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I remember my first love like it was yesterday. Her name was Inbal. Since her I’ve dated folks of all genders. I’ve loved other men and other women. But she was my first love. And as they say, the first cut’s the deepest.
I asked her out on Valentine’s Day my junior year of high school, with an original song I wrote for her on guitar. The final lyrics of the song were “Will you be my girlfriend?” To this day, I think that was the happiest I have ever made anyone. When she said, “Of course, you dummy,” we proceeded to make out until lunch period ended.
The next 11 months were an emotional whirlwind, filled with the highest highs I’ve ever experienced, followed by the lowest of lows. When we broke up at the Starbucks by my house, I came home bawling. My mom thought she had said something terrible, or even hit me. That wasn’t the case at all. She had nothing but kind words to say, but I was a complete mess from the breakup.
I cried for a week straight.
The first person I ever dated after coming out as bisexual was a genderqueer individual, who also identified as bisexual. I loved her (preferred female pronouns) to the point it hurt. The reason being? I was filled with so much self-loathing, fear and confusion prior to coming out (and immediately after). She loved me unconditionally for who I was, and I really needed that for my self-esteem.
Then there was Jason. The first guy I ever loved. The first real “boyfriend” I had. The only partner I’ve ever lived with. I loved him with all my heart.
Now I primarily date guys, despite still identifying as bisexual. (I go into why this is the case here.) But after a while of dating guy after guy, I got tired. I was tired of being interested in a guy, only for him to ghost me. I was tired of being friend-zoned. I was tired of feeling paralyzed by indecision that comes from thinking in the back of my mind that “there must be another guy out there who’s better.”
But I managed to regain my optimism. To become just a little bit less jaded. Less hopeless. Less tired all the damn time. While I may not ever have that same excitement like I had with my first partner, at least now I’m getting somewhat excited. I’m no longer thinking to myself after the first date, “He was great, but I wonder how long until he starts to suck.”
Here’s what I did, and here’s what just might be able to help you regain some of that optimism, excitement — and, dare I say it, naivety — like it’s your first relationship.
1. Cool it with the casual sex.
Now, I live for casual sex. Love it. Couldn’t say a bad thing about it. (I mean, I definitely could, but I’m not going to.) But when you’re trying to actually find a man to get excited about, it’s helpful to not have sex with every guy who has a butthole. Sex does become, at least somewhat, less meaningful. You’ll also feel overwhelmed with options, which again, isn’t necessarily a good thing. You may keep moving on from one guy to the next, when you actually should just be sticking around with one.
2. Don’t have sex right off the bat with someone you like.
Again, I literally sleep with everyone on the first date. Or at least I used to. Now, if I like them, I want to get to know them a little more before sleeping with them. (If I don’t see a serious future with them, then I have sex with them on the first date.) Sex can confuse you. Especially good sex. It’ll make you think you like someone, when the truth of the matter is you just like the sex. My guncle (gay uncle) always tells me that if the sex is great you won’t actually know if you like someone for six months. I think there’s some truth in that.
3. Have cutesy dates.
I just got fondue with this guy. At first, I thought to myself, “Are you serious? Fondue?” but after I got all dressed up, met him at the French restaurant and we did the whole thing, I was literally obsessed. That cutesy stuff that makes you want to vomit when someone else does it — it’s actually adorable when you do it yourself. A couple months ago I had a date with someone at the Santa Monica Pier. At first, when they suggested it, I almost scoffed, but then after we kissed on the Ferris Wheel, I was like, this is freaking amazing.
4. Allow yourself to get excited.
This has to do with catching yourself and your negative thoughts. When it comes to dating, gay men get into that negative headspace faster than literally anyone. The date can go great, but immediately after, we start finding flaws or reasons why it’s not going to work out, when there’s no such actual evidence. When you find yourself getting unnecessarily negative, check yourself.
5. Be vulnerable AF.
There’s a reason why we’re not vulnerable. When we open ourselves up honestly, rejection becomes a lot more painful. (Like, crying for a week straight painful.) Since we’re aware that most relationships don’t work out in the end, we don’t want to be vulnerable. We don’t want to find ourselves in a pile of our own tears every three months. But in order for a real relationship to occur — one that’s meaningful, satisfying and lasts more than three months — you’re going to have to open yourself up to rejection. You’re going to have to be vulnerable. That’s the price of admission if you want to have a serious and long-lasting relationship.
Alright, so there you go! Good luck out there. God knows dating ain’t easy.
Featured image by oneinchpunch via iStock