Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Email from a guy with an impolite boyfriend

Just before the end of November last year, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years.

My boyfriend was, for a year and a half, amazing, wonderful, and essentially the most loving person I have ever met. He was extremely kind, not only to me, but to others, was very positive and charming, and was very open minded. I love this man deeply, and I truly feel honoured to be with him. I know for a fact that he loves me the same, and we would go to extreme lengths to make each other happy.

But for the last year and a half, he has become quite the opposite. He is extremely rude to others (not me, luckily). He purposely walks in the way of others in public to assert his self-defined superiority, causing one older woman to ask him "Are you okay?", with him responding snarkily, "Don't get in my way." He stares at himself in the mirror for very long periods of time, brushes his hair obsessively, and often mentions how beautiful he is. He regularly mentions how he is so financially successful at such a young age, which is true, but then makes it a competition between him and his similarly successful friends. He thinks all of my friends are a waste of resources, since they are mostly following a traditional career path in their respective fields. He buys $2,000+ articles of clothing and apparel not to look good, but to make others who can't afford it feel inadequate. He is cunning, and uses his people skills and good looks to manipulate others to do things for him. He purposely treats people in the service industry poorly so they feel as if they must overcompensate to earn a tip or good rating. He ignores people when spoken to while staring at his finger nails, and often responds to complex questions with overly simplified and off-topic answers to turn the tide of the discussion in his favour. I have spoken to him about all of this.

I know everything I've stated above seems like he is the worst person to ever walk the face of this planet, but he wasn't always this way. He *tells me* that he has always been this way, but from the first year and a half of dating, that is completely untrue. I have confronted him about this by stating that I believe, when he is acting terribly, that I am staring at someone else, and I cannot recognize him. He is very stubborn, and at first, refused to believe me and tried to make it seem like I'm imaging things, but I was so overwhelmed by his idiocy that burst out in tears, and he finally listened. He told me he will try to be more nice, more focused on how to be a better person. He is extremely romantic and tender in these situations, and really kills it as a boyfriend when it comes to caring for me. He loves who I am on the inside and out, and finds me very attractive. He loves my family, and I love his, and we get along wonderfully as best friends. I've seen some improvement in the recent months, but it's more of a 15% improvement than anything else.

Overall, I'm not happy with the current state of relationship, directly due to his bad attitude. Things could be infinitely worse, as in, he could be treating me badly or not love me, or he could be cheating, etc, but he is not, and I shouldn't take anything for granted. However, I still find myself unhappy with him. His bad attitude makes me want to disappear sometimes, or fall asleep and wake up to a time when he was still acting normal. Even his own mother has noticed a severe change in attitude, and told him that she did not raise him to act this way to others.

Finally, he is not going through any trauma or severe change in his life. We talk about his work life, family, friends, and personal well-being all of the time, and he is very comfortable and happy. He is not stressed out, nor is he worried about the future. He is not self-conscious, more so like overly self-confident. I am more of a quiet person, and much more observant and self-aware. We are both very young, as I've already alluded to, and I believe that we both have much to learn. He believes that he knows all that he needs. Despite all of these changes, I still love him deeply.

Thus, I am unsure of how to act on this. I like to address a problem, and solve it. He is having difficulty understanding the problem, or seeing that it exists, making this a particularly difficult situation for me. Do you have any advice? Is there advice?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it.

I sent him a reply within a day, in which I said that it was very strange for his behaviour to change like that, and that it was obviously real given that his mother had also noticed the change.

It seems to me that the boyfriend has some kind of physiological or even psychiatric problem. I'm not trained in either of those professions, so perhaps the best advice would be to seek the help of someone who is. However, like a lot of people, I find it interesting to think about these kinds of issues.

Based on my own experiences, the amateur psychologist in me would say that this kind of behaviour might be rooted in some feeling of inadequacy that the reader's boyfriend has. Were there any events that occurred a year and a half ago which might have made him feel that he was a failure in some way? Or what event from his distant past might suddenly have resurfaced in his consciousness to give him an inferiority complex?

There's an analogy here with situations where someone feels that they might be gay, but wants hide their feelings, especially from other people. When that happens, the person often becomes become homophobic and anti-gay. Some of the best examples of this can be seen in politicians who support anti-gay policies in an attempt to *prove* their heterosexuality, which makes it all the more embarrassing for them when their gay experiences are discovered. So with the reader's boyfriend, his constant assertion of superiority could be because inside he's feeling inadequate and inferior in some way.

