In an era of one-night-stands and flexible sexuality, it’s quite uncool to find yourself acting in ways your grandparents would approve of-and it’s always been uncool, even in granddad’s age, for a guy to turn down any chance for non-committal sex that came his way.

I’ve always been a hopeless romantic; the proverbial “nice guy” who wants nothing more than a meaningful, committed relationship with somebody cool. But these days, such an attitude is viewed as unrealistic, even cheesy. I nearly came to agree. Two years ago, when I truly fell in love for the first time in my life, it was with somebody who couldn’t return my feelings (she was already involved). In my anguish, I turned away from love. I waffled, wanting connection but wondering if it’s better to just “have fun” with no strings, and no risk of pain.

Yet, contrary to what my male friends, and my genitals, would have had me do, my romantic nature has won out every time. I don’t know if it’s any different for gay men, but a het-guy turning down free sex grievously violates the sacred code of the macho-a man literally puts his testicles on the line. But that’s exactly what I found myself doing. Last week, in a chain of irony, I turned down my two best opportunities in months, and was reminded of what I really want.

It started with me feeling sorry for myself-heartbroken because I want something I seem unable to have. I chanced upon an old friend and we ended up drunk at her apartment. Her boyfriend was out of town. Maybe I was drunk or just full of myself, but there came a point, rather unexpectedly, when it seemed clear that she wanted to do much more than talk.

She’s my friend and I certainly cannot judge her, but despite how much I would enjoy a shameless roll in the hay, I could not help her betray a trust. That’s not how I want to get my kicks. I made my excuses and left.

Later in the week, I bumped into a very cute girl that I’d met at a party a while back, and who I thought I’d never see again. We hung out, and I’m sure if I were the charming type I could have made a play and maybe ended the evening with some fooling around. But I didn’t even try. I couldn’t. Nothing she said had any meaning or thought attached to it. Despite how sweet and lovely she was, there was nothing inside I could connect with. There was nothing real about her.

Again, I made my excuses and left. And there I was-on the way home, confused, in a pizza restaurant, Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” playing on the radio.

I wondered if I’m a fool, only to realize that I’d be an even bigger fool to put my desire for sex ahead of my need for connection and compassion. My grandparents were right.

I fell in love with life this week, and now I’m holding on for the big play. I want full-on romance and nothing less. I want fireworks and humour and friendship and lust and I want it all with one person. I want a girl who lives for depth and meaning; someone more beautiful than pretty. I want someone who’d rather think too much than not enough-someone I’d walk past a million buxom bombshells just to gaze upon.

I want somebody who wants me for who I am, not what I do or what I wear, and who wants me for more than just a single night. I want the package deal-even if it means I’m celibate till I’m eighty, and even if I have to endure a thousand heartbreaks to find one true connection. I swear by heaven and earth and all in between that I’ll risk eternal loneliness and endless damnation if it means I can have a single chance at real love. I have no fear anymore.

Does this make me a loser? Maybe. But I’d rather be a romantic loser than a successful asshole-to hell with that. I’m looking for something real.

Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required