Prince Charming

Who is Prince Charming? Does the comparison – of one’s new, old, or off and on again boyfriend – truly mean anything, or has society programmed us all to think that it’s some end-defining-scare-the-man-away-anti-feminist notion? A recent exchange with friends made me consider what the idea of Prince Charming really means within a relationship. The group of us were at a bar, watching Big Ten basketball, and enjoying beers when I mentioned to my friend’s boyfriend that he was like her prince charming; keep in mind this was my first time meeting him. He handled the comment like a gentleman, and I later found out, via my husband’s opinion, that the comment was “awkward,” and that my friend was a smidge embarrassed.

Making awkward comparisons and embarrassing my friend was never my intention. The way I viewed my comparison was the fact that both of us had been through a great deal of shitty dating experiences, boys, not men, and our fair share of situations you may only see in movies; movies that usually end with someone’s heart being grinded up in some dramatic, emotional fashion.  I’m genuinely happy that she has found someone, and stand by what I said in that moment. So, why is there so much weight placed on the idea of portraying a Prince Charming-like character? I know full well that my friend does not need any man to save her from anything, so maybe I should have tried to compliment their relationship in another manner?

My view of who Prince Charming can be is not so traditional. If I were Rapunzel, there’s no way in hell I would be waiting for a man to come and rescue me from a tower – only to get knocked up with kids, who I would love dearly, and become a housewife. That’s never been me, or any of the people I surround myself with; nothing against those of you who would enjoy, or aspire to be stay-at-home parents.  What’s wrong with Prince Charming being nothing more than a man that’s extremely attractive, has a good job, sends out every signal and vibe that he loves the woman, or man, that he has found, and is an overall good fit for your life where it stands currently?

My husband is my Prince Charming because he entered my life at the right moment. He didn’t save me like some fairy tale hero, but we were ready for each other; ready to give each other a try, with no specific ending (good or bad), or timeline in mind.  He challenges me, emotionally and professionally, and most of all, he inspires thoughts of what a realistic, adult future could be. For me, this future with my Prince Charming is not a stereotype-fueled vision of what the American dream should be, but a relationship that works, is filled with love, and one that encourages our growth as people. No pressure, no awkwardness, just owning and living your relationship to its highest potential.

The Key

Communication is the key to life. Communication is the key to love. Communication is the key to us… Will you communicate with me? – TLC & Dallas Austin. “Communicate-Interlude.” Fanmail 1999.

Communication will make or break any relationship. What do people fear when they’re finally in their own relationships, or marriage? One thing I knew I would have to respect – maybe “fear” is the wrong word – within my relationship was the communication aspect.  This stems mostly from growing up in a two parent home, up to the age of sixteen, just to watch it all fall apart because my parents did not communicate properly within their situation. Do I think my parents would have stayed together if they did communicate effectively? No, probably not, but I think they would have gotten to a better place as peers – raising their three children together – faster than they did in real time.

Communication can be simple if both parties are willing to participate, listen, and learn. I remember a time during my husband and I’s first months of dating. I was usually the one to initiate communication – whether that be text or call – and after some time, I decided to give him the chance to reach out first. Well two days went by before I heard anything, and I was absolutely pissed.  I ended up calling him and making sure he knew how I felt. At the time we were living an hour apart, and during those couple of days of no contact, I didn’t feel wanted anymore; this worried me, but I had to test him.  From that point on, if there were ever any issues, I made sure to communicate them to S, and encouraged him to do the same with me.

You never stop learning when you’re sharing a life with someone. Flash forward to yesterday – married and three years into our relationship – when I was expecting my husband home at a certain time. I decided to call after the minutes on the clock totaled to an hour past his estimated time of arrival. Now, I was not mad at him, but I was worried. I don’t make excuses for anyone, and he is no exception. Any form of message informing me that he would be running late would have kept my spousal jitters at bay. There is no perfect way to communicate. The act itself can be as easy, or as hard, as you make it. The important thing is that you try. I’m a firm believer in communication, and as long as it’s present… you can’t lose.

Casualties

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve is one of my favorite songs. “’Cause it’s a bitter sweet symphony this life” is the lyrical line that draws me in every time I hear the song. Back in 1999, the sixth grade or so, I had no clue that line was a lesson I would come to process as a continuing life lesson.  I had no idea then that on my twenty-fourth birthday I would get the lyrics tattooed on my left forearm under a trumpet – my musical weapon and tool – or that I would have to apply this lesson to people I considered quality friends.

Something happens when you enter a serious relationship, particularly with friends within your circle. There’s the process of getting friends warmed up to the new boyfriend – or girlfriend – the amount of time passing in which people in your life realize this new person is going to stick around, and the overall blending of two lives into one.  Most are happy for their friends when love is found, but there are also darker, more sinister feelings felt by some. If you’re lucky you will never encounter this problem, and I use the word “lucky” because the death of a friendship is sad and unfortunate.

If someone isn’t genuinely happy for you and your relationship, there is no reason why that poisonous energy should stick around. People that are jealous and unhappy within their relationship do not have the right to take out their internal struggle on those that have supported them through the ups and downs of their turbulent relationship. S and I are only twenty-eight years old, and have only had to lose one friend over similar nonsense.  Despite the individual’s lies and blatant cries for attention, we and most of our mutual friends – once shared with the ex-friend – remain close and stronger than ever.

