In this week’s Hola Papi!, the advice column by writer, Twitterer, and prolific Grindr user John Paul Brammer on Into, a reader writes in with ALL the ~feelings~ due to being single.
While in his prime at the ripe age of 22, he has yet to bag a boyfriend and now worries that time is running out for him. But should he be worried? Or should he take this time alone to focus on himself instead?
Hola Papi has some thoughts.
For quite a while now I’ve been plagued with anxiety about not being in a relationship with another man. I’m 22-years-old, and so far I’ve only gone on one (1) date and, out of a fit of desperation, had a sh*tty hookup.
I feel like my anxiety stems from seeing everyone else going out and finding themselves in a relationship and just feeling like I’m running out of time to “date” and experience the joys of having a boyfriend. Is there such a thing as a Relationship Deadline or am I just being dumb?
– Anxious Gay
Oh, Anxious. After I ignored the fact that you dared to mention you are 22-years-old (Can you even vote yet? I’m not sure), I realized that this is an important question that raises an issue many gay men struggle with every day. Including me, the star of this weekly column and the person I’m going to talk about now.
Right after I came out, Anxious, I was desperate to be in a relationship. I thought that was the whole point of being gay back then: to find a mate. After a few tragedies I won’t even name, I stumbled upon a tall-ish, nice-ish, handsome-ish man I’ll call Jose.
I had an immediate spark with Jose. Not because I actually liked him that much, but because I was such a dry, thirsty bundle of sticks that I was basically going to catch fire upon first contact with anything warm enough to have a pulse. And so I did. And, Anxious, it was awful.
This was a man who would order for me at restaurants and then not pick up the tab. A man who would go on long tirades about how he wasn’t “part of the scene,” whatever that means. Sweet Gay Jesús, the man wore cargo shorts! Such was the sad state of my life.
To make a long, obnoxious story short, Anxious, I eventually discovered that I really only liked the idea of Jose. Actually, it was worse than that. I didn’t even like the idea of Jose. Jose was a terrible idea that should have been scrapped at the drawing board. The idea of Jose would not have made it past the first round of Shark Tank, hosted by Kevin O’Leary. The Kickstarter would have flopped.
No, it was the idea of having a boyfriend that I liked. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted someone to do stuff with: the cute, exciting little things I saw other gay couples do on social media. And so I projected the relationship I wanted onto Jose, even if deep down I knew that he wasn’t the one for me, and that his breath didn’t smell too great either.
I know what my heart wants to tell you, Anxious. It’s the thing I tell my garbage friends when we’re drunk at the bar and we talk about whether we’re going to be single for the rest of our lives. I want to tell you that you’re definitely going to find someone.
I want to tell you that you’ll for sure get to experience the joy of having a boyfriend one day. That you’re absolutely going to find someone who is nuts for you, someone who won’t leave you for having the correct opinion on cargo shorts.
But the thing is, I can’t guarantee that. Even if I do think it’s a likely scenario. Anxious, I can’t even guarantee that the earth’s atmosphere will be able to sustain boyfriends for much longer at the rate climate change is going. And boyfriends? In this economy? It may not be tenable.
On the other hand, consider this: Simply being in a relationship doesn’t guarantee the joy you mentioned. And while it’s easy to get jealous over those cute gay couple pics that litter your timeline, remember you’re only seeing the parts of the relationship they’re putting out into the world. May I serve you some tea, Anxious? I don’t know any Instagay couples whose relationships are exactly like the #content they post.
So I guess what I’ll say instead is something that doesn’t exactly come on a Hallmark card. Because it’s kind of boring, much like vegetables, which is how you know it’s good for you: There is no love on this earth more reliable than the love you can give yourself. Because, Anxious, here’s the thing about other people. You can’t control them.
So, invest in yourself, and invest in your friends. Be super good to your friends. Like, reallygood to them. And be kind to yourself. Do things you enjoy, and start clapping back at that voice in your head that occasionally tells you that you’re not good enough and that nobody will ever love you, and that there’s some sort of cartoon ACME bomb strapped to your heart with a ticking clock on it that’s going to explode if you haven’t met Jose or Kyle or Jamal whomever the fuck by age 30.
That’s all a roundabout way of saying, no, Anxious. There is no relationship deadline. As long as you’re putting yourself out there, I have no doubt that you’re going to kiss a lot of boys, and wake up to a lot of stressful texts, and go on a lot of pleasant dates, and, yes, have the occasional shitty hookup. Some good ones too, if you’re lucky!
But along the way, what’s more important is that you figure out how to like and love yourself. Because that self-love is going to be the thing that sees you through it all. And hey, Anxious, if you ever find yourself in New York City, why don’t we grab a drink?
Just kidding. That is not what this column is for. (send pics tho)