Saturday, April 25, 2015

The trouble with web sites like

Nice holiday picThis morning, I'm discussing with boyfriend K what hotel we're going to stay in on our next holiday.

"I've actually been there before :-)," I tell boyfriend K, pausing slightly, "because I went there with boyfriend T in 2009!"

Although boyfriend K never met boyfriend T, for some reason he's never comfortable when I mention his name. But on this occasion he doesn't react.

"So …" I continue, pointing to an area on the google map on my computer screen, "this is definitely the best area to stay in."

"But how can you say that?" complains boyfriend K.

"Because I've been there before :-)" I reply, feeling quiet confident in my answer.

"But don't forget you're a posh bitch!" retorts boyfriend K, playfully.

"But does it matter whether I'm rich or poor? That area has the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best night life …"

"Imagine you're a backpacker like I was ten years ago," interrupts boyfriend K.

"So if I'm trying to save money I'd stay here," he continues, pointing to a different location on the map, "and afterwards I'd be telling other backpackers that that's the *Best* place to stay. I'd tell them how cheap it is, and I'd tell them that it costs very little to catch a bus for a day trip to the place that you're talking about!"

I sit back and think about what boyfriend K has just said, and I realise that he's right. I'd forgotten how subjective the word "Best" is. And "Best" for me if I've got a reasonable income isn't going to be the same as "Best" for a budget traveller.

trip advisor logoIn general, I glad that websites like exist, because in theory it ensures that hotels and restaurants always need to be trying to give a good service. Tourists may be one time visitors, but their reports of good or bad experiences on the internet can encourage or deter visitors in the future. However, the conversation that I had with boyfriend K this morning made me realise that the rating systems that all these web site have are fundamentally flawed. In practice, perhaps those websites aren't as useful as they seem?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Email from a gay guy about finding a boyfriend

At the start of the month, a reader who'd written to me before sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

How have you been? It's been ages since we were last in touch!

It's the guy who didn't believe in love at first sight and sent you a few messages about it some 3.5 years ago! I had a serious crush on a guy I met in a guy in a gym in the City around October/November 2011, but I blew it spectacularly. I never got to the point when I was able to have a normal conversation with him - my heart rate went over the roof each time I saw him, my hands began to sweat, my communication ability all but gone. I did make a few attempts to chat him up, but I think I just annoyed him more and more until he eventually turned down my invitation to drinks. This was around July/August 2012 and I hoped it would be the final blow that I needed to take me back to reality. However I saw him again in the gym more than a year later and I was back to square one - sweaty hands, heart in throat, etc. It was like he had a remote control in his pocket with a button saying "Act Like An Idiot."

I mean, it's not like I've had him on my mind all this time LOL. I've moved on with life, got a new job, moved to south London, transferred my gym membership to another club, dated a few guys, moved back to north London, etc. But I would be lying if I said that he doesn't cross my mind every now and then. Even now - in March 2015. Maybe 1-2 times a month or so. But it doesn't hurt any more. It's like one of those things from your past that you've come to accept and move on. I do wonder sometimes how he is doing though, whether he still lives in London or moved to New Zealand or someplace else sufficiently far away from me ;), whether he still looks the same or got a new haircut, found a new job or a long-term partner. I don't know. I just hope that he is happy wherever he is, and that he is getting what he wants out of life - even if it means that he is most likely with someone else by now.

Anyways, I don't want this post to be about him again! You are probably banging your head against the wall already! ;) I want to write about gay relationships in general and more specifically - how does one find a meaningful gay relationship in London?

I know what you are probably going to say. I need to put myself out there, get more social, etc. But I am doing that already and I don't feel I'm getting too far. I do meet quality guys, professional, intelligent, etc. but I rarely get beyond the first few dates.

