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I never thought I’d say this. But it’s been a strange experience, since same-sex-marriage was legalized in all 50 states in the United States.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully supported the Supreme Court decision to make marriage available to same-sex couples. To me, it was a sweet, hard-fought victory. I also know there are plenty of LGBT people who weren’t very enthused about it. While I’m usually always for rights being expanded and granted to more people, marriage was never, personally, on my radar.
Thinking way back, even before I realized I was gay, there was never a vision for my life of getting married, buying a house, and having kids. The desire was never there. For any of it.
Having recently ended a relationship of 4 1/2 years, this experience is causing me to really dig in to what it is I want. Especially as the older, er, wiser, I become.
In my mind, the ideal relationship is simple, yet rich companionship between two people. Yes, there’s commitment. Yes, there’s love. Yet, it’s the daily interactions: the banter; the rooting for one another; where one is weak, the other is strong; the daily acts of kindness. Those acts are the foundation that makes everything tick.
I realize all of these acts can and do happen within the context of a marriage, but all of this can also be present outside the context of marriage.
At times, I’ve thought that maybe I’m afraid of commitment. Yes, I’m sure a life-long commitment is a bit scary to most people, who enter into a long term commitment — whether it be marriage or a career. Maybe a little (or a lot) of hesitancy is normal.
The truth is, I want that long-term commitment, but I don’t know if one life-long-term commitment is going to happen for me. In fact, that already hasn’t been the case.
Since college, I’ve been in two significant relationships with guys I adored. I don’t see the end of those relationships as a failure or less than. They both added so much joy to my life and taught me a lot.
There are so many ways to measure what a successful or fulfilling life looks like. Maybe one life-long commitment isn’t a measurement that’s super important or vital for my own life. That’s something we each need to decide for ourselves.
When I’m old and gray and look back on my life, would I be satisfied remembering the “loves” of my life? Would I be grateful for the men who came in and out of my life? Who were there for a season and then weren’t.
Also, can I be as open to learning and growing and thriving while I’m single as I did while I was in a relationship? Being recently single, it really hit me how much I hate being on my own! Cue: Here’s a moment for growth. Perhaps it’s the newness of being single. Or the uncertainty and downright scary nature of being “alone” after having that companionship for 4 1/2 years.
I value companionship. I love having that go-to person and I love being that go-to person for someone else.
There are so many things that get me excited about life. “Marriage” is not one of them. It feels so old and clunky. A little suffocating, dull, and unimaginative. As exciting as stale bread.
How I feel about “marriage” is similar to when people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”. Meaning, I am seeking something, but not that particular something. Or it at least looks and feels a bit different than what is traditionally thought of.
How do you communicate this to a potential companion? “You know, I want to be in a committed relationship, but can we skip all of the other crap?” For many, it seems like one extreme or another: marriage and all the frills or an anything goes, open relationship. I’d rather plop down somewhere the middle.
I’ll pass on the cake tasting (that’s a normal Saturday for me). Please let me skip the marriage ceremony and all of the bells and whistles that go along with that. The picking of the bridesmaids or groomsmen — you can have it. Suits? Oh so uncomfortable. Engagement photo session? Please no.
I’m fine with skipping all that. Instead, let’s head straight to the honeymoon, vacation, companionship paradise reward trip. Whatever you want to call it.
Let’s make all of it our own and invite other friends and family into recognizing our companionship, in whatever quirky or creative way we imagine. Or not at all. Maybe we just send a nice card to everyone to give them a heads up: “Hey, we’re together. Wanted to let you know. — Love, Josh & ______.”
I am happy for my gay (and straight) friends who are heading toward the big wedding cake or who are already hitched. I want them to find happiness, love, and fulfillment, however that looks for them. But there’s also a part of me that cringes when I see posts on Facebook about step 23 in “here we go toward marriage”. Honestly, it’s probably part post-break up jealousy. Part, I can’t imagine myself doing all of that.
There are times I see those photos and want to throw my laptop out the window. Seeing other people happy while I’m hurting isn’t fun. Jealousy isan ugly thing. But it’s there, mixed with a touch of bitterness. But I’m human. So I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
At the end of the day, I wonder if not wanting all of the “marriage” stuff is somewhat of a red flag to other guys. How do I communicate that? Should it be communicated sooner than later?
Does it, on some level, imply I don’t want a commitment? Because that’s not the case. Is it sending mixed messages? Or are there other guys out there who feel the same way about marriage? Who get where I’m coming from?
And then there’s this: I’ve been known to change my mind.