Father Tony

David And Diego - A Classic Story

Filed By Father Tony | February 26, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

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Earlier this week I acquired the story of a 70 year old man who has been happily partnered with a younger fellow for thirteen years but whose eyes well up with tears as he describes an earlier lover who was stolen from him by a friend he trusted.

I drove away from the home of that storyteller with mixed reaction and a bushel of questions.

While I listened to his story, I began to ask myself if it is really possible for someone to "steal" a lover. If that lover had not been, on some level, available, how could he have been stolen?

There is also the business of victimhood. Do some guys set themselves up as victims from square one? Do they pick partners who will inevitably leave them?

Here is the abbreviated story. You decide.

David was 45 years old and a successful real estate developer and manager when he met Diego a handsome 21 year old still removing the slivers of his breakage through the closet door. David gives Diego a job, a house and a life. Diego professes to have problems sleeping in the same bed with a man, so David gives him his own bed in his own bedroom.

One night David finds Diego getting dressed to "go out". Diego says he wants to dance and says David should come with him. While they are at a local gay disco, Diego uncharacteristically consumes alcohol. David is perplexed by the whole evening.

While Diego is getting crazy on the dance floor, David is alone at the bar. A friend of his approaches and begins a conversation. David says that he is worried about Diego. The friend offers to help David assess Diego as a lover. The friend proceeds to contact Diego in the days that followed that night, and a month later, Diego moves in with the friend. David attempts to contact Diego, but the friend says "We don't want you in our life." There was more to the story, but I'll end it here because I think you've got the essence of it.

OK. Here's my problem with what I am sure will be your immediate reaction. You're going to say "How stupid can David be? What a doormat! What a masochist. What a fool." But the fact is that I have heard a zillion versions of this story over the years and I have come to the conclusion that there must be something about human nature that might be learned by this story.

David is not an idiot. He is a compassionate, generous and successful businessman and community leader. He is trusting and nurturing and he probably assumes that his love objects will reciprocate naturally.

As I was driving home from our visit, I kept wondering if there is satisfaction to be had when the love you give does not equal the love you get.

Shouldn't the giving of love, in all its blinding nobility, be it own reward?

This thought was followed by a more ominous realization. I wanted to tell David that he had been a fool, but I'd have said that to a man who met a second much younger Latin lover, and one who treats him well. That fact rather obliterates my unspoken assertion. For all I know, this new lover is an opportunist, but despite his motives, he is making David very happy.

Isn't all love an unspoken negotiation?

There is merit in following your own standards, in loving freely and with no caution, in allowing yourself to be hurt tremendously, isn't there?

As I said, I have heard many different iterations of this same story. I come to the conclusion that the men who tell this story, the "Davids" of the world, are not stupid. They are simply in thrall to what their hearts desire.

And the "Diegos" of this world? They never seem to tell their story. No one ever knows what becomes of them.

What are we to make of the fact that the queer community is full of this kind of story?


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There is noone, noone at all
Never has been, and never will be a lover, male or female
Who hasn't an eye on, in fact they rely on
Tricks they can try on their partner
They're hoping their lover will help them or keep them
Support them, promote them
Don't blame them, you're the same.

Evita.

All love is negotiation, to be sure. The problem is the "unspoken" part. We don't speak to one another because of fear. The negotiation must be spoken, and fearless, for love to endure.

If you have to test your lover, he's not trustworthy. Otherwise you wouldn't need to test him.

Somewhat along Bil's lines, your "lover" would have already "passed" whatever test(s) that occur in the course of the relationship.

I think that this sort of story is a human thing and I see that there is any more of it going on in the LGBT community than the straight community. I just don't think that it is primarily us, it just is.

It is a common story, and it is tough to categorize the motivations of the players.

It would be nice Father Tony, if we really did love freely. It's a worthy goal to strive to love for the sake of love. But the reality is, we are score keepers. We give and receive points, and in the long term, if the scales aren't somewhere near balanced, it becomes a bad relationship for both parties.

The challenge in relationships is knowing the value that each partner places on different aspects of the other person. I remember a friend who is a neat freak, and complained constantly about his lover's messy habits. I finally told him he had to decide if the good qualities he saw in the other person outweighed this one thing, or if this one issue was important enough to him to outweigh any good attributes of the other person. They ultimately parted ways.

Now I suspect more things built into that separation, but some might consider my friend small for breaking up over his lover's messiness. Doesn't matter. That was a big enough thing to him to hamper their relationship.

You really hit a nerve this time, Fr. Tony O.M.G.

