someone a “Boyfriend?”
If you say being a “Boyfriend” is monogamy and commitment, then what is Marriage?
What’s the purpose of Husbands and Wives if the terms Boyfriend and Girlfriend imply the same thing?
Growing up, I’ve always taken the terms literally: A Boy who was a Friend…A Girl who was a Friend…But they were “Special.”
They did things together the you didn’t do with other friends who were boys or girls. You were more intimate with them, more protective, more supportive, more honest…ever getting closer and still learning new things about each other with each passing day.
I’ve had many boys who were “special friends” like this….but I rarely called them my boyfriend.
In hindsight, should I have?
Should I now look back and redo my inventory?
Or is this Olympic-level semantic gymnastics?
If these were not “boyfriends”, what is the term for someone you’re dating consistently that isn’t a Boyfriend?
What are your thoughts?
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