Are bad boyfriends for gay guys different than bad boyfriends for straight girls?

My two assistants, Kerri and Sam, were in a wedding this weekend. I heard lots of stories about who the good guys were, who the bad guys were, who the datable bachelors were, who the stay-away from "creeps" were, who heartbreakers-but-you-go-out-with-them-anyway were, who the I-would-marry-them-in-fifteen-years-but-wouldn't-date-them-now-because-they-bore-the-hell-out-of-me were.

This last group particularly intrigued me. Why would you think that somebody would bore you less when you get older than he would now? I ask.

Is "settling down" synonymous with "calming down"? And is settling down synonymous with lowering your standards and expectations? That's a scary thought.

Sam mentioned a young woman he knew who graduated college recently, moved in with her boyfriend, adopted a dog, and got a full time job. Then, she realized there were some irreconcilable differences between her and her partner. He wanted to stay in and read at night. She wanted to go out for a drink. She wasn't ready for that life. She wanted to go out dancing, she wanted to use the word party as a verb, and she felt as if the life that she chose was holding her back and holding her down.

It's not that this guy wasn't great, but he wasn't great right now.

Why do young women think that, with age, comes the need to tuck our toes under blankets, our noses in the latest issue of Boring Life Today, and our heads on our pillows by 9pm?

Or is it not only young women who think this?

I ask Sam what his definition of a good boyfriend is. "He's someone who gives you your space and does not demand that you become the center of his."

I point out that the first thing Sam mentions is not getting too close. Shouldn't the most important part of a relationship be the drive toward intimacy instead of the boundaries separating?

Kerri shakes her head. "No, not necessarily." She would say that. She and her boyfriend plan to stay together, even though she's moving across the country and he's staying home.

"Ok, then." I say. But that is about the vicissitudes of an individual relationship other than the defining features of a good boyfriend or bad boyfriend. Are the same things that would make a good boyfriend the same things that would make for a bad husband?

"No." Says Sam. "The things that make a good boyfriend are the same that makes a good person. You just want to be around him." Kerri and I look a little puzzled.

I ask, "Is the guy you fantasize about the same guy that you fantasize about moving in with?" I'm thinking about a good friend of mine who defines his relationship as a 19 year one-night stand.

I think it's is one of the most romantic definitions of a relationship.

"Nope," says Sam, without hestitation. "In fact, II use that same definition to describe my worst relationship. I've called it a three-month one night stand. We didn't care about each other at all. There was no emotion behind the passion."

"But there was passion!" Kerri chimes in. "19 years and they still get that giddy excitement of being together? That's something. That's love. That's a great relationship."

Perhaps in the end, we can all agree on something. It doesn't matter if you're together one night, one year, or an entire lifetime. As Kerri put it, "when you finally decide to settle down, you can't get rid of the excitement. That's all any of us--straight or gay-- depend on in monogamous relationships."

What's your defintion, dear reader? What's your response to the question "Are the qualities that make for a good boyfriend the ones that will make for a good partner?"

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