This is a very dangerous topic to take on. The scary part is that everyone has an opinion on the topic, and there is no widely accepted definition.
After hearing guys talk about LOVE for decades, and listen to lyrics of love songs, and read books and watch TV all about love, it is now time to put myself out there on the topic. Guys are looking for a feeling of connectedness. To belong to, or feel part of a guy’s life.
I think most people have never felt love. I think that most people cannot explain what love is for them. An example is: “You say you love your boyfriend, but what does that mean?” The answers are not very clear and a bit defensive, often with generalities and platitudes.
Many guys feel strong feelings for a guy and interpret that as “love”. The strong feelings could come a from feeling: of belonging, feeling safe, or end of loneliness, mutual dependence, or having a purpose, or feeling “normal”, or finding his identity in the others identity, etc. All of these feelings can be very strong and be real to that person, so therefore it can be easy to reinterpret these strong feelings as love. If a guys has never experienced love then all of these feelings can be seen as love because they are very strong emotions.
I am often surprised how often crimes are committed in the name of LOVE. Does he really kill someone he loves? Does he really try to hurt the guy he loves? Yes there can be pain when a relationship ends. But the important aspect is what does one do with that pain. Hopefully you do not hurt yourself or hurt others.
My general concept of love is:
“Caring more for the happiness for the other person than your own happiness.”
The most blatant example of this is when one guy wants to end the relationship and the other is unhappy about ending the relationship and then tried take revenge on his partner. This is not caring about the other it is only selfishness. To me real love is when you are sad that he wants to end the relationship but you are also happy that he has found happiness with someone else. (Or is starting a new life adventure.)
I think that we do not see many models of selfless caring (love). Many of us experience conditional love from our parents. That is when we are “bad” our parents respond with retribution and painful actions. We also may see unkind treatment of one parent towards the other. If we do not have models of, and do not understand what love is then how can we feel love, feel loved, and know how to love.
I believe that many guys have long term relationships where both care deeply for the other and are supportive and want the best for him. Though they care deeply for each other I often see these guys as “buddies” But often neither of them understands that there is another way to have a relationship. I also must say that there is no “right” way to have a relationship if being buddies makes both of them happy then that great. The goal in life is to be happy.
When one looks at how a guy responds to being hurt/lied to/cheated on etc., then it exposes the type of relationship one has. Is there revenge? Does the guy who is hurt try to hurt his boyfriend? Does he want to “make him pay”? Doses the hurt guy try to make his boyfriend feel bad/guilty. Does he use the silent treatment to punish his boyfriend? None of this behaviour sounds like someone who cares deeply for his boyfriend, but does care deeply about his own selfish feelings.
What are some other ways to react to being hurt? Often when one is hurt he likely does not empathise with his boyfriend, to try to understand how he is feeling. He does not explore the relationship to try to understand how the situation came about to cause the hurt. He likely does not first think “He cares about me/he loves me/ he wants me to be happy; so how did it happen that he hurt me. In our lives we seldom see models, in our life/in our past of reacting to being hurt with understanding and caring. Often it is: Hurt him back. Revenge. Few people want to cause pain in others, but they just do not know of other ways of reacting to fear/frustration/hurt/fear.
If one guy is totally dependent on the other guy for his “happiness”, then the relationship is based on dependence. Then he focusses not on finding his own fulfillment but will focus on keeping the relationship going, and pleasing his boyfriend.
When a guy is in love with the image of who his boyfriend is but then finds out that his image of his boyfriend is not reality, he may find that he is not in love with the boyfriend but more in love with the self-created image of him. This may cause the relationship to end. Transparency in a relationship can eliminate this problem.
Keeping a relationship going is not always the best thing for each guy. We grow and change and maybe we are no longer the best for each other. We as gay guys do not have the social and often the economic constrictions that encourage people to stay together when they no longer are “good for each other”. Ending a relationship does not necessary mean failure but a transition. Two guys can still love each other very deeply but they may realize that they are no longer the best for each other to grow. In that situation separating can mean growth and change for each other and does not necessarily mean failure.
It is interesting to think about why a guy may not experience the type of love with his boyfriend that I am referring to here. One reason is he may not believe he is able to find a guy who would care for him in such a way, he may feel he is unlovable. He may not be able to find someone he cares for enough so he accepts what is easily available. Another reason for not seeking the type of love I am describing is it could be too scary. He may not know how to let go and love. Caring intensely for another is a bit overwhelming!