For example, I went on a few dates with this Canadian architect. We got on really well, had a few dinners, went to the theatre a few times, etc. He was a good looking guy, fit, around my age, intelligent, successful, etc. But I just couldn't get myself excited about seeing him again. He had this strange habit of grabbing me in the middle of a busy street and giving me a long deep kiss with dozens of people passing by. Or he would take me to one of those cosy restaurants in Soho (cosy as in touching-elbows-with-your-neighbours situation) where he would lean across the table as if he wanted to tell me something private, but instead gave me a long deep kiss again. I mean, I totally understand that he wanted to be romantic and spontaneous, and I can certainly appreciate a bit of romance and spontaneity in other guys, but perhaps not in the middle of Leicester Square on a Friday night, or in a packed restaurant where we have an audience watching us while I'm still chewing on my chicken!

Or this other guy - a South African lawyer. Again, an intelligent, good looking and successful guy around my age, with an amazing apartment in Kensington. He was honestly THE best date I've ever had. We met for a mid-afternoon walk in a park, had a coffee and cake, then he took me to dinner to this amazing restaurant in Chelsea where I had the best French wine in my life. And we TALKED all this time - 8 hours of non-stop talking about life, work, politics, economy, family, our past experiences and hopes for the future, etc. I can't remember when I hit it off with another guy so quickly. The problem was - I just wasn't physically attracted to him at all. It was like talking to a brother. The second I saw him I knew there was going to be no chemistry on my side. There was nothing wrong with him at all. He was good looking, tall, fit, etc. Just completely NOT. MY. TYPE. And my first reaction to that? I felt GUILTY. And I couldn't figure it out the whole night. I thought I was being too picky, selfish, etc. The worst thing was that we ended up in his place around midnight, and, well... I had to think of someone else to come to a happy ending LOL. I mean, he was much more experienced than me, very attentive, and wanted to make sure that I was having a good time, etc. but it still didn't do anything. So I just closed my eyes and thought about someone else. I know it sounds horrible when I say it like that, but that's what it was. I stayed in the whole night, he made me breakfast in the morning, got me a taxi back home... and I haven't seen him since. He texted me a few times after that, even sent me a bunch of peacock feathers to work (!!), but I didn't know how to deal with it so I just went silent. I know, very cowardly. But imagine coming to work one morning (where you are still not out to everybody), and finding a bunch of peacock feathers on your desk. Explain that to your colleagues! I texted him a few months later suggesting a drink, but I got no response. I guess that's it then.

I've also tried to socialise with guys I met in the scene, rather than through online dating sites. About a year ago I met these 3 decent professional guys at a Village Drinks event and we agreed to have Sunday lunch together. I was genuinely excited - a proper Sunday roast with 3 other gay guys! I immediately thought Carrie Bradshaw and Sex In The City, soulmates, life-long friendships, etc. Talk about expectations! The first 1-2 hours were great - we talked about our jobs, Village Drinks, relationships, the gay scene, etc. But as we moved on to desserts (and a few bottles of wine later), the discussion somehow turned to all different types of chems, and which body orifice(s) they should be applied through for best effect. Apparently they were all skilled in the topic, while I just wondered why my jaw was on the floor. And believe me, ALL body orifices were discussed in great detail. It just felt surreal. I was having lunch with 3 other gay guys, and I never felt more out of place in my life. I am telling you, apple crumble will never taste the same again!!

I had a similar experience a few months later when I wanted to follow my curiosity and tried to befriend a few guys from the leather scene. I was invited to a birthday party which was attended by about 30 other guys aged 25 to 60 - all very butch and masculine. My heart was racing with excitement! ;) The party went OK, except I never thought I would learn so much about botox injections in one night. I am not judging, I am just saying that Botox was the main guest at the party. By 2am there were still about 6-8 guys in the house, but I left soon after it became clear that they were getting ready for a group fisting session. I mean, I am all for mutual fun between consenting adults - whatever form it may take. But this was the host's 50th birthday party which ended up with a fisting session in his bedroom. For some reason I felt like my heart was going out to the guy. I just wanted to hug him.

