By Robbie Poteet
I’ve never been lucky in love.
As a child I had no role model of a positive romantic relationship. My parents had a complicated history and separated, if you could even refer to them as a couple, shortly after I was born. My mom wasn’t around much and every time I did see her she was accompanied by a different male companion. My father had numerous different relationships throughout my early years, most of which ended in us packing up and disappearing while *insert female name* was at work. When I asked about why we had to leave in a hurry or if I would ever see the woman I had grown attached to again I was immediately shot down and told that he was my father and that’s all I should need. I could elaborate, but that’s a story for a different day.
I spent my high school years actively avoiding girls, which wasn’t too hard considering I weighed 400 pounds (literally) and didn’t have many concubines to disappoint. I knew I was different and so did all the other kids. I was teased about being gay long before I even knew what the hell gay was. Long story short, I was thrust into adulthood with no knowledge of my sexual identity and even less knowledge on romance. I never stopped to question WHY I wanted to date… I just knew that is what I should be doing. I saw everyone around me coupling up and experimenting with the opposite sex. I would watch my friends date and make stupid mistakes, and I would think to myself “when I get my chance, I am going to do it right. I just need one person to love me and I am going to have my happily ever after.”
Oh, how wrong I was….
My first romantic experience was with a musician (I bet you can guess where this is going) and it ended with me covering, and staining, his white Lexus in Chef Boyardee after I found out I wasn’t the only guy he had been serenading.
This is when I learned about my crazy side.
We were coworkers and he was the only out and proud gay person that I had ever met. He was beautiful, he had a voice that could melt your heart, and he was the first person that I ever told I was gay - I told him because I was in love with him. Looking back, he was just a young kid that was fresh out of his first relationship. He was trying to find his own way and I am glad that I didn’t end up with him (he’s married now living a quiet life in a small town in Oregon…NO THANK YOU).
The relationships that would follow this one do not play out any better:
The safety guy:
Someone who liked me way more than I could ever like him. From this relationship I learned just how cruel I could be. I didn’t see it at the time but what I did to him was completely unfair and when it came down to it I didn’t have the balls to break up with him. Every time I tried to end the relationship he would cry and I would feel terrible and agree to try to make it work. I had zero experience breaking up with someone and to this day I am extremely uncomfortable with it. Eventually this drawn out disaster imploded and he left me because I became unbearable.
The older man:
I was allured by his charm and charisma. He had a great job, his own house, and he had no problem spoiling me. He had a plethora of sexual/ life experience and that was exciting, but my dreamy daddy had a dark side. He struggled with alcohol addiction. When we met he was on the wagon but a few months in his addiction took over and I was a 21-year-old who didn’t drink, with a problem I had no idea how to handle. Eventually, I had to get away, but I spent years hoping he would get better and we might rekindle things…this was not the case and I wasted so much time pining for something that would never happen. Nearly 10 years later, he has now been sober for several years and is in a healthy relationship with a nice guy. I trust him more than anyone else in the world, but now I know this is not the man I want to spend my life with.
My college boyfriend:
This was my longest relationship, but that is simply because there was no conflict. College isn’t reality and typically there is no real struggle to make it through. He was a placeholder and the moment real life began, he couldn’t keep up. I have big dreams and he is just a small-town boy who is ok living in the same town he was born in. He attempted to cage me in and that broke my spirit. I count my blessings every day that I did not marry this man.
Since then I have dated: Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, South Africans, New Zealanders, and every ethnicity that there is out there. I’ve dated younger men, older men, rich men but not poor men, because ew…kidding. I’ve had fun experiences that range from hooking up with a swanky entrepreneur in the back of his helicopter while flying over Sydney to being fought over by a group of the most beautiful Brazilian men I have ever seen.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to see that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I believe that a lot of gay people have similar stories to mine. Real life is not like Love, Simon. In reality, there are those of us that have come from broken homes or have no basis for what healthy, loving and stable looks like. So many of us are late to the game and are stuck figuring things out well into our 30’s that a lot of heterosexual people get to learn in high school. We are more susceptible to getting into abusive or unhealthy situations because we have no preemptive radar for red flags that should send us running for the hills. I have hurt more people than I care to admit and most of the time they were just collateral damage in my own pursuit of happiness.
I don’t have many regrets in my life and I’m so grateful for my experiences, but as my 30th year approaches I find my mind shifting from men to money. I’ve given enough of myself away and now more than anything I want success. I’ve had my fill of male fueled drama and for the first time I’m more focused on myself than finding love. I’m rerouting my time from the various boyfriend-finding apps and into an intellectual journey. I want my dream career, my dream body, and I want to be the person I’ve portrayed on my vision board. I like boys and boy do they like me, but the bar has risen, and I am not looking to bring anyone new into my life that is going to fuck up what I am trying to build. I won't settle-I'm going to fight: fight to achieve my dreams, fight to be a better person, and fight to be happy. It’s taken me 10 years to get to this place and I don’t know that I could have done it without my struggles, but I’m finally ok with being alone.