Everybody’s Getting Married: A Gay Dilemma

gay man holding hand of husbandWith the recent decision handed down by the Supreme Court regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and more states supporting the right to marry, many people in the LGBT community are reexamining their thoughts and beliefs about love, coupling, and marriage. Some are suddenly feeling pressure to find a relationship, to find love, as the completion of who they are as people. There is an intense pressure to fit into a new societal norm that says LGBT people should now get married, and that pressure to be married has brought to the forefront the idea that we have to find love. I was recently asked, “Do you think trying to make love happen is a bad thing?” My response to this: How can we try to make something as powerful as love happen?

Let’s face it: Love happens whether we are looking for it or not. The difficulty with trying to make love happen is that we often build unrealistic expectations. There is an exhausting neediness that develops when we put too much pressure on the other person to express and receive our love, and when we attempt to move things along more quickly than might be natural or emotionally healthy.

There is a popular myth in the LGBT community that we need another to “complete us,” to take away our loneliness, insecurities, and fear. This is one of the driving forces for trying to strong-arm love into happening, and ultimately is a recipe for relationship disaster. With the vision of marriage now added to the fantasy of perfect love, many gay men and women are feeling overwhelmed with the pressure to find a relationship. Whatever issues we carry with us from our life experiences will ultimately have to be resolved by us, not by another, and cannot be drowned out by the symphony of love. Building a lasting relationship takes a lot of focused effort and a huge dose of good communication.

It is my personal and professional experience that love comes along when we least expect, in the place we least expect. It often sneaks up on us and begins to unfold in ways we never imagined. No court decision or government mandate can make this process any more real, necessary, or natural. Often, the person with whom we fall in love does not fit the picture we may have imagined as our perfect match. Ultimately, love is not something we have much ability to control.

So with all this love in the air and so many people in the LGBT community now getting married, what’s a person to do? The most practical advice I can offer on this subject is not to try when it comes to loving another person and not to try to make another love you.

Look in the mirror first and build a healthy, loving relationship with yourself. The better you can treat yourself, the better you will treat another. Place the focus of attention and love back where you can actually do something about it. Give ample time and priority to self-care, self-nurturing, and self-love. Use the time you have while single or out of romantic partnership to fall in love with yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the more receptive you become to giving and receiving love.

So enjoy the celebrations taking place around you as friends begin to marry and commemorate their relationships. Express true joy at the ability of the LGBT community to now recognize the power of their relationships. But most important of all, allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the life you have, and don’t get caught up in the social rush to find that perfect love and get married. And when the question comes up from well-meaning friends and family about when it’s going to happen for you, give yourself permission to say, “When the time is right for me.”

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by John Sovec, LMFT, therapist in Pasadena, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Millie

    Millie

    November 18th, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    the gay community is now simply feeling the same pressures that so many heterosexual couples have had to deal with for a long time. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing unles you get married just to be getting married and not because you really want to soend the rest of your life with your partner. I am sure that there are many couples who feel this pressure just to do it as a political statement but whoever wants to get married and stay with someone just for a political reason? Do it when and if it feels right for you and your situation, not just because you can.

  • slater

    slater

    November 19th, 2013 at 4:37 AM

    It’s a much better problem to have in those 15 states that allow gay marriage than it would be to live in one of the other 35 who does not yet recognize this as legal. I would much rather have to deal with the pressure of having people tell me that I really SHOULD get married now that I can marry the person that I love over loving someone and not having that opportunity.

  • KJP

    KJP

    November 19th, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    Just like anyone else would have to do these couples have to decide for themselves do they want a marriage or do they want a wedding?

    You can’t just rush into something just because you can, it has to be something that you want.

  • Bobbi A

    Bobbi A

    November 20th, 2013 at 4:40 AM

    Who would have ever thought that this would be an issue? I think that this is wonderful, the thought that one day there could actually be marriage equality for all members of society! There is natuarlly going to be some pressure felt from both sides, but you must stand your ground and do the thing that feels right for you and your families. There, like any other relationship, is never a one size fits all type of solution, nor should we be searching for that. What is important today is that this is actually a possibility now that we are having this conversation that would have been unheard of even just a few years ago.

  • ric

    ric

    November 21st, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    It’s still not so happy for some of us, because where I live this isn’t even an option. Gay marriage will probably never be approved here unless it becomes a federal thing and not just a state thing.
    I guess we could go to another state and get married, but why? It still wouldn’t be recognized as legal where I live.

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