Monday, October 21, 2013

An update on the situation with my friend K

For the last few weeks, I've been seeing a guy called K (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Things still seem to be heading in the right direction with him because he now sometimes sleeps with me overnight, although we still haven't engaged in any real activities yet. Nonetheless, it's been nice feeling his hard equipment though the undershorts that he wears in bed, and cuddling his otherwise naked male body :-). We've also booked an eleven day holiday with each other, and I'm sure that by the end of the holiday we'll know whether we're going to be boyfriends or not. With the holiday getting closer every day, I'm quite prepared to take a "no sex before marriage" approach, and regard the holiday as kind of honeymoon!

"Do you want to take a shower?" I ask K one morning recently, while we're still lying in bed after a lovely night of cuddles.

"I don't have any fresh clothes here," replies K, "so I prefer to go home and shower there. At some point I'll move a few of my things into your house, and then I'll take showers here :-)."

"You could move some things in as soon as you like?" I offer.

"But your house is still full of ex-boyfriend T's stuff," replies K, "so do you mind if we wait until it's all gone?"

When I split up with ex-boyfriend T he was was working on a project abroad, so I agreed with him that that it could wait until he got back to the UK before he moved all his stuff out of my house. And although his overseas project has now finished, he asked for a bit more time because he wanted to fly off for a week to visit some friends. The good thing is that he's promised that all his stuff will be gone by the time that I get back from the holiday with K.

"So did you see much of ex-boyfriend T on his recent visit?" asks K over breakfast.

"He was only in the country for about 18 hours!" I answer, "He had just enough time to unpack a bit, repack a bag for a trip to visit some of his friends, and then get a few hours' sleep. I didn't really want to see him, because there's nothing that I want to say to him."

"But I guess that means that you did see him a bit?"

"Yeah," I admit, "That late night film that you and I saw meant that I got back after he'd gone to bed, and I was hoping that by sleeping in late the next day I'd miss him completely. But in the morning he knocked at my bedroom door just before he left to catch his flight."

"How was it?"

"At first he didn't really know what to say, but eventually he got round to asking me a few questions. If I'd answered them it would have meant that I'd have had to start telling him about you. I don't think it's any of his business, so I just kept answering his questions with my own question, 'What do you want?'"

"Ohhhh, hard man!" says K with a slight frown on his face.

I start to think about ex-boyfriend T, and K notices a change in my temperament.

"Are you angry at him?" asks K after a short pause.

"I guess I am," I reply. "When I split up with him I thought that we could be friends, but now I'm not so sure. It feels like he took all my love and affection and gave nothing back in return :-(. On top of that, because he implied that he had very little money I paid for virtually EVERYTHING that he needed, as well as letting him live free in my house. So this trip to visit some of his friends came as a big surprise, because I don't understand how he can still afford unnecessary long haul international flights like that. Also, his top priority was always hiding the fact that he is gay, so looking back I don't think that he ever loved me. Perhaps the only thing that I got from him was the ability to swim, because before I met him I couldn't swim at all!"

"Whoa," replies K, "calm down! I guess I can understand why you're angry at the moment. But eventually, I think that you should try and forgive him."

Wise words, I'm sure!

A little later, and we're on the internet in my study, making the final hotel bookings for our imminent holiday.

"There are some great bars for partying on this beach," says K as we're looking for nearby hotels, "because I went there with some friends last year. Actually, I got a bit too drunk, so if we go there then I hope that you'll look after your boyfriend if the same thing happens again!"

I look at him with a surprised but happy smile on my face.

"I mean 'potential boyfriend' :-)," he says correcting himself, and with a happy grin on his face too.

"I'm sure we'll both look after each other," I reply, still smiling, "because sometimes I also have a bit too much to drink!"

My break-up with ex-boyfriend T only happened three months ago, and half of me can't help thinking that I've found K a bit too soon, even though the break-up had been likely for quite a while before that. However, the other half of me is enjoying every minute of the relationship that's starting to develop with K. In any case, I can't turn back now. Within a month, I'll either be enjoying the start of a promising new relationship with K, or feeling more unhappy than ever!

