I have been following your forum for years, albeit occasionally. Somehow you covered all the topics, but one was only mentioned in a couple of posts, probably because it is very often linked to the failure of the couple’s life. I refer to the conflict of aspirations between two guys, not to the conflict of their dreams, which generally doesn’t put anything in crisis, but to the conflict of their concrete aspirations and their decisive professional choices. I know you don’t like such a speech, but, gay or non-gay, when a guy is called to a choice between emotional and professional life, he cannot always “save goat and cabbages” (a typical Italian expression that means reaching a compromise and getting both things that seemed to be mutually exclusive), and it happens frequently enough that he has to give up one of the two things to save the other. In some cases, compromise choices cannot be made because it would end up ruining both affective and professional life. A gay guy can fall in love non only with another guy but he can as well fall in love with his job, his career which sometimes entails so many gratifications, and also with the fact of reaching an enviable economic position. These things happen, and they’re not that rare at all. Often, if you put the two options on the two plates of the balance you realize that it is perfectly in balance and so, if you are not really madly in love, you decide to leave your boyfriend and dedicate yourself completely to your career. You don’t imagine, Project, the power that the idea of becoming someone, that is of becoming important, can have on a guy. It is clear that making a radical choice is anyhow lacerating, because one would instinctively try to save both feelings and career, and when you realize that it is not possible and that you have to make a radical choice, because the third way, that of compromise, is unavailable, you feel split in two.
I can’t tell you my story by going into too much detail because I have to save my privacy (not just mine) and therefore I will mainly tell you about my moods. When you enroll at the university you still see it from outside and from afar as a mountain to climb. If you work hard with the maximum effort you get your three-year degree without wasting too much time, then during the two years of your master’s degree you dream of a doctorate, you try to convince yourself that you may not get there and instead you graduate and get there. Of course it takes effort and commitment, but then you get there, then there is the post-doc, which seems a distant option, but in the end that too comes and the road that opens up in front of you is very attractive. You feel at least a bit important, you are no longer the low man on the totem pole and the prospects of an academic career begin to take concrete form, publications increase and also your credit in the scientific world. Up to this point it seems all logical, all beautiful, but there is the other side of the coin, there is a price to pay, if you think about your past you see that you have never had a real emotional life, because the emotional life takes time and if you dedicate time to research you cannot dedicate it to emotional life. In practice more or less you always did monastic life.
If one is in a similar situation he begins to ask himself a thousand questions but in practice he has no doubt about what to do in the future, simply because he has no alternative, he can only go on on the path he has followed up to that moment. But since a few months I had an alternative. I had met, always in the university environment, a guy my age (here I’ll call him Mark), who had followed a path practically superimposable to the that I had followed, even if in a very different sector. It had taken us a while to understand that we were both gay and, since we had long been hungry for affectivity, it took us even a short time to have our first sexual intercourse. He wasn’t beautiful but physically he was the kind of guy I like and I realized that he was very interested in me. And from here our problems began.
Two “normal” guys, let’s say so, without concrete short-term expectations, would have lived together and enjoyed their beautiful love story, assuming that over time it could become a true love story, because there were the right premises in our case. But unfortunately or fortunately we were not two “normal” guys, both he and I had worked hard to build a future as we wanted it, but at that time we found ourselves having different objectives and above all irreconcilable with the continuation of our story. It is bad to think that if you want to make a career you have to put feelings aside, but in the end it is so.
I don’t know if I really fell in love with Mark. The sexual interest was there and also the emotional one, but above all on the emotional level I didn’t really feel in love. Maybe it would have happened over time, but I had to decide without even having the time to know him well and he too was in the same situation. We talked about it, but talking about these things is embarrassing, it’s not like making a declaration of love to a guy, here you have to tell him that you fell in love “but …”, that is, in practice you have to tell him that the career can be more important than him. Fortunately he too was in the same predicament, because otherwise the speech would have been very difficult. In short, we spoke “very rationally” as if it were an abstract issue that didn’t concern us, each tended to emphasize that he didn’t want to bind the other but it was evident that he didn’t really want to bind himself. I thought that even after this speech we would end up in bed, as had happened many times before, and instead nothing happened, there was a lot of coldness, a lot of distance. In practice it was understood that both for him and for me the fact that we would each follow his own path was practically inevitable.
I can’t say if I took it too badly, because after all it was what I wanted too, but I can say that I went into crisis, I felt mean and selfish and I consoled myself only thinking that in the end we both were mean and selfish. I realized that in fact I had given up on having an emotional life and not only with Mark, with whom perhaps it would have been impossible anyway, because he too had made a similar choice to mine, but with anyone, because I will have a lot of commitments, and I already have them now, and I will have to go and live where more opportunities will arise and I will have no security for several years and therefore I will not be able to build any serious story with a guy, because I should find a partner willing to follow me, that is, to sacrifice his dreams and plans for me, that is for someone who may even be able to love him but will never be able to dedicate himself completely to him.
Now I have lost Mark, but in front of me I see the emotional desert and this scares me. I tell myself and I repeat that I’m not able to truly love, that I’m too centered on myself, that I’m too selfish, that I demand what I’m not willing to give. I’m reminded of the gospel phrase: “No one can serve two masters” and I’m afraid I have sold my soul to the worst master, who could give me great satisfaction, and I say “could” because I certainly can’t take it for granted, and in any case it would be satisfactions all and only of the same kind, and I’m not at all sure that the choice I made is truly the best for me. I mean, Project, that sometimes I feel disgusting. It is true that the university has increased my self-esteem, which before was rather weak, but I’m starting to think that it may have put many really wrong ideas in my mind.
Sometimes I see guys who got lost along the way and who didn’t get where I got, in a sense I feel satisfied, but in another I feel that between me and those guys an abyss has been dug that cannot be filled anymore and I begin to think that their life will be much better than mine. My environment is very competitive even if we are really few. In my environment I will never find friends but only colleagues from whom I can hope for a certain degree of correctness but nothing more, and to find friends in other environments I should attend them what I will not be able to do anyway. Do you understand what I mean, Project? I know that only I can deal with these problems, I only ask you for a contact to speak a little. My parents know nothing about me and according to them I’m a happy man with excellent prospects, but I feel that it’s not like that at all and I can’t talk about it with anyone. At least with you there is anonymity and I can say what I think. I wait for your answer. My email is very generic, so if you want you can publish it, because it’s quite anonymous but, if you can, send me a contact.
See you soon.
If you want, you can participate in the discussion on this post open on the Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-guys-between-couple-life-and-career