Maslow's pyramidHowever, I'm not sure what the best course of action is for the reader to solve the problem. Perhaps one place to start would be for the reader to discuss this amateur psychological analysis with the boyfriend. And as part of that discussion, it would be good to point out that genuinely successful people always treat people with respect. I'm thinking here of "self-actualized" people at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Also, if the reader's boyfriend is at all religious and in particular if he follows the Catholic faith, it might be worth pointing out to him what an excellent example Pope Francis is setting at the moment. I was brought up as a Christian (protestant not Catholic), and although I don't follow it anymore, I am hugely impressed by what Pope Francis has to say about most issues. His famous line "Who am I to judge?" and now his new book "The name of God is mercy" are a breath of fresh air. However, the reader's boyfriend is taking the opposite approach, because he is judging people and failing to treat them with them with dignity and respect.

I think this is quite a difficult problem to solve, so if any other readers have any insights that might help, I'm sure the reader who sent me the email would appreciate it :-).

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Suggestions for Christmas Charity donations please

Christmas treeI can't believe that Christmas will soon be here! Looking back over the past twelve months, I feel that it's been a good year for me. My relationship with boyfriend K is going well :-), and we've been on quite a few interesting holidays together.

Many years ago now, I agreed with my family that instead of buying each other Christmas presents, we should donate the money to charity instead. And to help with the process, for the last 8 years I've been asking readers for suggestions regarding who do donate money to . This year there's more than £1000 to give away, so as usual, please leave a comment and tell me who you think I should be giving to? The one rule is that because of the way I do my donations, I can only donate to charities that are registered with the UK Charities Commission. I'll make the final decision about who to donate to on Sunday 13th December (or shortly after), so please leave your comments before then. All suggestions welcome :-).

Update 22-Dec-2015: charity donation result.

I've finally got around to making my donations for this year, about a week later than originally planned. But the good news is that I was able to give away more than I had anticipated :-).

Over the years, whenever Kenski has left a comment on my blog, it's always been useful and insightful. So it was no surprise to me that all his charity suggestions seemed very sensible. Consequently I gave £200 to Food Cycle (registered charity number 1134423), £200 to Food Chain (registered charity number 1003014), and £100 to the Ministry of Stories (registered charity number 1138553).

As I said in a comment, the video that the commenter "P" mentioned led me to a web site called Give Well. Unfortunately though, it turns out to be quite American in focus, so a lot of it's suggestions aren't registered charities in the UK. But it did suggest the Against Malaria Foundation which does have charity status in the UK (registered charity number 1105319), so I gave them £500. Another commenter suggested a Shelter (registered charity number 263710), which is a charity for homeless people. For many years I gave to a charity called Crisis which has similar goals, but I have no reason to favour Crisis over Shelter so I gave Shelter £300.

Finally, I gave some money to a couple of my old favourites. As I said last year, I come from a medical family, so I gave £500 to Médecins Sans Frontières (Charity number 1026588). And lastly I supported GMFA (charity number 1076854) again with a donation of £200.

Anyway, a very Happy Christmas to all my readers, wherever you are. Have a good one! GB xxx

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Are relationships between younger and older guys normal?

Yesterday the following short email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I enjoy reading your blogs and find them very insightful which is why I want to seek your advice.

I wanted to know if you think younger guys dating or having sex with older guys (daddies) in the gay community is normal ?

Hope to hear from you.


I've thought about this a bit, and it's a bit difficult to answer, because it's hard to know what the reader means by "normal".

My best guess it that quite a large majority of gay sexual activities occur between guys where the age difference is no more than ten years or so. A ten year age gap is too little for it to be a situation where a younger guy is having sex with a "daddy" character. Nonetheless, I also think that there is reasonable amount of contact between guys where there age difference is more than ten years.

Of course, a ten year age difference means less and less as one gets older. It's quite a big gap if the younger guy is still a teenager, but much less so when the two guys are in their 40's or 50's. Perhaps a good way to define dating or relationships between younger and older guys would be to recall my rule about N/2+7. The rule suggests that it's socially unacceptable for a guy aged 'N' years to have a relationship with someone who's younger than N/2+7. So the question then becomes, how "normal" is it to break that rule.

I've certainly had more than a few encounters with guys who're more than ten years younger than me, and also a couple with guys who're more than ten years older than me. However, to me the word "daddy" conveys a particular type of personality, and suggests a situation that is very unequal in many ways. I wouldn't put myself in the "daddy" category, because situations which are too unequal don't seem very healthy to me.

In terms of younger guys dating older guys, I am aware of quite a lot of relationships where the younger guy is Asian and the older guy is Caucasian. So for long term Asian/Caucasian relationships, an age difference of more than ten years does seem normal.