Friday, October 18, 2013

What to do if you accidently have unsafe sex: PEPSE

Earlier this month, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I met and had unprotected sex with a guy via Grindr yesterday. I insisted on having condom at first but he somehow lured me into going raw and this is my first time though. He said that it will help me to relax and less hurt, which was probably quite naïve of me at that time. Sure he is nice enough with a PhD in Theoretical Physics from a top university and he even showed me his GUM clinic test result from two months ago with all negative but I still feel unsafe and confused.

Another question is that does it always hurt the first time you do anal? I feel like I could almost defecate (sorry for the choice of word but I don't know how to explain it) his dick each time he put it in but I still pretend to enjoy it. He even asked for another session this week but I don't know what to say since I am indeed tempted to be with a man but I don't really want to be fucked like that.

Now I am writing this letter to ask you for your advice of what I should do now. Another question is that would it be possible for a gay relationship to exist without anal sex? Or should I try to top someone first?

Great thanks for your help,

Until I met M (My first guy from Grindr), I'd never heard of a treatment called PEPSE, which stands for Post-Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposure. However, on one of the occasions that I met M we chatted about some of our past experiences with other guys, and he told me that a few months previously he'd had to get PEPSE. The idea of PEPSE is that if you realise quickly enough that you've had unsafe sex, then you can get treatment which might stop you becoming HIV positive if indeed the unsafe sex has infected you with HIV.

So about two hours after the reader sent me the email, I sent him a reply to tell him about PEPSE. In that email, I also included the following paragraph:

I think you're right to feel unsafe and confused. He may well be HIV negative, but the problem is, if he has lots of unprotected sex then eventually he is likely to get infected. Does he insist on seeing the GUM test results of everyone who he fucks? Did he ask for yours?? Even if he does, HIV has a long incubation period so it's still a risk. One of the guys that used to comment on my blog a few years ago was a top lawyer (similar to top physicist in my view), and he was quite relaxed about unprotected sex in the same way that your guy is relaxed about it. Eventually I got a very sad email about him that told me he'd become HIV positive.

The reader also asked about anal sex. Anal sex can hurt the guy who takes the bottom role unless he really relaxes his arse muscles. So it sounds like the reader wasn't at all relaxed! I've mentioned this subject before, e.g. back in 2011 when I answered an email from a 20yo gay guy.

The reader also asks whether it's possible for a gay relationship to exist without anal sex. While surfing the internet a few weeks ago I came across a website which had the following to say on that subject:
It's widely claimed that one third of gay couples do not include anal intercourse in their lovemaking.
I'm not sure that the phrase "widely claimed" is correct because I'd never heard that, however I think it means the answer to the reader's question is definitely Yes. In any case, if he's interested to find out more about anal sex he should indeed try the top role at some point, but only if he wants to. He certainly shouldn't let anyone put him under pressure to do so.

In the email that I sent the reader I had one more thing to say. The guy who fucked him without a condom was suggesting that the two of them meet again, and I felt it necessary to give him some advice on that subject. So the final paragraph in my email was as follows:

Finally my advice on the guy that fucked you. Do not see him again. He didn't respect you initial wish for a condom. He doesn't respect you, and I wouldn't spend time with someone like that.

A few days after I sent my reply, I got another email from the reader telling me that he had been able to get the PEPSE treatment :-).

Anyway, do any other readers have any thoughts on these subjects?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A wobble

"I've definitely fallen in love with K," I tell my friend Close Encounters while we're having a snack together in Central London recently, "I know it's only about two and a half months since I split up with ex-boyfriend T, but I just can't help it. I think about him almost all the time …"

"And have you slept with him yet?" he asks, with a hint of scepticism in his voice. Since Close Encounters is a fellow blogger, he's well aware from reading my blog that until recently, we hadn't engaged in any activities.

"Well," I say sheepishly, "we've cuddled a lot, but No, so far I haven't got any further than that :-(."

"It's a big investment in time if the sex turns out to be bad!"

"But we do seem to get on very well with each other :-)," I reply, "and he's already introducing me to a lot of the important people in his life :-)."

"Such as …"

"Well, I've met some of his family now, also a few of his best friends :-)."

"Wow!" replies Close Encounters, genuinely surprised, "I guess that's just a different way of doing it."

