Last night was another COAP game night. It was a fun time, despite the relatively low turn-out. There are actually a number of things I could write about based on last night’s events. However, for now, I’m choosing to focus on something that came up during a discussion between Woody and Mark during the “meeting” portion of the night.
Woody and Mark have been involved in COAP for long periods of time, so they got reminiscing. At one point, Woody started talking about his history with COAP and his pattern of disappearing and coming back. One of the things that he pointed out was that often, his disappearances occurred at the same time he started seeing someone, while he came back after the relationship ended. Mark commented that this is common, and even joked that it’s the “gay lifestyle.”
At this turn of the conversation, a couple of thoughts entered my mind. The first one was a sense of relief that I’m not the only one prone to this kind of behavior. Indeed, one of the things that I realized when I started coming to COAP events was that I’d have to fight the urge to drop out when I eventually get into a relationship. So it was nice to know that other people have those same tendencies.
But then, I had to ask the question. Why is that? Why is part of the “gay lifestyle” to drop off the social circle when you meet that special someone. Is it because we see the social circle as nothing more than a marketplace for picking up our next lover? That’s certainly a frightening thought in itself!
Of course, I should note that I don’t think this is strictly a gay thing. I’ve noticed that a good number of heterosexual couples tend to lose track of their friends over time, too. After all, my parents don’t get out nearly as much as they used to (though my father does socialize more through their church than my mother does). Often, they’re content to do their work, meet a few communal obligations, then head home.
But it seems to me from my observations that it happens much more quickly and suddenly amongst gay people (especially men). While heterosexual couples may become more insular and reclusive over time, it seems like we do it at the earliest opportunity. Which I don’t think is healthy, for reasons I covered before. So why do we do it?
Personally, I think it’s in part because we’re often afraid of finding true love that we’ve become obssessed with it to the exclusion of everything else. So when we’re with someone, all of our attention turns towards building and maintaining that relationship. After all, we’re not sure when the next one is coming along (and with only a small percentage of the population to work with, finding eligible, desirable lovers can seem like a daunting task), so we want to do everything we can to make it work. So we allow other friendships and our other activities to come along. Add to this the fact that the early stages of any relationship can be quite intoxicating and addicting, and it becomes an understandable pattern.
But realizing this doesn’t make continuing the pattern a good idea. In some ways, I think it demonstrates why we — both individually and collectively — need to break this pattern.