Thursday, June 28, 2007

The case of the expiring gaydar membership

Last November, I wanted to get boyfriend number 3 a Christmas present before I left for my holiday with boyfriend number 2 in Argentina.

"I don't know what you can get me for Christmas," says boyfriend number 3 on one of my lunchtime visits in early November. "You know me, I'm pretty self-sufficient so I don't really need anything."

Always keep a pair of hand-cuffs next to your bed in case you need to restrain a burglar"I've got an idea," I say mischievously, "I think you'd get a lot of use out of a pair of hand-cuffs :-). Do you want reinforced steel ones, or how about fluffy pink?"

But he looks at me frostily, not at all amused. "I definitely don't want things like that lying around, in case the guy I'm seeing finds them and wants to know where they came from!"

Sometimes I find boyfriend number 3's attitude to this guy exasperating! He says he's not a boyfriend, but somehow he's a lot more than a fuck-buddy because boyfriend number 3 goes to extraordinary lengths to keep his other liaisons secret from this guy.

"I've got another idea," I say smiling, "why don't I buy you a gaydar membership? It's not something that'll be lying around your flat here, and I know that you'll use it!"

"No thank you," replies boyfriend number 3 firmly, "it's not something that I need".

"But you keep asking me to send you the pics from all the photo albums that you can't see as a gaydar guest," I protest, "if you had a membership you'd be able to see them all yourself :-)."

We let the matter drop but the following week, with time running out before my departure to Buenos Aires, I decide that a gaydar membership is the perfect gift. It's something that he'd never buy for himself, something that he'll get a lot of use out of, and something that fits all his other requirements in terms of being undetectable to his main man!

Having arranged to upgrade his gaydar account for six months, I send him a gaydar message to let him know, and to wish him Happy Christmas :-). But the next day I get a txt msg:

boyfriend number 3: Please undo what you have done, it is not something that I want :-(

Oh dear! I try contacting him by txt msg, by email, by gaydar, and I even consider phoning him on his mobile phone which is always dangerous in case he's with his man. He ignores everything. I guess it was foolish to give him something he explicitly said he didn't want :-(.

"Why? Why did you do it?" he asks me when he finally lets me visit him a month later, a couple of days after my return from Argentina, "you knew I'd be annoyed didn't you?"

"Yes, well, but I thought that once you'd seen how useful it was," I start, "and I mean, its invisible to that guy you're seeing, and well, I just thought ..."

"Well," interrupts boyfriend number 3 smiling now, "don't do it again, all right!!"

"Yes sir," I reply submissively.

"Although I admit it is useful!" he giggles.

Rolling forward a few months, it's now April, two months ago, and once again I'm visiting boyfriend number 3 on a weekday lunchtime.

"So what do you want for your birthday?" I ask him while we're cuddling up after the customary activities. "Perhaps I could renew your gaydar membership, it must be about to expire?"

"Hmmm, yes but you can't be the boy who buys me my gaydar membership all the time," says boyfriend number 3.

"Why not? Well what DO you want then?"

"I don't know, you know me, I'm pretty self-sufficient and I don't really need anything!"

"You said that last time," I laugh, giving him a big squeeze.

As I'm about to leave, I confirm with him that he absolutely doesn't want me to renew his gaydar membership, under any circumstances.

"No, definitely not," he says with real fire in his eyes.

"OK sure :-(. Well then, I promise that I definitely won't renew it for you, never, ever, not in a million years, not even if you kneel in front of me and beg me to!"

"Perfect," says boyfriend number 3 smiling.

We kiss each other goodbye and I head for my waiting taxi.

But the following month, I spot him on gaydar one weekend, so we start chatting to catch up with each other.

GB: so how's that web site that you're working on going?
boyfriend number 3: slowly! it's still not finished ...
GB: well I'm keen to see it when it's all done


boyfriend number 3: GB
GB: uh huh
boyfriend number 3: can I ask you something?
GB: sure, what?
boyfriend number 3: you know my gaydar membership
GB: yes, you made me promise not to renew it under any circumstances, even if you asked me to!

I can tell that I'm going to enjoy this so I may as well make the most of it!

boyfriend number 3: well, yes, I know, but it's about to run out
GB: of course, 6 month memberships tend to do that after 6 months!
boyfriend number 3: the thing is, I can't have anything like that on my bank or credit card statements, you know, in case the guy I'm seeing were to find it
GB: so you want me to break my promise to you do you?
boyfriend number 3: well, I guess I've been a bit foolish, could you renew for me please, but I'll pay you back next time I see you so you're not really buying it for me because you'll get the money

Boyfriend number 3 knows that the money is irrelevent to me, but I guess promising to pay me back makes him feel better about the situation. He knows I can't refuse him. But at least I'll probably be able to get a few extra favours the next time I see him :-). And I can also take some satisfaction because I was clearly right, it was the perfect Christmas present for him!

Boyfriend number 3 often seems to be a bit like this, a mass of loveable contradictions. But I've still got a problem. His birthday is now very very soon, I know the gaydar membership won't count as a present because he'll pay me back, so what on earth can I get him?

Monday, June 25, 2007

I don't invent the 'Dear GB' emails!

In a comment to my most recent posting in the 'Dear GB' category, a guy calling himself Stephen suggested earlier today that perhaps I make up the 'Dear GB' emails. I was drafting a response to him when I realised that this is an important question, so I'm going to devote an entire post to answer this.

The answer is NO, I have never made up any of the 'Dear GB' emails. If any of them feel similar it'll be because I sometimes make some changes to improve clarity or English grammar. I also always edit the start to 'Dear GB' because apart from one occasion, people always begin their emails differently (e.g. Hi GB). But I do try and preserve the style of the author where possible.

