A lot of ink has been spilled on the dating habits of gay men and how best to date while gay. If you’re coming into this post wondering if I have any answers for you, I suggest you close this tab in your browser right now. If you’re still here, then allow me to announce that I, for the first time ever, have been dumped.
It happened last week, suddenly, out of the blue. For me, there were no warning signs. He told me to call him around one in the afternoon on Wednesday, a nondescript hour on a nondescript day. I took lunch around then, went outside to sit on a bench, called him, and, within the next five minutes, I was no longer in a relationship. “If you want, we can still hang out tomorrow like we’d planned, if you don’t mind doing it as friends,” he said. I hung up immediately.
Naturally, I was useless for the rest of the work day. I thought of all the things that could have contributed to this quick secession. Was it that I didn’t have enough direction in life? That I had recently failed to get the two jobs I was interviewing for and really excited about? Was it when I took him to my favorite dim sum place in the city and he hated the food? Was it my new haircut?
I went home and tried to unpack the situation as elegantly as possible, enlisting the help of my friends Joe and Dain, a gay couple who graciously invited me over that very night for what became, more or less, an impromptu therapy session.
“What did he say?” asked Joe, placing a warm tea pot and cups on the table before us.
He said that we were too different, we didn’t like any of the same things, our conversations weren’t good enough or interesting enough or deep enough, and that he didn’t see the relationship going anywhere. Too different.
“Oh..” Dain took a sip of the tea he had brewed us. Our cups sent up wisps of fragrant oolong and the light was passing out of the sky, lending the scene an air of quietude, something I always encountered when over at their apartment, and something for which I was particularly grateful in this moment. Your head becomes so loud after a breakup. I wasn’t sure if I was mourning the loss of this specific boy or if I was mourning my newly single status. “It’s probably both,” he said.
We switched from tea to whiskey, and afterwards, when I went to sleep in my own bed I felt partially relieved of my nameless post-breakup regret. But a question did linger: what does it mean to be too different to make things work? Did gay men have to like all the same things to be together?
I thought of Joe and Dain. They were similar. They shared the same interest in books, theater, television, had similarly quiet voices, were both introverts, enjoyed board games over dancefloors…they even looked similar, both thin, medium height, handsome and deceptively young in the face. I thought of other gay couples I knew and realized that for the most part, they all seemed to be pairs of young men dating slightly modified versions of themselves.
“Well, mostly, yeah. I mean, let’s be honest for a second. I love you, but you two were so different. I can’t say truthfully that I’m extremely surprised. I think it just flows better when you’re…at least a little more alike.” My friend Gavin said the next day as I solicited his take down of the situation. “Why do you think so many gay couples look like twins? Wear the same clothes, drink the same drinks, work in the same fields…I mean, you two were really different. He’s white bread anyway, you need someone more interesting. You need 7-grain or something.” We both laughed. “It just sucks that he did this with everything else going on, you know, the job situation and all that.”
“I’m drowning in cover letters,” I tell him. “But what about opposites attracting?”
“I don’t know if that’s a thing,” he said pensively. “I think that might just be something nice we tell ourselves sometimes when we want to believe the prince can fall for the pauper.” He quickly looked over to me. “You’re not the pauper!” he assured me. I arched my brow.
That Saturday at brunch my friend Lenae, the tenth friend from whom I’d requested advice, told me it just wasn’t that simple.
“That’s all anecdotal,” she said. “Your gay friends aren’t the only gay people in the world. Opposites attract sometimes, like attracts like sometimes…”
In the end it’s hard to say what dooms a relationship. Maybe it was that we were too different; I love art, he loved science, he preferred classic American when eating out, I lean heavily towards Thai, he was an extrovert, I’m firmly introverted, he didn’t like dim-sum, I practically live for it.
“Wait, what?” My friend Lenae nearly spit out her omelette. “No, no, no, no. See, that’s where you went wrong. _____, give me your phone, now!” She said as she grabbed it from my side of the table.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m downloading tinder. We need to ameliorate this error.”
We spent the next twenty minutes laughing over mimosas and sifting through every silly detail there was to fuss about when creating a new online dating profile. In the “About Me” section she wrote just one line:
Must love dim sum.