"I think one of the reasons that I've fallen for him is that it's so refreshing to find a guy like K that's 'old school'. He doesn't use any of the dating apps or web sites, and he wants us to know pretty much everything about each other's lives before we sleep with each other. It's kind of like, no sex before marriage!"

"Communication can still be problematic though," I continue, "and over the last 24 hours we've had a bit of a wobble, but I think we're back on track again."

"What happened?" asks Close Encounters, looking slightly worried.

"Well, we had dinner in Chinatown with a couple of his best friends, and then a few beers afterwards in Village Soho. The four of us decide to call it a night, and I almost manage to hail a cab to take me and K home, because we live in the same area. But then, all of a sudden I find myself with K outside G-A-Y bar getting wristbands for free entry to Heaven!"

"So you didn't discuss beforehand that you were going to go to Heaven?"

"Well, K had suggested it in the bar, but his friends hadn't been keen. Anyway, the two of us get into Heaven and it's more beers, and we chat about how everything is going between us and things go well. Actually, one thing, I told him about this blog!"

"REALLY?" replies Close Encounters looking amazed, "that a big step isn't it?"

"Yes I guess so, but he's trying so hard to make sure I know everything about him. Apart from gym, blogging is my biggest hobby so I've got to tell him. I decided years ago that it wasn't right to keep it secret from a boyfriend. Anyway, when I told K, it didn't seem to bother him."

"I guess that's a good sign!"

"But the wobble started when we got back to my place, and looking back, it was definitely all my fault :-(. We were both a bit drunk after all the beer, and it suddenly occurred to me that we should chat about how money should work between us. I don't know why I thought of it then, but I'm quite a bit richer than him, so just like the monogamy issue I think it's something that should be discussed. That's what was in my mind when I said At some point we should talk about money, but what I think he heard was something like I don't want you taking advantage of my money."

"GB!" says Close Encounters, shaking his head slightly, "Whatever possessed you to start a difficult conversation like that when you were both drunk?"

"Well, the fact that I was drunk :-(! Anyway, he goes home but he rings me up as soon as he gets there, and we chat a bit but it doesn't go well. We chat the next morning too and I don't make things any better. And a couple of hours later, I go and make things even worse with a stupid text message."

"What did you say in the text message?"

"Well I started worrying about him. I've spent quite a bit of time with him now, and he sometimes seems a bit euphoric and sometimes a bit depressed. So I sent a txt msg asking him if he was bipolar. But …"

"That's a completely ridiculous thing to do, GB!" interrupts Close Encounters.

"Well I had a hungover from all the beer the night before, and …"

"If you want to discuss that kind of thing," interrupts Close Encounters again, "that's definitely a face to face conversation, and even then, not a conversation to have when things aren't going well!"

"Anyway, what he heard was I think you're mentally ill so he phones me up a few hours later and he was ready to never see me again."

"I'm not bloody surprised!"

"I don't know how I did it, but somehow I managed to say enough of the right things on that phone call. We end up chatting for about 40 minutes, and by the end of the call it was almost as though we'd never had the wobble at all. He also called me up just before midnight too, just as we're both about to go to bed, and that phone call went even better. So I think we're back on track :-)."

"Well," says Close Encounters, shaking his head slightly again, "it would have been better to not have been so stupid in the first place. If you do a blog post about this, you'll be lucky if you ever get another person emailing you for your advice!"

"I know," I reply. "My only excuse is that perhaps because I'm in love with K, I just can't think straight when it comes to anything to do with him. But when I get a Dear GB email and it's someone else's situation, somehow I feel that I can be quite objective."

"Actually," replies Close Encounters, "I think you SHOULD do a blog post about this. Just write down how stupid you've been, and then perhaps that'll teach you not to do it again!"

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

How many guys can you date at the same time?

I've been wondering about this question for a while, and last night a reader called Sebastian posted a comment which asked exactly that:
Should dating be exclusive if you see a guy more than once or you can date multiple guys at the same time more than once before deciding who's the most potential to be a boyfriend?
When I saw ex-boyfriend R last week we discussed this question too, and he has a very clear view. He's sure that however many times you see a guy dating does not have to be exclusive, unless of course you agree that it will be exclusive. So he's sure that you can do what you want and date as many guys as you want, and then eventually you can try and become the boyfriend of the guy that you like the most. However, I think it's a bit more complicated than that.