In terms of the situations, so far I think they've all been pretty distinct. In particular, this recent one seemed very different to me. The next 'Dear GB' though ("Email from a gay guy with relationship issues"), which I'll hopefully get round to later this week, is a very similar situation to another recent 'Dear GB' email. But the one after that will definitely be different because it's from a young woman. As everyone will see when I post the response to that one, I've been in correspondence with another young woman who previously wrote me a 'Dear GB' email, because I felt I needed a woman's view to do a good job.

Regarding the most recent posting which Stephen queried, the guy who sent me the emails has now identified himself as Robert by leaving a comment. I am grateful because I don't like to have my integrity questioned, and I can certainly confirm that Robert was the name on the emails that I received. But he shouldn't have been put in the situation where he felt that he needed to support me. In fact I was having supper with Dragonzlad when Robert's second email arrived. Dragonzlad had just gone to the men's room in between courses, and I checked my emails on my PDA while he was away. On his return I took him into my confidence and showed him the email to get his view on the situation.

Anyway, I don't understand why anyone would think I'd make them up? Does anyone think I don't have enough to blog about?

The 'Dear GB' concept all started when I received a few unsolicited emails asking for advice. Because they were interesting situations, I asked for the author's permission to post their emails and my responses. The people who sent me the emails seemed to like my responses, so underneath my e-mail address in the column on the right here I added a line saying that people can email me for advice. I now seem to be getting more and more such emails, and at one point last week there were four pending 'Dear GB' emails. Perhaps it's getting a bit out of hand because I'm a banker, not a professional counsellor!

'Dear GB' is just me trying to be a good gay guy, providing free advice to anyone who thinks I may be able to help them. In a similar way, in another attempt to be a good gay guy, I got the fee from The Guardian piece that I wrote as 'GB' donated to the Terrace Higgins Trust. Obviously I mustn't divulge any of the names or contact details of the people who've sent me 'Dear GB' emails, but if anyone doubts me on the THT donation and wants to email me, I could tell them who to speak to at the THT to confirm that The Guardian charity donation occurred. (In any case, the online version of The Guardian article also says that the donation occurred).

So when I do a 'Dear GB' posting, please can everyone try and leave comments, because these are real people sending me these emails. I don't claim to be any good at writing the responses, and I certainly don't have any counselling qualifications either, but there's one claim that I will make here. I don't invent these emails for the fun of it, so if nothing else, I do think that I have some integrity!

The confidence mirror

Confidence is such an important quality for an individual in all areas of life. The businessman needs it to negotiate successfully, the interview candidate needs it to get the job, and the straight guy usually needs it when he wants to ask his girlfriend to marry him. Lesbians and gay guys need it too, of course, especially in relation to being open about their sexuality.

Most people I've met don't seem to realise that often, confidence is reflected. When a person is confident about something, that biases anyone they're dealing with in favour of it. Similarly if someone shows a lack of confidence in relation to something, whoever they're dealing with will pick up on that up, and can often exploit the situation against the person showing the lack of confidence if they want to.

It's 'Heres a loverly tray of busy lizzies, bargin for £2, brighten up any garden :-)' and not 'Buzy lizzies for £2 but beware, the frost will kill them in the winter :-('Takes sales as an example. Whoever bought something from a sales guy who didn't believe in the product they're trying to sell? It doesn't matter whether it's an expensive Ferrari or a tray of bedding plants in Columbia Road flower market, if the person selling the product doesn't believe in it then they won't have any customers. But when they do believe in their product, other people consider buying it, and a sale is the ultimate proof that the salesman's confidence in the product is mirrored by the customer.

Exactly the same rules apply when one is talking about one's sexuality, and especially when one is coming out to someone. If a person talks about being gay with complete confidence, the people they're talking to will be biased in their favour. Even if they want to, homophobes find it hard to criticise a gay person when they're full of confidence. But if a person comes out as gay and they're feeling bad about it, they're effectively putting themselves at the mercy of whoever they're talking to. When it's clear that the person who's coming out as gay thinks there's a problem about being gay, the person they're talking to can develop doubts too.

The problem is that confidence is very hard to fake, and the only way to build confidence in terms of being gay is through positive experiences. So when a person starts coming out, doing it to people who'll be sympathetic is very important, because the positive result helps build confidence.

I can remember coming out to my mother. She wasn't the first person I came out to by any means, but after I'd uttered the words my confidence evaporated and I started crying. Deep down I knew that she'd be sympathetic, even though she would certainly have preferred me to be straight. Immediately I got big hugs, reassuring words, and I was a bit further along the road to achieving my gay lifestyle black belt. But had I been dealing with someone who was unsympathetic, left with no confidence about the situation they would have been able to destroy me and perhaps put back my personal development by many years.

Perhaps this is all a bit obvious. Don't come out to people who'll be unsympathetic until one feels comfortable being gay! But there's more than that here, because when two people are discussing something and one person hasn't made up their mind about it, the confidence or lack of confidence shown by the other person will often determine the outcome:
  • "I came out as gay recently and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, I feel so much better about life now". If the person on the receiving end of such a statement has known the person for a while but never met an openly gay person before, they're likely to see the truth of that statement if it's delivered with confidence, and walk away with a more positive attitude towards gay people :-).

  • "I think I'm gay but I really wish I wasn't, do you know anyone who can help me?" Anyone who hears that and hasn't met any gay people before is likely to think that being gay is like having a nasty incurable disease, to be avoided at all cost in case it's contagious :-(!
As I said at the start of this post, confidence is important in all areas of life. But it is especially important for gay people when they're considering coming out to someone!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Email from a guy in a difficult relationship

This isn't a standard Dear GB posting. My view of the situation changed significantly after exchanging a few emails. It all started early last week when I received the following email from a gay guy who lives in London with another guy.

Dear GB

Hope you are well.

