Let’s Try Swimming Again

Health & Wellness: Dipping a Toe into the Dating Pool

As I type this at 2 p.m. on a Sunday, my date from last night is still passed out on the couch. Given that he was blacked out and peed in the bed (possibly ruining a $5,000 Tempur-Pedic mattress), I honestly don’t care if he wakes up and reads this over my shoulder. My roommate and his boyfriend hurried home when I texted them in a bit of a panic. So, now my latest blunder is affecting the day for three people — five, if you include his parents. This 30-something man-child literally told me to text his parents to find out what I should do with him; they actually didn’t do anything to help, so three is a better count.

To complicate this further, he told me last night (once he was plastered) that we’d originally chatted online in 1999 — literally 20 years ago. I have no memory of this. He said meeting me has been the fulfillment of one of his lifelong fantasies, that he is in “love, love, love” with me, that this has been 20 years in the making and that all he wants is to make me happy. This is what I attract with alarming consistency.

So, why is this in a wellness column? For one, I am forced once again to try to understand how these situations keep happening, despite my best effort to filter out crazy people. In the past on this column I have taken the brunt of the fault upon myself. What do all these dating interactions have in common? Me. Ergo it’s my fault. Well, that perspective about caution didn’t do anything to help me see how to avoid this. I think I’m going to look at how a lot of this, in fact, is not my fault.

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I have generally tried to embody the notion that transparency is healthy, and that people will appreciate it and return it. I’ve face planted into this wall so many times that one point of fault I will still claim, is that I’m purposefully naive about the lengths to which people will go to pretend to be someone they are not.

Is it my fault that so many of the gay men I have known (and frankly LGBTQ people in general) have seriously unbalanced substance habits? No. It specifically isn’t my fault. I shouldn’t need to explain that the incidence of addiction, depression, suicide and other self destructive behaviors are markedly more common amongst Queer folk than Straight. In fact, homophobes will often cite these sad statistics as proof that being an LGBTQ individual in and of itself is the innate quality that causes these situations. Bigots very conveniently ignore the fact that abuse, bullying and oppression have a disproportionate effect on people in our community. Am I at fault that every LGBTQ person who drinks and/or parties too much is doing it because they’re an LGBTQ individual? No, of course not. That isn’t the conflation I’m going to make. However, an assertion I am going to make that might offend some people is this: LGBTQ people are walking wounded. We can’t not be. It’s the default setting.

Do I blame myself for this disastrous encounter? No, I do not. I acted in good faith. It wouldn’t be helpful or healthy for me to continue taking on the blame for situations that I don’t desire, create or facilitate. Do I blame him? Yes, he peed all over me while I was sleeping, and he was so drunk I couldn’t rouse him to make it stop. But is it helpful or healthy to single him out for all of my ire? No.

I’m looking at him sleeping on my couch. He’s a physically attractive, charming person with elite level education in music from a wealthy family. So let’s break it down to the undergrad social justice warrior trope: He’s a hot, rich, white gay whose parents still bail him out of his unforced errors. I mean, right now my apartment smells like urine, and I may have to buy a new bed unexpectedly, and I want to blame something for this experience. Whether it’s accurate or not, I need to channel this frustration away from myself, and I’m choosing to wonder why a person with all these privileges is acting like this. It’s a gross oversimplification, obviously, but I’m choosing to blame heteronormative patriarchy.

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You can make dozens of counterarguments (and probably nearly all of them are valid); however, in this moment all I know is that it isn’t contributing to my wellness to take responsibility for this. I want to know why it’s practically impossible to meet someone I’m attracted to who isn’t utterly broken. Why is this? Why, why, why? It will sounds like whining, but I’m mad, and I don’t care: This is not fair.

In terms of bringing this back around to a Health and Wellness concept, I would challenge everyone to look closely at their relationships with substances and how they affect their relationships with people. One of the biggest reasons I don’t go out or date is specifically because so many gay men cannot have a good time sober. And I think it’s also important to ask ourselves not only why that would be, but also how we can help each other be simultaneously more critical and also more supportive. How can we nurture ourselves and each other, and how can we help and protect each other sooner so that these destructive behaviors become less and less prevalent? How do we lovingly, but firmly, create accountability? I’m being altruistic in this, and I’d like answers.

I’m also being selfish, because I want to finally find a boyfriend who isn’t an abusive, cracked-out drunk.

Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at jackkirven.com and INTEGRE8Twellness.com.

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