My first (gay) boyfriend – a lesson in chivalry

It was 2nd semester, my grade 10 year, I was just getting into the groove of  “real” high school and learning how to style my frizzy blunt bangs, when I met my first official boyfriend. Having been sheltered for a majority of my primary years attending a church basement private school, the culture shock of being completely thrown into the lions den of diversity was quite an adjustment, to say the least. Just as I was starting to get my legs (not from PE obviously, because I refused to go), out of nowhere appeared a handsome, bubbly young man with a loud personality and perfectly gelled frosted tips. He began to pursue me by means of secret admirer letters, announcements over the school PA system, plastering flowery images that he cut out of his mother’s Home and Garden magazines all over the front of my locker. He even bought me a goldfish that he carried to school in a water filled bowl, 6kms in the snow, to express his admiration. I was completely taken aback by his efforts to get my attention, and after he called and left an entire 5 minute and 42 second voice mail recording of my favourite song (a Celine Dion classic, of course), I decided that he at least deserved a chance. We dated for a whirlwind few weeks, until ultimately his over-the-top-ness all became a bit too much for me and not to mention the giant elephant in the room that I probably wasn’t his long-term type. He is currently living life as a gay man and I’m sure he’s out there somewhere being fabulous and making someone extremely happy with his grandiose romantic gestures (lucky son of a bitch…).

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I have to admit, that I was pretty fortunate to experience great love and romance in my teen years. I had even started to compile a box of all the love letters, jewelry, and little meaningful handmade gifts that were given to me from my dotting high school boyfriends, which was filled to the brim by graduation. Flash forward to dating in my 20’s and now into my 30’s, I almost feel like I took all of that stuff for granted. Gone are the days where a boy would pass you a cute note in class or tease you on the playground because he thought you were pretty, now we’re lucky if we get a “you up?” text at 2am. I’m not sure when guys decided that they were going to stop trying, or who ever told them that our idea of romance is watching the latest episode of the Big Bang Theory with a plate of take out Thai food on our laps, but I’m telling you right now gentleman (If you even deserve that title), some of you need to step up your game.

As complicated as women are (I’ll admit it, we’re emotional AF sometimes), the majority of us are quite simple to please. Feed us tacos, tell us we’re pretty (constantly) and bring us grocery store carnations from time to time. Why carnations? Because they’re under $20 and they last forever (just like our love….*gag). I’m not sure what happened to chivalry and if it really is as dead as they say, but I’d like to petition for women everywhere to work on bringing it back. Flowers shouldn’t just be made for “I’m sorry’s” and “shit, I forgot her birthday’s”, they should have no real meaning at all. Jewelry shouldn’t be something purchased out of necessity, it should be because the horseshoe pendant reminded you of her wild and strong-willed nature. Also guys, if you learn anything at all from reading this, I hope that at the very least you take the time to get to know what types of things your wife or girlfriend is into (*Hint: creep her Pinterest page…you’re welcome). Not all of us like red roses and anything with a heart on it, I’m sure you can be a little bit more original than that, and if you ever want to have sex again, stay out of that Pandora line-up FOR THE LOVE OF ALL HUMANITY!  No woman wants you to spend $100 on a sterling silver barn yard animal. I’m pretty sure Ol MacDonald’s wife herself wouldn’t even adorn a wrist full of goats and sheep. I realize that this is probably making me sound like a materialistic, entitled snob (“gee, I wonder why she’s single!”), but all I feel entitled to is any amount of effort that someone is willing to give in order to make me feel like I matter to them, is that so wrong? I’m not saying they have to be all “over-the-top-gay-boyfriend”, because in all honesty, that could have benefitted from being dialed down, but there has to be some middle ground, otherwise I’m going to just trade in my Sam Edelman pumps for a pair of Birkenstocks and call myself a lesbian.

Times have evolved, and technology and social media has had a major effect on dating and romance, and not in a good way. Unfortunately, we live in a world where dick pics are thrown around as terms of endearment and swiping right and left is the new, “circle yes or no”, note passed in class. Texts have replaced love letters and if you find yourself tagging each other in relatable memes on the internet, you’re basically on the verge of moving to a house in the suburbs together, so start picking out baby names! Everything is becoming more and more disposable in this day and age, including the human race. We’ve become a society who throws people away as if they were the rotting head of lettuce in the back of the fridge that we promised ourselves we’d start eating more of, often times without even any communication or warning at all! If you’ve ever been ghosted, I’m sure you can agree that it’s the most cowardly thing a person can do, and its an epidemic that is taking over the world of dating. (Sure, I’m guilty of doing it myself, but in my defence, the guy was a Yankee’s fan.) As if putting yourself out there and going on countless dates with guys who don’t look anything like their profile photos, doesn’t make you vulnerable enough, now you have to deal with rejection of the worse kind. I get that ending things with someone who is perfectly nice that you just don’t see a future with, can be an awkward thing to do, but at least pick a fight and blame things not working out on the sheer basis alone that the two of you will never agree on if you heard “Laurel” or Yanny”.

