Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

I am in awe of how we return to loving and opening to new relationships after all the endured hurts, missed opportunities, and past failures. If you’re too young to know yet or have been lucky enough to be spared – warning, warning – heartbreak is on the horizon. Sorry to be the messenger, but everything ends. And if you’re a bit older, having already experienced the loss of a lover or two or many, you too can point to scars that conclude with reasons.

The reasons are universal: He met someone else. My expectations were impossible. We couldn’t stop arguing. I’m reminded of a line from singer Janelle Monáe’s song “Sincerely Jane,” “What good is love if it burns bright and explodes in flames?”

Once the hurt heals and the grief from our losses subsides, why would we ever love again? Why do we risk another scar, another deflated hope or rejection? Some of us will not take that risk again…ever. We lock up our hearts. We board up the inner rooms. We give up searching for the beloved.

Some men bury their hearts underneath a pile of work, living distracted and exhausted from over-production. They say, “I don’t have time for a relationship.” They are too busy to love. Another group of men have grown sour to all new prospects of dating, sneering at the possibilities. They wear their jadedness unapologetically like Mary J. Blige in a Fendi fur next to PETA protesters – out-of-place, obvious, and hostile. They isolate themselves from love, grooming their unavailability. They say, “I don’t need or want a relationship.”

Some men avoid loving again by entering a lifelong depression. They cloak themselves in protective layers of apathy, ambivalence, or deep sadness. I don’t think these men’s hearts dry up like the jaded men’s hearts mentioned above. No, their hearts bleed a little bit everyday. These men deeply want to be loved but are frozen within their own resignation. Love lost has left them powerless. They say, “No one will ever love me; I don’t deserve a relationship.”

Then there’s still another group to acknowledge; men who are their own tricksters, self-sabotaging out of fear. Their actions are not congruent with their words. They confuse themselves and others alike. They appear to be available to dating but in reality are prone to substitute immediate sex for emotional risk. They struggle to tolerate the infancy of intimacy with all its unknown feelings and uncertainties. These men want a guarantee. If they could truly be honest, they would admit, “I’m frightened of loving again.”

I know the experience of waking up from a grief-induced fog and facing the question, “When will I love again?” The fog has kept me from connecting with others for several years now. I stand at a crossroads; a decision must be made. If you too are at the same crossroads, what are you going to do? When will you love again?

There’s risk on both sides of yes or no that comes with great consequence. To say no to loving goes against our desire for affection and camaraderie; also it would be an implosion of a great dream, an abandonment of a beloved never met. But to say yes comes with exposure and vulnerability; it means accepting that I might be loved profoundly in ways never felt before or…and here is the rub…accepting that I might not.

The only way I can reconcile the tension between choosing yes or no is to focus on re-scripting the value I place on relationships. If I return to the playing field with the same strategies and beliefs as before, then the answer is no – no I will not do that again. However if I redefine how I value relationship, which for me specifically means making it not as important as before, then yes, yes I am ready to love again.

Allow me to explain further. There is an instruction when learning the discipline of meditation called “not too tight; not too loose.” It refers to how we hold our minds while sitting and breathing during meditation. The imagery refers to a guitar string. If the string is too tight or too loose the quality of sound suffers. Another analogy is to compare this concept to knitting; if the loops in the yarn are too tight or too loose the blanket or sweater will either be too dense or unshapely.

So instead of not too tight, not too loose, I change the words as they apply to love and relationships, namely, not too important yet important enough. This concept is part of a larger Buddhist teaching about taking life’s middle path. On the middle path, we do not have to choose between yes or no; we do not have to choose between our cautious, well-founded fear or our expansive hope for a love-filled future. The middle path accepts and accommodates both states of mind and welcomes both perspectives as valid. The emphasis is no longer placed on the word OR but now focuses on AND. It is not a question of yes OR no; it is a statement of yes AND no.

With that said, my answer to the question asked above becomes…sometime. When will I love again? Sometime. When will you love again? Perhaps your answer will be sometime too. Are we ready? Yes and no. Are we afraid? Yes and no. Are we excited, confident, and trusting? Yes and no. And most importantly, will we be okay no matter what happens? You know the answer.

Now go out there and love each other… sometime.

Alan Robarge is a Philadelphia-based Psychotherapist in private practice and also offers an on-going relationship discussion group for gay men titled Boyfriend University. Learn more at or

Read Related Posts...