4 The Star / March 23. 1984
'Male Couple' Authors Show Problems of Gay Guys in Love
from page 1
three months and say that's how it works.
Last month when we were vacationing in
Acapulco, we met couples who were bi-
David added, "We really have the opportunity to create relationships and make
them anything we want. Don't get tied
down to the heterosexual model. Don't get
tied down to the mom and dad model.
Don't get tied down to what we're writing
about right now.
"Let's be creative with ourselves,"
David emphasized. "Let's make relationships that are supportive to our humaness
and which satisfy our needs. Let's not get
strung up with all the old rules."
But apparently that is what most male
couples have done, still expecting their
relationships to work like Antony and
Cleopatra's when they should more
closely resemble Antony and Caesar's.
And with this new study, maybe they'll
have a few contemporary "romans" to at
least mirror some of their activities and
Close to the core of their book is the
"heart" of the study which blows to hell
any preconceived notion of capturing a
lumberjack and running off to Montana to
live happily ever after. Lumberjacks can
be captured, but he's most likely to live
across town from you as with you and
have sex with just about anyone he
pleases, though there are exceptions to the
rule. And, also, most gay couple relationships average about five years.
Dreary thoughts for romantics raised on
Prince Charming/Cinderella stories.
"It's tough to talk to those romantics,"
Drew said. "They're either in high limerence or don't want to believe you no matter
what you say.
7 think a lot of us
unwillingly still buy
into the myths
about the brevity
of male couples.'
"Most of them did grow up with the
Ozzie and Harriet model. I think the farthest away that Ozzie and Harriet ever got in
that whole 10 years of television was Harriet in the kitchen and Ozzie in the study.
Thank, God, they produced Ricky."
Yet most male couples still expect a
happily-ever-after concept of their relationships, and the authors are quick to
point out that as soon as a big chunk of
reality sets in after about one year, disappointments surface and the relationships
fall on their faces. The "child" two men
were trying to make gets quickly aborted
when wine and roses are not delivered
David stated that the concept of a great
romance was a definite factor in their
study, a period he refers to as "high limerence.
"There was a very high romance," he
said of his findings. "A total feeling of
being swept away with the other person
for some period of time.
"The difficulty is that those feelings go
down hill real rapidly," he said. "For most
of us, they don't last."
Drew added that it is at this point that
most male couples stop the relationship
and start a new one.
"One of the things that commonly
happens with male couples because ofthe
high merging and limerence of stage one
(the first year), they get real close, real
fast, real intensely and it's wonderful and
it's scary as hell," Drew said, "because the
emotional vulnerability that is a consequence (ofthe relationship) goes part and
parcel with the intimacy.
"It's sort of a paradox," he said. "We
sort of want the intimacy. We get frightened and are not trained and don't do well
frequently with being vulnerable emotionally. And we might really get hurt.
"And our response then," Drew continued, "unwillingly or otherwise, is to
emotionally distant one's self from the
"It's almost like a reaction against the
intimacy and the blending and the limerence. It's scary. It's like falling into a
And then there's the other factor, which
sometimes emerges early in male couples.
"We don't like being tied up with somebody else. Or it's happened to me before,
and I've gotten kicked in the nuts, so to
speak, and I don't want that terrible pain
of loss and separation again," he said.
Another problem with male couples lies
in their belief that male relationships
don't last for long periods of time.
"I think a lot of us unconsciously or
unwillingly still buy into the myths about
the brevity of male couples," Drew continued. "So that's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"As an example, at the end of eight
months we have a difficulty or a fight,
instead of leaning in and kind of dealing
with what's going on, we say, 'Well, let's
blow it off. The door's this way. I don't
want to deal with it. I'll get out.'"
David said that another reason for brief
relationships between males is due to an
upbringing formed by a heterosexual
world where men attracted to men do not
have the chance to become more mature at
handling a responsible coupling.
"We, as gay people, don't have the
rehearsal behaviors that our heterosexual
brothers and sisters have in adolesence,"
he said. "We're trying to play the straight
game in adolesence. We're trying to date
girls, and it's all phony. It doesn't work for
"When we come out, then we have this
adolesenct period," he said, then added,
"but I don't think it's something peculiar
to us as gay people. It's just easier in the
gay world to do it."
Although David and Drew are studying
male couples, they will not confirm that
having a relationship is the only way to
"Lots of single gay men develop intimate and close extended families," Drew
said. "There's a group of friends that they
hang out with. It's a pretty tight emotionally supportive circle."
But David still contended, "It's a human
yearning to be couples."
Beyond the loss of limerence, the
authors mentioned that problems concerning issues of money, power, control
7 think that gay
people are once
again on the
forefront of change
in the development
of relationships in
and competition have to be dealt with for a
male couple to survive.
"But the most important thing that
keeps it together in the first 10 years we
believe is that of choosing ways to find
compatibility," David stressed, "ways to
live together that are complimentary and
service each other and satisfy each other's
"The ways that we can become compatible early in a relationship are the things
that assure pretty much ongoingness at
least in the first 10 years.
"And after that, it's lack of poseessive-
ness where we lose jealousy where we give
away all those efforts we're making to
change each other. We stop trying to
change each other finally. After 10 years,
we say, 'Okay, I'm going to love him and
take him like he is.'
"But finding compatibility and being as
compatible as possible is the most important thing in maintaining a smooth, ongoing kind of plateau," he said.
Despite a concentration on the gay culture, the authors still fall back into a heterosexual mold when they assume a
federally sanctioned recognition of homo-*"
sexual couples would help create more
solid relationships. But who knows? The
1980 census revealed that the old concept
of the nuclear family is, according to
David, "almost like a dinosaur already."
Also the divorce rate, coupled with
increased life expectancy, is clearly show
ing that it is becoming increasingly
unrealistic to expect to spend your entire
life coupled to one person.
"I think we're blazing the trail for not
seeing such disaster in ending relationships," Drew said, "and moving on and
starting another one—or staying in that
in-between-engagement sort of phase."
But the authors are concerned more
about being together than apart, and are
already concentrating on their next book
which may show how male couples can
really pull it off—a suggestion, perhaps, to
make what is already a good thing even
Next week, Montrose psychologist
David McGee will look a(The Male Couple
from a different perspective and evaluate
its influence in the psychological arena.
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