Case of the Ex

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Case of the Ex

Exes. How do I even begin to talk about exes?

In general the manner and mentality that many men approach their relationships is alarming and flawed. I will obviously give room for the growth and maturation of individuals through relationships. All of us have good and bad ones, all of us do stupid things we regret, and all of us have beautiful moments we wish to preserve. However, I wish to discuss the trends of gay relationships that I have noticed in my experience and the mindsets I wish to change.

I think a fundamental part of the human existence is to want to be loved and to love. All of us feel this desire on one level or another and intimate relations with others help alleviate this yearning. However, too often the clutter of our sexualized/romantic society and our own insecurities perverse what true love really is and should be understood as. “Love” becomes a rare thing to be sought out constantly, to be guarded jealousy, to be squandered selfishly. Love loses its true essence and people fall prey to their lesser emotions. Without a proper hold on our insecurities and principles, many enter relationships continuously and with little regard to duration and quality. Relationships and the “love” that comes from them become a small distraction, a miniscule aid to our own fears and selfishness. “Having a boyfriend makes me feel better about myself, it gives me purpose and support, it gives me emotional and sexual gratification, I can be happy now.” Too often I’ve seen this become the mindset of my friends and loved ones, and they barely even realize it, or are too scared to admit it.

With the value of “love” diminished, people are entering superficial and flimsy relationships constantly and deliberately, in an attempt to alleviate their own personal sufferings with the intimate company of another. Such relationships are doomed for failure, as they are not rooted in anything other than petty selfishness and limited infatuations of attraction. This is where the number of exes begins to rack up. People are “dating” seriously and have new boyfriends every few months, quite literally. People meet, fall in “love,” are infatuated with each other for a few weeks, the chemical attraction falls apart, and all that’s left is the emptiness they felt before they met their past partner. This leads to cheating, disrespect, and the ultimate break down of their relationship. It is neither conducive nor productive for either individual, as their time has been wasted and their emotional state only worsens.

This is only one aspect of the problem however. Again, quantity has its significance, but quality is much more important. Suppose you are an individual reading this who is thinking “Well, that’s not me, Jaime, I’ve only had two partners.” Well, I have topics for you to think about as well. For those of us who have limited our intimate relations to a fair few, we can take a deeper look into the workings of a relationship. I have noticed certain trends here as well.

Even if we do not serially date, quite often we subject ourselves to circumstances we probably would not tolerate if we were single, to our own detriment sometimes. This is where it gets tricky. Very often I see friends who have new partners and things are going well at first. The love is there, the respect is there, but for one reason or another, things begin to fall apart. This is where people’s true character comes into play. I have watched and seen people who are supposed to “love” each other do horrible things to one another. What sense does that make people?

When things start to fall apart in your relationship, how do you handle yourself? Are you the kind to address issues head on? Do you argue a lot? Do you fight? Do you get jealous? Do you give back what is given to you? Do you reciprocate negative action? Do you play quiet? Do you pray for the best? All of us are very different and all of our natures pull us in different directions on how to react to a crumbling relationship. There is one commonality that would hope we all realize however: we know best. It is OUR relationship, invested in between me and my partner. Outside influences can have their say, and their input might prove to be very valuable as it makes us think or acknowledge things we may have otherwise looked over. However, the ultimate decision is our own, which is why self-analytical skills are so important in so many scopes of human life.

During a break up, it is important to remember what kind of person you want to be and who you are. What qualities do you strive to obtain and to emanate? How do you want people to truly look upon you and remember you? Are you going to be the couple that is fighting in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard, pulling hair and cursing like 7th graders? Or are you going be the couple that braves the harsh truth, the tears, and the anger to converse about the heart of the issues you have? It is important that you do not act our maliciously against your ex, as much as we’ve wanted to. Trust me, we have all wanted to. But why lower yourself? If you have principles and look at yourself as a good person, how and why would you compromise that quality of your life by duplicating behaviors that were done to you? If you are cheated on, do not go cheat in retaliation. If you are lied to, do not make worse lies. If you are the target of rumors, do not reciprocate gossip. When you do these behaviors, you have lowered your own standards. You are no longer the good guy who had wrong done to them, but another wrong doer in the process. You had your chance to be the mature individual and you allowed yourself to become the foolish individual, tricked into the same behaviors that hurt you so. Any sympathetic ear to your cause will likely be turned away.