I am definitely the "giver" type (Not financially - mentally and emotionally I really show up for my relationships): "He is a compassionate, generous ....... trusting and nurturing and he probably assumes that his love objects will reciprocate naturally." Fit me to a "T" so well my eyes started to well up when I first read those words. With a 130 IQ I'm not an idiot, but I feel like one because I am so frustrated by the feeling that I am missing something obvious about myself. In short, I have been a "giver" in the past, got hurt many times and now I'm the jaded type which I cannot stand about myself but am having trouble letting go and moving on. (Whew! Believe me now about the whole "hitting a nerve" remark?)

The only thing I can say at my present level of understanding my own issues is that I have so many unmet needs now and from the past that, at this point, it seems damn unfair of me to expect anyone to meet most of them, much less all. And while my brain knows this, it depresses the hell out of my heart, because it feels like a great big fat honking unfair fuck you from the universe. "I kept wondering if there is satisfaction to be had when the love you give does not equal the love you get." Uh ... fuck no?

"Shouldn't the giving of love, in all its blinding nobility, be it own reward?" Uh ...if someone is trying for sainthood, yes? As in what right does someone have to take love and not give? What right does anyone have to ask for respect but not give it?

I don't mind talking about this because it's my situation, my work to overcome this. But I dread other people's comments because people seem to forget that no one goes into a relationship thinking they're going to get hurt. I just feel like I'm anti-matter in a matter universe.

To David: Good for you. I hope you ride the wave on the far front of the bell curve for the rest of your life.

Dear MrNanDa,

As I said in the post, you are legion. I think that when this repeatedly happens to someone who is otherwise smart and successful, there must be some other factors in control. Things about yourself that you don't see. You probably could benefit from (and deserve!) a good counselor. Treat yourself well.

Thx Fr. Tony. Been there ... spent somewhere around 4 years in counseling over the years. The thing that I would add to our chat is this: I need to get better at separating the 'lessons' I've learned from my past, from the emotions of the situations in which I was hurt (which is the baggage I'm carrying into the present). When I get to that point, the feeling of having something so important to me 'feel' like it is out of my control will be replaced with things I will know and can do to avoid them happening again. Which will lead to a change of my relationship dynamics. The interesting part about all of this is that my taste in men is starting to change for the better. So I am seeing light at the end of my particular tunnel. I'm just not out into the open quite yet. ;)

Thx Fr. Tony. Been there ... spent somewhere around 4 years in counseling over the years. The thing that I would add to our chat is this: I need to get better at separating the 'lessons' I've learned from my past, from the emotions of the situations in which I was hurt (which is the baggage I'm carrying into the present). When I get to that point, the feeling of having something so important to me 'feel' like it is out of my control will be replaced with things I will know and can do to avoid them happening again. Which will lead to a change of my relationship dynamics. The interesting part about all of this is that my taste in men is starting to change for the better. So I am seeing light at the end of my particular tunnel. I'm just not out into the open quite yet. ;)

A major factor that you have not commented upon is the inter-generational aspect of the relationship(s). I can see how an older guy would fantasize and want to act on having a younger man in bed. Some younger men are willing to do this - for awhile, with a particular person. What exactly are they each getting from the relationship ?
Obviously, not a relationship of equals. There are bound to be all kinds of power games occurring in the intergenerational arrangements. It's never the younger guy who pays the bills, is it? Is it ever the older guy who wanders off, and dumps Mr formerly 21, now 34 for a new Mr 22? Is it ever the younger guy who worries about emotional security, rather than financial security?
Maybe the arrangements are "unspoken" because the older guy does not like to address the fact that he has possibly purchased companionship and/or sex, in the guise of a relationship. They may be a relationship, but is it love? What does the younger guy call it??
Why does the older guy always need to have a "trophy partner"? The straight world is full of men who will only date/screw/marry fantastic looking much younger women. It's a status symbol situation, to show off in front of other men, not a real love relationship.
I just hope that your older friend does not sign all his assets/power of attorney/ medical decision authority to the incumbent Mr Teeny Buns, lest he find him telling the doctors to "pull the plug" the first time the geezer has a little shortness of breath.

Gay, or straight, men sometimes simply want someone younger to make them feel younger. Maybe some people
should act their age.

The old guy is safer alone. He should replace Diego with a dog or cat. Older guys getting killed for their money by younger guys is epidemic.

I agree with Charles. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale for 10 yrs, and 45+ yr old men were regularly killed by the 20-ish 'lover' they had taken in a few months before. PS: Their cars and jewelry were also stolen, too. Myself; I can't understand why anyone would enter into such an age-disparate relationship. It's almost always an invitation to disaster. If you want to be a 'Daddy' to someone; get a dog. If you want to find yourself a 'Daddy', go visit a nursing home. Otherwise, find yourself an emotionally stable mate, and be sure you'll emotionally stable, too. Adult relationships are no sustainable arena to act out conflicts from your childhood.

