Two Sense: How Can I Turn Meaningless Sex Into a Lasting Relationship?
I'm an attractive gay man in my late 30s living in the Mission. Life is good—satisfying job, cool apartment, great friends & family. But I have one problem: too much sex! I'm pretty open-minded sexually. I like 'em all shapes and sizes, races and ages, and other guys seem to find me attractive (all that time at the gym helps). I seriously can't walk down any street south of Market without the possibility of sex lingering around every corner. I get laid in the back rooms of bars, at the gym steam room, in random guys' apartments—and that does not even include the late-night Craigslist hookups. I feel guilty complaining; I love every anonymous encounter. My straight friends are incredibly envious. The problem is that temptation is making it harder to find the right guy to settle down with, a lifetime dream. I mean, I usually can't even remember the name of the last guy, and the idea of a traditional date seems more and more remote. What should I do?
He Said: There is a deep, emotional narrative that we all incorporate growing up: That we are all meant to end up with a life partner. The problem is that this narrative does not work for everyone, nor should it, at every stage of life. Modern urban life offers an array of sexual opportunities that are very hard to give up for the rigidity of monotony (er, monogamy), especially when you are young and full of vinegar, among other things. The hunger for promiscuity is not something that one just "gives up," any more than the hunger for travel or a great meal, and it is an important reminder not to settle for an unhappy relationship. Yet even San Francisco gay men, the most liberated of the liberated, can be feel the deadening tug of social and peer pressure. You may be hearing, in the recesses of your mind, the parental invocation that you need to "settle down," even though the way you describe your life is in fact quite settled, filled with friends, family and adventure. Keep enjoying this fabulous, unique life you have created until something even more appealing comes along.
She Said: My long answer is to ask yourself why you continue to seek out and respond to nonstop casual sex when you say your lifetime dream is to settle down. As a gay man living in the Castro with (I'm guessing) more than two decades worth of encounters, you've had a greater range of sexual breadth and exploration than 99.9 percent of human beings on the planet. So why aren't you "done"? Of course, the obvious answer is because casual sex is easy, and relationship is not—neither finding the "right guy" nor getting through the layers of intimacy and conflict that naturally arise as time goes on. Basically, you're settling for the path of least resistance, but think about it: Does the easy road ever lead to anything valuable in the long-term? Not often. Don't get me wrong, if you never wanted to settle down, I'd say continue. But as it stands, I think you're putting off the work and risk of intimacy by continuing to indulge your short-term gains to the exclusion of anything more. Of all these fabulous men you nail on a weekly basis, are you telling me that not one of them warrants a follow-up date? That's almost numerically impossible. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it: Every few weeks, choose a sex-buddy who seems to have an inkling of what you're looking for in a partner, and after you're done screwing, ask him on a real date.
Confused? Heartbroken? Curious? Send your questions to email@example.com