Past Issues business man looking confident

Published on December 5th, 2012 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

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Wall Street Love Broker

by Jim Duke

I’ve had a series of conversations with various friends about money, retirement and the magic behind creating a lifetime income stream by convincing people that something like tap water in bottles or a $7 cup of coffee is worth the cost. Compliments of the downturn in the economy, the sale of a business after devaluation and the division of assets with a prior partner, the size of my nest egg went from ostrich to quail in a rather short period of time. I’m the first to admit that I’m not financially astute – I’ve always had an odd relationship with money in that it has not been a major driving force in my life. Somehow, “getting by” has seemed a perfectly reasonable approach to me. My one concession to financial adulthood has involved paying an investment house to manage what is humorously referred to as my “portfolio,” but so far the only one making money on that deal is the investment house. Even so, I feel the need to be somewhat adult-like in my approach to financial investing beyond just hoping that my mother’s vast collection of twist-ties and rubber bands will provide for a comfortable retirement.

In my conversations with brokers and friends, trying to get a handle on how I might improve my investment strategy, I struggled to connect the concepts with something that made sense to me. When conversations turn to commodities, aggregate pricing, IPO financing and market capitalization, my eyes glaze and my brain goes to my happy place. Give me feelings, the intricacies of human interactions and communications – I just don’t speak the language of numbers. However, I began to think about the corollaries between investing for financial gain market and the investment one makes in relationships. I found a number of comparisons because ultimately we enter into relationships just like we enter into investments – with the hopes that something is going to come out of them, that we will gain rather than lose in the process.

I began thinking about the types of relationships that gay men are drawn to, how some of us want short, quick, sometimes just sexually based contacts, while others want longer term and more emotionally-based relationships. It struck me that the same elements of financial speculation – risk, investment, time and expected gain – apply to our relationships as well. And I suspect that sometimes the disconnect that occurs between people may have to do with differences in their relationship investment objectives.

Short Term Low Yield Relationships

Let’s suppose you are the kind of guy who is only interested in quick, easy types of connections with other gay men. In financial terminology, we could say you are primarily interested in pouring all your liquid assets into a back-end load without causing premature deflation. You don’t want deep meaningful interactions that linger and last. You want hook ups, casual gay sex without emotion, brief pleasurable encounters, or – in the vernacular of my generation – the simple desire to find ’em, feel ’em, fuck ’em and forget ’em. These don’t have to be just sex-only relationships. You might be the kind of person who prefers to keep your interactions with other people fairly surface and superficial, not getting into deep and heavy personal sharing. From a relationship investment perspective, you would find these relationships have:

Low Risk – I’m referring to emotional risk here, not physical. Obviously, the physical risks of engaging multiple partners sexually increases the potential for health issues. However, emotional risk is about the potential for entanglement, for feelings and bonding to develop that might tie you to the other person… well, beyond whatever other tying up you’re doing. If you want these kind or relationships, it isn’t about getting to know someone well or sharing a lot about yourself. The risk of a relationship developing outside of the encounter is relatively low. In other words, “Thanks, had a good time, see ya!”

Low Investment – You’re not called upon to put a whole lot into these kind of relationships. Basically, if you show up you’re halfway there. For someone who wants to minimize emotional risk, you’re not putting a lot on the line. You don’t need to focus a great deal on the other person – you’re there for your enjoyment, he’s there for his, and if it works out that the two of you enjoy similar things, then both of you part ways with a win. And if it’s a mismatch, you haven’t put that much into it. There’s always another opportunity waiting for you in the next bar, hotel hot tub or gym locker room.

Short Term – By their nature, these relationships are time-bound, and usually only exist in the short term. Whether it’s a brief social interaction or a quick sexual hook-up, the investment of time is limited. In today’s fast paced world, with all its multiple demands, you many not have or want to offer a lot of time to relationships other than what can occur in short segments. Of course, all that might change if breakfast is included.

Smaller Return on Investment -The point of any investment is: what are you trying to achieve by it and what are you trying to get out of it? Without a lot of investment of time, energy or effort, you have a brief but (hopefully) pleasurable encounter. That’s it. It’s all in the here-and-now, good for the moment and not tangled in meanings or questions about what happens tomorrow. You part ways, both with something to write about in your diaries and brag about to your friends, but baring unforeseen complications, nothing of substance that carries forward. The encounter for both of you might well be remarkably memorable but eminently forgettable.

Long Term High Yield Relationships

On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you’re the kind of guy who wants deeper and more meaningful relationships. Rather than quick and easy, you prefer that your relationships – with friends, lovers or partners – have more substance and intimacy to them. Those kind of relationships require a different type of investment:

High Risk – Again, I’m referring to emotional risk. Putting yourself out there, being who you really are, taking the risk to be vulnerable, exposing yourself fully – these are all risky elements to any relationship. Or rather they are are perceived to be more risky. What if you reveal yourself, what if feelings and bonds occur and it doesn’t work out? The potential for rejection is often viewed as an enormous risk. That’s the inevitable gamble in any relationship, but it is the only path to creating an intimate one. There is no such thing as shallow intimacy.

High Investment – A significant relationship requires significant investment. Any relationship requires work, some more than others. It’s supporting each other, encouraging each other, appreciating your commonalities and working to resolve your differences. Unlike the more superficial types of relationships, what happens matters – what’s said, what it means, how it’s interpreted, the actions it causes and the reactions that result. Intimate relationships require work and effort to build them and to maintain them.

Long Term – These are not “good for an afternoon” types of relationships. They don’t have to be hearts and flowers forever, but there is an expectation that both parties are going to stick around for awhile. One of the most important initial commitments that any pair of people can make is to see where it goes and not chuck it at the first sign of distress. In our disposable, throw-away, easy-to-delete and un-friend world, giving time to a relationship, allowing it to unfold and evolve, can be a critical element to the future of the investment.

Larger Return on Investment – As the old adage says, you get back what you put in. Yes, there is considerable time, effort and risk involved, but the potential for a lasting and meaningful relationship is there, if that’s what you want. These are people with whom you would place your trust, who you know would have your back in a crisis, and who know you, appreciate you, and care for your authentic self.

Note that there’s no value judgment about one or the other type of relationship- it’s not as though one type is “better” than the other. Each offers its advantages and enjoyments, and depending on where you are in your life, may provide exactly the type of interactions with other men that will best suit your individual needs. You may prefer one type over another, you may prefer both, you may prefer a mix. Any good financial adviser will tell you that diversification is key. You need a mix of people in your life, some with whom you can have deep intimacy, others with whom your relationship might be more superficial, and others who fit somewhere in the middle. No one relationship can meet all your needs. As I often tell my clients, the only way to get what you really want is to be clear about what you want in the first place. Any type of relationship – short term or long term – has its hazards and risk, its benefits and its gains. You have to decide what works for you and if you’re not sure, or if it’s not working out for you, I can help. There is something that I have seen in one form or another on every investment website, email and brochure I’ve gone through. It’s an admonishment for anyone investing money, but I think it applies to relationships as well:

Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose. Invest wisely to best meet your goals.

___________________________________

Your Gay Life Coach and Guide,

Jim Duke is the Founder and President of “Guide For Gay Men ,” a service which provides personal life coaching and consultation primarily to older gay and bisexual men. Navigating the issues involved in coming out, dealing with relationships, love and sex and the transitions of careers, life decisions and aging can be daunting…unless you have someone experienced to help guide you. Contact Jim and read what he has to say on these and other topics at G4GM.com

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