Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Feeling nuts :-)

Earlier this month, I got an email from a guy who's involved with a movement called #feelingnuts. The movement is about preventing testicular cancer, which I know is very important because of the experience that a friend of mine had.

A few years ago, this friend of mine was in bed playing around with his boyfriend, when his boyfriend felt something unusual in my friend's testicles. This was very lucky because it did indeed turn out to be testicular cancer, and as a result of this early detection, my friend is still alive today. He ended up having the offending testicle removed and replaced by an artificial (prosthetic) testicle, so that if you look at my friend when he's got his pants down, he'll look like a normal naked guy. I've never felt my friend's artificial testicle, but I'm reliably told that it feels convincing too!

So to all the guys who are reading this, check yourselves and you boyfriend(s) regularly :-). The six steps that you need to follow can be found in this the following handy video:

Please watch and share the video with all your friends. And finally, in case it helps, the #feelingnuts movement can be followed on all the usual social media web sites:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Email from a guy who's in love with an attached man

At the start of June, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Recently discovered your blog and I'm addicted! You give great advice and I love reading about your relationships. I am in a situation that I hope you can give me some advice on.

I'm in my mid-twenties, and am newly out to some family members and close friends. I met a guy six months ago via a hook-up site. We had fun and established a "friends with benefits" type situation. He has a boyfriend for many years, and they are in an open relationship. I knew this going in and had no problems with it. However, after a couple months in I have developed strong feelings for him.

I shared these feelings for him and he was very kind and understanding about things. He was honest and told me he doesn't feel the same but he liked our arrangement and friendship. I told him that I would be fine and that I wanted to continue to see him and we have since resumed our "friends with benefits" arrangement.

I am confused and am unsure of myself and my emotions. We text almost daily and I really enjoy having him as a friend and do not want to lose him. There are days when I feel I'll be OK, but also days where I hate myself for getting in this situation to begin with. He is in almost every way my ideal guy but he has made it clear he does not feel the same and would never leave his boyfriend.

Am I playing with fire, waiting to get burnt? I'm afraid my feelings will only intensify and I will get hurt badly down the road, but I can't convince myself to end things with him either. What should I do?


After I'd read his email, I couldn't help thinking that it was already too late for him to avoid being "burnt" as he put it. So I sent him a reply in which I included the following paragraph:

My quick thoughts are that your arrangement with this guy won't ever go any further. But I can't help wondering whether this guy has any single friends which he could introduce you to. If you like this guy, then it's possible that you may like some of his friends, so perhaps you could use him to help you find the boyfriend that you deserve? In any case, I think you need to find other guys to date, because the longer that this goes on the more that you'll be hurt :-|.

Within a few hours he'd sent me the following:

Hi GB - awesome getting a reply from you so soon! Thanks so much !

I have broached the topic of him introducing some friends of his who are single to me but he kinda shrugged it off in the past. I don't think I would want to bring it up again.

I feel pathetic because I don't want to give up what we have even though I know the feelings are one sided. I'm rational enough to understand feelings can't be forced, etc. The moments we share I cherish so much. I've never felt this way for a guy before that it scares me.

Take care !

I was glad that the reader had had the idea himself of trying to get his lover to introduce him to potential boyfriends, but I was disappointed and somewhat surprised at the casual way in which his lover seemed to have declined. However, it made me feel more strongly that the "friends with benefits" relationship wasn't good for the reader. So I sent the reader another email to tell him that I'd do this "Dear GB" posting for him, and at the bottom of the email I said:

It'll probably take me a few weeks to get round to doing the posting for you, so meanwhile, just think about this. If this attached guy really cared for you then he'd want you to be happy. By keeping you available as a "friend with benefits", and also by not introducing you to guys who might be able to become your boyfriend, then he's being exceptionally selfish. How can you love such a selfish guy?

