When you celebrate, you tend to have a good time, and when you're partying, sometimes you make well-intentioned but bad decisions. And I'm starting to see a lot of us in the gay community, including me, making some pretty bad ones. Excitement really is contagious.
I moved to Brooklyn from Seattle a little over a year after New York legalized gay marriage. Suddenly the dating pool I was swimming in was a thousand times larger than what I was used to, and I started dating frequently. Almost immediately I got into a relationship that lasted a month or so. A few more followed, but they weren't quite as long. A weird thing happened, though: For the first time while dating someone, I'd ask myself, "Could this be my future husband?" In my second long-termish relationship, my boyfriend and I actually talked about the possibility of getting married after only a few weeks of being together!
Well, after the second relationship ended, I grew a bit cold and bitter, secluding myself and trying to focus on anything other than men. But that twinge inside, that need for some sort of intimacy, warmed up again and led me to an online dating site. After a few hours of searching and cyberstalking the plethora of available men on the site, I found someone who piqued my interest. He was a wonderful guy: educated, good job, handsome, mutual interest -- it seemed like a perfect fit. We set up a date a few days later. It turned out to be the most wonderful night. This sounds cliché, but it really was something out of a movie: We watched the sunset in a beautiful city park, had a great dinner and walked through the Lower East Side until we found a spot for dessert, ending our night with a midnight kiss in the Union Square subway station before taking separate trains home.
Unfortunately, I got sick after our first date, and we didn't see each other again for almost a month. When we did finally have our second date, things went right back to where they were that first night. By our third and fourth dates things felt comfortable; honestly, it felt right. We dated for a few weeks, and by "dated" I mean we spent almost every single night together. About a month in I got sick again and was in the hospital for almost a week, and he was there every day and most nights. It felt like we'd been together for a lot longer than two months. We were exclusive by this point and had started talking about what we wanted; our wants synced perfectly. We were both ready to move things to the next level.
At this point in our relationship, about two months in, we decided that we would move in together. I was always there; we liked being with each other. To us it made perfect sense. I had a month-to-month lease on my apartment, and when it was over, I moved into his place. Once I was moved in, we started to see the real parts of each other, the parts that you don't always see when you're dating but which you discover over time. You decide to either accept these things and love your partner regardless or reject them and move on. But once you're living with someone and have made that commitment, it's quite a different predicament.
Even with the problems in our relationship, we did love each other, as much as you can after such a short period of time together. We traveled to meet each other's families, spent time with each other's friends, had date nights, and went out of our way to try to change the things about ourselves that the other didn't like. Again we got to a point where we wanted to take it to the next level, so on a beautiful night this last summer, after we'd spent some time around the city, he brought me back to that park from our first date and asked me to marry him. I said yes.
I promised him that I wouldn't write about any of this, but I am making a compromise and not getting into the gritty details of what happened between us. What I can say is that we moved way too quickly and burned out quickly. We wanted something that hadn't been afforded to us before. We wanted to be a family and have that love that we saw the other half live. But we didn't do it the right way. We made deep sacrifices that compromised our personal beliefs way too quickly for a couple that had been together for only a handful of months.
After we moved in with each other, we fought constantly, partly because of my health and partly because of finances. That eventually led to a nonexistent sex life. After about a month and a half of living together and maybe three weeks of being engaged, a small fight turned into a big one, and we called it off. It was a messy breakup; I'll just leave it at that.
A similar situation happened with a friend in the state of Washington, where gay marriage also recently became legal. My friend and his boyfriend fell in love quickly, and hard. Then his boyfriend proposed, and he said yes. They'd party all the time, and almost every time, the boyfriend would get drunk and sleep with somebody else, and then he'd excuse it by claiming that he just didn't know what he was doing. At first my friend pretended not to care, because he knew that, at the end of the day, he was the one whom his fiancé loved. But the cheating continued, and eventually, as a result of the infidelity, they ended it. Again, not knowing the person you're getting hitched to before you say yes is like playing Russian roulette: You never know when it's going to blow up in your face.
What I've learned through these ordeals is that marriage is something that should be taken very seriously. I truly wish that my boyfriend and I had given ourselves more time to get to know one another. Over time our we might have worked through our differences. We could still be together, working toward what we'd hoped for, or at least we might have been able to mend the heartbreak we caused each other and part ways amicably. Make sure that you think things through, give yourself time, educate yourself about each other and, most importantly, become friends, even best friends. Believe me: It'll save you a lot, emotionally, financially and personally.
And we all know that it's always better to be fashionably late to the party than to be the one who shows up at 8 o'clock and is a mess before any of the fun even gets going.