So after my friends’ wedding in Stillwater this past weekend, several wonderful chats with friends, and being around more gay couples, I’ve been thinking more about what it is that I want in a future partner.
This has been something on my mind ever since I came out gay in August of 2008, and since I accepted the notion that a romantic relationship with a man was indeed possible – and that I could have one. Back then my list of must-haves was probably a mile long, as was my list of things to avoid. Somewhere on that list was faith in God, and we can safely say that’s not on the list anymore. (If anything, it’s something for me to avoid!)
My recently expired relationship with Jason also taught me a lot of things about what it is that I want in a partner, and things that I want to be for a partner.
At the top of that list is being active – socially and otherwise. Jason had the disadvantage of suffering from fibromyalgia, so being physically active wasn’t as easy for him. But it did make me realize how much I missed being with people, and just doing things – going to plays, concerts, fundraising events, and so on. And I like doing those things with a person who means a lot to me. Currently I’m leaning on close friends to fill that role, but that’s not quite a substitute for being at a concert and your boyfriend holding you while you listen to a band you both love. I was at a Cloud Cult concert on Sunday night, and a boy standing next to me was holding his girlfriend for most of it. And as much as I balk at public displays of affection, I’m secretly jealous because I’m a closeted über-romantic who really loves that shit.
I’ve also been volunteering a lot more as of late. Last Thursday I participated in an event called Dining Out for Life in which various restaurants donated a certain percentage of their proceeds towards helping people living with HIV/AIDS. My friend Adam and I were on site for lunch and dinner and two local participating restaurants, going from table to table handing out donation envelopes and telling people about the event. It felt amazing to be part of, and to be doing good, and I want to do more of that. And I want to do more of that with a special guy who also enjoys doing good, so that we can do good together.
I also want to be with a fellow gay atheist. This is one area that I’ve waffled on a little over the past two years, but the more I think about it and the more dates I’ve been on with gay guys who believe in God, the less likely it seems that we’d be able to sustain a meaningful, long-term relationship with that as a difference. Because how you view the world as an atheist is vastly different from how you view it as a theist. I should know – I used to be one.
A couple years ago my sister went into the hospital with some serious health problems. My mom called to tell me about it, and she asked if I’d pray. I said, “Mom, you know that I don’t believe in prayer.” And I don’t. I don’t believe that anyone is looking out for us, that things will necessarily work out for the best, or that there’s some grand purpose for life on this planet. She seemed flummoxed that I wouldn’t pray, so I explained that I believed my sister was in good hands with doctors who have years of medical training, and that they’d figure out what was wrong. And they did. And, of course, my parents gave all the credit to God.
I don’t want to have that argument with my husband when one of our parents gets sick or dies – or when one of us gets sick or hurt. Because it inevitably will.
I also want to be with someone who’s as big of a geek, and as deeply curious about the world as I am. Last night I got to hang out with two guys who’ve been married for eighteen years. Our conversation ranged from classic Doctor Who episodes, to music history, to politics, to confusion over pop culture references. They balanced each other in many ways, but there’s a mutual passion and love for learning in both of them that I realized I desperately want in a husband – someone whose initial reaction to something new isn’t “That’s weird” but rather, “Oooh!” I committed myself a long time ago to living my life with my eyes wide open, and I want to be with someone who has the same love for knowledge – a fellow philomath.
Another thing I’ve learned about myself is that I’m not monogamous. I’m all for getting married and committing myself to a guy I’m madly in love with, but the idea of sexual exclusivity for both of us is one that I think is unnecessary. There are many gay couples who want to be monogamous, and good for them; but I personally enjoy sexual freedom and being able to get to know other guys intellectually as well as physically.
Maybe it’s just that men view sex differently than women, but if anything I’ve found that many of my friendships have been enhanced for having a sexual element, probably because it’s not some unspoken, forbidden thing between us. Because there’s a major difference in having sex with someone you care deeply for, and sex with someone you enjoy being with.
As Dan Savage has said on his show, cheating is only cheating if you’re sneaking around on your partner. The couples I know who aren’t monogamous communicate more, are more attuned to being safe and staying healthy, and have deeply committed relationships.
And more than anything, that’s what I want.