Hot house logoHowever, I also recall a situation involving guys of different ages which definitely did not feel at all normal. It happened over two years ago, while I was visiting the Hot House in Cape Town. Although I did a post about my visit to the Hot House, I didn't mention anything about the two guys of different ages because it because it made me feel uncomfortable. In my visit to the Hot House, as well as my Thai friend B and the guy Henrik that I mentioned, I also got talking to another guy who was quite young. Eventually he told me that he was there with his much older boyfriend. However, he also told me that his mission was to try and find guys for his boyfriend. It wasn't clear to me whether the intention was to have a threesome, or whether the older guy wanted to have sex on his own with whatever guy his younger boyfriend found for him. (I guess another possibility would have been that the older guy wanted to watch his younger boyfriend have sex with someone else!) But in any case, the situation definitely didn't seem "normal". The older boyfriend looked quite unattractive, and the young guy behaved and said things that suggested that he was completely subservient to his older boyfriend. It felt as though the two of them were in the kind of sub-dom relationship that Christian Grey was looking for with Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey.

So I think whether it's normal or not for a younger guy to have sex with an older guy depends on the context. As I said above, I think that there is a reasonable amount of contact between guys of significantly different ages. But whether it's normal or not probably depends on the context :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Smart drugs

"Hey GB, come here :-)," shouts boyfriend K from the bath.

I always enjoy looking at my boyfriend when he's wet and naked, so I climb the stairs to the bathroom to see what he wants.

"Look at this," he says, pointing to his iPad, "my sister just sent this to me. Apparently it's a drug like that they had in that film Limitless!"

"I don't believe such a thing exists!" I reply, sceptically.

"Well, perhaps not exactly like that film, but it's some kind of brain enhancing drug :-). It's called Modafinil."

"OK, let me do some google research and see what I can find out."

I find a recent Guardian newspaper article about the drug which is very informative. The drug promotes wakefulness, is used by narcoleptics to stop them falling asleep, and apparently doesn't have many side effects.

Boyfriend K obviously does some research too, because later in the day, he comes into my study to talk to me.

"I've been looking into this smart drug and it seems to be safe. Why don’t we buy some and try it?" he asks.

"Maybe," I answer, still a bit sceptical, "is it possible to buy it over the counter without a prescription?"

It turns out that in the UK we would need a prescription :-(. But I'm wondering whether any blog readers have tried it? If you have, please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An unexpected reunion

It's Saturday, a couple of weeks after me and boyfriend K got back our holiday when we visited Prague and Budapest. We've been out with friends in the sun all day, and arriving back home around 6pm, we're both feeling happy and tired. It had been a good day :-).

"I'm a bit sweaty so I'm going to have a bath," announces boyfriend K casually.

I'm feeling a bit sweaty too and although I love having baths with boyfriends, unfortunately the bath in our house is a bit cramped with two people in it so I'll have to wait. I find other things to do, and when boyfriend K comes down from his bath almost an hour later, he's got a plan.

"Right," he says authoritatively, "go and freshen yourself up because we're going out :-)".

"Are we?" I ask, mildly surprised.

"Yes! Some friends of that couple we met last month are having a garden party. I've just been chatting to them online and we're welcome to go along too :-)."

One of the things I like about boyfriend K is the fact that he's pretty much always up for another party, even on days like today when we've already had a few drinks with some other friends!

A little over half an hour later and we're wandering down a road in an area of London that we're not familiar with, bottle of wine in hand, looking for a house number that seems unfeasibly large compared to the length of the street.

"Can you phone someone and ask if the number is right?" I ask.

It turns out that an extra digit had accidentally been added to the house number in a message that was sent to boyfriend K. However, after a short phone call, it doesn't take us long to find the right house.

Once in the house, we head for the garden and looking round, it seems like the party has been going on for quite a while. There are a few people around that I recognise, and I'm happy to discover that I'd met the hosts on a previous occasion. There seem to be quite a few guys like me, i.e. British guys with foreign and especially Asian boyfriends.

"Hmmm," I say to the British host after we've exchanged a few pleasantries, "who's that guy sitting down over there?" and I indicate with my head to a guy who's right down the other end of the garden, chatting to someone.

"He's originally from Argentina," my host explains, and he tells me a few things about him, including the fact that he's got a long term partner.