I’m always shocked by the lack of consideration guys seem to have today. If I had a nickel for the amount of times a guy planned a first date at Tim Hortons, I would have enough change to afford free coffees for life. Let’s just hope that I find a romantic weekend getaway under one of those roll up the rims so I can at least know what’s it like to “act surprised”. I don’t need a ride in a helicopter, or a private concert by some up and coming artist with a new album to promote, I get that this isn’t “the most dramatic season ever” of the Bachelor, but is it too much to ask for a guy to actually plan some shit once in a while? Not all women want flowers and chocolate, but all women do appreciate thoughtfulness, and in most cases, a little bit goes a long way. I realize that it took a lot of over the top actions for my first (gay) boyfriend to get my attention, but honestly its because I had a hard time seeing him in a romantic way in the first place. The funny thing is, it’s not always about the gesture itself, often times it’s more about who the gesture is coming from. Any man could whisk me away on a private jet to Paris, shower me in champagne and pastel coloured macaroons, but if he’s rude to waitresses and has more than one pair of cargo shorts in his closet that he wears even when he’s not out fishing for perch, then he’s basically shooting blanks with me. Getting the right kind of attention from the wrong person has the potential to just completely turn women off altogether (because we’re basically the most confusing species on earth) which is what ultimately lead to guys getting hooked on the infamous “chase”. One of the most cliché things that women are taught about men is that they are hunters and if we are easily attainable, then they’ll lose interest. If this theory proves correct, then my first (gay) boyfriend was probably just trying that much harder to get my attention amidst my aloofness, because even gay men like the chase apparently! Every woman has a story about the guy that was perfect on paper, but she just wasn’t into for whatever reason. Instead she probably ended up married to her Tinder match who looked good in his Levi’s and now spends Sunday’s on the couch watching football. She constantly finds herself vacuuming up the Hansel and Gretel style trail of Cheetos crumbs he left for her as a way of trying to lure her into the bedroom. His idea of a romantic night was that one time in 2015, when he took her to Applebee’s…to meet his grandparents.

I’m not trying to man bash or generalize all men with this post, I know that there are a lot of amazing, respectful and chivalrous gentleman out there, who still believe in the sanctity of romance in the form of opening up car doors for you and holding your hair back when you hit the Red Stag a little too hard the night before. Unfortunately I just haven’t had much luck finding one for myself who I actually want the attention from long-term. I’ve found that a lot of guys today want to know what’s in it for them, instead of just being able to find the joy in the happiness of others. To give you some insight into what I’m talking about, I once went on a few dates with a guy who offered to drive me to the airport, which is a super nice gesture and in this day and age, as romantic as it gets! He then followed up his offer with asking me for gas money (I can’t even make this shit up) and also made reference to ways that I could “repay him” later…*cringe. Before you ask, yes, we were sitting at a Tim Hortons. Doing something completely unselfishly for someone without any expectations of what you’ll get in return, is what it really means to love somebody. For me personally, the way I show love is through my selflessness; sitting through a sporting event on tv that I have zero interest in, the occasional fresh baked loaf of banana bread, watching the latest Marvel movie and not drooling over Ryan Reynolds in front of you and of course, a detailed road trip itinerary complete with your favourite car snacks. Naturally I would crave the same type of sentiment in return. Of course over time when you aren’t receiving the same level of consideration from your significant other and you find yourself consistently on the other side of the fence in a shrivelled up garden of wasted efforts, you start to feel completely defeated and taken advantage of. Eventually the grim reaper himself starts to appear leaving a black cloud over the entire relationship in the form of harbouring resentment and all faith that you have in the opposite sex goes out the window. Relationships aren’t about keeping score, especially in the selfless act department, but they are about finding the perfect balance of give and take.

I can’t speak for all women because, lets face it, we all have different needs that usually change on a whim depending on which direction the wind is blowing. I also know that there are hard core feminists who wouldn’t dare sip a coffee that was purchased for them by a man who makes double their salary at the same job, but I can’t help but worry about the state of society and what all the power shifting changes that have incurred will mean for the future of our relationships. Chivalry may be less and less necessary as the lack of it becomes the norm, but I won’t give up hope entirely on finding a balance that is most compatible with my natural ability to win someone over with baked goods and perfectly planned long weekends. Until then, I have no issue buying my own peonies and planning “couples shit” with my girlfriends to every apple orchard and pumpkin patch ever curated, I mean lets be honest, they take better Instagram photos anyways and they won’t flip the guy in the Ford the bird for cutting them off on the highway a few exits back. In the wise, methodical words of Journey’s Steve Perry, I refuse to stop believing. I’m sure there is a (straight) man out there who is willing to take the midnight train for me…hopefully straight to the nearest Tiffany’s!

 

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