Again reader replied quite quickly:

He's told me that I shouldn't not see others on account of him, and that we'll still meet even if I do. Maybe I'm just blinded but I truly don't think he's being selfish at all. A friend of mine who I shared this with did tell me that no truly good person would continue this friends with benefits relationship knowing one party is more invested than he is.

Her advice and where your advice seems headed does make me think. Perhaps my sense of judgement is just impaired.

Thanks for your responses. You're awesome ! Look forward to your posting.

A few years ago, I think I said that straight guys learn all about love and relationships in their teenage years, whereas that doesn't necessarily happen for gay guys. Gay guys and girls may hide their sexuality while they're teenagers, and in that case they don't learn how to handle their emotions until they eventually come out. My guess is that's exactly what's happened to this reader, because he said that he only recently came out, and it sounds very much as though he's got a teenage crush on this guy that he met on the hook-up site. So as he rightly started to wonder in his last email to me, his judgement is indeed impaired.

It seems clear to me that the guy that the reader has the crush on hasn't been very good for the reader. The reader must have told the guy that he only recently came out, and I had been that guy, I like to think that I'd have done much more to help the reader start enjoying a gay lifestyle. Instead, the guy declined to think about whether he had any friends that might become the reader's boyfriend, and has continued the "friends with benefits" arrangement even though he must surely know that the reader is going to end up hurt.

The emails that I exchanged with the reader were trying to push the reader to realise this all himself, and in his last email it did indeed seem like the reader was starting to wake up to the reality of his situation. It's been several weeks since we were last in contact, so I hope in that time he's been able to start looking for other guys, and spending less time with the guy in the open relationship. But if he is still seeing him, then my advice would be to stop seeing him immediately!

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this?

Friday, June 27, 2014

GB featured in Evening Standard Magazine :-)

A few years ago, I did a phone interview for a journalist who worked for London's Time Out Magazine. The result was that I was one of the bloggers who was featured in an article called "The Sex Diaries".

History has now repeated itself, but this time it's the turn of London's Evening Standard Magazine! Today's issue contains an article called "Sex on file" and one of the bloggers who gets a mention is me :-). They've taken an extract from quite an old article (Black tie), and although it might have been better if they'd used something a bit more recent, it's nice to get a mention :-).

Email about relationships and fear of intimacy

Last month, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

We've communicated a few times, and I appreciate your insights in relationships, gay male interactions, and other issues.

Anyway, so I've been out to friends since I was 15, and I'm now 20. Throughout this period, I haven't come out to my family, and I'm not likely to do so anytime soon since I come from a very conservative Muslim family. I've dated a few guys, and slept around a lot, but never really had a relationship. There were 2 attempts lasting more than a month, both of which failed dismally because I never invested in them so I ended up cheating, not caring about the other party, and leaving the first chance I got. I suspect that those 'relationships' even lasted longer than a month, 4 months with one and slightly over a month for the other, because I knew they wouldn't lead to anything. In the instances that I've actually connected with a guy, I've managed to push him away much much faster, and with such skill :). There's usually a lot of pressure and, simultaneously, I end up feeling inadequate, plus feeling that I'm being conned somehow, and setting out to ruin his opinion of me, besides finding fault with everything about him (too short, too tall, too smart, too good-looking, too considerate, etc.). I've been told that this constitutes a fear of intimacy, the causes of which I'm not sure of. Thing is, I actually do want to be in a relationship. I'm not desperate or anything; I do quite well alone cause of less drama and insecurities to confront, but I also realize that my current situation may be unhealthy and detrimental to future happiness. I know you're not a mental health specialist so I'm not asking for a diagnosis and a prescription, but I would greatly appreciate your opinion and suggestions, including how to handle future cases with potentials, and maybe a few anecdotes of how you've dealt with such issues.

Kind regards,

I didn't recognise the name that he put at the bottom of the email, or the email address, so I sent him a reply in which I asked him when we'd communicated in the past. In the email, I also included the following thoughts about his problem:

In terms of mental health specialists, one thing that occurs to me is that you've made your own diagnosis. I think that's a very good sign for you :-). I can tell from your email that you're a smart guy, and in these situations working out where the problem lies is more than half of the battle to sorting yourself out.

