I have been blessed to have been in love with great, high-quality women in my life, including my wife Mary. And while those relationships didn’t all end up with marriage, they were (and remain) very meaningful to me and are integral to my selfhood. These relationships were generally deep and fun, a balance of the intellectual and physical, and these women were smart, funny, and active. I never settled for mere companionship, but wanted depth of feeling, thought, experience, and abilities.

To wit, all but one of these women has a PhD, and the one who doesn’t have the doctorate has a master’s degree and is about to embark on a doctorate next year. These women are artistic — with words, ink, music, dance. They are risk-takers, having started businesses, trained horses, jumped out of airplanes, and embarked on many other inspired projects. They are funny and clever — to my recollection, all of them were fans of Monty Python, and none of them was particularly fond of the Three Stooges. Without exception, we spent much time together playing word or problem-solving games, discussing movies or books, and generally musing on culture or philosophy.

I loved those women, and I hope they loved their time with me, as well. But I was not whole, and it is clear (using the lens of hindsight) that what we generally didn’t talk about were feelings, or I should probably clarify and say that I have been the one to avoid revealing my feelings, a shortcoming I’ve written about elsewhere in this journal. My reticence was probably part pride/stubbornness, but it was mostly the twin influences of fear of revealing my true nature and a historical defense mechanism that comes from my upbringing.

Given this year’s developments, I believe it is entirely possible that I have sought refuge in the arms of these smart, funny, active, and accomplished women, where I was wrapped up with our mutual interests and interactions and intellectual jousting to the point where I didn’t have to deal with my own gender issues. Which is not to say that these women were merely sleights of hand designed to make me forget about my black hole of identity. Far from it, these relationships were sincere and fun and deep, and I might offer this self-rebuttal that it may have been the gender issues that pulled me away from them, rather than towards them.

As Mary points out, and I think this is a brilliant insight, it’s also possible that I chose to be with women who I’d like to be or become. I wonder if that’s a small part of all relationships–that is, we pick people who complete us.

[See also “To All the Men I’ve Loved Before“]