I get sad that I’ve never been in love.

I watched Goodfellas for the first time today, and during the mafia wedding, when the extended family lined up to give their wedding gifts, I suddenly wanted to have a wedding. It sounds insane. For whatever reason, this mafia wedding scene brought up my need to find a husband and fall in love. It made me want it bad. And not just for all those sweet mafia wedding gifts.

I’ve sulked when it comes to finding love. I’ve made excuses of being career-focused or too busy, too damaged, too bitter. I’ve made a game of denying the pursuit and told myself that love should come to me. I’ve looked in the mirror and thought that I’m not ready, or I’m too fat, or I’ve got a cold sore, or I’m unlovable, or I’m just going to hold off for now. In short: I’ve made excuses.

But I want love bad. It’s something I’ve never experienced. And I’m angry and sad about the whole thing.

I’ve never been in relationship with a woman: I’m a ‘Golden Gay,’ meaning I’ve never had sex with a girl or touched a vagina since I was born (only to be superseded by ‘Platinum Gays’ who were born via Cesarean section). I dated one girl in my life — Oanh Tran in sixth grade. At the time, everyone in school was getting a girlfriend, so I courted and obtained the hottest Asian girl in school: Oanh Tran. We did everything together. We held hands at lunch, got after-school Slurpies at the 7/11, played Lemmings the Computer game in the Mac Lab together. Finally after six weeks, it was overdue for me to make a move. So at the 7th grade school dance, while they were playing KC and Jo-Jo’s “All My Life,” I asked if I could kiss Oanh…at the end of the song. So we danced at arm’s length for 3:41 minutes until I leaned in and we touched lips to lips. We broke up 6 weeks later. What can I say? That kiss didn’t do much for me…or her. I felt like I had wasted Oanh’s time. But for me, it confirmed something I already suspected.

I’ve never had a long-term relationship with a man: I came out as gay in senior year of high school to mixed results and a lot of drama. Since, I’ve never let myself fall in love. I’ve never engaged with another guy on that level. I find reasons to break it off before it gets serious. It’s not that I invent these feelings of discomfort, of my body and mind telling me they want to move on. I know these feelings could be caused from fear of my own flaws showing up after the dazzling facade I perform during courtship. But whatever the trigger, the urge to flee is a deep-set impulse, and it feels true, and I justify it and then say goodbye. I feel temporary relief, replaced thereafter by gnawing emptiness. I’m getting wise to this break-up pattern and realize it’s likely more about my own fears and less about the other person’s failings. Either way, the result is crystal clear: I’m 31 and have never had a relationship longer than four months.

And that to me is sad. And it hurts. And I am telling myself now, that it’s good that it hurts. Because when something hurts, you’re apt to make a change. I’m going to be forced into facing my fear. If I really want to make love important in my life, I have to care about it and want it. I have to make it a priority. We are what we do. I can’t want love anymore underneath and not pursue it with my time. It’s not how I do anything else in my life — when I work, I get shit done; when I play, I commit to fun; when I’m hanging with friends, I’m all-in with heart and soul. But when it comes to love, I’m dipping my toes in the water, then running back to the lawn chair.

I must be terrified of intimacy. Maybe it’s being rejected as a homosexual as a kid, teen and adult. Maybe it’s just my genes — my Dad didn’t marry until he was 35…a late bloomer, especially for the 1970’s. Maybe I’ve got a bone to pick about the number of available single gay men there are in the world compared to the straight population. I feel like a child inside, having never explored a relationship longer than four months. I’m still acting like a newbie, like a twenty-one year-old twink playing at the idea of relationship but never the actual thing. Taking on the actual risk, the actual commitment to intimacy, to vulnerability.

People say that love will hit you when you least expect it, when you stop chasing it. But I’ve sat on the sidelines passively for years now. I am not so sure that I trust the argument to wait and watch for it. I think I need to spend time looking — be it via online apps or going to gay bars, despite how much I usually dislike both of those options. Just do it.

I don’t feel too much shame about this. In the past, I’ve blamed myself and done nothing to change my avoidance patterns. I’ve just felt bad and eaten ice cream and gone back to checking my email. That’s not going to fly anymore — it hurts too much to avoid how I much I want this. So, I will let myself feel pain and want right now, and let this need sink in deep, so that I make a change and finally commit to love.

And now, back to watching how this happy newlywed couple turns out in Goodfellas!

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Performer, storyteller, teacher - living in NYC and traveling worldwide (www.philipmarkle.com). Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Comedy Collective.

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