The fact that a lot of us are unclear on what the answer is means that this is an area full of opportunities for mis-communication with a potential boyfriend. That means that there's every possibility that something could go wrong before anything has even started, which could be a tragedy if you end up accidentally misleading the guy that you like the most. Indeed, a good example of this is what happened between me and my friend K, because he thought that I was just meeting other guys for drinks and dinner and not getting more intimate with any of them.

Recently my approach has been to tell potential boyfriends that I'm still also dating with other potential boyfriends. My best guess is that there's no need to mention anything on a first meeting or first encounter, but after that, the longer that you don't say anything the more room for mis-communication that there is.

However, I'd very much like to know what other readers think about this question?

Friday, October 04, 2013

An evening with ex-boyfriend R

A few days ago, it's late in the evening and ex-boyfriend R (a.k.a. boyfriend number 3) is visiting me in my home. Earlier I'd cooked a simple meal for us both, and now we're relaxing on the sofa in my sitting room, chatting easily.

"Why don't you lie down on the sofa," suggests ex-boyfriend R.

"Why?" I ask.

"Well, I need to go soon, but it would be nice to lie down on the sofa with you for a quick cuddle :-)."

I always enjoyed cuddles with ex-boyfriend R when we used to engage in activities with each other, so I get some cushions for my head and lie down as requested. Soon ex-boyfriend R is lying half on top of me and half to one side, and even though we've got all our clothes on, it's nice to feel the warmth of his body against mine.

"I'm not sure about this guy K that you like," says ex-boyfriend R after a pause. "I don't think it's right for him to ask to date you on an exclusive basis before you've even slept with each other. You shouldn't agree to it, because you shouldn't give people power over you."

A couple of weeks previously, my friend who has his first gay experience aged 13 had said exactly the same thing when we were out for dinner together. "Don't let other guys have power over you," he'd said, when we were discussing boyfriends. At the time it had seemed sensible, but when I thought about it, I realised that I disagreed. Whenever one has a boyfriend, one loses some independence, because one has to start taking some account of what one's boyfriend wants and needs. If one has got the right boyfriend then the benefits of the relationship outweigh the loss of independence. I can't help thinking that with the attitude of not conceding anything to a potential boyfriend, it's no coincidence that ex-boyfriend R and my friend who has his first gay experience aged 13 are both still single.

"But I'd have *power* over K too," I say to ex-boyfriend R while we're cuddling on my sofa, "because exclusive dating works both ways :-)."

"In any case," I continue, "cruising for activities with other guys is time consuming. I was quite happy not doing that when I was with ex-boyfriend T, so I don’t mind not doing that while I'm dating K either, just to try and work out whether a relationship with him could work."

"Also, the fact that in September you agreed to delay dating until early October seems strange too," counters ex-boyfriend R. "If you like each other, why didn't you start dating immediately?"

"Well I guess I agree with that," I concede.

"Actually," I continue, "I always wonder whether there are any unwritten rules for dating lots of different guys at the same time. I've had loads of hook-ups, dates and dinners over the last couple of months, but if I see someone more than once, I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I'm not being completely honest with them about how many guys I'm meeting."

"But while you're just dating, you can do what you like," answers ex-boyfriend R with an authoritative tone in his voice, "so there's nothing to feel guilty about!"

The good thing about ex-boyfriend R is that he's always got a firm view on this sort of question, even if I don't always agree with what he says! We lie there for a while, and then slowly, he starts to unbutton my shirt. But after two buttons he stops and slips one of his hands inside my shirt, and lays it gently on top of one of my pecs. I feel very relaxed with him so I don't say anything, and we just continue to lie there, enjoying each other's company.

"A couple of months ago," I say, "I was suggesting to another friend that although cuddling isn't as intimate as various other activities, if you've got a boyfriend I reckon that cuddling like this would still be cheating on him!"

"I think it depends what the intention is," replies ex-boyfriend R with an authoritative tone again. "Certainly if you keep all your clothes on and neither of you gets aroused then I reckon that you're not being unfaithful."

