Todd is a supremely good dude. His Mom died leaving him heartbroken, much more so that the death of his father. Todd was born with a congenital heart disease that could be fatal. So he is dually apprehensive about getting deeply involved, married or having kids. But it’s clear what a loving, caring man he has become – he really cares about what his loved ones eat, their physical safety, and he’s got those old world manners and chivalry. And what I have to say to Todd and about Todd is that I understand. It’s really rare and beautiful that a man can know himself and acknowledge his limitations with such clarity. And it’s a damn shame such a good man is sorta going to waste.
My buddy Kevin got married at 25 to a recovering addict named Leah. Young, rocks the urban garb, but quite frankly half in & half out of the closet. Kevin and wifey live in Jamaica, Queens and quickly had three lovely daughters. Unfortunately, Kevin is really gay. He’s a former banjee boy who functions as a bisexual. He really is terribly promiscuous with women – of all ages, creeds and national origins. He’s like a butterfly, touching down on many flowers but not really getting into even a sustained affair. When his wife Leah invited everyone in his phone to his birthday party, a couple of Kevin’s jumpoffs showed up. Leah grew up in Hell’s Kitchen so earrings were removed and the ladies got to scrapping. In the aftermath, Kevin and Leah worked it out. He claims those women meant nothing to him, just temporary hookups. But if you hang out with Kevin and watch where his eyes wander. And if you listen without judging, you recognize a man who sought the cultural respect for being husband & father and even stereotypical “dog” as a cloak for his actual desires. His actual desires are no tame “I like to look but never touch” protocol. He is a doyenne of the gay brothel, O.G. of the gymnasium steam room and expert cruiser of the schools his daughters attend. He wasn’t ready for marriage to a woman. And probably never will be. But his longest term friendships and romantic liasons remain with men. Plus given all the drama with wifey, he explains he just wanted light-skinned daughters with good hair. And, he brags, if wifey wants to divorce him, there’s no way a woman struggling with past addictions will get primary custody. Wow. Just wow.
For good and bad reasons, some men aren’t ready to settle down. Dating and hanging out are good ways to gauge what a man’s actual desires are. But it’s tough to distinguish caretaking behaviors from romantic love. It’s even harder to discern a man wanting to be a father from wanting to be a sincere husband.
Infidelity takes a myriad of forms – from sex surrogates, to ego boosts to actually striving to replace the old wife with a new one. And the full range of human sexuality demands we open our eyes and be honest about what is possible and who we are with. Not to judge, but to inform our next steps.
Under the best circumstances, your loved one will tell you in words and actions what’s going on. But mixed signals are the sad reality for most of us.
If a man (or a loved one of any gender identity) isn’t ready for marriage, we can force them and hope for the best. Often, their true colors and desires bleed through the pristine fabric of a marriage or any similar committed relationship. Or we can wish our lover well and walk away.
The choice is yours.