Another thought is that you should try and build your self-esteem. The fact that you say that you feel inadequate suggests that your self-esteem could be better. I know that some guys with low self-esteem sabotage their relationships because they don't feel worthy of having a nice boyfriend.

Within a day the reader had sent me his response, in which he told me that I'd done a couple of "Dear GB" posts for him in the past. The first post was in 2011 with the title Email from a frustrated young gay guy. Looking back at that email confirmed to me what I thought from reading his latest email, namely that he's a smart guy, because that old email was very well written and entertaining. The second "Dear GB" post, with the title Email about Asian-discrimination and penis size was also very well written, and in terms of the number of comments it received, it was a very successful post for this blog.

Once cause for concern is the change of tone that's evident between this reader's first email and the email that he sent me last month. The first email had a happy-go-lucky feel about it, the second email contained some disillusionment, whereas his last email is saying that things aren't really working out for him.

My second boyfriend (ex-boyfriend P, a.k.a. boyfriend number 2) was a Muslim, so I know something about the problems that the reader must face. It could well be that family pressure has a lot to do with the way he feels about his life. The fact that he's not Out to his family is the first important thing that he mentions in the email here, and now that he's grown up a bit, there must be some (or more) family pressure to conform and lead a straight life. It's hard for anyone to develop lasting relationships in that environment, so the amateur psychologist in me does wonder whether that is the source of his fear of intimacy.

However, the reader's behaviour with friends and on the gay scene suggests that in private he doesn't have a problem accepting the fact that he's gay, and that's obviously a good thing. I think he's right that his "current situation may be unhealthy and detrimental to future happiness", because having a life partner is a very natural for most people. My own experience suggests that that in the long term people are much happier if they end up in a good relationship. But how can he achieve that given his Muslim background and (perhaps) unsupportive family?

He hasn't told us anything about what he studied (or is still studying) as a student, whether his work life might end up being related to his family in some way, or whether he's going to try and follow his own career. Obviously in his situation it would probably be better to try and follow his own career if possible. Beyond that, it seems to me that the best course of action for him is to do what I suggested in my recent email to him, namely to build up his self-esteem. That simply means trying to make a success of all the different projects and activities that he's involved with. Success in one area of life naturally flows in other areas because successes help to build confidence.

In my response to the reader's first email, I already told him to take any potential relationship slowly, and that's certainly always good advice. Apart from that, I'd simply suggest being open about the issues that he has at the appropriate time as any relationship develops. For example, whenever I find myself dating, eventually the subject of past boyfriends comes up and why those relationships failed. The next time that happens to this reader, he might consider opening up about the kind of things that he put in the email here. Honesty and trust are two of the most valuable commodities in any relationship so he certainly shouldn't try to hide anything.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these matters?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Email from a gay Asian guy about his boyfriend

At the end of April, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Just a bit of a short introduction, I have been reading your blog for a bit and might I say it is a truly great blog to read! It's nice to see how someone can be honest about their life as well as their struggles as a person. And I do apologise in advance if this email is a bit too long.

I myself am currently a student here in the UK and will be moving down to London later on this year due to my Training Contract. I come from Indonesia and due to my cultural background and all, have only accepted the fact that I am gay about 3 years ago. I am only out to a very select group of people and still thinking about what I'm gonna say to my family when the time comes I guess.

Ok, but that's beside the point of why I wrote this email. I am currently in a relationship of 2 years with my boyfriend who is a local guy. He's a good 9 years older than me and I just fell nicely into the N/2 + 7 rule that you've made. We've been together for 2 years but of course throughout those two years we've had a few major fights and almost break-ups. Later on this year I will be moving down to London and although at first he wanted to move in with me, due to his financial conditions he can't. So I am rather nervous at how things are gonna turn out for the next year, before (hopefully) he'll move down to London to join me.