I have been reading your blog for a few months now and it is very entertaining to say the least :)

I hope you can provide some advise to me regarding my predicament. I have only recently accepted that I am gay. No one in my family knows about this, but I think they have guessed. I have been brought up as a Christian all my life and it's been extremely hard to accept. It is still hard for me. I have always thought that this is a sin etc. My background is Asian but have been brought up in the West so I do have both cultures to deal with.

I have only told a few of my good friends about me being gay. They were of course happy for me.

My predicament is that I met this guy in a night club when I was at my most depressed about being gay...when I was just going through the decision etc.... this was 1 and 1/2 yeas ago. Initially I was not attracted to him at all but the more I got to know him I actually think I have fallen for him. I don't know whether it is love or whether it's just that he is someone who understands me.

I have opened myself up to him completely, and only him. He is someone that I have chosen to trust. The predicament is that I am not attracted to him. We have been together since we met and I only enjoy sex with him when I have had too much to drink. This really frustrates him of course, but I have always been truthful to him about how I feel for him. I do care for him deeply, and I think I love him as a best friend.

We have tried to break up about 3 times now. It was always me that wanted this but in the end he always melted my heart. I do not want to hurt his feelings in any way as he has helped me be open as much as I can at the moment about my sexuality.

I do not know whether I will be ever let my family know because I do believe it will devastate them. My parents especially.

My boyfriend (I am not comfortable calling him this), I'd rather call him my best friend :), knows how I feel and I have not lied in any way to him.

We have not had sex for a few months now which is my decision. I do not want to be in the position of being forced to do something, or being taken advantage off. This obviously is an issue for him, I do not know whether he has slept with anyone else, but I do hope he will let me know if he did.

I am still very shy and therefore have not even tried to cheat on him but that has come up in my mind.

I have been told that I am extremely attractive for an Asian ...ha ha.....and should just go out there...but the problem is my guilt and self esteem with the issue of being gay.... sigh.. One of my good friend just thinks that I should be having loads of one night stands... :)

It has taken so long for me to accept myself but I know that I need to just go out there eventually.... :(

Poor guy! In terms of being gay, I went through something very similar when I came out, so I know what it's like. Whenever I get emails like this I always want to wrap my arms round the author, give him a big hug, and tell him that everything will be all right!

Relationships between younger Asian guys and older Caucasian guys seem quite common, so I couldn't help wondering whether this was the situation here. I suggested this to him in my reply, saying that my best guess was that he was in his early 20's and perhaps the other guy was in his 40's or even older. Within a day I had received another email from him as follows:

Hi GB,

Thanks for replying back so soon and yes you may post my email. It would be nice to get others advise and yours especially.

I am actually in my early 30s and he is the same age, although I do act like I am 20 sometimes :).

Is age difference an issue if he was much older? Maybe, but he accepted himself as gay when he was a teenager. I on the other hand have only recently accepted it, and am still uncomfortable in gay environment or if I am being hit on. e.g. I was in the Nike store in New York recently and a man was constantly smiling at me to get my attention. All I wanted to do was to get out of the store cause my heart was pounding so fast. It just feels weird. Also in the men's room it happens a lot as well. I just pretend not to notice :).

For me, the main problem is that I am not attracted to him physically. The feeling is more like as if we have been with each other for ages and it is the companionship that bonds us together.

Maybe it is just me but he does have charisma and he gets loads of attention when he goes clubbing :). He loves me deeply and actually tells me a couple time a day that he does. This is very sweet.

I think I do love him but for different reasons.

I think I might have had slightly too much to drink last night when I wrote the email. :) I definitely did not hold back :)

Have a good night and hope to hear from you soon.

So I was completely wrong about the ages, although I guess I was just about right with their average age! But something still seemed unusual to me, so I replied asking him whether they lived together, and again within a day I got a reply. However, this time his reply completely changed my view of the situation:

Hi GB,

You are very intuitive and yes we do live together.

I might as well tell you the whole history but as brief as I can. We met in a club and he asked me whether I was gay. I said no but obviously he was not convinced. I was there with my friend from uni who was supposedly very straight. He actually took me to the club where I would not dare to go by myself .... I find it very dirty and seedy....but I wanted to experience things that I would not normally do so I went. I had loads to drink that night and I'm much more at ease when I am drunk so I gave my number to this guy I met there and actually made sure that he got it right :). I guess I could sense that I could trust him.

He called me a few days later to check on how things are, and we decided to met up in the club again. This time I felt more comfortable and I decided to just take a risk ... I was extremely nervous but just went with it ... he came back to my apartment! I was clearly drunk and he made sure that I was not taken advantage off, but of course I said yes when he asked me but I was out of my mind.

For some reason I got more and more open to him as the week went by and basically told him everything about my background and life and why I could not accept myself....but one thing that I am upset about from his side is that he lied about a lot of things...what he calls white lies....but I always find out the truth at the end.....he earns less than I do and does not live in a nice place and does not have as much money as I do and he feels very insecure about that which results in his dishonesty. I open up myself to him and let him move in to my apartment only temporarily while I went back home to see my family. I said that this was only going to before a few months until he gets a job in London (he works just outside of London) but I am not so sure whether what he tells me is the truth....we have been together for more than a year now and that I know more about why he lied to me but I still am against it. I don't like to be lied to, even though they are white lies. When we have arguments like this he brings up that I am the biggest liar for not accepting myself! This extremely hurts me because it is very harsh. He accepted himself a long time ago.

He has definitely opened me up more and made me more relaxed about the gay situation but there is still part of me who just want to keep this to people that I trust. The only friends that I have told are themselves in the same situation, and therefore can relate. I have only told one straight friend of mind. I just do not want to be judged.

A lot of things have happened between myself and him, and I have told him many times that I don't think we are life time partners even though we are at ease with each other. As I wrote before, I feel we have been together for ages are so are comfortable with each other, but it feels like he is more like my best friend for life. I do not want to hurt his feelings in any way but when I go back home permanently next year it will be extremely hard for both of us. I don't know what will happen with my situation there because of my family. My parents are both very devoted Christians and will be devastated if they find out that I am gay.

