Split shifts vs. love life
She’s on days, he’s on nights. How can that work
Published: June 27, 2012
My younger brother and I are close. He came out of the closet last year, although it wasn't much of a surprise because everyone knew he was gay since forever. Everyone is happy he's out because it kind of takes the elephant out of the room, and our immediate and extended family are all really supportive. But for the last six to nine months or so, he's been really depressed about not ever having had a boyfriend. He's 21 and he's always talking about how he wants to find a boy to be with in a relationship — and not just for sex — but he says it's impossible for him to meet said boy.
Me being straight, the only advice I've ever been able to give him is to just try new things and that way you'll meet new people, as really that's the only advice you can give someone who's looking to meet a potential partner. My brother, however, framed his issue to me in a way I've never really thought of — which is that only a small fraction of the population is gay, and an even smaller fraction of that may be compatible with him, so meeting new people for a gay guy is actually a lot harder than it is for straight people.
He's been on the whole online dating thing for a while, but said it's really difficult to meet anyone who he feels a connection with. I've never done online dating, but I have heard the same points from others who've tried it. I asked him if he ever goes to gay bars, because that would obviously change the ratios around, but apparently it's a little insensitive for a straight guy to say that, and he said he's not really into that scene. Anyway, I just wish I could give him some good advice without being unintentionally offensive (the gay bar suggestion). I'd still like to offer him any advice I can for him to meet a guy he feels strongly about. —Seeking Advice For Family
There are 3.5 billion men on the planet.
Even if we accept the lowest educated guesstimate of the percentage of the population that's gay — 1.7 percent — that means your brother has nearly 60 million potential romantic partners to choose from worldwide; he has 2.5 million potential romantic partners in the United States alone. Other informed guesstimates of the percentage of the population that's gay are much, much higher — seven or eight times higher — so your brother's odds of finding a partner are probably much better. But let's put that 1.7 percent figure in perspective: Jews represent just 1.7 percent of the population of the United States. So even if the percentage of the population that's gay is "just" 1.7 percent, your brother has the, um, same cross to bear — and the same odds of success — as an American Jew who wants to marry another American Jew.
It sounds like your brother is going through a common if rarely discussed stage of the coming-out process: Wallow in Self Pity and Bite the Head Off Anyone Who Tries to Help. That's why he was offended by your perfectly reasonable, not at all offensive suggestion that he get out there and hit some gay bars. Yes, the bars aren't for everyone. But if you're single and want to meet people — gay or straight — you need to be moving on all fronts: online dating, hitting bars and clubs, volunteering, and just generally getting out of the fucking house.
Your brother is 21 years old and he just came out, SAFF, and his frustration is understandable. He's been watching his straight peers (and his straight brothers) hook up and fall in love since middle school and he feels anxious to make up for lost time. But he won't find that first boyfriend if he isn't willing to put himself out there — and that means giving the guys he meets online a chance, giving the bars a chance, and giving the people who are trying to help him out a break.
My girlfriend of two and a half years and I are ready to move in together. Finally! I am so excited to take this next step, and so is she. The problem is that I work third shift four to five nights a week and she works a regular day job. I can't help but feel that we aren't going to get the full experience of living together with our work situations being what they are. I won't be waking up every morning to her saying, "Good morning, beautiful," etc. What can we do to make this a better situation and take advantage of the next step? Thanks. —The Next Step
Here's a tip, TNS: Don't spend too much time comparing your actual relationship, which will always be shaped by circumstances not fully in your control (like your work schedules), to your idealized notions about what a romantic relationship should look like. That only ensures constant disappointment. Don't get me wrong: Once you move in with your girlfriend, there will be days that begin with her rolling over and saying, "Good morning, beautiful." But there will also be days that begin with your girlfriend rolling over and farting. The trick to loving your LTR is to fully appreciate the moments that rise to the level of your romantic ideals ("Good morning, beautiful") without obsessing about those moments that disappoint (split shifts, ripped farts). Good luck!
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