"But if you start to take each other's clothes off …" he continues, as he resumes unbuttoning my shirt, "then the intention is clearly for more intimacy, and then I think I'd agree with you :-)."

"I thought you had to go soon?" I giggle, without putting up any resistance, "Are you trying to seduce me?"

"I always used to like it when you visited me for fun!" replies ex-boyfriend R, without answering either question, "and I think you did too?"

"Perhaps we'd better go upstairs to my bedroom then. If any of the neighbours in the houses opposite are looking this way, I don't think they need to see exactly what we're doing!"

Fifteen minutes later and we're both completely naked, kissing and cuddling and playing with each other on my bed, just like we used to do all those years ago.

"Who'd have thought that we'd ever be doing this again!" laughs ex-boyfriend R.

"Well indeed," I answer with a big smile on my face, "I think it's been almost 6 years!"

I usually prefer subtle lighting for activities, and indeed, on this occasion as we were getting undressed I'd switched off all but the dimmest bedside light. However, a few minutes later ex-boyfriend R gets up and turns the bright main light on in the middle of the room.

"I think it's more horny to see EXACTLY what we're doing to each other :-)," he says, with a big grin on his face.

We take our time to enjoy ourselves thoroughly, and afterwards we climb under the duvet and naturally start cuddling each other again. While I'm holding him in my arms and dozing gently, feeling very satisfied, I start to remember how much I always enjoyed activities with ex-boyfriend R. It also occurs to me that when it comes to activities, ex-boyfriend R is probably the most experienced guy that I know!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Email about dating older guys

A few weeks ago, a young blog reader sent me the following short email:

Dear GB,

I'm madly in love with this guy that is wayyyy above my age. I'm 18 and he is 55. No, I don't have daddy issues or am I a money-sucking machine. I simply enjoy the no-fuss relationships with older guys. What do you say? Should I go for it? He makes me so content and happy than ever.

Although it was a very short email, it was a quite a straightforward question, so I sent him an email to tell him that I'd do a post on my blog for him. In that email I said that I'd think about it, but I also included the following sentence:

FYI: my instinct is that the age gap is too great to make a meaningful relationship possible, but obviously I need to expand my thoughts a lot, and give some reasons rather than just giving you my instinctive response.

His original email was clearly hoping to get some kind of approval, so I wasn't surprised when the following reply arrived:

Thank you! I really do appreciate it!

I understand about your instincts, but it's just that I'm a little different - I enjoy staying at home watching a movie with him or go out and do fine dining. I was never into the 'young and vibrant' gay clubbing/sauna/cruising idea. We have literally the same tastes in music, art, food, clothes, and the same opinions and philosophies. I mean what are the odds of me finding another older guy who can appreciate and love me and not just want to relive their youth?

I somehow think this is a two-fold story:
  1. The fear of scrutiny of others when they found out about our age difference.
  2. The fear of me losing the man of my dreams.
Hope this additional info helps. I realized I haven't given you enough background info for you to make an informed opinion.


Well indeed, I was also thinking that his original email was a bit thin on detail!

Over the last few weeks, I've been out for dinner with a few guys who read my blog , and when one of these guys was in his mid 20's he dated a man who was about double his age. I thought that guy would have views on this subject since he's been in a similar situation, so I sent the young reader's email to him for comment. I also asked fellow blogger Bruce Chang what he thought. Bruce Chang's response was as follows:

Hmm ... What I'm trying to understand is the nature of their relationship and what he means by "no-fuss." I came out over 20 years ago when I was 14 and there simply was not a big dating pool for people in my age group. I had quite a number of sexual encounters with people more than twice my age and they were more than gratifying. But at the same time, I distinctly remember how great I felt as opposed to what I was giving back. Additionally, I remember not quite being satisfied with the precarious position of power where the other person held all the cards. Seeking a long-term committed relationship with older guys wasn't really what I was looking for, in the end, but it was a helluva lot of fun and I have no doubt that a mutually beneficial one can work (like Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy), but I'd hardly call it no-fuss. I'd think it'd be the opposite. It'd take more work to feel secure with added social pressure to fail.

Of course, these views may be shaped my two adopted "godfathers" that I had, a couple in their late 30s that were mentors, encouraging the rapid period of growth and self-discovery, especially with my peers both gay and straight, so that I don't look back and wonder.