I have been writing too much and yes, splitting up will be extremely hard. I now look back and tell myself why I was so open and naive and let him into my life, but on the other hand he has always been so supportive of me.... oh dear....what have I put myself through?

I have actually spoken to a friend about this and she told me that it will be easier to break up while I am still here in London then when I leave next year, as he will not have the support he needs. He seems very alpha male but deep down he is actually a huge teddy bear... :) with the sweetest soul I have met....this is why I fell for him.

I am in a huge mess and I think I know what to do myself. It won't be easy either way.......

The 'white' lies that this guy told to get into this reader's life really concerned me, so I replied immediately with the following email:

Dear reader,

I'm very glad you told me all the stuff in your last email. It now sounds like a very different situation to the one that I thought I was dealing with when I got your first email. Even though this guy who lives with you has helped you enormously in coming to terms with your sexuality, I also think he's taken enormous advantage of you.

When you first met him, because you are gay but didn't want to be gay, you were very vulnerable. It really sounds as though this guy has really exploited this.

The big test will be, if you didn't let him live in your apartment, then how much would he want to see you. At first he might think he'd be able to get back to live with you so he'd be trying to see you as often as he could, but when he finally realises that you won't let him back he may well start looking for other vulnerable gay guys to take advantage of :-(. Given that he knows that you're going back home next year anyway, I suspect that he might lose interest in you when he realises that he can't exploit you any more.

This isn't usually the way 'Dear GB' emails work out. Usually I don't feel the need to ask any further questions when I get the first email. But there was something unusual with your email, although I can't say exactly what it was. Usually I just reply to acknowledge an email, check that the author doesn't mind me posting it, and tell the person what title I'm thinking of using. I'll then post the email and my thoughts. But your situation is different so I'm going to give you some advice now. I think that you really have GOT to find a way of getting him to move out of your apartment. Do you think you'll be able to do that? If you think he might at all be prone to ever be violent, please be careful.

Hope to hear from you soon,

GB xxx

In his reply, my worst fears were confirmed. He admitted that this 'best friend' of his may be prone to being violent when he gets upset. The whole situation reminds me slightly of The Stockholm Syndrome, where victims become emotionally attached to their persecutor, although I'm not suggesting that the 'best friend' has persecuted this guy at all. But he does find himself in a situation where he's developed emotional ties under false pretenses.

So I do think that this guy needs to get his 'best friend' to move out of his apartment. It looks to me like a situation where the guy is attached to his 'best friend' because an emotional link was formed when the guy was coming out, when the guy was very vulnerable. But it sounds like the 'best friend' is attracted to the guy because he's able to live a better life being being attached to someone who's a lot wealthier than he is, especially given that this person is a good looking Asian guy. This situation can't last. Any debt which the guy owed to the 'best friend' was paid back long ago by letting the 'best friend' stay in his apartment for so long.

If the 'best friend' really does love this guy, then he shouldn't want to stay in the guy's apartment if the guy doesn't want him to. Given that he does want to stay in the guy's apartment, then he can't really love him. To me this is very clear cut, and a very good argument that the guy can employ when talking about the situation to his 'best friend'. Once it's clear to the guy that the 'best friend' doesn't really love him, then it should be easier for him to take firmer action, e.g. changing locks when the 'best friend' is out if it comes to that, which hopefully it won't.

I don't usually give such direct advice, but to me, the story that gradually unfolded through the exchange of emails seems to be telling a consistent story of exploitation. Does anyone think that I've misinterpreted the situation?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My avatar

I've got a confession to make. Although I implied that I look like my Avatar when I first created him last year, it's not true. I reckon I did look like him a few years ago, but as I said in the follow-up post about the yahoo avatars, it's just not possible to create an avatar which looks like a 'grown-up'!

I was reminded of this recently by Dragonzlad. My last visit to Singapore was over two years ago, and I hadn't been able to see him on that occasion, but we found time to have supper together in London recently.

"GB, you know you don't look much like your Avatar, don't you?" says Dragonzlad with a grin on his face, when a lull in the conversation arises half-way through the evening.

"I know," I say with a sigh, "but I remember complaining that it's not possible to make an older looking avatar when I first created him last year."

"Yes but your new readers won't remember that post!"

He reminded me during the conversation that he had created his own avatar just after I had created mine, and that at the time I had commented that our avatars looked similar. To me, that just emphasises the problems with the Yahoo avatars. He's ethnically Chinese and I'm ethnically English, so given that our best efforts had resulted in similar avatars, the Yahoo avatar technology clearly has a few shortcomings!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fire Island

On a recent business trip to New York, it turned out that boyfriend number 2 was going to be in the city at the same time, so we decided to spend the weekend together. A couple of weeks beforehand, we had a chat about what to do.

"Actually I fancy going out of the city," said boyfriend number 2, "I think we both know NYC itself well enough!"

After mulling over the possibilities, we decided to look into the idea of spending time on Fire Island. Many gay readers will have heard of Fire Island, but for anyone who hasn't, it's a place about 2 hours outside of New York which is a magnet for gay men who want to escape the city at weekends. Actually that's a bit of an understatement, it really is THE magnet. To get there, one drives or takes the train to Sayville on Long Island, from where it's a 20 minute ferry ride over to Fire Island itself. There are several communities on Fire Island but in two of them, Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, the population must be about 99% gay, if not more! All the houses there seem to be gay owned, and are either owner occupied, or rented out for the season which lasts from Memorial day in May to Labor day in September.

But finding somewhere to stay on Fire Island at short notice can be problematic. All the houses which are available for rent are usually booked months in advance. As luck would have it though, boyfriend number 2 was able to find a house to rent for a few days in Fire Island Pines, although I had to take it for the week just to get it for a long weekend.

