Friday, January 09, 2009

Have you ever been "in love" with anyone?

I've been in a funk all week... it has a lot to do with the fact that I've faced the reality that I've never been "in love" in my life. Sure, I thought I was "in love" with my wife up until this week's discussion with her. Sure, I've been infatuated with many men, but never truly "in love" other than in dreams, fantasies and desires for a few men in my life, but never really "in love".

This was exacerbated yesterday when my wife and I were discussing our teenage daughter and her "friend-who-is-a-boy" and how she thought our daughter was falling "in love" with him, and I just couldn't accept that she would be making college decisions and future choices based on a teenage infatuation.

My wife stared at me and said: "... you really don't get it, do you?"

ME: "What don't I get?"
SHE: "Our daughter is in love."
ME: "No she's not..." I rebutted, refusing to accept it.

and then my wife slammed me good: "I realize you aren't "in love" with me, but... have you ever been IN LOVE with anyone?"

It stunned me, particularly with all that has been going on in my mind. And I didn't say anything and abruptly stopped the conversation. It cut me to the core. And as I think about it, I wonder - Is she right? Have I truly not been "in love" with anyone?

I'm "in love" with the idea of being in love with my wife being in love with me...

I'm "in love" with the idea of having Thomas openly show his love for me...

I'm "in love" with my boys that continue to shower affection on me...

But am I truly "in love" with anyone?

Yes, I have built a love for all things good in our marriage and friendship and relationship and there is much good in it. But, since I am not "in love" with her, but am in this relationship to the end, will I ever find out what it feels like to really be "in love" with anyone?


What it comes down to is that she loves me in ways that I can't love her. She is ashamed of this. She is ashamed that I am gay. She is ashamed that I have these affections and attractions for men. She is ashamed of me that I say I cannot change. She is ashamed that she has married a gay man and wants to keep it hidden and quiet from everyone else, including, and especially our kids. She is ashamed that I have this problem and I don't see it as a problem. She is ashamed that I have an affinity for those who have chosen to pursue different paths than the Church's prescribed path. She is ashamed that I am incapable of love. She only hopes that in the eternities things will be better.

In reality, as I told Abe in an email, I should be angry with her because she is ashamed of her husband for being who he really is and facing it for the first time. I should be angry with her because she cannot accept this thing within me that I did not choose nor seek out. I should be angry with her for wanting to hide me back in the back of the closet.

But, how can I be angry with her when I am ashamed of myself as well. Sure, I'm bold and beautiful in this blogging community, and I've come a huge distance from hating myself to completely accepting this reality within me, and seeing no need to be "cured", etc., but in real life I don't hold my head up high that I am gay. So if I am still ashamed publicly of who I am, how can I expect her to not be ashamed of this part of me as well?

I simply can't...

And so, as I remain ashamed, I simply can't be "in love" with anyone...
because I can't love myself!


Kengo Biddles said...
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Abelard Enigma said...

First of all, when I read this post - it felt like you were writing about me. You captured my inner most thoughts, feelings, and struggles.

Maybe I just don't understand being "in love" because, like you, I've never really been "in love"; but, I don't think I agree with your wife on the distinction between loving someone and being "in love" with someone. To me, being "in love" carries with it infatuation. When we're "in love" it consumes us - the person we're "in love" with is on our mind constantly. For me, being "in love" is the precursor to love. When we truly love someone, we don't just think about them all the time, they become part of us.

I going to go out on a limb and say that there probably was a time when you were "in love" with your wife. I know that's true for me and my wife. By putting that in the past tense, does that mean we've fallen out of love? Or, does it simply mean our love evolved?

Yes, the love you have for your wife is different than if you were sexually attracted to her. But, the fact that you still love her - in spite of not be attracted to her - suggests that your love is more deep and abiding. It's a true love unencumbered by hormonal urges (which can sometimes masquerade as love). Maybe the problem is not your understanding love - maybe your wife needs to better understand love.

Rather than these conversations cutting you to the core - perhaps you might be able to turn them around and use them to help her understand what it means to love her without hormones being involved. She may truly not understand it because the love she has for you includes attraction.

I simply can't be "in love" with anyone...
because I can't love myself!

FWIW, I love you.

Alan said...

There are lots of different kinds of love. Read C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves" if you want just a sample of the thousands of years' worth of thought that have been devoted to this topic.

