It’s a bit frustrating to be nearly thirty years old and basically starting over in life. It’s true that there’s no check list for where you “should be” by such-and-such an age, but when you suddenly find yourself basically set back at square one after over a quarter century of heading down one particular path, it’s rather disheartening.
True, it could always be worse.
It also doesn’t help being nearly thirty, still being single and watching your friends who are five years younger than you finding their “soul mates” (hell, even writing that word brings the taste of bile to my mouth), getting married and having kids. Yes, I know enough about their personal lives to know that it’s no walk in the park and there’s nothing perfect about it (especially once children enter the picture), but still, it’s got to better than single life. And for a single gay man, the older you get the more you start to feel like a carton of milk in the fridge with a rapidly-approaching expiration date.
Last night I saw the movie Bridesmaids for the first time. I rather expected it to be a female version of The Hangover, with estrogen instead testosterone-induced idiocy. What I saw instead was a film about a single woman hitting rock bottom while surrounded by people who had seemed to have everything she was looking for. Of course, as dig you find that everyone is a mess: the gorgeous housewife is beleaguered by three teenage sons and a horndog of a husband; the sweet, seemingly innocent newlywed isn’t getting laid nearly enough; the Barbie doll socialite has two stepchildren who (understandably) hate her, and her husband is always travelling. Melissa McCarthy’s character is the only one who seems to have it together, despite all of her… eccentricities. And it’s true. If you look closely enough, everyone is more or less barely keeping it together.
I can also relate to dating guy after guy who inevitably disappoints, and to having a fuck buddy who, despite your better judgement, you keep going back to because of how lonely you are; who is just using you for sex under the notion that you’re both adults having fun, no strings attached (though he secretly knows what’s going on but still takes advantage of you). I’ve even had that conversation at the top of the film, where she assures him that of course it doesn’t mean anything, we’re just having fun—even though she’s dying inside.
When (like Kristen Wiig’s character) you’re constantly surrounded by seemingly successful people, constantly reminded by their lives of how far you are from where you want to be, it’s pretty demoralizing. I can’t even count how many weddings/wedding receptions where I’ve been asked the inevitable, perennial question, “So, are you here with anyone?” Or, “Oh, hi, you must be David’s girlfriend!”, only to have to backpedal and explain that not only do I not even know this girl but that I’m also gay. (“No, grandma, I like cock.”) Once I even had to explain that the girl I was with was my younger sister, not my wife.
So I’m less than a few weeks away from my twenty-ninth birthday (which, for those of you who are curious, I won’t be observing again, for one glaring reason). Every year since I’ve come out, I’ve made the resolution that this will be the year I buckle down to the business of finding a boyfriend, a partner. Because I’m nearly thirty, not getting any younger, and the older you get the more impossible it seems for a gay man to find a permanent, lasting relationship with a decent guy. And I’ll be damned if I’m one of those pathetic forty- or fifty-year-old men who are still sleeping around like some bloody twentysomething.
It’s brought up the question the past few months of what sort of guy I should date—and specifically, whether I should date someone of faith. It could be any religion, but (for example) a few months ago I was dating a Christian guy. He was fairly liberal in his views, but there were a number of things that irked me about him intellectually to the point where a relationship was untenable. Then his father was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t terminal, but he was hurt that I wouldn’t pray for him. What was I supposed to say? I don’t think that things turn out for the best, or that there’s a plan for each of us. I believe that things happen, and we’re each of us caught in the inexorable clutches of time and chance. It’s not a comforting thought, but that’s reality, and I’ve always been one of those that liked to know how things are, devoid of the illusions of comfort and cozy half-truths, like the guy in a Western who’s been shot and blearily slurs, “Give it to me straight, Doc.”
And, assuming that he wants kids, how would we raise them? No doubt he’d want to take them to church on more than a bi-yearly basis, whereas I’d be for a secular upbringing—the upbringing I wish I’d had. While I don’t want to be my parents and bring them up in a vacuum, at what point do you draw the line? Do you turn Sunday morning into a cultural field trip, exploring synagogues, Hindu and Buddhist temples, Protestant and Catholic churches? And how to reconcile that one parent believes in absolute truth whereas the other parent believes faith is patent nonsense?
Then there are things like end-of-life. I support euthanasia (we consider it “humane” to put down dying animals that are suffering), whereas he’ll likely believe that god alone has the right to determine life and death.
However, so much of it will likely come down to chemistry and whether or not we love each other, but I would like to be with a guy with whom I share views, because you do look at the world differently as a non-theist.