My Love Life: An Epiphany

Five months ago, my partner of almost twelve years told me he wanted out. To say the news upset me would be an understatement of near epic proportions. Tidal waves of fear washed over me as I thought about a future without him.

I’m happy to say that, although we move in different circles, he’s still very much a part of my life. We get together for dinner or play dates for the dogs, see each other at work and the gym, and help each other out as the need arises. I love him, always will, and know he feels the same way about me. That we’re still close has made moving on a lot easier.

From the start, the thought of taking care of the house and yard by myself was my biggest concern. Moving helped. My new home is a third smaller, designed for low-maintenance, and on a lot one-tenth the size of my former residence. It’s also closer to work and in a nicer neighborhood with sidewalks and a lakeside playground with a covered picnic area. Nice.

This is my third house, and the first I’ve moved into without a significant other by my side. From top to bottom, the new abode is mine-inside and out–in a way that was never possible before. Living alone agrees with me more than I thought it would. A lot more.

As a serial monogamist, I’ve assumed I’d be in another relationship within the year. Without going back through the journals I’ve kept since 1979 to check, I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve been single in more than thirty years. In fact, not counting the last five months, I’ve been single something less than two years all together since I came out.

I’ve put myself out there the modern way–via hook-up web sites and apps for smartphones. The results have been…interesting. Chatting with someone via text and/or email messages is a good way to screen out the crazies and those that just aren’t compatible. The guys I hear from fall into three groups: A) married men who just want sex, B) young guys looking for a daddy, and C) a diverse group who are neither A nor B.

Let’s start with the married men. No thanks. To me, whether straight or gay, cheating on a significant other is reprehensible. But I’m especially offended by married men who sneak around on their wives to fool around with men. Call me a prude if you want–that’s just how I am. If you don’t have the balls to be open and honest about who you are, we’re not going to get along.

Moving on to the young guys, coming out turned my life upside down. I’ve often wondered how different things might have been with just one positive role model–someone older and more experienced with life who wasn’t motivated to change me. Someone to talk with about my confusion and the (bad) decisions I was making. That’s how I came to be involved with my ex, who is 22 years younger than I am. That I helped him through some hard times is a big reason why we remain close.

But we met more than twelve years ago. Now I’m more than thirty years older than this group of young men–and wiser. Like puppies and kittens, they’re all cute when they’re little. But then they grow up and just lay around on the sofa, farting and watching television. The vast age difference makes keeping a safe distance much easier, but I’m still driven by a desire to help them through one of the most difficult and painful transitions they’ll ever experience.

The last group consists of single gay men in their thirties and forties who are either desperate to be in a relationship or unlikely, for a wide variety of reasons, to ever settle down. Interacting with both groups has helped me to see myself in a new light. Until now, I’ve been a member of the former group, just waiting to stumble across my next Mr. Right.

Not any more.

Even if never wasn’t a word I’m too wise to use, I’m not ready to say I’ll never settle down again. But between my day job, my budding writing career, hitting the gym, running, and otherwise taking care of myself, I just don’t have the time. The shocking truth is, that for the first time in my life, being in a relationship isn’t very high on my list of priorities.

As always, I’m a slow learner. My ex would probably say our relationship hadn’t been  a priority for me for several years. Otherwise, we might still be together.

I’ve spent most of the last five months in relative seclusion, basking in the alone time and enjoying the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I feel like it. Having time for myself is very high on my priority list. I’ve wallowed in it, soaking up as much as I could get.

Much to my surprise, I’m happier than I’ve been for a very long time. I’ve lived by myself long enough to see that I get all the alone time I need–and then some. In the last few weeks I’ve rejoined the living. I’ve been calling up friends to make plans for dinner or just to hang out. So if you’re local or plan to be in Athens, give me a call. Keeping up with my friends is still a priority, so I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Saturday!