That said, I think Abe is right, Beck. Your wife seems to be pining for the endorphin-soaked rhapsodic type of romantic infatuation that I suspect usually means a lot more to women than to guys.

I have been in that kind of love. And you know what? It never lasts because it's so intense that we just couldn't endure its permanence. It is by definition temporary. Millenia of human experience and history confirms this. Humans being the ever-changing and evolving creatures that we are, why should we expect that most tempestuous of emotions to remain constant? Absurd.

This is why even the happiest of marriages always morph and evolve over time. I wonder, Beck, if your wife may not be mourning retroactively for something she might have thought she had for a while but now doubts, and worries she may never have the chance to have again. Like I said before, I think on average this tends to be a bigger issue for women than for men.

The question for you both is whether you will be content with the love that you do have and the life you've built together.

A.J. said...

I don't know you but from your posts you seem like a very warm caring person. I don't believe you when you say you can't love. You seem to be able to love and love intensely. I think Abe is right you probably were in love with your wife in the beginning but when people are married for a while love changes. Not in a bad way. I'm sorry I'm not much good at explaining it.

Ned said...

I have been "in love" about 14 times in my 50 years. Two of those have been women. And one of those women is my wife, but the passion is fading. Nonetheless, we still love each other.

P.S. I wrote a couple of replies previously as D. Lurk, but I've decided to really delurk to an actual blog of my own

Ezra said...

When I first began coming out, I fell in love with a guy I met--he was on my mind constantly--seeing his smile made my day, and I would ride my bike 4 miles to his apartment, just so I could say "I was in the neighborhood so I thought I'd drop by"

We did cuddle, and it was the most wonderful thing... but sadly, it didn't last, and once that smoke cleared (which took me months to see through) I realize that while I still love this person, we wouldn't be good together, we don't meet each others needs.

So in a way, I'm thankful that I "fell out of love" so I was able to see that.

But I do pine for that feeling again--deeply.

robert said...

It seems really myopic that we make life decisions based upon a teenage sense of "in loveness". It seems strange to me that your wife would accept such judgments as what is "normal' in life. Passionate love is as has been stated earlier a passing state which yields to a love either more profound or a sense of just 'settling'. Every teenager should be made aware of this and not anticipate that the intensity will last a lifetime. I do not believe that any teenager is capable of an enduring emotional relationship when they have yet to experience their own adult autonomy.

Beck said...

ABE: As I contemplate my past, I know that I have intensely loved many people. My heart is easily attached to others. I have been "in love" as I'm sure you have, but neither of us have fully experienced the life and relationship associated with such intense feelings.

I was intensely "in love" with my wife. I know I was. But when intimacy became difficult, stressful and horrifying, the intensity evolved. Her love for me has evolved as well. We do love each other and I think I've done her a disservice by emphasizing this one aspect of our current dialog. She loves and has loved me in more mature and sound and stable bonding ways. But her evolving love still involves hormonal attraction while mine doesn't.

This post was more negative than I intended. I do feel loved and I have loved and do love... But, those hormonal intense feelings being realized remain unfulfilled.

Beck said...

ALAN said: "I wonder, Beck, if your wife may not be mourning retroactively for something she might have thought she had for a while but now doubts, and worries she may never have the chance to have again..."

YES! You get it exactly! My wife is not being immature or impractical in her expectations as she is MOURNING that which she will never have with me, the loss of true reciprocated hormonally-based passionate attraction! This is a manifestation of that loss realized. It is a frustration of seeing life pass by without ever experiencing the vision of intense love with a partner. It is a process and this mourning stage is part of that process.

She has shown me increased love since our discussions, and she is trying to reach out to me and comfort me... and we'll get through this as all couples do as middle age matures into the "golden years"... she is being sensitive and trying to understand, but there is definitely a longing for that which will not be realized in this life, and an associated MOURNING that comes with it.

Yes - that is what is happening. Thanks for the clarity!

Beck said...

AJ: I was just being snooty and hurt and blowing off steam at the end of my post... I know that I can love. I have loved many people and have done so with great intensity. I have been "in love" in the sense of intense feelings, but I have never allowed myself to be "in love" fully and physically in the way that my attractions dictate. And some of that is the shame I've felt through the years for having these attractions, and that leads to not loving myself for having these feelings. That's what I'm trying to say.