Dear Jim,
I don't think "regular" is the accurate descriptive for killings by young lovers in Fort Lauderdale, and I suspect your comments may anger the many couples who are happy and successful despite age differences. You might want to walk that back a bit, no?

We average two to three murders of this type in Palm Springs every year. The latest was an older wealthy art dealer from San Francisco living here in his winter home. His lawyer and two rent boys were all convicted. They were caught because they tried to unload his house in their names at bargain basement prices. It raised eyebrows of law officers.

Father Tony; I catch your drift, I really do, but it felt 'regular' to me since two of my acquaintances were murdered by 'lovers' (essentially, hustlers they had moved in with them, proclaiming they were 'in love'). But yes; perhaps I should be more precise in fairness to readers? To my recollection, an older gay man was found murdered by a much younger gay man about once every 6 mos. or so. That doesn't include the countless others who were 'merely' robbed, ripped off, or beaten. And while I recognize that there are many happy and stable 'sunrise/sunset' couples out there, I'll risk their wrath, as a former mental health worker, to warn others that most times these age-disparate couplings simply don't work. Of course they don't allways end up in murder, but they too often end up in heartbreak for the 'David's' of the world. ...How's that?

Dear Jim,
The stats on such murders may actually justify your use of the word "regular". Loneliness can sometimes make an old man foolish and vulnerable.

My partner and I are of the same age and income levels and frequently find ourselves the odd men out, as it were. We were raised in intact homes with egalitarian marriages, we have supportive families and friends and we simply want the same things our parents had.

In the gay world we take a lot of crap from others because we don't put out casually or seek sex outside of our relationship, and we get a lot of this not only from those who are resolutely single but also from imbalanced couples who seem to depend on third parties to help spice things up.

I think the prevalence of imbalanced relationships in the gay world is a by-product of social stigma. Without family and community support for normal couplings, people tend toward unhealthy relationships.

I became keenly aware of this having spent a fair part of my young adulthood in Boystown in Chicago. Boystown is like the proverbial "kids in a candy store," even when you're too old to be a kid and hanging out there is just plain undignified. It wasn't until I moved back to my small hometown that I met the man of my dreams.

There is no easy answer for the Davids of this world, but with any luck the increasingly tolerant social climate will result in slimmer pickin's for the opportunistic Diegos.

Whoa, dear de-tokeville, you may be skating on some thin ice when you use words like "normal" to describe one type of coupling, excluding age divergent couples. You are sure to ruffle a few feathers. Are you sure you wanted to so strongly make ode to couples composed of identical salt and pepper shakers? I'd be inclined say that "normal" can include a broader range of coupling. And shame on the people who deride you because you're not in an open relationship.

de_tokeville | February 27, 2010 9:50 PM

I certainly don't mean to dismiss out of hand all age-disparate unions, but I have some insight into how some of them work.

I became sexually active in my teens with men who had a decade or two on me. I didn't realize until well into adulthood just how badly I'd been exploited. I was in denial about it, although I really thought I wanted it at the time. I also thought I could drive a car while tripping on acid. And I could and did many times and lived to tell about it. But that doesn't mean I think it's mature behavior, much less healthy or advisable. And I have no respect for the schmucks who fucked me.

It's too bad we didn't have a good gay youth group back then. Truly the best experiences in my memory were those with people my own age who were also relatively new to sex.

I'm very much at odds with the "gay community" such as it is. I'm not striving for "anything goes." I'm striving for acceptance in my community here in the heartland of America, to have the courage to be myself. It took a lot of soul-searching to realize that my "self" is something other than the kid who once boldly espoused libertinism and shock-value hijinks in reaction to a suffocating world that wouldn't accept me as I am.

So that's part of my baggage that I bring to the forum. The David and Diego story calls to mind for me many strange pairings I've seen where the motives were fairly obvious to everyone else except those involved. And my point is, simply, that people are less likely to make good choices when they don't feel good about themselves. I have so been there.

Seeingeyegrrl | February 28, 2010 10:30 AM

We all have lessons to learn in life and I think this is a common one. On some level I think we set ourselves up. Having someone care for us (financially and/ emotionally or physically) is a trade off. My guess is that some of the 'Deigos' of the world are just seeing what life has to offer.

I don't believe all love is the same....and I am not sure that the value of love is measured in the length of time it lasts. It is two people in one relationship, both with their own thoughts, lives and future plans. Much of what we do in intimate relationships is unconscious.....for myself, at this jucture in my life...my goal is to be more conscious.

With the hope that more conscious loving also means more focus on both partners' needs and mutually understood agreements.

Diego wanted his freedom. The only red flag I see is alcohol and maybe meth. Sure is prevalent here in Palm Springs. Hope his new relationship doesn't depend on stimulated delusional thrills. He had the opposite when living with an old trusted ATM machine called David.