Why Do Gay Men Jump Into Relationships?
You can’t keep track of how many times some of your gay friends have to change their “relationship statuses” on Facebook. Your BFF meets a torso on Grindr, hangs out with him twice, and, BAM! They’re boyfriends. You know someone who was with a guy for ten years. They break up and a month later, he’s moved into another guy’s house. The guy you were chatting with at the bar a few weeks ago? You see him at an event with a dude attached to his arm, and engagement rumors are swirling.
If any of those situations sound familiar, I’m sure you’ve come to wonder why some gay men seem to jump from one relationship to the next without any real personal breathing room or self-discovery. This isn’t uncommon; in fact, I spoke with local gay psychotherapist, Alan Robarge, about this type of unhealthy dating and what leads individuals to enter these types of self-sabatoging situations.
App Culture Confuses Courting: The ready availability of cell phone “dating” and hook-up apps, like Scruff, Grindr, and OkCupid, has changed the way we interact and understand intimacy. “Social pick-up sites set the tone that instant connection is the norm and possible. There seems to be less and less accommodation to actually get to know someone,” says Robarge. “It’s easier to objectify a person’s thumbnail, which trains us that attraction, relationship, sex, and people are all disposable. The consequence of this disposability is to assume the converse, that as quickly as I can reject someone I can also just as quickly start a relationship. It’s a bit entitled, narcissistic thinking, and like all apps, rooted in fantasy projection.”
Our Past Pain Has a Lot to Do With It: “There’s powerful urgency to love and be loved, especially if it once was denied in the past,” suggests Robarge. He calls these previous experiences, especially ones that were negative, attachment injuries. “The injury is rooted in some kind of experience of not being known or seen – being abandoned or neglected in some way. This powerful urgency forces us to jump into relationships.”
Attachment Injuries Are Really Common: Robarge claims that it isn’t just gay men who seem to have difficulties navigating the murky waters of attachment. “Attachment injuries are more common than culturally acknowledged,” he says. “The divorce rate at over 50% for a while now suggests people do not know how to sustain relationships.”
Your Quick Relationships Might Be A Destructive Cycle: If proper mental care isn’t taken, the cycle of jumping from one relationship to the next can ruin one’s chances of actually maintaining a healthy relationship in the future. “Often times, attachment injuries eventually prove to undermine relationship sustainability,” shares Robarge. “Inevitably, attachment injuries inform how we pick partners and fall in love. Simplistically, the brain is trying to find a partner that complements the attachment injury, which usually does not complement healthy relating.”
For more information on Alan Robarge, click here.