I mention our ages because we are only at the rear end of our twenties, and a lot of bullshit goes down with friendships during that time. When you’re younger, the number of friends you have is the most important thing in the world, and as you mature you realize it’s not about the quantity of friends, but the handful of quality friends that strengthen your foundation.   Do people actually mature over time? Or is it similar to when people tell you that all the drama ends after high school… I just do my best to keep the good ones around.

Blue balls and the Brain

Sexual appetites are something that need to be fed in order to keep a relationship flowing.  People can get along fine within a relationship without sex, but for how long? Being realistic, what is a long-term relationship without regular sex? Some argue that sex is not the most important factor when it comes to making a long-term relationship last, and others say the opposite and argue that it is the most important factor.  When it came to my relationship – before I had any relationship, really – I knew that sex would be big factor.  Being a big astrology and zodiac enthusiast, I fully embrace my Scorpio identity, and carry a great amount of sexual energy; Scorpios are said to be the most sexually dominant of the astrological circle. When S and I were living apart from one another, I could confidently expect to get some action at least once a week; during weekend visits. Now that we lived together, I wondered how often sex would come.

Most guys – even us gays – welcome the idea of being drowned by sex once living with a partner commences.  Dan Savage’s “Savage Lovecast” is a weekly sex and relationship podcast S and I both listen to regularly.  Savage’s sharp, honest, and enduringly blunt tone has a way of getting one’s mind to open up regarding everything sex; not to mention all the stories and experiences shared by listeners, both gay and straight, of the show. We took our relationship one day at a time. There were never any specific talks regarding how much sex either one of us expected, so I would do my best to close the deal any time I was in the mood; and I was in the mood pretty often.  Much to my dismay, I found that I would have more adjusting to do when it came to our shared life.

Adjusting sexually to one another isn’t a bad thing. Internalizing any rejection during dry spells, I would feel pretty down – even paranoid or worried – when more than a couple weeks would pass without any intimate, nighttime action.  I’d become accustomed to sex at least once a week, so anything less than that forced feelings of insecurity and visions of red flags on the horizon. What I came to learn was that my sex drive was way higher than his.  Being the paranoid individual that I am, I would ask questions: “is it me? What’s wrong? Did you get off today?” I wasn’t looking for signs of cheating, but I was looking for a way to make him want sex as much as I did.

I found the answer wasn’t to make him want sex more, but to adapt and have fun whenever play-time did come around.  Sexually I am satisfied. My feelings of insecurity were completely natural, because sadly, we humans pay attention to the negative more than the positive of a situation.  When it comes to us, the good continues to outweigh the bad. There are weeks where I am more than happy in the sex department, and plenty of times where I am caught off guard – in the best and most appetizing ways – by him.  Sexually starved is definitely something we are not, and having lived together for going on a year and a half now, we are more than pleased with each other in every aspect of the subject.  Patience is an ongoing lesson, but one thing I will continue to harass him about? Is a lap dance. If I can get a lap dance out of S, I would probably pass out from shock and/or excitement (lol).

Real Compared to What

There were no storybook-happy-endings looping in my head when it came to S and I living together. What I enjoy most about our relationship is that it doesn’t feel like work, we blend, and above anything else we respect each other. All of this sounds pretty great when reading it aloud, but the reality of the situation is that not every day is smooth sailing. There are days that feel like our relationship is work, and depending on the situation, our problem-solving skills have to come into play.  In the past my role as the token gay friend plagued me with the curse of knowing all details of my friend’s relationship ups, downs, and all the drama that nested between their frequent battles.  Looking back on my time as a couple’s counselor – providing advice while having not been in a relationship of my own – the hours spent on phones or over coffee, listening to bitching and moaning, really turned out to be a gift. All the advice I provided to my coupled friends in the past, was now mine to apply to my own relationship.

Much like the beginning of a new relationship, the honeymooner phase returns when you move in with one another.  Our honeymoon phase didn’t last very long, mostly because there was a natural feeling about being with each other; that or we are a couple of boring queens compared to the shenanigans of our friend’s relationships.  If there are fights we manage to just talk through the problem, and learn from what happened. S doesn’t like to talk about problems all the time, but I don’t let the subject die until it’s completely solved; this may seem annoying for S, but I don’t do well with negative energy.  Beyond the fights, there are other things like learning his pet-peeves – I’m saving that topic for a future post – and various other things that probably drive me crazy, as I’m sure there are things I do that drive him up the wall.  So far it has been smooth sailing, and I’m happy that I have been fortunate enough to not run into any situation that required the application of any advice I once shared with flustered friends. We have our days where we both feel like wrapping hands around each other’s throat, but without that flicker of irritated emotion… every once in a while… I would be more worried; because at least we know we care…

Dark Clouds Interlude

Booze stripped our judgment and wisdom while we attempted to get our respective points across to one another. We both consumed high percentages of alcohol that night, and probably shouldn’t have driven home.  “Is he serious?  I know I’m making perfect sense, right? Who gives a shit; he’s being a sensitive queen right now.”  Part of me wished I could hear what was going through his head in between the audible explosions we were triggering. Thank goodness for roommates that’ll take you on a walk down the street at however-many-hours-past-midnight to make you vent; expelling any venomous thought that remained.  On this particular night – filled with dark, inquiring clouds – there would be no understanding, reasoning, or love.  Was this part of love? Blinded by the event of our first big fight, the only thing we felt that night was the air tunnel our parted bodies forged beneath cold, wrinkled sheets.