I aim for the “Transcendent We” in a relationship, to amplify life’s joys, and alleviate its sorrows, well beyond what I could do alone. I visualize this state as each partner in the relationship, pushing and pulling on the other:

In the good times, the transcendence is through growth. For these growth periods, we push out independently towards the external world, with the relationship providing an illuminating pull inward to keep us both tethered to joy, reality, and improvement.

In the difficult times, the transcendence is through overcoming. The one supports the other, back pushing inward against back as an equal-and-opposite counter-force against the world collapsing in.

The “Transcendent We”, it turns out, must be an indefinitely long-term commitment (i.e. marriage) for the pair to make life tradeoffs fairly. A good time for one boyfriend can imply a hard time for the other boyfriend1 - for example, the move to improve the one’s career likely means uprooting the other’s. Further, the hard times for the one require the most sacrifice from the other. A long-term relationship can ensure these sacrifices will (more or less) balance out over time for both boyfriends. For me particularly, the “compounded interest” of deep familiarity and discovery, coupled with the security through the hard times, outweighs any mercurial butterflies I’d perhaps get from serial monogomy (or the instability of non-monogomy).

In contrast, short-term relationships devolve to the “Transcendent Me” - giving up the relationship entirely to retreat from the responsibilities it requires. Counter-intuitively, this attitude comes at a higher price than it sounds like on the surface: the lack of future leads to a stagnant present, and likely implies that whatever remaining relationship lifespan there is may just collapse into a singular instant. The reasoning (in one such hypothetical short-term relationship) follows: If we can’t have a future together, then we should not be together longer than a year so that I could later find someone who could; but, if we have only a year left together, he shouldn’t meet my family as my wedding-guest in 6 months; and if he won’t meet my family, I might as well do something better than our current planned vacation 3 months out; and if we don’t have the vacation to look forward to, well, we might as well rip the band-aid off and call it off this minute.

Given buy-in on the long-haul, life goal compatibility is a further requirement (otherwise, the LTR is desired but nevertheless impractical). At the extremes, this compatibility requires either excellent communication and relatively malleable life-goals, or relatively immutable goals checked for compatibility up-front. Most relationships would be somewhere between these extremes. Personally, after some reflection, my life goals are somewhat malleable if we can discuss them in enough depth, and I do value communcation about ideas. Dating is how we figure out our compatibility.

This may all sound overly serious and old-fashioned in an ephemerally focused gay dating app scene where hookups, open relationships, and even polyamory are of primary interest, in which people tend to claim “long-term oriented” status in lieu of the explicit “long-term only”. However, I really do believe in the “Transcendent We” that gay marriage can bring, and if for no other reason than time-scarcity, that is why the other person must at least want the same for me to date him. Rather than an abstract politcal litmus test for policing “thinly-veiled hate speech”, to me, gay marriage is something to do concretely - a foundation to build on and enjoy, for a lifetime.

  1. 😉 ↩︎