How romantic fantasies are damaging gay relationships

Sep 9, 2019
Nathan Short
Sydney, Australia
Photo credit to
Rhys Dombkins

Romanticism vs. Reality

This week I was referred to a YouTube video that really got me thinking. It was a lecture by Alain de Botton, a Swiss-born British philosopher and author. The main crux of his presentation was simple: the fantasy of love may be distorting our relationships. While he made no specific reference to sexuality or gender, I immediately ran it through my project filter and was struck by an incredible realisation.

Now that gay people all over the world are finding themselves in legally and socially acceptable relationships, one of the most common ambitions I've heard from gay men is ‘I just want to have a white picket fence scenario of my own, to start my own family with the person I love’. This certainly sounds reasonable enough. But what happens if we're so caught up with this newly permitted romance that we’re completely swept up by the 'Disney effect’? The idea of a soul mate. The idea of true love, and of finding your 'best friend’?

To a sea of fragile, young lovers, this could be a recipe for disaster.

We date like we're 16 again

‘But… I thought you loved me?’

For the most part, many gay teenagers never get to practice what it means to be in a relationship with another person. This means that a certain part of us potentially remains childish well into our 20s and beyond. By the time we finally get to experience a relationship, or even what we understand to be real love, it’s understandable that we jump to the idea of ‘finally, I’ve found someone that accepts me for who I am and that I can love uninhibitedly.’ This sounds wonderful. Yet what happens when trouble inevitably strikes in one form or another?

‘But… I thought you loved me?’ utters the small, wounded child in us all.

The sense of betrayal can be infuriating, and the rage very real. A gay man already exists in a world that tolerates - yet is arguably uncomfortable with - his love. In their eyes, the person that finally accepted them has betrayed them. And boy, do they hate them for it.

We need tools

This is a major part of this project: to provide younger gay men, especially teenagers, with the tools and resilience to not only find themselves, but to navigate intimate relationships with other potentially ‘broken’ men. Sexuality aside, it’s quite astute of de Botton to have observed just how dangerous romanticism can be.

Unfortunately, for the ideological, hopeful, and fragile ambition of today’s young gay men, I strongly believe that it could be downright deadly.

The lecture is an hour long, but it’s incredibly thought-provoking and worth the watch. I’d recommend pairing it with The Velvet Rage - a provocative guide book for all gay men.

Nathan Short
Sydney, Australia

Nathan helps people to express themselves at home, at school, and in the workplace, all around the world. He's passionate about thinking, and engages in it regularly. He's not overly fond of writing in the third person though. It's weird. Connect with him on Facebook to continue the conversation, make a video at, or even share a dance with him at!

What I learned...
  1. All relationships could benefit from more love and understanding and less romanticism.

  2. Gay men are potentially more at risk of damage as their capacity for love is already societally wounded.

  3. Young gay men could benefit from learning how to navigate relationships with other 'broken' - yet beautiful - men.

You need W.I.L. Power to make a difference. Let's not forget to reflect!
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