I ran across this shirt on my trip to Florida a few months ago and picked it up because I thought it was funny, nothing more, nothing less. After my adventures in dating over the last few months though, it’s made me think.
I’m an incredibly emotional person. By incredibly, I mean very intensely. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I give 110% in whatever I’m doing. This oftentimes scares suitors off, and for a while I felt that was an issue with me. However over time I’ve realized that it’s not. When I find the man of my dreams he’ll love me for that emotional intensity. The same emotional intensity that’s run off more guys than I care to count.
Being a 20-something I’m surrounded by friends that are either coupled up, married, getting married, or have a baby or two on the way. Basically, it’s safe to say that I’ve gotten the dating itch on more than one occasion. Several times I’ve wanted to date someone so badly that I’ve forced myself into a relationship. Sacrificing what I find important in a relationship? No big deal, as long as I can say I have a boyfriend, right? Constantly worrying due to this uneasy feeling in my stomach that I can’t seem to shake? No worries, I’m sure it’s just because I did something wrong, again.
Sadly, it’s taken me awhile to realize that the thing I did wrong here was to settle. Not to settle down, but to settle for.
I never settle for less than my best in every other area of my life except dating. I’ve been so hungry in the past to have a boyfriend, or any figment of a boyfriend that I’ve sacrificed my own needs in order to be “in a relationship.” I’ve slacked on my blogging, on running, on hanging out with my friends, for the sake of a relationship with someone who doesn’t give me the same effort.
I give 110%, remember? It’s all or nothing for me, and lately I’ve realized that I’m completely ok with that. Because of that, I’ll make a great husband one day. One day, when I find “my puzzle piece” as my friend Lauren puts it.
So what’s a 20-something, gay, single male to do? Well, if you’re a fan of Queer As Folk I’m sure you think my life is reminiscent of Brian Kinney’s. Well, I’m happy to report that’s far from the truth. Admittedly I’m on Grindr, and I’ve received more crude and unsolicited photos and requests to suck my toes than I was thought possible. But I’m not logging on and asking a random stranger over to “watch tv” at a little past midnight.
I’ve had a handful of dates that have stemmed from guys that I’ve met on Grindr, and I’ve blocked far more than I’ve met. Sadly, no matter how much I say Louisville is a big city, it’s definitely one of the biggest small towns in the country, especially if you’re gay. It’s hard to meet a guy in Louisville. A lot of guys are still coming to terms with who they are, (we are a Southern state after all). I’ve been out since 14, and because of that I’ve grown incredibly comfortable in my skin; which apparently is quite intimidating. So I cling to Grindr with some hope that I’ll find a knight in shining armor. It’s something to do when I get bored, it’s something that knocks my self esteem down a few notches when I message someone and don’t get a reply, it’s something that’s influenced me to make bad decisions, but most of all it’s something that’s made me realize a lot about myself.
My dating experience has made me realize that I’m worth more than a one-night stand. I’m worth more than being treated like a time-filler or a distraction. I’m worth more than someone who just tells me what I want to hear in order to get what he wants from me. I’m worth more than a series of disinterested or bad boyfriends; because at the end of the day all they’re doing is distracting me from letting Mr. Right walk into my life.
In summation: dating is hard. Being gay in Kentucky makes dating even harder. Online hookup apps often lead to making bad decisions, increasing your chances of STD exposure, and ruining your self esteem. Not to mention they make it SO hard to actually hit on a person in real life. But never forget you’re worth it. You’re worth the wait, the pain, and the journey. You deserve to be happy, and the only way to be truly happy is not settling.
The Kentucky Gent