But in other ways, and as noted in many other posts, I have allowed my attractions and feelings to expand and multiply and enhance my LOVE for many, many people - and this is BECAUSE of who I am. When I am comfortable with who I am, I am more capable of extending that LOVE to others. When I am ashamed or fearful or hidden, it is much more difficult.

As my wife is mourning her loss of intense reciprocated love from me, I, too, am in a real mourning of the loss of that same reciprocated love being realized with a man.

Beck said...

NED: I'm excited that I've been a small part of your "coming out" in this community. Your story and experiences parallel mine very closely. I look forward to discovering your story and learning from your journey as you share of your experiences as another gay married Mormon man.

EZRA: Yes, most of the time our intense feelings for someone are not appropriate and that person isn't compatible with us and a saner, more level-headed mind sees those obvious signals. Your experiences of going out of your way just to see your guy rings true to many experiences of mine.

But, as a man in a marriage that spans over two decades, this desire for intense feelings never realized is a different longing. It is one of seeing life pass by. It is one of seeing the hurt caused in not fulfilling what your eternal partner desires. It is one of mourning the loss of something you never will have. These intense feelings SHOULD be part of a marriage and when they are not, there comes lots of other issues and it takes a lot of commitment and maturity to get through it.

You'll be fine. You'll find that right person. Just keep loving yourself so that you can love others. Beating up on ourselves and destroying our capacity to love ourselves only causes us to be in capable of reaching out to that "right" person.

Beck said...

ROBERT: Don't read more into it than what is intended. My wife is not pushing for wedding bells and serious commitments for teenage infatuating feelings of our daughter. She is simply pointing out to me that our daughter is feeling feelings for the first time for a boy in a pretty level-headed, mature way and she sees it as a first step of "being in love". She realized, as I pointed out, that experience and growth and maturity need to occur to make life-long decisions.

What she was trying to point out is that as I have struggled to be "in love" with her, she is questioning whether I see it in our daughter. She knows that I've been "in love" with other guys on multiple occasions, but I think she doesn't equate those as being equal to her feelings or to our daughter's feelings.

But, don't worry. Our daughter is very practical and very level-headed and she has goals and visions for her future that aren't wrapped around these emotions. But, for her, and for my wife, these are fun feelings to feel for the first time.

That's all...

But somehow, my feelings for my bromances and close guy friendships involving affection and love are relevant... and that hurts.

Ian said...

Many of these comments are ones I made when I was in the closet and married to my ex-wife. I did love her. I was not in love. It's only in hindsight that I get the difference and understand that I was seriously kidding myself.

Being in love isn't just the infatuation phase. It does change and mature with time, but it can be constant through those changes. Being in love, to me, means bringing together all the facets of love - spiritual, emotional and physical with one person. I think in hindsight, I'd say this about myself: I could love while in the closet. I couldn't be in love.

Philip said...
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Philip said...

A word was coined because of the confusion caused by the word love being used for so many kinds of love. The word is limerance and it means the "in love" kind of love. I just learned about this word yesterday. I also found out that many foreign languages have a distinct word for "in love".

Here is the's not surprising that I as a gay man never fell in love with a woman and fell in love several times over a course of several years with other men. However, I chose to stay with my wife each time because I truly do love her and wanted to make sure my children were well taken care of.

From my vantage point what took place was the combining of love and sexual attraction to create something much more powerful than either love or sexual attraction. That lead to a more intense companionship because there was a sexual component and a heightened sexual experience because there was a love component. However, I never experienced what happens after limerance matures because I didn't allow these romances to continue.

However, from what I have read it appears that intense companionship and heightened sexual experience, while it tapers off after two to three years, still continues in some form. So I may have continued to think of my partner as that one person that is so special that he or she is unlike anyone else in the world, etc. As much as I love my wife, I have never felt that way about her.

I never had any kind of romantic feelings for other men until I got comfortable with my sexuality. I suspect that romantic feelings are easy to repress or maybe you have to be ready (i.e., comfortable with who you are) for these feelings to surface.

Here is what I want to leave with you.

It is not your fault for not knowing about these feelings. I didn't know and I am sure there are plenty of gay married men like us that either don't know or found out much later in life.

I love my wife the best I can. If she is OK with how I love her then that is all that matters to me.

While being in love is the ideal, truly loving someone can also be wonderful.

Lastly, the ones I am angry at in all of this are those that dismiss or diminish bing gay as being just about sex and/or try to push gay people into marrying the opposite sex.