I have just read your post about your boyfriend K, and you mentioned that you loved him, and that you try to explain this because you can't get your mind of him, you worry about him etc. For me now I am asking the same question to myself about my bf, do I really love him? One thing that's been bothering me is that a curiosity to look at what's out there. I am currently 23, and my current bf is my first ever relationship. So sometimes I do feel scared if I've gone into this a bit too fast. Questions like "Am I missing out on something?" or "Have I settled too early?" sometimes pop into my head especially when things are not going well between us. And I do feel afraid that I am not doing justice to his feelings to me because I have these doubts sometimes.

Well that's about it I guess. I know it's not that interesting I suppose, but yeah would appreciate it if you can share some of your life advice to me! (:

Keep on posting!

I send him a quick reply to tell him that I'll probably get round to posting his email within a few weeks, and the next day, I find the following email from him in my inbox:

Hi GB,

I wasn't expecting such a swift reply from you! I only started going through your blog a few days ago so have yet to go through everything, there's an insane amount of posts, but they're brilliant though. (:

I have to say you do have a lot of experience with gay Asian guys! I do think my situation is rather similar with ex-boyfriend P, although I was raised in Indonesia. I have spent my life living abroad since I was 16. I studied in Singapore for 4 years, so the mention of Boat Quay does bring back some old memories (:

I have also accidentally stumbled on your writings about ex-boyfriend T and I guess I do identify myself with him quite a bit as well, with the familial situations, him not opening up to his straight friends that he's gay, trying to get a job abroad to escape from the so-called straight facade, and many others.

And your posts about infidelity is definitely interesting, a view that I myself hold to be honest, but again this has given rise to a lot of conflicts with me and my bf, as he doesn't hold the same views and all.

I do have a feeling that I will be reading so much more of your blog in the coming weeks! (A good break from studying for my final exams haha).

Thank you so much for your reply and apologies for this rambly email. Just wanted to tell you how great your blog is, and I do hope maybe we can be friends and talk more in the future. I feel like I have so much to learn!

Best regards,

If the reader has a good relationship with his boyfriend, then there are a lot of reasons to try and keep it going. In the gay world it's easy to find opportunities for activities with other guys, but genuine love is hard to find. Also, it's true that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, so ending the relationship might well be something that the reader regrets a few months down the road if he discovers that life as a single gay man in London isn't what he expected.

Whenever a reader writes to me about his boyfriend, whatever the subject, I always think that the reader should be finding a way to talk to his boyfriend instead of emailing me. It seems that the main issue is the reader's curiosity, and by that I assume he means a curiosity about activities with other guys, rather than e.g. whether there any gay footballers playing in the world cup next month. Curiosity to experience activities with other guys might be satisfied by making the relationship more open, which is certainly a discussion that the reader could have with his boyfriend. If the reader's boyfriend does indeed love the reader, then given their age difference the boyfriend should be able to understand everything that the reader put in the emails to me.

The reader mentions that since he got together with his boyfriend two years ago, they've had a few major fights and almost break-ups. My experience dating ex-boyfriend T and boyfriend K (who're originally from different countries in Asia) is that the period at the start of both relationships was quite difficult. Misunderstandings can arise relating to the Western-Asian cultural differences, and other misunderstandings can arise relating to language problems, assuming that communication occurs in English which is not the native language of the Asian guy. In my case, other misunderstandings related to what it means to be in a relationship. On my side, with memories of how previous relationships worked, I was expecting too much too soon. On the other side, relationships do involve some loss if independence because one has to take some account of one's boyfriend, and it took both ex-boyfriend T and boyfriend K a while to get used to that. However, over time all these difficulties should disappear.

Finally, I'm wondering whether the reader and his boyfriend have discussed what kind of long term future they might have together? Is the reader planning to stay in the UK? If not, then unless the boyfriend is willing to relocate to be with the reader, it might be best to end the relationship so that the boyfriend can start looking for a relationship that does have a long term future.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?