"This place sleeps six", I said to boyfriend number 2 after I'd reviewed the description of the house, "so have you got any friends in NYC that you'd like to invite to join us?"

"Sure, that's a great idea, there are a few guys I could try :-). But I don't want them to find out about boyfriend number 1," he adds, "I've got no idea what they'd think about the situation, and I don't want to find out!"

Um, is that a straight guy over there? Oh no sorry, my mistake!Unlike boyfriend number 2, I had actually been to Fire Island a few times before. A few times during my banking career I've found myself in NYC at a weekend, and a trip to Fire Island is a great way to relax. It's always a very uplifing experience too, because in the language of one of my previous posts, the place is full of guys at black belt level of gay lifestyle confidence :-). I really can't think of anywhere else like it!

"Can we do low tea AND high tea?" asks boyfriend number 2 on the ferry over to the island on Friday evening.

"Um, OK, what are you talking about?" I ask, sounding slightly confused.

"Well I've been asking around, and apparently everyone goes to a tea dance in the early evening, and then there's another later in the evening too. The first is 'Low Tea' and the second is called 'High Tea' for some reason. It's one of the local rituals!"

Once we've unpacked, we head into the central area of Fire Island Pines to try and find something to eat. The best place looks to be the Blue Whale, which doubles as a bar as well, and soon we're sitting down and being attended to by quite a cute looking waiter.

Ever since the weekend away with boyfriend number 2 last month, I'd been worrying that he was secretly hoping that one day we'll be able to live together full time. The subject comes up over dinner:

"I've got to be realistic GB," says boyfriend number 2, "I know you're not going to leave boyfriend number 1".

"I'm glad you said that," I say. "I love being your part time boyfriend, but it's very unlikely that I'd ever be able to take that role on a full time basis."

"It is great having you around though :-)."

"Sure, but I definitely think you should try and find someone who can share your life with you more consistently that I can."

The next day, boyfriend number 2's friends don't arrive until lunchtime by which time we've settled in, done the shopping, and worked out where Low Tea will be in the evening. Apart from lots of great looking guys wandering around, I also notice that many of the guys have one (or more) pet dogs, especially the couples. I get on well with boyfriend number 2's friends, and over the next two days we all have a nice time, chilling out together.

Instead of my usual Sunday morning run with the guys from the gym in London, I end up going for a run with a couple of boyfriend number 2's friends instead. After running for 20 minutes along the beach, we decide to head slightly inland for the return journey, so that we won't have the sun glaring at us in our faces all the time on the way back. Initially this takes us into Cherry Grove, the other gay community on the island, but soon we find ourselves in the wood that lies between Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines.

"This area is known as the meat-rack," I tell my running companions sounding knowledgeable, "it's an infamous outdoor cruising area, but if we stick to the main path we probably won't get involved in anything."

But gradually the main path peters out. Soon we're lost, in so far as one can be lost on an island that's only about 200 yards wide. While looking for the way back to Fire Island Pines, we find two naked guys at the end of a cul-de-sac with one guy kneeling in front of the other, and they look mildly annoyed to be disturbed while engaged in activities. They don't stop what they're doing, and we just turn back to try and find another route. Why did they look annoyed though, I thought the possibility of having other guys around and perhaps joining in was one of the pleasures of outdoor cruising?

Overall it's a lovely weekend. However on the last night, in spite of the conversation that we had over dinner on Friday night, boyfriend number 2 suddenly asks me a question while we're cuddled up in bed trying to get to sleep.

"What happens if you never able to come and see me again?" he says out of the blue, with an anxious tone in his voice.

Where on earth did that thought come from? Nothing remotely connected to that subject had been talked about all day, nor had either of us said anything for at least five minutes as we'd been trying to fall asleep in each other's arms.

"Don't worry," I say sleepily, "of course I'll be able to see you again :-)", and with my arms wrapped around him I squeeze him tightly.

It's clear to me now that boyfriend number 2's attitude to our relationship depends on his mood. Sometimes, he's very realistic and fully appreciates that I'm unlikely to ever be available on a full time basis. But at other times, he relies on me heavily, and when he's in that mood his love for me somehow prevents him from looking at other guys, except to fulfill his short term sexual needs.

Previously I was worried about whether I was playing with his affections too much, but now I think I should focus my concerns elsewhere. I know that he understands that I'd be very happy for him if he finds a full-time boyfriend that's not me. But until that happens, I reckon I need to try and ensure that I've got sufficient resources to take care of both boyfriend number 1 and boyfriend number 2.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Email from a gay American guy with relationship problems

Last week, I received the following email from one of my readers:

Dear GB,

I am a Los Angeles transplant living in New York and I am a fairly long time reader of your blog. I have to say that you are thoroughly engaging in your stories and information.

I have an issue. I have a boyfriend of about 6 years and the sexual passion between us (from me really) has waned. I sometimes have to imagine others guys to stay excited enough to finish our love making. Unfortunately, due to this, I have begun having extra matrimonial encounters to stave off my appetite, which as I get older, seems to have increased.

I think the problem has something to do with his current physical state (doesn't exactly have that gymnast type body any longer) and general complacency. I don't really find him all to physically appealing any more and our lovemaking had become a little routine. We used to do things to spice it up a bit, but I am afraid that desire had fallen short also.