However, I can see how a sexual relationship with an older guy can be a no-fuss situation. I think I'm more straightforward as I've gotten older. Pretty open about when I can meet and when I can't, what I'll do and what I won't, and I have no problems complimenting a guy without restraint and playing games.

Think I was all over the place there, but that's what came to mind as I read the note.

Bruce Chang's example of Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy is a good one, because they met when Bachardy was 18 and Isherwood was 48. However, the age difference that the reader is contemplating is even greater.

The guy who reads my blog that I had dinner with a few weeks ago had the following to say:

To me there are two parts of this e-mail. First, is that he is conscious of the age gap and second, that he claims is madly in love with someone.

Age gap should never be an issue when people want to get together. It will only become a problem if it becomes apparent that your age difference heavily deters your compatibility. With a 37 year age gap there is inevitably differences in your outlook in life and it is worth remembering the old cliché that 'opposites attract'. Differences can either be a productive tension that makes an intergenerational relationship a wonderful experience or they can simply break it. While it is romantic to say you are similar in so many ways even with an age gap, accept that you are essentially different from your partner and start from there: the mistake would be to try too much to be like each other putting unnecessary pressure when you find your differences in the future. Remember nothing is 'no-fuss': older guys are just more relaxed in their outlook because they have many experiences but these experiences don't come without a history (which at some point can surface in ways you might not like!)

It is also worth thinking about why you mentioned daddy and money issues. This suggests, and it is a common trait, that there is an amount of stereotype awareness or apprehension towards social assumptions. There is a balance between 'I don't care what other people think' and 'What will they think of me when they see me with an older guy?'. You must get this balance right and mostly this is an issue of self-awareness, confidence and security. If you decide to take things seriously but can't feel comfortable enough to be seen with him it will ultimately affect your relationship. Start by being comfortable of who you are then work from there although this is a continuous process as you go along.

So you are madly in love and happier and more content than ever? The first thing that comes to mind is how long have you known this guy? In meeting a potential partner you must be aware of the infatuation stage (maybe 1 month) and then the honeymoon stage (maybe 6 months). Thinking about these stages helps you gauge and consider the pace of the situation. Many people underestimate the importance of pacing themselves when getting to know someone you like. There is no harm in going fast if both of you want it but just be aware that you are on a close enough level to return each other's' expectations. Although personally I think slow is better :-).

After considering all that has just been said, I see no harm in giving it a go. Relationships or love come in different forms so don't think in terms of partner/lover/friends as different people fill different roles in each other's' life. The most important thing is to let yourself be open to experiences. Good luck!

However, I felt that response was a bit simplistic, especially when I thought about what the guy told me in connection with his own experience of dating an older guy. So I sent him a reply in which I included the following:

One thing that occurred to me was what your ex-bf did for you. My recollection is that because he loved you, after a couple of years he felt that you should be free to experience gay life outside of the relationship, so he became your friend rather than your boyfriend. So if this 55 year old agrees to the relationship and it lasts for a long period of time, perhaps that proves that he doesn't really love the reader after all? What do you think about that?

The guy responded with the following:

Thanks. Good observation GB.

Indeed, he let me go because he thought that I would learn much more on my own and there were so many things for me to experience. In retrospect, he was absolutely right about this.

I also believe that this is generally the case for young guys. In my opinion it would be ironically tragic (instead of romantic) if they settle with a guy early in their life. They will miss out on a lot and their future encounters would be more difficult to navigate in ways which would require more explanation.

I wanted to mention this in my reply but only gave a hint of this at the end of it. It was my subtle way of saying whatever happens (doubt it will be long term) he will ultimately learn something from it.

I have always shared with people the thought of love coming in different forms. The 55 year old will hopefully love the guy if it works out and might give your reader different kinds of experiences which will be valuable to him. Mine was perfect for me and I am grateful to him :-)

I think this second response is where the wisdom lies in connection with a gay relationship between an 18 year old and a 55 year old. Both of them will get something out of it in the short term, but it shouldn't be expected or allowed to last too long. And, as with the guy that I had dinner with, what the older guy should do if he really loves the younger guy is to turn the relationship into a friendship after a couple of years.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?