When Stars Collide

1.18.2012

By Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka

What started as a brief encounter transformed two loving men.

DAVID BURTKA
I’ve always known I was going to have a monogamous relationship, raise children, and be happy in love. It was the one thing in life that I never doubted for a second. I was in another relationship when I met Neil and was doing the long-distance, New York–to-L.A. thing. It was sort of on the rocks. Long distance is so hard. I was performing in the Sam Mendes version of Gypsy on Broadway when I ran into Neil on the street. He was doing the Mendes version of Cabaret at the time, and I was with a friend who knew him pretty well. I wasn’t a big Doogie Howser fan -- I had probably seen it once or twice when I was growing up -- so I gave him a, “Hey, what’s up, nice to meet you,” and that was really it. I thought it would be nice to know him, but I didn’t think in a million years I’d start dating him.

We began hanging out with other people, and we had a lunch or so, but nothing romantic. I thought he was adorable, though, with these amazing blue eyes that are just hypnotizing to me. I ended up breaking with my boyfriend, and a week later, Neil and I had a date. We went to see a movie -- I think it was Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie. We started hanging out every single night, and after three months, it was just non-stop. We talk on the phone at least eight times a day and text at least 25 times a day. We are, in a way, very codependent. He’s my lifeline, in an amazing way. Without him, I can’t breathe. The biggest thing is that he makes me laugh, but he’s also smart. He can do everything. I’m not kidding; I think he’s half robot. He makes me a little more grounded, and I bring out the wild side in him. Don’t get me wrong -- we fight. Our fights last five minutes, then we’re over it. And we’re both Gemini -- we have a good twin and a bad twin, and the four of us get along really well!

The first three years was our honeymoon period. Then you settle into the relationship, and it morphs into just living, breathing. It becomes more comfortable, but it becomes a necessity -- something you can’t give up, like an addict. How has it changed me? I basically have diarrhea mouth -- I am brutally honest to the point of being a negative thing. Now I think more before I speak.

Even on that first date, we talked about kids. If he hadn’t wanted kids, I don’t think we’d be together. I always thought that family was the most important thing in life, and no matter what I do, whether being a chef or an actor or a dancer, being a dad is what I do best. I am the maternal one in the relationship. For the first year, I didn’t miss a nighttime or morning with them. I think it’s important to have other lives and feed your relationship, but it’s also important that your children are raised by you. We named Gideon after an artist we collect, Gideon Rubin, and Harper after Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of our favorite books.

I don’t want people to think we’re a perfect couple. Nothing’s perfect. A relationship is work and it changes. And you go with the changes. It’s more good times than bad times, but it’s not always good. You have to overcome those issues and move on. We have a really great recipe for a wonderful relationship, but we don’t want to be the poster boys for gay relationships. We’re not trying to pretend that we are perfect. We’re just trying -- in a good, positive, loving way -- to live our lives.

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