He still seemed very attracted to me, but has also recently admitted to some extra matrimonial encounters himself. That was a little troubling and a bit of a wake up call because while I use protection with others, I did not with him. I assumed he was monogamous. We have broken up numerous times during the course of our relationship. The most recent time, a few months ago, seemed permanent. I opened myself up to the possibility of seeing other people - one person in particular. We had an emotionally wrenching blowout recently and he revealed that he still loved me, did not want to lose me and wanted to give it another go. I told him about the other guy and that opened another can of worms. I told him that I would break it off with the other guy. I had a decision to make. I could either just remain friends with my "ex" and continue to develop a connection to this other person (who lives long distance, but as luck would have it, was contemplating a move to NYC before we met) or we could try another go of it. I opted for my "ex" because of longevity and comfortability. I did form a connection with the other guy and am finding it hard to let go. I don't really want to. He has all the attributes that I want and he has shown that he wants to be in it for the long haul if I am willing. I am in the midst of challenging my decision to try again with my "ex".

I am not sure if the same sexual issues I had with my "ex" in the past will plague me again. If it does then I will most assuredly have to just make a clean break and be friends right? The other guy has been incredibly patient and I feel horrible for dragging him into my drama. I think, to my dismay, I might have pushed him away. What do I do? Do I continue to try with my "ex"? We are only on day 2 as of this writing and I don't feel any sexual energy. That is not a problem with the "other". I don't mean to be so crass, but sex is essential for me to have a fulfilling relationship. I actually think that I could make a real go of it with the "other".

I know you are a busy man, but I would really appreciate an answer. You can post this if you like, excluding my contact information. Thank you very much in advance.

I replied immediately, suggesting that very long term gay relationships are more about companionship than sex, and telling him that I'd do a proper 'Dear GB' posting about his situation. Within a day I received another brief email from him:

Hello GB, thank you for getting back to me so soon. I am currently contemplating taking your partial advice about taking the sex out of the equation and figuring out if that factors in. It is really difficult no matter how I look at it. I love my boyfriend and love his positive qualities, but abhor the negative aspects. We were in the process of attempting some things outside of the personal. Business related things and such. Given what I know about the new guy, he seems as if he would be supportive in any endeavour I choose to pursue. Actually, he would have more knowledge in that than my boyfriend. Arrghh! Why does love have to be so hard? LOL. In any case, I await your advice.

Having thought about this reader's situation, it seems to me that he should aim for some kind of open relationship. Most guys find it impossible to sustain high passion with a single guy forever, and for this reason I reckon that open relationships are more realistic.

The first email that the reader sent me seems to imply that he's thinking about his short-term sexual needs, but with life expectancy in first world countries around 80 years or so, he should also be thinking about his long term happiness. Who does he want to be living with when he's 50, 60, 70 or more, when sex may be less important? In urban centres like NYC, sex is very much a commodity, but love and companionship are much harder to find. An open relationship with his "ex" would take some pressure out of the relationship, and hopefully allow the companionship aspects to develop further. But if he opts to leave his "ex" and go with the "other", I still think he should aim for an open relationship, otherwise I suspect that he'll find himself in the same situation after a few years.

Given that his "ex" has also had some encounters with other guys, hopefully the "ex" will be happy to contemplate an open relationship. But there should still be rules. Some couples insist on "emotional monogamy", which often translates as only being allowed to have sex once with any other guy. If a couple lives together, there's also the issue of whether sex is allowed with another guy in the home they share. Threesomes (or more!) are of course another possibility. Sensible guys should be able to discuss all these issues, and agree on what works for them.

Another thought is that it's a common mistake to think that "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence". In this reader's current situation, this simply means that he hasn't yet found out what the faults of the "other" guy are yet. It may well be that this "other" guy is a better match for him, but none of us are perfect, so in time he should expect faults to emerge in any new relationship.

Some of the my thoughts here might be interpreted as implying that the reader should stay with his "ex", but that is not my intention. That decision he has to make himself. I'm just trying to think of things that he needs to take into account in making that decision. Six years in a gay relationship is an achievement, so the reader is right to pause and question whether the best thing is to throw all that away or not. No doubt that's what the "ex" is focussing on when he says that he doesn't want to lose the reader as a boyfriend.

One further thought relates to fact that he's contemplating business related endeavours with his boyfriends. This can work well for guys in settled relationships, open or otherwise, but I'm not sure that it's a good idea while the situation is uncertain. The problem would be that if the relationship does end, then that might mean big changes are needed in one's work life too, and the result is even more upheaval than would otherwise be the case.

Although another possibility is polyamory and multiple boyfriends, I hesitate to recommend that at present. The comments on my recent posting about my weekend away with boyfriend number 2 makes me wonder whether I'm being selfish.

In his second email, the reader asks why love has to be so hard. Although it's obviously a rhetorical question, I also think it's easy to answer. In my experience, the benefit that one derives from any activity in life is usually proportional to the effort that one has to put into it. So love has to be hard, because the benefits that one derives are enormous :-).

Do any readers have any other thoughts on the dilemma that faces the reader who sent me the above emails?

Update received 3-Jul-2007: I've just received an e-mail from the reader who sent me the above emails and it looks like his relationship is back on track now :-). The email was as follows:

Hey GB,

How are you? Hope well. It is slightly sweltering here in NYC, but other than that, everything's cool. Just wanted to thank you again for advising, posting, and opening up my problem for public comments. It was a great help.

The situation has changed dramatically since that post. My "ex" is no longer my "ex". The "other" is no longer in the picture and I have gone and hurt 3 people while trying to make everyone happy. I learned a lot from all parties concerned as well as from myself. The "other" developed real feelings for me. I felt something for him also, but it was not as strong as the love and bond that I have with my partner. In the end, I had to look at the big picture at hand. The "other" came along at a time when my partner and I decided that it was over. The words were said by him, and the feeling I got was that it was final. That opened the window for me to attempt to move on. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but of course, that's when things come your way. The "other" appeared and everything was new, unencumbered and easy. Nothing is easy. I didn't anticipate forming a connection to this person. We both didn't. Before I knew it, I wasn't trying to gage if my partner had come to his senses and wanted to work things out. He was showing me that he didn't care. After the "breakthrough" event that made me realize that he did truly love me, and the revelations that surfaced (blew up really) from that situation, I realized that although I still loved my partner, I still had to contend with these burgeoning feelings for this shiny, new "other". I was still swept up in the newness and turnt a slight blind eye to the man that, despite all of his shortcomings, had been there for me when I needed him.

