Homelessness: Love, Sex, Companionship

“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.” – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium

In the above quotation, His Holiness points out the importance of having positive relationships with other people. Among the positive ways we may relate to others is through love, intimacy and companionship.

What about the homeless? Do homeless people have these relationships? I asked homeless people about this topic and I thank them for their responses that follow.

Anonymous, 49 years old:

“We all need all three of these – love, sex and companionship. But, getting one of the above works for the moment.”

Darleen, 44 years old:

“You’ve got your topic wrong. Companionship should be first, then love then sex. That’s the right order. Recently, somebody parked his van near me and asked me to go with him. I said, ‘No.’ Then he hit me upside the head and he left. I was dazed. I took off. I didn’t report the violence to the police because I have a warrant.”

Josh, 19 years old:

“I’m a gang member. And I lost my best friend to a gang shoot-out eight days ago in South East San Diego. He was 19 years old and he was like my brother. The people who killed him were from another South East San Diego gang. Yesterday, I was sitting on the beach and talking to two gentlemen who were older, in their 20’s. It turned out that these two gentlemen were from the gang that killed my friend.

When I found this out, I wasn’t sure what to do – should I show them love or hate them. I chose to be neutral to them – that was the choice I made. I try to look at the positives of life. I just hope that anybody who losses a friend or family member due to non-natural causes can open their eyes and learn from the tragedy that it’s all about your decision whether you choose to hate or love.”

Vido, 30 years old:

“Companionship – you find people in the same state as you are in so you tend to congregate. I really wouldn’t call the homeless people I hang out with, “friends.” I wouldn’t put my life in their hands and vice versa. But, at the same time, we look out for one another.

See this stuff here [pointing to backpacks and blankets on the ground] – no one is going to touch it because there is always someone looking after it. As far as making friends, people are always coming and going. There’s no time to make friends and keep in touch. It’s not like you’re going to develop a lifelong friendship.”

Adam, 29 years old:

“I think love and companionship are one and the same for me. The qualities you expect when you love someone are the same qualities you want in a companion. And it’s when you would do anything for someone. When your very existence depends upon the reaction of the other person. That’s what I believe.”

Roy, 41 years old:

“My wife, Diana, and I started seeing each other in New York when we were kids. We were together for 22 years. Diana served as an E-6 in the Navy, but she received an honorable discharge because she had breast cancer. Five months ago, I came to San Diego to bury Diana in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. She was 31 years old. I love her very much and I miss her.

I’m homeless now because I don’t want to go back to our home in New York and smell her clothes. I haven’t sought counseling because there’s been so much death in my family and I’ve always handled it on my own. [However,] I’ve been feeling kind of reckless since losing my wife and because of my health issues. I have Stage 4 colon cancer and pancreatic and lung lymphomas.”

Codi, 18 years old:

“When you’re on the street, love is hard to find. But I figure that love is not found, it comes in time. But, if you do find love out here, the bond will be stronger than most because it’s not just about the sex when things are said and done. It’s whether they will be there by your side when no one else will and whether they will sleep next to you in a ditch.”

Grace, 53 years old:

“Since I’ve been living this lifestyle, I’ve been celibate for five years. When I first started living this lifestyle, there was something inside me that wanted companionship – mostly because I was afraid to travel by myself. But within six months of me living a traveling lifestyle, I went with a backpack to Thailand, India and Nepal. I realized that if I could do that alone, I could do anything alone! After several months back in the United States, I got very sick and ended up in the hospital in Ashland, Oregon.

When I got out of the hospital, people who would not have been attractive to me before were suddenly attractive because I was in a place of weakness and I wanted someone there for me. That was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized that that place of weakness was the place from which I entered every relationship I had ever had. I decided that I did not want to be with anyone until I could heal myself or whatever was in me that was broken.

So if I have a relationship again, I want it to come from strength. And I want someone who will bring something to my life. I haven’t met anyone like that yet. Of course, at 53 years old, living in a vehicle and traveling, I’m not sure how great my odds are of finding someone worthy. Now, I have a dog. He’s a great companion.”

I look forward to your comments.
Thank you


Christine Schanes

Christine Schanes, J.D., Ph.D., is a consultant and public educator in the area of homelessness. Christine is director of two departments within Nos Amis/Our Friends, Inc.: (1) the new Center for Justice and Social Compassion and (2) Children Helping Poor and Homeless People, co-founded by Christine and her two children, Chrissy, age 8, and Patrick, age 6 over twenty years ago. Today, CHPHP is a nationally recognized educational outreach program conducted by children and teens with adult advisors that encourages direct service.

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  1. avatarNico says

    I would love more reactions of homeless people. Some of them are the kindest most friendliest of sages (at least some of them), turned out and cast out by an insane society that has no use for people without spending power or decent FICO scores.

    • avatarChristine Schanes says


      Thanks for your comment.

      I agree with you totally! I had thought about writing on this topice for a long, long time. But, on some sites I write for, there is a word limitation – luckily, no word limitation at the San Diego Free Press.org – so I generally have to keep my articles between 800 and 1300 words.

      Can you share some stories of the homeless people you know? That way we can get more words on this topic!


  2. avatar says

    I love this it must be getting everyone thinking? But the truth is some of it is true? Food yes Homeless people are hungry? They sometimes eat the wrong foods, that is why many are over wieght? We are trying to change that by giving out good food? There are many who Drink and do drugs Homeless & Non Homeless? It a problem out there? People hang out in BARS Homeless & Non Homeless? Its a problem for some people? We need more programs to help those who want a new life? Change, Love, and people who they can relate too? What are we as a Nation Doing Complaining about them will not help resolve our problem America ” Help Them They don’t like being Homeless, I talk to them Daily at our Mission? Bread of Life Rescue Mission Oceanside, Ca http://www.bolrescue.org help us help them? Pastor Steve Bassett

    • avatarChristine Schanes says

      Pastor Steve,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I went to your website, http://www.bolrescue.org and watched the video of your work at Bread of Life Rescue Mission.

      I particularly appreciate your comment, “[t]hey don’t like being homeless…” That’s so true.

      How many times have I heard, “They want to be homeless.”

      Have you heard that, too?


  3. avatarAnna Daniels says

    Christine, your intimate glimpse into this deeply personal subject is powerful and deeply moving.
    Roy’s words will linger with me for a long long time. The emotional devastation he cannot face by returning home to find the smells of his now dead wife clinging to her clothes. And Roy is only 41 years old, living in the street with Stage 4 colon cancer.
    You listen very carefully, and very closely to what the homeless people among us have to say. You gather their stories up and encourage us to listen too. By taking a moment to listen, we suspend our often too quick rush to judgement. That is how are common humanity is established at the most basic level. Thank you.

    • avatarChristine Schanes says

      Thank you, Anna, for your comment.

      And I appreciate your kind words of encouragement.

      I am very grateful to the people who shared their stories with me.