Commitment and Healing: Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love
This book is about the importance of romantic love for gay men and the difficulty many have in finding or sustaining it. A loving relationship over time can transform anyone’s life. The sustained devotion of one person is especially important to gay men who have been rejected or misunderstood by either or both parents in childhood and then by their peers during adolescence.
As adults, they usually discover that their capacity to experience or express need is now inhibited and their ability to accept another’s love becomes more difficult with every passing year.
Many of these men—mistrusting, fearful, or even unaware of their need for love—have sought happiness without intimacy or intimacy without commitment until midlife. Then a sense of emptiness or aloneness usually convinces them that an intimate and committed relationship combining sexual passion and deep friendship over many years stands the best chance of providing the happiness that has thus far eluded them.
By this time, however, most have grown used to the readily available pleasures that they have found can obviate their need for die love of one other person: random sex or brief affairs combined with friendships, work, tasteful surroundings, and sometimes alcohol or other recreational drugs.
Others never see the value of love and will not put forth the effort to initiate a relationship or maintain the vulnerability and the dependence that sustain intimacy and keep it interesting and exciting.
Many gay men hope that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage will solve their problems with forming or sustaining intimate relationships. Adopting children or committing to a marriage or a civil union will give some gay men the incentive to maintain these bonds. However, forming a union will not circumvent those difficulties with intimate relationships that originated during childhood and that cause many gay men to mistrust love.
I hope that this book will function like a good therapeutic encounter, resonating with the reader’s experience and helping him to understand how the coping mechanisms he used as a child to deal with an irregular love that did not take his needs into account are no longer useful and now contribute to his inability to fall in love or, more commonly, to stay in love.
Those who read this book looking for easy solutions to their difficulties with romantic love will, I fear, be disappointed. Like evert’ human endeavor of value, love requires effort and perseverance to acquire and maintain.
The sooner a person learns to value love, the sooner he will work to nourish and sustain it and the more practiced he will become in the art of loving. I hope that through this book, readers will begin discover that they are worth the effort love demands—and that love is worth the effort it demands.