As soon as I hear where he was from I realise that I'd met him on gaydar, and that we'd had a bit of fun together. It was just after I'd split up from ex-boyfriend T, but before I started dating boyfriend K. Back in August 2013 I'd even done a blog post titled Activity report which mentions him ("a cute Argentinian"). I also remember that his boyfriend didn't know that he used websites to hook up for fun with other guys.

But what should I do? I can't help thinking that he's bound to recognise me, so it could be quite awkward. Whatever I do, I don't want to be a home-breaker, so I'll need to make sure that no one finds out that I've been naked in bed with him!

A little later, the Argentinian guy gets up from where he's been sitting and walks towards me, presumably on his way to get another drink. I look at him directly, and when he catches my eye, I can tell that he's recognised me. But suddenly he looks uncomfortable. I decide that pretending that I've never meet him before would be the most awkward thing to do, so when he gets close to me I know that I have to say something.

"Hi, how are you?" I say casually as he passes me.

"Oh hi, … er, … yes," he says, but he clearly doesn't know what to do, "just let me get another drink :-)".

Now that I've broken the ice between us, I start feeling a bit more comfortable about the situation, and I even start enjoying it a bit. Just for fun, I quickly send boyfriend K a message on WhatsApp: "There's a guy here who I met on gaydar two years ago". Boyfriend K is sitting down under a gazebo a short distance away from me, and I see him pull out his phone to read my message. He immediately looks over to me, perhaps to see who I'm chatting to. I smile enigmatically back at him as though to say "can you work out who". But one of the guys that he's talking to needs his attention, so all he can do is give me a knowing smile and return to his conversation.

A little later and I'm chatting to someone that I've met a few times before. The cute Argentinan guy walks past again so I decide to have another go.

"Have you met my boyfriend?" I ask, catching his eye as he tries to walk past me, "that's him over there, he's called K".

"Oh really :-)," he replies, looking quizzically at me, "sorry, can you excuse me a minute."

A couple of other occasions arise when again I try to talk to the guy, but each time the guy makes some excuse. At one point I notice that he ends up in a small group with boyfriend K, who introduces himself, so in fact boyfriend K ends up talking to him more than I do. And similarly, I end up talking to the Argentinian guy's boyfriend.

"Have you been away on holiday much this year?" I end up asking the boyfriend.

"Actually we've got a big trip planned to Indochina next month :-)," he replies.

"Have you been there before?" I ask.

"No, this will be our first visit."

"I had a long trip there about ten years ago with an ex-boyfriend," I say, before talking in detail about the different countries that I'd visited.

"Here’s a card with my email address," I say after talking for at least ten minutes, "feel free to send me an email if you think I can help at all :-)".

The party comes to and end without me managing to talk to the Argentinian guy, but the next day I'm in for a surprise. It's not his boyfriend who sends me an email, but the guy himself!

Hi GB,

Hope you are well and not too hungover from last night. I just wanted to apologise for not talking to you yesterday. Seeing you there was a bit of a surprise. I have no ill feelings towards you or meant to be rude to you, although I think I was. I was a little tipsy and seeing you there with your partner K and mine spooked me out a bit.

In fact I have very fond memories of when we met. You were charming and fun, and the kind of person I would have liked to get to know better. I was glad to hear that you had found a partner and having met K, I can say he is a lovely guy. I am genuinely happy for you.

Despite my partner and I having an open relationship of sorts, one of the main rules we share is that we do not openly discuss our extra marital encounters. Another rule is that we never bring anyone here to our own home or make friends with them. I would hate to know what he might get up to, and I simply do not want to know. This is a compromise we have found after twenty years together. It has been many years since we have been intimate with one another. It is sad but what we share is so much more than just sex. I am happy to see that you got on so well with him, he is a wonderful person. I would be so happy to welcome you and K here at our home or simply go out for drinks and food and finally get to know you better if you wanted to.

Anyway, I hope you have a great day!

Thanks, all the best,

The information in his email about his open relationship is a bit different to what he told me two years ago. Previously he'd told me that they hadn't really discussed it at all, and that he'd just assumed it was OK to have fun with other guys! But there's no point asking him about this, so I simply reply to say that I don't have any intention of disclosing anything to his partner. We exchange another couple of emails and it seems likely that we'll meet up at some point, but it hasn't happened yet.

Looking back, the thing that seems amazing to me now is that something like this has never happened to me before. Over the years, I've certainly had my share of activities with quite a few guys, so where are they all now? Presumably a lot of them end up with boyfriends, but it's not such a big world so why haven't I bumped into any of them with their partners? Anyway, I do hope that I'll see the Argentinian guy again :-). And hopefully next time, he'll be happy to talk to me!