Today’s generation lives inside a computer. Too many of us are used to the rules of online protocol that we tend to forget what it’s like to live outside ourselves. Falling in love can be scary, but lately it’s become harder to even find.
I ask myself constantly why guys my age are so scared to connect. When I was child, I longed to live in another era. I sensed a cultural shift that I did not want to be a part of. Not that I’m ungrateful for the time and place I’m in (believe me, I am), but I can’t help but worry if our generation is going to be the one to kill LOVE. Here are some of my theories as to why we might be:
#1) We get too comfortable, too quickly.
It’s pretty normal for people to jump to conclusions when they meet someone they really like, but gay guys in particular take it to a whole other level. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve spoken with who put all their eggs in one basket time and time again – some do it before they even meet the guy on a first date.
By the time week two happens, we start treating each other like an old married couple rather than letting the passion sizzle for a while. Nothing is going to last long when you force it to its peak almost instantly. We want to rush everything, but the truth of the matter is the slower you grow, the stronger you’ll be.
#2) We train ourselves to be egocentric.
Everyone has an ego – a self-preservation circuit in our brains that think about our needs first and foremost. It’s a survival tool we’ve been passing on for thousands of years. But recent generations have turned egos into an artificial tool. “Surviving” no longer means running from predators, but rather running from people who threaten our status and groove.
We’ve become too busy focusing on our own junk that we forget how to empathize with others. We tell each other to concentrate on what we want, what we need, and what we feel like we deserve, rather what we can do for others. When this habit bleeds into a relationship (or a potential one at that), it will undoubtedly crumble before it begins to flourish. No man wants to date someone who, he fells, puts his well-being at the end of the list.
#3) Our culture turns casual sex into an expectation.
Digital technology has pressured young gay men into thinking it’s okay to put sex before connection, and we don’t really seem to mind it. In fact, meeting a gay guy who hasn’t had his share of casual encounters is like finding a diamond in the rough. They’re out there, but they’re hard to find.
Unfortunately this habit is hard to break, especially when we’re young and everyone seems to be looking to get off. For younger blokes who don’t remember what life was like without smart phones, it’s difficult to try and bring it back to how it should be. Gay guys have always been into casual sex, that’s not anything new – but never has it been so available. It’s no longer risky, but convenient. This ultimately affects the way we perceive love at first glance.
#4) We aren’t consistent with the things we pretend we want.
We claim we want love, yet we’ll constantly meet guys on Grindr or other hookup apps. We’ll also claim that all we want is sex, yet we fall in love with everyone we hookup with. For too long we’ve been so inconsistent with the things we think we want that we confuse the hell out of every potential lover who comes into our lives. Get with the program, people. Be upfront about the things you’re looking for NOW so you won’t pull someone’s heart on a leash, or, do more damage to yourself than is necessary. If you’re looking for love, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to find it on a hookup app.
#5) We turn everything into a Disney movie.
We spend too much time waiting for Prince Charming to rescue us that we forget our Prince Charming is also waiting for someone to rescue him. Turns out, everyone wants to be rescued! We’ve taken the ideas of Disney movies and turned them into reality. Yes, fairy tale endings can happen, but not without its challenges.
I wore my heart on my sleeve for a long while until I realized that my heart isn’t something I want to give away for free. A man needs to earn it. Never should we make ourselves too available. The beauty of life is self-challenge, so stop thinking we need to play the silent game in order for men to come a-knocking. It’s no wonder you think finding love is hard. Remember, if you don’t give the bait, a man will never bite. Throw yourself out there.
#6) Our standards of perfection are impossible to reach.
Perfection is not a set goal, but rather a continuous journey you’ll never reach. Let me repeat… you will never reach perfection, ever! It’s impossible, yet we’re all looking for a man who is “perfect.” When we don’t find perfection, we become disappointed and assume everyone else is going to have the same outcome. Trust me, the longer you believe in perfection the more heartache you’re going to have.
#7) Older gay men fail to pass their wisdom onto younger fellows.
Trust me, I understand that it’s no one’s “job” to pass along wisdom. But I can’t tell you how many older men have bitched and moaned about today’s gay man, yet haven’t bothered to talk about it (except to men their age, who understand). Mind you, younger gay guys don’t want to hear about it. This I know, but I still can’t help but wonder what might happen if we allow ourselves to hear each other.
I was at a dinner party the other night with an older gay couple that’d been together for sixty years. The younger folks at the table were asking countless of questions because, to us at least, keeping a relationship for that long seems impossible. By the end of the night, we had an interesting new perspective on what love truly is – and it doesn’t involve a smart phone.
#8) We think love is supposed to come easy.
Maybe it’s the Disney movies, but for some reason we all believe that love, when it’s right, comes with little work. I’ve been in situations where our connection was so organic and effortless that all other challenges seemed unimportant. But love is never an easy journey. It’s confusing at times and hardly ever has the same story.
Love changes over time. We’re passionate, then we become attached, then we become partners, then we become all we have. It’s complex, but that’s the beauty of it. It might be easy to date, and hey, it might be easy to love, but it’s never easy to keep a relationship fueled with passion after so long. It’s an effort to remain intact. It’s okay to feel lost at times, but never let it blind you from being willing to love and be loved. Truly.
#9) Social media has killed intimacy.
It’s impossible to show our true identities when we’re constantly hiding behind a profile page. This two-dimensional medium allows us to connect, but has rid us the ability to be intimate with one another.
I’m always hearing stories about people who fall in love online – some truly last, which is great, but at the same time it’s becoming easier to feel comfortable with typing words rather than speaking them. Love is chemistry, which is felt in reality. It’s not something that can be substituted, yet we’ve allowed the habit to filter into how we treat each other.
#10) We’d rather be liked than loved.
Everyone wants to be a part of the cool crowd, but who or what, may I ask, defines the “cool” crowd? We’ve become a culture so obsessed with fitting in and being liked that we tend to ignore being loved by another. We’d rather sit at the cool table than hanging out with a man we really like by ourselves.
Status is everything in this day and age. It’s the reason why we post the things we do on Facebook. It’s why we’re obsessed with what people are saying about us. We want it so bad because, we think, it makes us more valuable, more attractive, that we’ll make a bigger splash in the world. The truth of the matter is it’s all bullshit. What we ought to be focusing on is making our own paths. Never sacrifice love for false pride. It’s always going to end badly.