23 January 2011

Heteros do it too (and what I really think about most therapy of homosexuality), Part 3

Back to Part 2.

I'd guess some same-sex spouses or partners experience a lack of infatuation to an extent, too, maybe even fully. Would gay activists decry that relationship just as much as a mixed-orientation relationship based on a lack of euphoria, intense but unearned trust, and/or the feeling of walking on clouds and feeling deliriously happy? Would they decry it if the partners had to work on the sexual aspect of their relationship? Might they just as well have married people of the opposite sex if they were going to forgo the whole "euphoria" thing anyway? Or is that a specious question because gay men still experience infatuation even with their wives? Or is it possible to be "in love" in a way unique to pair-bonding without anything like the infatuation or euphoric feeling? Is that all just insignificant, doped up brain chemistry in the end? Is being in a committed, fulfilling relationship really not even about being in love? All else being equal, if you knew you could choose to have a committed, fulfilling relationship with or without being "in love" in this euphoric or deeply emotional sense, would you choose to go without? To you straight people who tell me it's not that important anyway, would you have married your spouse if it hadn't been for those feelings? Whether or not you think you should have, would you have? What stopped you from marrying your opposite-sex best friend for whom you had no such feelings? Shouldn't you have done that?

I think straight people generally do have the "in love" feelings, at least in the beginning of their relationship, and throughout, if they work to maintain them. I also think they take them for granted, and it does wane with time, although some brain activity research indicates that long-term couples tend to still dope up each other's brains quite nicely. Is a chemical reaction in the brain something to base a lifetime decision on? No, I don't think it is. Is it something to reject just because it's chemical, even when other important factors line up? I think you'd be a fool to. If the match is a good one, and the values and commitment line up, then that doped up brain is a total bonus, and who wouldn't want that?! I believe rejecting the euphoria as if it's proof of shallowness of affection is what many gay men are doing when they "explain away" their attractions to other men. Whether acting on those attractions lines up with their values and beliefs is another question: I just wish more such men would call a spade a spade, admit the authenticity of the experience, and see that they needn't decimate their concept and experience of being in love in order to justify their decision to live an alternative lifestyle and seek love in a form more compliant with their beliefs.

Mind you, I think many gay men do idolize the "objects" of their attraction, thinking them to be everything they'd want in a man...or, as the reparatives narrate it, everything they wish to be. I think many straight men "idolize" the women they're attracted to, as well, seeing the ideal feminine (often rooted in evolutionarily biological preferences reinforced by societal norms and structure) in them even well beyond reality until something snaps sense into them, often well after it's likely to make any difference in their love. I wish there were an accurate way to get into the mind of any given gay man and see his attractions for men, and the traits he finds attractive, and then get into the mind of a straight man and his attractions for women and see if they're patently differently motivated in a quantifiable way.

Let's pretend, for a nutty moment, that some people are truly, physiologically wired, for whatever reasons (environmental, genetic, whatever the triggers for that wiring) to fall for people of the same sex. Now, why wouldn't a guy be attracted to guys who represent ideal men? Why wouldn't any given same-sex-wired guy be attracted to guys similar to those hetero women are attracted to? And why wouldn't a guy who is truly primarily attracted on a personal, not romantic or sexual, level of admiration or aspiration to a guy who also happens to be physically attractive find it difficult to sort out which kind of attraction he's dealing with? Don't hetero girls also have a tendency to think they're in love with the "perfect guy" when in reality they just really look up to them but wouldn't necessarily pair well with him or would realize, if they started dating him, that they're not actually that interested after all but were idealizing him based on admirable hobby traits? I know many women who have gone through that. If certain parts of gay guys' inner workings resemble the inner workings of the average female of the species, as some brain structure research suggests on at least some level, wouldn't it make sense for them to experience some similar processes?

Continue to Part 4...

1 comment:

MoHoHawaii said...

I've been at this a long time. I was in a mixed-orientation marriage. I'm currently in a same-sex relationship of long duration. I've seen the exeriences of myself and others over the more than two decades since my mixed-orientation marriage ended.

Bottom line: as far as I can tell, gay people are just like straight people when it comes to love and sex, except that they are oriented toward those of the same sex rather than the opposite sex. The phases that their relationships go through, the feelings of infatuation, level of sexual interest, the long-term pair bonding, etc., etc. are the same. The pitfalls and the opportunities for joy are the same.

There are a few quirks around the edges due to how differently society treats gay and straight couples, but other than that one point gay and straight relationships are pretty much the same to me.

There are variations in relational models among individuals. I've seen variations along a spectrum that I call the conquest model and the nesting model. The conquest model is the stereotypically male kind of sexuality that values variety and "scoring." The nesting model is relational and monogamous and is more common among women. But it's a big mix-- there are plenty of straight men (my heterosexual, adult son, for example) who use the nesting model.

There are plenty of great relationships out there, both gay and straight. It can be done.

I think the issue here is prejudice. If you weren't steeped in a social context that so severely stigmatized gayness, a lot of the issues you are talking about would be nonissues. Did you ever consider moving to a place with better social acceptance of gay people, or barring that, finding a new social circle?