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rethinking old patterns
by robert a. melos
3.24.02
general


I fell into a quagmire several years ago, when I fell in love with my now former lover. My whole life bogged down with confusion and conflicting emotions, not so much because of my relationship but because I wasn't prepared for love.

Growing up as a gay male, even though I was closeted and repressed to the level of not being out to myself, I made many subconscious choices in order to survive. Obviously hiding the truth from myself was one of those choices, and I paid for that choice.

I was, as was the way of the world, being geared to grow up, get married (to a woman) and live my life as had my ancestors for generations before me. Hiding my sexual identity from myself only served to confuse me when I was finally confronted with the issue of love.

My examples of perfect relationships, growing up in the late 1960s, naturally came from television. So The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Danny Thomas Show were my relationship ideals. Notice, first of all, both shows revolved around the entertainment industry. This should've given me my first clue as to how unrealistic my life views were, but I digress.

The dynamics of the two relationships portrayed were those of working fathers, stay at home mothers. Perhaps my attraction to this was because it was so similar to my own parents. Of course mom was hardly Mary Tyler Moore and dad was definitely no Danny Thomas. The relationships between the husbands and wives of these television programs gave me the pattern, I subtly expected in the back of my mind, to become my own.

Of course I wasn't completely comfortable with it because I was gay, even if I hadn't admitted it to myself, so I added another quality to my pattern. I added Doris Day. Now here was the single working girl, as in Pillow Talk or more to my liking Calamity Jane, who had a life and a career outside of a relationship, and was still able to find a life partner in the likes of Rock Hudson and Howard Keel respectively.

What gay man wouldn't want to find partners like those?

Even more important was the quality of keeping my individuality while being part of a relationship. Yet my examples, even Doris Day, failed me when at the end of the films the characters were expected to give up their careers and stay at home becoming nothing more than an extension of their mate and not an individual to compliment their mate.

I was desperately cutting and pasting potential patterns together in different combinations seeking to create something with which I could be comfortable, but there were no examples of relationship where both partners maintained their individuality while being part of a couple.

As time progressed along came Hill Street Blues. Still no same sex relationships of any substance, but finally two strong characters in the forms of Daniel J. Travanti and Veronica Hamill as a strong willed police captain and an equally strong willed lawyer, who managed to carve out a relationship while maintaining their individuality. Well, at least I had a heterosexual relationship to use as a pattern, and I could always add some Doris Day to the mix just because I really like Doris Day.

Unfortunately, none of my pattern shaping and recreating prepared me for the reality of falling in love, and I fell back on my early life choices which would leave me being an extension of my partner, had he fully allowed me to be such, instead of maintaining my individuality. It turned out to be a failed experiment on both our parts, ended up in hurt feeling and many recriminations, resulting in my becoming bogged down in reconciling, for myself, the reasons for this failure so it could be avoided again in the future.

Oh there were many more dynamics which came into play causing the relationship to have its problems, such as his closeted lifestyle and his wife and his philandering, our mutual sexual attraction without really getting to know each other on an emotional level, but my unrealistic view of what I needed for a relationship to work didn't help matters. So now I've discarded all the old patterns, and am out and proud in my life, but I still want that partner with whom I will share my life's journey.

Knowing what I want, and knowing how to go about getting it are two different things. Since I have no patterns for the design of my future relationship, I have to come up with my own design. The problem with designing a future relationship without a specific partner in mind is I can only plan for generalizations and hope to find someone who will meet enough of my requirements, who will allow me the freedom to maintain my individuality, with whom I may begin to build the friendship and love which will go into the foundation of a strong and lasting relationship.

Yeah, it sounds good in theory, but so did the Titanic. Well, I'm willing to risk the icebergs, especially since my maiden voyage into love already sank. I don't expect smooth sailing, given the current political, religious and emotional climate, but with the right partner, one with whom I can chart new courses, amazing discoveries await.



ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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COMMENTS

heath jackson
3.25.02 @ 12:24p

You say you started from scratch, but can you really ever do that? Wouldn't you go through all of the patterns you have and pull out the pieces that work for you, and discard the pieces that don't?

tracey kelley
3.25.02 @ 12:38p

I personally think "design" is a little strong when it comes to talking about a future relationship. Like building a house, you may lay down the foundation, but if you're going to live in that house with another person, they have to have input in the "design".

Values,interests and a healthy disposition are about the only design elements anyone can bring to a relationship. If those are compatible, the rest is built between the two of you.

heath jackson
3.25.02 @ 12:44p

I agree! I'm having the best relationship of my entire life right now, and I think the reason is that neither of us has a lot of expectations, and both of have a sincere respect for the other person and are willing to compromise to make the other happy.

For once, I'm not analyzing the relationship, or trying to make it the same or different from others, I'm just keeping an eye on whether we're both happy and trying to fix things if one of us isn't.



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