I am not a total prude LOL. I am a healthy guy with normal physical needs and I have met a few guys for fun only too, although it didn't go without a few curious incidents. One guy asked me if I was 100% sure that I was gay - as I didn't wear gay underwear... Yep, that's what he said. I Didn't. Wear. Gay. Underwear. I never knew there was such a thing! I was wearing GAP boxers that night, orange or red colour I think, and they looked pretty OK to me. I responded that I am pretty sure that I am gay (otherwise I wouldn't be in his bedroom half naked LOL), and therefore, any underwear I choose to wear on any given day is - by definition - gay. If I choose to wear military boxers with images of Rambo and Terminator on my butt, they would still be classified as gay underwear no matter how straight or macho I would look like. Oh, well... that was probably not the best example haha but you know what I mean, right? ;)

All of this just makes me wonder - is this really all there is to it? How do other guys find meaningful, passionate, long-term gay relationships? Do they first hit it off with a good shag, and then try to find out what they have in common so they can justify staying together? Or do they meet for dates only first, and if they get along as friends they try to make it work even if there's little chemistry between them, hoping they would eventually click physically and emotionally too?

I know, most people would say that relationships take time. You need to talk, invest time to get to know each other, spend time together, make sacrifices, etc.... and then what? You wake up one day and realise that you are in love? How much time is it going to take before it happens? And how do I know that it's probably never going to happen and so I should probably break it off and move on before I fall into a pattern of convenience and stay with someone just to make sense of all the sacrifices and commitments I've already made so far? I mean, consider the South African lawyer above. He was very keen to take it further. He had the looks, the brains, the money, the job, the apartment, the body... he had everything. But there was just ZERO chemistry on my part. I mean, it was our FIRST night together and I had to think of someone else. Was it ever going to get any better? Maybe I should have just faked it for a few months and see what happens. I don't know. I just felt that it would be a wrong and dishonest thing to do. HE deserved better than that.

So, what would be your advice? I guess different things work for different guys when it comes to relationships. For me - I need the initial click, otherwise I can't get myself to commit. This doesn't necessarily mean lust LOL, just the feeling of longing to see someone again if that makes any sense. And when I get that initial click - THEN I am happy to make sacrifices, invest time to get to know each other, etc. I don't know. Maybe I just need to put myself out there much more, especially in social situations with other gay guys, although I still find it a bit silly that I should socialise and choose friends based on their sexual orientation LOL. The weird thing is - I've only met a handful of guys so far who gave me sleepless nights, but every time it happened I wasn't actively looking! I just went on with life as usual and somehow happened to bump into them - in a graduate school in the US, a temporary work placement in Austria, or a gym in the City.

Another weird thing is that they all seemed to have similar characteristics. I guess that would be my "type" then! They were all down to earth, proud, intelligent, determined, confident and wise, perhaps a bit reserved and unapproachable at first, but deep inside very caring, loyal and fiercely protective. Not sure why but I am just naturally drawn towards these guys over and over again, even though I find it difficult to break down the initial barrier. They just make me feel that I could trust them, and that they would be able to make me feel safe and protected. I realise there's an inherent contradiction in what I've just said LOL - as I consider myself quite independent and free spirited - but I do hope to find a strong, reliable guy that I would look forward to coming home to each day, not because I have to, but because that's where I feel I belong. And of course he would be madly in love with me, obviously... ;))

Joking aside, I don't necessarily think that I need to go through half a dozen failed relationships before I find him. It's more of a feeling you have when you find something - and you just KNOW that this is IT. It's almost like buying a house LOL. I know it's a stupid analogy but just for the sake of making my point - Would you buy (and subsequently re-sell) 2-3 houses before you finally find the one that really suits YOU? I mean, in the right neighbourhood, the right size, location, number of rooms, layout, views, garden, etc.? If you ask me personally - I wouldn't. It's just too much hassle, responsibility, and too much time spent on something I'm not 100% sure about. It's a burden. I would rather keep renting until I find a place that I KNOW is perfect for ME. And then I would put all my energy into it.

So maybe my plan should be to do nothing LOL! Just be myself and go on with life, be open to new encounters and experiences and make the most out of each opportunity, hoping that I won't make a complete idiot of myself next time around. If it's supposed to happen it will happen at some point - and I will manage.

