By Jeff Fuller
When I moved to Atlanta from Nashville to take a new job, I had a boyfriend who stayed behind. One of my Atlanta friends warned me that “this city is the graveyard of relationships.” As predicted by my friend, my existing relationship didn’t live long after my move to the big city. Newly single, I assembled a group of single gay friends, living out a real-life gay version of Sex and the City, narrating our stories like Carrie, sometimes wanting romance like Charlotte, but usually behaving like Samantha, who I think we all admired for her sexual confidence.
I thought it would be easy to find a new boyfriend in Atlanta, but my life seemed like an endless series of first dates that never led to anything lasting. While I had my share of horrible dates, most of the people I dated were wonderful, interesting guys. Sometimes the chemistry seemed right, but things just didn’t last beyond a few dates.
It was easy for me to blame the city of Atlanta for my relationship woes. There were just too many options, too many distractions, too much flakiness. Of course, I blamed everyone else for being distracted and flaky. I was focused on finding the perfect guy, but I didn’t realize that was part of my problem. No one person was going to have all of the characteristics of my ideal man, so I didn’t give a lot of guys the chance because they didn’t have it all. I also fell into the pattern of chasing after guys that were unavailable to me in one way or another.
I think my problem was that, during my first several years in Atlanta, I didn’t really want a relationship and I wasn’t truly ready for one. I really just wanted to have my fun because I had lived a very conservative life almost up through that stage in my life. The guys I was interested in probably could see that and knew that they needed to look elsewhere to find the partner they needed.
As more time went by, I became very aware of my singleness, horrified at the ever-increasing amount of time between the end of my last relationship and the present date. Out of desperation, I started fixing anything I thought was wrong with me. I joined workout bootcamps, hired a personal trainer, redesigned my condo, and saw a therapist. Of all these efforts, the therapy sessions were probably the most valuable. It revealed to me that, deep down, I was refusing to love and accept myself.
In the end, I found someone, as the old cliché goes, when I was least looking for it. I was ready to move to Berlin and met the man who would become my husband just a few months before I left. Without the weight of expectations, I was able to live in the moment, be my authentic self and enjoy getting to know this amazing guy I had just met. After spending three months in Germany, I decided to return to Atlanta and be with him. Ultimately, I believe that my happy ending came about because I had finally learned how to love myself first.
Apart from being a Gay Generation-Xer, Jeff Fuller is an attorney, writer, travel blogger, historian, and military spouse. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Jeff went to college, graduate school and law school in the Southeast. He has called Atlanta home for the last decade but recently moved to DC to follow his husband on his military career. He occasionally blogs at journeyingjeff.com.