Loving like a man, not a teenager
It is normal for teenagers to develop intense romantic and sexual relationships. With their hormones cannon-blasting everywhere their relationships with their sexual partners can be powerful and seem all-consuming.
These teenage relationships are a normal part of growing up, and help us come to terms and understand the nature and intensity of loving other people. But what happens if we miss out on our teenage love-life? Well that is what can happen to many gay guys.
A lot of gay men were firmly in the closet when they were teenagers. They were afraid of the consequences of their peers knowing they were gay, and perhaps they weren’t ready to admit to themselves their true sexuality at that age.
Being closeted like this can prevent some gay men from having the teenage relationships that are an important part of growing up. This can present a very destructive attitude to relationships in adulthood, because they are forever living their love-lives like a teenager and not like a man.
This means having unrealistic expectations towards relationships, developing ‘crushes’ very easily, having feelings for other guys which are inappropriate, or beyond what the situation merits, and that are likely to remain unrequieted.
Just as teenagers can fall head-over-heels for people even when they don’t know them well enough for that intensity of feeling, so can adult gay men who perhaps missed out on normal teenage relationships.
Guys who didn’t have teenage boyfriends can be condemned to an immature attitude to loving others throughout their adulthood, as they forever unconsciously re-live the teenage love affairs they never had.
This is highly destructive, not just to their happiness, but to the relationships and friendships they have. Is this you?
Are you loving like a teenager?
The first step to dealing with this is recognising it.
* Did you miss out on romantic/sexual relationships in your teenage years?
* Do you develop ‘crushes’ for other guys regularly or quickly?
* Do you develop romantic feelings for other men which are stronger than their feelings for you?
* Do you fantasise romantically about other men, even if you’re already in a loving relationship?
* Do you develop feelings for friends which are inappropriate for a friendship?
* Are the romantic feelings you feel for others very intense and occupy your thoughts a lot?
If you answer yes to the first question, and yes to some of the other questions, then your love life may be stuck in your teenage years. You need to get this sorted.
Having this ‘teenage’ attitude to your loving relationships is damaging, and can leave you isolated, and lonely and will affect your happiness as you go through your life. It isn’t fair to yourself, or to your partner if you have one.
Take responsibility for the way you love
Also, just because you may see why you may easily fall for other men, it doesn’t make it right, or excuse the behaviour if it is hurting your current relationship or your friends.
A non-teenage ‘adult’ response is to take responsibility for your actions and try to stop yourself developing these powerful feelings again when they are inappropriate.
If you’re single this doesn’t mean never falling in love! It does mean however that when you do develop a loving relationship with another guy it is in a mature way, respecting your own needs as well as his, and letting the relationship develop naturally and not for the sake of ‘being in love’ or having a boyfriend.
I’d advise you get some counselling to talk through what happened in your teenage years (or didn’t happen), and the way you express yourself in your love life now.
Talking about these things will help you break out of the lost teenage years you’re stuck in, especially if it is to a trained psychoanalyst who knows their stuff. I suspect that even talking about it to a trusted friend would help too, although a qualified counsellor is preferable. Friends, no matter how well-intentioned, may lack the patience, concentration or sensitivity to allow you to get stuff off your chest.
You can find a local counsellor here, and try searching for fields of expertise like teenage childhood, sexuality or relationships. It may cost a little, but what price happiness, and your counselling may help you in other ways too.
By David Abrehart
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