It is also important not to listen too closely to outside forces. Now, when I say “outside forces,” I am referring to not only the advice of friends and families, but the social clutter that we pack into our brains over the years as well. Advice from close friends and family should be heard with enthusiasm and careful consideration. Advice from lesser friends and acquaintances should be heard with a harsher critique. All advice however, should be heard with an analysis of intention and goal. If your best friend is telling you to break up with someone because she has your best interest at heart and sincerely wants no harm to come to you, realize that. If your best friend is telling you to break up with your partner because she has always had a crush on him and secretly wants a shot at him, you have deeper problems friend, and should re-evaluate who you call your “best friend.” But this point is important. Take the time to not only hear what people are saying, but look into what they may not be saying. People in your life will often have your well-being at heart, but many will also have selfish endeavors as well; it is best to recognize them.

When I talk about social clutter, I’m talking about those asinine rules that people hear and follow without giving proper thought to the logic behind them. For instance, “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” This is a classic example. The logic behind this statement is erroneous and foolish. Just because you wet the bed as a kid does not mean you are a bed-wetter for the rest of your life, correct? Just because you got drunk and slept with someone at a party once does not make you a sloppy mess, correct? Imagine being branded forever because of one action you took in your life. It is incorrect logic. All of us are human; we make mistakes and are sometimes subject to less than admirable decisions. The issue is how we live our lives afterwards. Did an individual cheat and truly understand the error of their mistake? Or is cheating an essential part of their mindset and character? This is an important distinction to make and one that people too often do not have the patience to see. Another would be, “You have to let him call you first.” What the fuck? What sense does this make? The rules of communication are simple – make it honest. If you have a desire to call your partner, then do so. Do so in a way that is representative of your maturity and desire to resolve the issue at hand. If my partner cheats on me, and I refuse to call him until he calls me, well then that’s just foolish. There is quite obviously an issue at hand that neither party wants to engage in and refuses to do so; and why, because of some idiotic rule about power and telephone calls. You want to maintain power? Maintain power in yourself. Be bold, be the courageous one. Be the one that was honest and tried to fix things rather than circumvent the obstacles with petty rules. Call a couple times, let them know you care, present your feelings. If they refuse to respond, well then that’s hardly your responsibility is it? You have lived up to the best of the qualities and principles you have to offer. Honesty, the desire to resolve issues, patience. If they are not reciprocated that speaks to your ex’s character, not yours. It will be painful of course, but you should take pride in the fact that throughout the worst, you were still at your best.

We need to maintain our resolve when dealing with our exes. Too often we subjugate ourselves to their torments; emotionally, financially, even physically sometimes, because we “love” them. We very well might have or still do, but we must remember there is a reason they are your ex. There is a reason you guys had to break up. There is a reason there were problems. Love does not make a relationship work my friends. It takes trust and respect as well. As much as we may want something to work, as much as we care about an individual, we very often poison ourselves with their continued influence in our lives. We must learn when enough is enough and to fully and utterly support ourselves in our decision. We need to start picking better partners; taking the time to really get to know someone and truly invest in them, before our things are moved into their house. We need to take the time to analyze ourselves and follow our own principles during a break up, not allowing ourselves to sink into behaviors that do not suit us. Taking the time to do these things will ensure that those we truly invest ourselves in are compatible for us, worthy of our love and vulnerability, and that even if the relationship has to be terminated down the road, we do so in a fashion that we can be proud of and yields genuine lessons of growth.


James Michael Chavez (Jáime) is a 25 year old Latino bisexual male working at Bienestar, a nonprofit organization offering HIV services, drug abuse services, and different programs implemented to better the LBGT Latino population and other underserved communities. He works out of the Van Nuys branch as a Youth Health Advocate, facilitating a youth support group, teaching HIV education, and offering a peer-counseling life skills program to applicants. He is an alumni of Cal State University Northridge where he received his major in Psychology, specializing in cognitive behavior, and a Minor in Chicano Studies. He has experience in teaching kids as young as the first grade up to young adults as college freshman. He has training in Applied Behavioral analysis, exemplified in dealing with kids with autism. He is also no stranger to the gay social life in Los Angeles, keeping an avid network of friends and loved ones and a friendly attitude to all around him.

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