I’m a well-educated man in my 50s, successful, healthy and active, with a handful of good friends. I’ve always wanted a life partner and it hasn’t happened. It hasn’t even come close to happening.
Looking back, there are two guys with whom I wish things might have worked out. My most successful romantic relationship was with a man who lived in another country, so I could only see him a few times a year for short periods. He said up-front that he was basically straight and that I was one of only two guys in his whole life he’d ever been with. He was a workaholic, so it didn’t seem to bother him that I wasn’t around. I saw him under those conditions for a decade until he met a woman he wanted to marry, a few years back. Now there isn’t even anyone on the horizon.
How do I stop wanting to have a life partner? I can’t make it happen. I’ve spent decades trying to “let it happen” and frankly, I know it’s just not going to happen. But I still want it. I’ve done the “friends of friends” route, the ad in the newspaper route, the dating site route, the chatting someone up in the gay bookstore route, etc. If there’s a way to try that I haven’t attempted, I don’t know what that way is.
Maybe I’m just fooling myself, but I think I’d have everything if I had a special someone in my life. How do I stop wanting something I know isn’t going to happen?
It’s difficult to stop wanting something that you want. The best you can do is strive to create a rich and satisfying life, as you’ve done, while accepting the existential reality that none of us will get everything we would like, no matter how much we might yearn.
Regarding your yearning for a close romantic relationship, my educated guess is that you actually have mixed feelings about letting that happen. You chose to spend about a third of your adult life in a quasi-relationship with a workaholic guy who lived in another country and told you he was straight.
Before you give up on the possibility of having a relationship, it is well worth your taking a close look at what may be getting in your way. If you were my client, I would want to know:
• By being alone, what might you be protecting yourself from?
• Who may have let you down in a big way earlier in life, leaving you unwilling to risk being hurt again?
• How might it serve you to think that situations and people may become something they’re not?
• What might be appealing about pining for something you don’t have, although you say that you wish to stop doing so?
If you want a shot at a future relationship, also look at how you think about yourself and potential romantic partners. Notwithstanding all you say you’ve tried in order to find a mate, you spent 10 years on an unavailable guy’s back burner. So, I encourage you to wonder:
• How do you feel about yourself?
• What do you think you have to offer as a partner?
• Do you believe that you really deserve to have what you say you want?
• Is it possible that you are rejecting men who are interested in you? That you are drawn to men who reject you?
I also suggest you consider whether you have a special affinity for supposedly straight men. Although I have data on only one of your significant relationships, I wonder if you may be harboring some less-than-positive feelings toward openly gay men, at least as potential romantic/sexual partners. If so, you’re vastly increasing your odds of winding up without a mate.
None of these questions have easy or quick answers. Therefore, if any of them resonate with you, please look for a good therapist to help you figure out how to increase the likelihood of finding a special guy for your future. I wish you the best.
Michael Radkowsky, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who works with gay individuals and couples in D.C. He can be found online at personalgrowthzone.com. All identifying information has been changed for reasons of confidentiality. Have a question? Send it to Michael@personalgrowthzone.com