He recently found out that I had still been talking to my "other" long distance friend even though I promised not to communicate with him any longer. He found out that before the "other" visited. He found out details. Even when all of that drama (and revelations of his own dalliance's) surfaced (again - blew up), he still said he loved me. He accepted that the "other" didn't just appear; he had a reason and purpose. That wake-up call made him realize there was a real possibility of him losing me and that made him forgive, but definitely not forget my indiscretion. I agreed to stop all communications with the "other" and concentrate on our healing. I felt extremely bad that I hurt everyone (including myself) and turned into a person that I never anticipated being. I don't like that person.

The "other" has now said that he does not want to be involved in our drama and has taken himself out of contention. I have come to the conclusion that he shouldn't have been there to begin with. In hind sight, I shouldn't have filled in certain blanks that were not my right to fill. I should have been persistant and tried to work on my relationship one last time before just throwing in the towel. My partner needed to learn that his words do have holding power and I did take them to heart despite my better judgment. I forced myself to move on, even though I wasn't really ready because I thought he had done the same. In the interim I hurt 2 people that cared for and loved me respectively.

We both have sought therapy to deal with our individual issues and perhaps will do a couple's type thing. Everything is far from being roses, but we are finally making a positive effort to cultivate and maintain a healthy relationship.

PS - the sexual aspect of our relationship is back on track.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Email from a young gay guy living in India

Last Monday, I received the following email from a guy who only came out about a year ago. His comments towards the end about being attracted to his straight friends reminded me that I often found myself in the same situation.

Hi GB,

How r u?

I am a 22yo from India.

I am following ur blog for quite some weeks now. i really like it.........n love reading watever u write.

I am into this gay thing since a year now. Now i think i have got the white belt at least.

I hav had some nice time with 3 guys till now. I realy loved the first one but he left me for unknown reasons. Second one was an idiot. third one i dont like physically but i love him as a person. Still in search for someone.......i keep tryn....and i miss d 1st one a lot.

Abt comin out.....

its difficult in india to come out. i dont care for n e one......but my parents.......they cannot understand, i know coming out is not an option......rite now i m jus searchin for some nice guy......i keep meetin n datin.....thru net.

You know what realy troubles me-------

I have a lot of gud friends and i like some of them a lot. Some of them are very close friends and its so difficult to suppress ur feelings and keep to oneself. It realy kills me when i m wid them...attracted....i jus wana kiss them......such nice feelings .....but cant express. But slowly n stedily i hav learned to live with goes away in time .......

Ur blog makes me feel gud about myself.....seriously. i never wanted to be gay.....but i know i am. And i am sure.

With lots of love n special thanks

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

An early bit of fun with a Pakistani guy

The day before I met the Asian guy who was in London on business, I had been chatting to another guy online:

guy: hi, u look interesting man
GB: hi :-)
GB: u got any pics mate?
guy: yup
guy: i am pakistani with a thick dick wanna chat?

Clearly he's a guy who goes for the direct approach, which is fine with me! But sometimes guys are just after a horny chat with someone, while they satisfy themselves. That situation doesn't interest me, so since he's mentioned 'chat' I have to check:

GB: ok, but I don't do cyber though - I like to visit guys instead!
guy: i am free till 4 pm
guy: have accom
GB: ok
guy: whats ur email and i can email u my pic

Well, I guess I didn't expect a guy who was so upfront about his attributes to be shy about meeting me! He emails me his pics, and when I get them it's clear that he's quite a cute guy, so a meeting with him would probably be good fun :-). So I tell him where he can find my pics.

GB: you can see pics with my face in on that web site
guy: wow i lov it
guy: wanna come over now
guy: i dont have much time
GB: where are you mate?

Unfortunately though, he doesn't live that close :-(.

guy: do u wanna come now?
GB: Hmmm, I think it's too far for me at the moment, soz, would early eve after work be any good ever?
GB: would love to visit you for a bit of fun :-)
GB: but just can't travel that far now
guy: no man i am free only on sat
GB: ok, well could visit on another saturday perhaps, if we arrange in advance

Often the conversation fizzles out at this point, when one guy suggests NOW but the other guy can only do another time. Unusually though, things work out differently this time :

guy: if u dont have car then take a tube
GB: I will, but 2 get 2 u and back will take too long, I've got commitments too!
GB: so I'll look out for you
GB: and visit u another saturday
guy: oh
GB: and give you a good seeing to :-)
guy: u can call me some time
GB: ahhh :-) ok sure

For some reason he seems quite keen! He gives me his mobile phone number so I let him have mine too

GB: just sent u a txt msg, did u get it?
guy: yup got it will save ur number. we can meet here next sat
GB: ok, next sat i'm leaving London early afternoon, can I visit around 9am?
guy: yes
GB: ok, I'll send u a txt msg on Friday to check
GB: have a good Saturday today mate
GB: and c u next Saturday :-)
GB: xxx
guy: great bye for now
GB: bye m8 x

So I've got an early appointment for the following Saturday, which is something I'll look forward too all week. However on Tuesday, I get a txt msg from him with some bad news:

guy: can you do 7am on sat, i will not be free at 9

Damn! To reach him for 7am I'd have to leave home much earlier than I'd want to :-(. So I suggest 8:30am, and he then suggests 7:30am or 4pm. But on Saturday afternoon I'm going to visit my family with boyfriend number 1 for an overnight stay, so 4pm is not going to work for me. By the end of Friday afternoon, we still haven't resolved the situation, but I tell him that if I'm able to get up early enough, I'll try and visit him before he has to leave on Saturday morning.

