“I’m a bitter, single, old queen.”
I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve had friends say this to me. Maybe not with these exact words, but in words that describe the same sentiment: I’m too old to find love, and I’m over all gay men.
Many gay guys love to boast how they “hate all gay men,” or “gay men are the worst.” They wear their jadedness on their sleeve like a badge of honor.
It’s a sign of maturity to them. They’ve seen and experienced so much that they think they know the so-called “truths” about gay men: We’re all shallow, only looking for casual flings, liars, cheaters, incapable of a healthy relationship, and so on and so forth.
Now, they believe this about all gay men because that’s the type of gay man they’ve had the misfortune of dating. They’ve had their hearts broken more times than they’re able to count by guys who seemed different. Guys who seemed like they wanted something more, who seemed like they were “the one.” Only to learn that during their relationship, they were getting lied to the entire time.
This sucks. Plain and simple. I’m not going to pretend that it’s fun to get ghosted by a guy you thought you really hit it off with. It is, of course, incredibly painful when you reveal your true self to someone, only to be immediately rejected. And there are few things in life more devastating than having the man you love leave you for another man.
When you’ve experienced this type of repeated rejection, for years on end, it’s difficult to not become jaded. But that’s exactly why being jaded is not the symbol of maturity that so many gay men think it is. Being jaded is easy. It’s giving up. The mature thing is to keep dating with a changed approach and to keep your head held high. Adults don’t give up when they encounter challenges. That’s something toddlers do.
These gay men are conflating life experience (which they absolutely do have from dating multiple guys), with how they respond to their experiences. Just because you experienced something doesn’t automatically make you mature. Being mature requires going a step further: analyzing and learning from your mistakes and experiences.
Nevertheless, becoming jaded is a natural biological response. Jadedness is a manifestation of what psychologists call “learned helplessness.”
The idea behind learned helplessness is simple. When a person repeatedly endures a painful or otherwise aversive stimulus (rejection from various men), and no matter what he does (he dates different types of guys, goes to therapy, becomes more communicative with his partners, etc.) he’s still unable to avoid the aversive stimulus (rejection from gay men), he will eventually give up trying (stop dating altogether).
He feels that no matter what he does, the bad thing is going to happen, so why bother trying? That’s why it’s called learned helplessness because, in essence, he’s learned through repeated experiences to become helpless.
So I don’t mean to call all the jaded queens immature. What they’re feeling is natural. It’s arguably expected. But let’s not flaunt being jaded with pride.
It’s okay to let our past experiences with men shape us. It’s necessary to learn from our mistakes. But don’t let these past negative experiences define who you are as a person. Don’t let them depress you or discourage you from meeting new guys. Don’t be proud to be jaded. Because at the end of the day, being jaded doesn’t do yourself, or anyone else, a service.