Growing up, I received a lot of physical affection from my grandmother and one of my aunts, on a daily basis. My father was an alcoholic and from the age of 13-18, I lived in absolute terror of his presence. Long story short, he was abusive. My mom was a single parent for all aims and purposes and she was too independent and driven to pay much attention to physical intimacy. She herself came from a home where her childhood was not a very affectionate one.
I realised I was homosexual at the age of 12. I craved for affection from another man. It wasn’t the fact that I lacked love. The complexity of emotion was far deep-seated and interwoven with pathology. I wanted the care and affection of another man – especially since I was gay. It was something as slight as putting his arm around my shoulders or holding my hand as a sign of bestowing importance and love.
It is somewhat tragic that I belong to a generation where I didn’t grow up too fast but learnt faster. Through my formative years, technology’s advancement was progressive and not radical, so I always felt out of place and alienated. I fought for my place in the world, and it feels like I am still fighting a losing battle against a backward mindset. I fell in love with men whose languages of love were no where close to intimate gestures – and the ones who were intimate ended up breaking my heart abruptly in a matter of years. The devastation that the latter inflicted left even deeper scars than those left by my father.
Relationships can be exacting, because they evolve, too. The tragic part is this: during the romantic phase where the other is trying to impress and gain my love, the affection and the intimacy pours out in a flood. It is my foolhardiness encased in romanticism that make me believe that this is not a phase. That this will not change in time. There are moments that bring in undiluted bliss and security. That is how I get pulled into the world that I wanted, because that is all I can see at that given moment in time.
Yesterday, conversing with my lover, I mentioned to him how he appeared to me in chats during the initial phases of our relationship. I said jokingly, this is how you sucked me in. He retorted, you should then have had sense to see how any relationship would start. You should not have allowed yourself to get sucked in. That struck home. There are glimpses of people we see, that they do not realise they are showing. Again, the romantic in me looks at the larger picture. There is of course the fear of abandonment and separation anxiety, because I love forever. It gets hard to be exacting.
So I step back and I sacrifice. I am the first to make my fear and desire known. However, I also realise that the cycle of any relationship is thus… Or are there truly relationships which remain steeped in the romance that they were born into? It is a complicated question. A woke Gen-z would state that I need to put my own needs first. But I also realise that any relationship is made up of at least two people. I have learnt through learning, understanding and observing that relationships should last even through things when they aren’t fun or easy.
Being an out gay man since the age of 16, I must also point out one thing that happens particularly with homosexual men. Since my family knows about me and has come to accept me completely over the years (I wouldn’t have it any other way, much to the chagrin of my sister), the men I fall in love with see me in my home. They see all my moods, my highs, my lows and my outbursts. And with me being me, quintessentially, I make no compunctions to hide who I am right from the start. So all my lovers see what they will get.
I, on the other hand, only see the best of them for the initial months. They enter my personal spaces. I never enter into theirs. So I never get the chance to see them lose their cool with their family members. I never see the way they interact with the people they profess to love and who are linked to them by blood. This happens very gradually for me. All I get to see is the excess of their love. When that thaws, I have already been drawn in, hook, line and sinker. So when they actually start treating me as family, I realise how they actually interact when the romance dies down.
My lover said one thing to me some time back. “I am not afraid of you anymore.” He comes from a patriarchal mind-set and his earlier partners have all been authority figures, who placed him in the back seat. So, when I love him wholly and completely, he sees me as an equal. It is ironic, yes. I would like all the woke people out there to read ‘afraid’ as ‘in awe’. All our illusions dwindle away, in the second year of the relationship.
How many of us make it through the third, without recrimination and with the realisation that the person we are in love with is human, and not Eros, we all set out to be initially?