Gay And Single… Forever?

That’s the title of Steve Bereznai’s book—and here’s his expert advice for having a more successful love life.

By Chelsea Kaplan

e recently sat down with Steve Bereznai, author of Gay and Single… Forever?: 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking for Love (and Not Finding It) Needs to Know, about the problem of being perpetually single. He shared his advice on how to revisit your notions of love and attraction and how to find a lasting romance. Here’s the scoop.

So does every gay man needs a lifelong partner?

It’s important to mention that I’ve talked with a lot of long-time gay singles who are 100 percent happy. One can be single and happy, possibly forever. That’s not to say there aren’t highs and lows, but there are highs and lows in relationships, partnerships and
Are gay men out of touch with what love really is?
marriages as well. What these happy and single gay men had in common when I did my research was a sense of acceptance of themselves as they were, rather than feeling pressure to change. They had close friendships, families of choice, and a sense that in their aging years they were complete as they were, and were not interested in the often exhausting pursuit of “Mr. Right.” In a sense, they “give in” as opposed to what many people might consider “giving up.”

Why do some gay men find themselves perpetually single?

Here’s my opinion: In our culture, men are socialized at a very young age not to trust or be close with other men, because it’s too gay and not “masculine.” Gay men can be further wounded because we actually are gay and may wind up having to suppress those desires for a time. Then once we do come out, we’re suddenly expected to be able to put aside all the distrust we have for guys, open up to them, trust them, make ourselves vulnerable… Quite often we just wind up hurting each other, which adds further baggage to the pile. Also, in a relationship, one person usually gives up more of his identity for the other. People like to pretend that relationships are a marriage of two equals, but this is rarely the case. Someone has to give more than the other, and when it’s two guys, there’s less chance of one of them giving up some of his identity, which makes developing a relationship hard.

What are some common mistakes gay men make when they are looking for love?

I think a lot of gay men are completely out of touch with what “love” is. There was once this guy I was involved with. We’d call each other several times a day, figure out who was picking up what for dinner, watch Battlestar Galactica together, and while we were doing the dishes one night I said, “So, you know, this is a relationship, what we’re doing right now? Doing dishes and all that mundanity.” He was so mad at me, and believed my saying that ruined everything. Essentially, I burst the romance bubble.

However, the truth is that long-term love is friendship and communication. It’s more likely that gay male singles will have more satisfying relationships if they begin boyfriendships as friendships, because they’ll be engaging their partners with more realistic expectations in mind.

How can a guy adopt these “more realistic expectations”?

I think an awareness of the biological stages of love can help; it has really helped me. I started dating someone a few weeks ago, and we’re very much in that euphoric romantic stage. I’m keenly aware that we’re being bombarded by the love chemical PEA (b-Phenylethylamine), a naturally-occurring chemical in our bodies that creates a euphoric high
Revisit how you define a successful or meaningful relationship.
and helps obscure the shortcomings of a potential mate. That awareness doesn’t make me any less silly or any less excited (translation: nauseating) at this particular moment. But here’s how it helps: When I look at long-term couples around me, who are calm and steady and not needing to touch each other all the time, I know that if my new relationship continues for more than three months (when PEA generally wears off), that’s what it will turn into. So we’d better have something more than sexual attraction to keep us together. But if not, I will always value the time I’ve had with him. I’ve already learned a lot about trust and opening up.

When looking for a boyfriend, are there any “warning signs” men should look out for in potential partners?

Every man has a list of “red flags” that turns him off. A couple of mine are substance abuse and lack of ambition. If a guy only talks about himself and never asks about me, that’s a major turn-off too. And if I’m not keen on his friends, I wonder if I can really be keen on the guy himself or if it’s short-term infatuation.

OK, now, while many of these red-flag behaviors may be legitimate turn-offs, I caution gay men about giving up too quickly. If you go on a date, I really think the only thing you should be asking yourself afterwards is if you like the guy enough to go on a second date. I caution against worrying about sexual chemistry, which sometimes needs to develop over time, or whether you think he’s got husband potential. You’ve only been on one date for crying out loud! Chill!

Are there any “rules” that you feel men who are looking for a partner (and not just fun) should follow when it comes to sex?

Most of the gay relationship books I’ve read — and I’ve read a LOT of them — say you shouldn’t have sex until the third date. By all means, give this a try, but also factor in your specific situation. If you can wait, then great. If not, that’s OK, too. If you wind up having sex on the first date and it winds up being a one-night stand with someone you really liked, then yes, you’ll have to deal with the emotional fallout. Personally, this attitude has become easier as I’ve entered my 30s, as I’ve developed a healthier perspective on both casual sex and, most importantly, with my own emotions.

What are the best pieces of advice you can offer to gay men who want to find a partner for a serious relationship?

First and foremost, find happiness and emotional fulfillment within your single life. If you do want a boyfriend, he should be icing on the cake. Eventually, as you grow closer, he will probably become the cake, too. No matter how blissfully happy you become, be careful not to ditch your family and friends when you fall in love.

Any other last words of advice?

I also advise revisiting how you define a “successful” or “meaningful” relationship. In our society, we often view permanence as the sign of success of a romantic relationship. When a relationship ends, we often say the relationship “failed.” Relationships don’t have to be forever to be of tremendous value. I have had one-night stands that have changed my life. They renewed my love of life and opened me up to new possibilities.

Similarly, if I was to be with someone for three years, and we split, I would hate to think that I got nothing out of those three years. After only three weeks with the guy I’m currently dating I’ve already learned and grown a lot. I would expect that growth to continue if we are to stay together, and if it does, I could never see the relationship as a failure even if we wind up splitting at some point. With each relationship, we grow and learn. See each one as an opportunity not only to fall in love with another person, but to evolve.

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of and regularly appears as a guest on XM Radio’s “Broad Minded.”
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