The following article is my response to a question posed to my “Ask Adam” relationship advice column that appears at gay.net’s Dating 101 website.
Can you give me some tips on the best ways to get the hot guy of my dreams? As an average-looking guy I am starting to feel hopeless and exhausted in my search. And no matter what I do, I will never be a great looking guy.
Lonely in Los Angeles
Dear Lonely in Los Angeles,
If you are a student of gay culture then you have already seen the groundbreaking music videos by Steve Grand on YouTube entitled, “All American Boy”, as well as his most recent video, “Stay.” This very good-looking singer/songwriter has received millions of views for his musical portrayal of gay relationships.
We can all identify with Steve in his first video story. His love is unrequited because the guy is straight. It’s a universal gay experience.
In the second video Steve’s wish for love is fulfilled: he gets the beautiful gay man.
For those who are still seeking a gorgeous boyfriend, this video can leave you with a feeling of unease.
Some of us watch it and feel badly about ourselves. The internal script might go something like this:
“Of course Steve gets what he longs for: he has the washboard abs, big pecs, white teeth and great skin I’ll never have.”
“To get a boyfriend you have to be in your twenties, white, and hot. Otherwise no one cares about you.”
Seeing beautiful men in love is triggering.
In the video Steve not only gets love, he receives the ultimate gay wish fulfillment: acceptance from the group. He is surrounded by an adoring party of attractive friends who lift him up in the air and carry him around like a hero, for no apparent reason.
You could call it “acceptance porn” for gay men. He “fits in” in a way that none of us ever has.
Whether you are spinning in a sea of envy and self-criticism from watching “Stay” or from your encounters in the gay dating scene, here are some thoughts that may help:
It’s true that we are all stirred by beauty whether it is in art, nature, or for most gay men, the male body. We all long for it.
Desire is exciting but it is not the meaning of life. In our media and advertising culture, beauty can feel like the national religion. Because it is fleeting, beauty has never sustainably made anyone feel better.
Can you let yourself practice dipping into the pleasure and fantasy of beauty and then come back to what’s really sustaining for you in life? Examples of what often gives people a more long lasting experience of happiness is feeling productive, expanding honest friendships, and striving for balance between work and play.
Understand Why You Desire Beauty
While our attraction to beauty is “built in” for most humans, if your need for an underwear model boyfriend is very strong, perhaps you are really hungry for something else. When my clients fully explore this desire they often find that the pursuit of beauty is linked to a need to feel accepted by their peers. The internal script is something like, “If I have a hot boyfriend I will be liked and admired and will finally fit in.”
In the heart of every gay man lies the experience of being the “other”. For many of us, this was traumatic. Until we can feel true compassion for the kid inside who at some level was always separate from his community, our hunger for acceptance will feel compulsive or stressful.
Hot Doesn’t Equal Happy
Many of us believe that if we were great looking or if we had a beautiful boyfriend, we could be happy. It’s a false trap. It’s like believing that the right floor cleaner, couch, t-shirt, or other purchase can bring lasting happiness.
Ultimately there is only one route to permanently feeling better:
It’s the lifelong pursuit of greater self-acceptance.
As you learn to love yourself you may be surprised that you fall in love with someone who makes you feel good through his words and actions, not through his washboard abs.