Dear Dan: I’m a 37-year-old gay man who just got out of an abusive relationship. We were together five years, moved to Portland together, got married three years ago, yada, yada, yada. He suffered a traumatic injury earlier this year, which led to PTSD, which led to a nervous breakdown, which led to our savings being depleted, which led him to leave me in October. He moved back to the other side of the country, and I’m broke and on my own in a strange city. I saw your dirty film festival when it played here, and it made me realize something: At my age, I should still be enjoying myself and evolving sexually. I was unhappy in my marriage for the last two years, but sexually I was unhappy for a long time. Recently, I had a decent one-night stand. It was a drunken, stoned hot mess, but it got the job done — and there was no guilt on my part, which to me signifies that it really is over with my ex. But I can’t help feeling like I’m starting over. Not just dating, but starting over with my sex life and my writing. My ex had me switch from LGBT media — which I am very good at — to copywriting, which sucks but is “steadier.” The point is: I want so much sexually, because I’ve been starved physically and psychologically, but I don’t know where to begin. I feel like my marriage eviscerated me sexually. Not just the sex part of it, but the parts of my homosexuality that felt important to my personality, not just my turn-ons. Help. — Grieving And Yearning Man Asking Nicely
Dear GAYMAN: You’re not too old to enjoy yourself and evolve sexually, GAYMAN — you’re never too old to enjoy yourself or evolve, sexually or otherwise. But it takes time to bounce back after a committed LTR ends traumatically. So don’t rush yourself. But as soon as you can — sooner than perhaps it feels right — you’ll need to get out there. You’ll need to actively and intentionally reconnect to your homosexuality and the ways in which it shaped and continues to inform your personality, your perspective, and your joy.
And now some random tips…
I’m not being look-ist or body-fascist here — this isn’t about having Instagrammable abs or the best torso on Grindr — but join a gym, GAYMAN. Or take up a sport that kicks your ass, cardio-wise. Forcing your body to outrun your brain is a good way to get back in touch with yourself physically, emotionally, and sexually. And exercising — again, I’m not talking abs here — is good for us. It’s a natural antidepressant. It gets blood pumping into our extremities. (Your dick is an extremity.) And it gets us out of our heads. It also creates a social space, if you do it regularly, where you can make friends and connections without booze or drugs or the scourge of dance music.
If the gym isn’t for you, ride a bike. If biking isn’t for you, run. If running isn’t for you, walk. Just get your ass moving.
Go volunteer somewhere, anywhere. Like someone or other once said, it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re making yourself useful. Go volunteer at the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, do some copywriting for an LGBT civil-rights organization, find out what orgs are working with immigrants in your community and ask them what kind of help they need.
Please don’t succumb to meth or any of the other stupid drugs. Pot and alcohol — in moderation — aren’t stupid drugs.
Reach out to friends you lost touch with over the last five years, apologize for letting these relationships go, and ask if they’d like to reconnect. Not all will, GAYMAN — some might be too angry to reconnect right now (you may hear from them later), some might not have any extra friendship bandwidth right now (ditto). Focus on friends who want to reconnect, and don’t be bitter about friends who don’t.
Masturbate. A lot. And don’t use porn every single time — try using your imagination, flip through the ol’ solodex. Be open to new experiences. Ask yourself where you’ve always wanted to go. Pick a big gay event you’ve always wanted to attend — gay days at Disneyland, International Mr. Leather in Chicago, the World Series of Beer Pong in Las Vegas — and start setting money aside so you’ll have that trip to look forward to.
Good luck, GAYMAN.
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