Which is what happens :-). I wake up reasonably early, and feeling mildly frisky, I send him a txt msg while boyfriend number 1 is still snoozing in bed

GB: can reach u for 7:45-8am, any good?

I get a response almost immediately

guy: great man, see you 745

Just before 7:55am, I find myself standing in front of his house, in a quiet little leafy suburban London street. It doesn't take long for him to answer the doorbell:

"Sorry I couldn't get here earlier," I start when he opens the door, but now that I'm here he ignores the time issue.

"Good to see you again," he says in a business like voice, putting on a show for any twitching net curtains along the street, "come in."

Face to face he's a bit more cuddly than his photos suggested, but it's clear that he's a lovely guy so it doesn't matter. He also wears glasses :-). As I've said before, I always enjoy a bit of fun with a guy who wears glasses, and especially if I can strip him naked myself!

Once inside, he smiles at me and gives me a peck on the lips.

"Thanks for coming earlier than you wanted to," he says smiling, "lets go upstairs :-)."

I follow him upstairs into a back room, which doesn't look like it gets much use. There's a rather uncomfortable looking bed along one wall, and various cupboards along a couple of the others.

"Lets do it in here," he says as he starts undressing, but I walk over to him and hold him gently on his upper arms.

"Why don't you let me undress you?" I say seductively, giving him a kiss on the lips.

He seems to like the idea and lets his hands drop to his side while I take over unbuttoning his shirt. Soon he's standing there bare-chested, so leaving his glasses on, I loosen his belt and unbutton his trousers. I rub his crotch gently before pulling his trousers down, to reveal a clean pair of bulging white undershorts.

He looks so helpless with his trousers round his ankles, still wearing his undershorts, and still with his glasses on. His apparent helplessness makes the situation seem especially naughty, and that makes me feel even more frisky than when I left home! I kiss him on the lips again before getting him to walk out of his trousers. Next I attend to his undershorts, and I have to pull them a long way out in front of him to avoid hurting him as I pull them down. WOW, he lets me examine his equipment and I realise that he's probably got the biggest helmet that I've ever seen! He doesn't have a long one, but as he'd originally promised me in our initial online chat, he's certainly got lots of girth.

Finally I gently remove his glasses, and I realise that without them he looks very cute indeed, and all the more so given that he's completely naked :-). I start to undress myself, but now he insists on doing it for me. It turns out that he's loves sucking another guys nipples, which always works for me, and we have a lovely time together.

"Do you meet many guys like this?" I ask him afterwards.

"Actually you're the first over here," he admits, "but I've had fun with a few guys back home."

"So you've only just moved over here from Pakistan?" I ask.

"I'm just here for a few months to study," he says, "then I'll be back in the summer for some exams."

We chat for a short time while we're putting our clothes back on. He tells me that his mother knows that he's gay, but that it's too hard to tell his father at the moment. After my customary glass of water, I wish him luck with his studies and head back home to go to the gym.

It's only when I'm showering after my workout though, that I realise just how much he'd enjoyed sucking my nipples. The area around my left nipple is slightly bruised, and the area around my right nipple is very bruised indeed. Oh dear, although boyfriend number 1 knows that I see other guys, he always wants me to be discreet about it. I'll suppose I can try telling him that I accidentally bumped hard into some gym equipment, but I'm not sure that he'll believe me!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Sometimes I wonder whether I was meant to be straight. I often still have that unreconstructed straight guy attitude that a bloke shouldn't worry too much about his appearance. What happened at the hairdressers yesterday is a perfect example.

With an important business trip scheduled for next week, I decide to get my hair cut. After all, I want to make a good impression on all the clients that I'm going to be meeting. Having phoned up the day before and arranged a 9am appointment I'm one of their first customers, and while I'm waiting for one of the staff to wash my hair, the ageing male hairdresser starts talking to me.

"Do you want me to cut it short?" he asks, smiling at me sitting there in my gym shorts and t-shirt.

"Uh huh," I reply casually, "I suppose short is good for the summer :-)."

"How short do you want it?"

My immediate reaction is 'How am I meant to know?', or 'Am I bothered?', and 'Stop making this difficult and just give me a smart haircut!'.

"Well, about average," I reply weakly.

Anything for the weekend sir?"OK, well I guess I'll give you a number three round the sides then," he says. I guess he's used to guys like me who don't want to be seen worrying too much about their appearance, guys that would prefer a barber to a hairdresser, guys that are scared to take too much interest in their hair in case anyone thinks that they're gay.

But I am gay! And I have no concerns about who knows either. So why is it that I don't take a more active interest in my appearance, why aren't I up to date on the latest skin moisturising techniques, why does boyfriend number 2 always feel he has to take me shopping to buy me some clothes so that he won't mind being seen in public with me?

The thing that made me conscious of my behaviour yesterday was this cute looking guy, probably aged around 30, who was in the hairdressers at the same time as me. I noticed this guy when I first walked in and decided that he was probably straight, but for some reason it wasn't until my hairdresser had already started to cut my hair that this guy sat down in the seat next to me for his haircut.

"What can I do for you today mate?" asks the male hairdresser, who's probably a similar age to his cute client.

"Well I can't decide whether to have leave it long or have it cut shorter," replies the guy, with a slight angst in his voice. "My friends in the pub last night were telling me to get it cut short, but I quite like it long like this. Today I just got up and gave it a wash before coming here, that's why it's such a mess at the moment! What do you think?"

And I was able to spot that at that moment the cute guy caught the eye of his male hairdresser in the mirror. A guy asking another guy for advice about his hair seems so un-masculine to me, so inappropriate even to ask a hairdresser and to catch his eye, so gay! But I guess it's just metrosexual, not gay. If any readers have any suggestions as to how to cure this nasty affliction which sometimes makes me think and act in such a straight blokely manner, please let me know!