What do you think? Thanks

When I started reading this reader's email, I was very glad when I got to the bit that told me that this email was NOT about the "love at first sight" guy! So I sent him an email in which I included the following paragraphs:

For some guys, there's a danger that no one is ever good enough for them, especially in places like London. In London, the population is changing all the time, especially in the 20 year old to 40 year old age group. That means that there are always new guys to meet, so even if a particular guy is OK, maybe the next guy will be better. When people get into that mind-set they never end up getting a boyfriend, which I think is quite sad.

Are you clear about why you want a boyfriend? For me it feels very natural to want a special guy to share my life with, but not everyone is like that.

Many people will say that if you go out looking for a boyfriend, it doesn't happen. Boyfriend K is the fourth guy that I'd call "a boyfriend", but when I started my relationship with all of them, I wasn't actually looking for a boyfriend. With boyfriend number 1 (a.k.a. boyfriend S), I'd only recently come out, so I was looking for friends and casual gay sex experiences. With boyfriend number 2, (a.k.a. boyfriend P), I was in Singapore and I was just looking for *fun* while on a business trip. With boyfriend T, I'd only recently split up with boyfriend number 2, so I was definitely just looking for *fun* to take my mind off him. Lastly with boyfriend K, he's a friend of a friend of mine, so I met him socially and in those social situations I certainly wasn't looking for a boyfriend either.

Perhaps a good idea for you would be to try and build a social circle of gay friends? There are enough gay social groups around. Or just look for shags! That's what I recommended in an old post called The gaydar advantage, and as you can tell from my relationship history, it worked for me :-). (N.B. I guess if I was writing that post today I'd call it "The Grindr advantage", but I'm sure you'll understand the point!)

Does any of that help?

Within a couple of days, he'd sent me a reply:

Thanks GB.

I feel you may have misunderstood my original email. Or maybe I didn't explain myself properly. I mean, it's crystal clear to me why I want a boyfriend - I want someone to grow old with. Perhaps I should have called my original email "Finding a life parter" rather than "Finding a boyfriend." Would that make more sense?

To me, being attached to someone emotionally is not a conscious decision LOL. It's not like I can DECIDE that I am going to have good chemistry with someone because they are good looking and therefore I am supposed to be attracted to them LOL. Or because they are a good shag. Or because it's convenient or comfortable. The way I realise that I am emotionally attached to someone is when I feel the desire to be around them - because it hurts otherwise. Have you ever had a feeling that you just wanted to BE with someone? I mean, just BE with them and spend time together but not necessarily have sex? I begin to find that many guys simply cannot comprehend the concept.

I have to admit I was a little taken aback when you implied that no one is ever good enough for me. Well, maybe you are right. But please believe me that I am not looking for a super human. Far from that. I am certainly not a super human myself LOL. Yes, I consider myself intelligent, educated, happy and loyal, well raised and travelled with goals in life. Mums love me LOL. I can appreciate fine dining and a good bottle of wine, but I am equally happy with a burrito or fried chicken for dinner. Maybe that's why I've never had a six pack LOL. I can also be a bit lazy and sleep until 11am if I don't set my alarm clock. And when I went on a 4-week road trip across the US I didn't shower for 2-3 days a few times and I was as happy as ever LOL. Plus I am hopeless in the kitchen. The last time I invited friends for dinner I got a pre-cooked meal from M&S and I managed to burn it! Must have been the oven's fault, obviously! ;)

Ok, I guess I am not selling myself particularly well here LOL, but that's not the point. The point 't is that I don't feel like I have a long list of requirements that I am looking for in my future partner - because I can't offer one either. Honestly, I couldn't care less about their professional or ethnic background, or even about their body type - unless they are obese LOL. I also don't think that we necessarily need to share the same interests and hobbies. Quite the contrary - I like relationships where people are different so they can learn from each other and explore together. On the other hand - confidence, drive, intelligence and natural, down to earth common sense are certainly some of the traits that I am intuitively attracted to - even without realising it. Yes, often times they tend to translate to professional success, but I view that as a by-product (or a result) of what attracts me in the first place.

As an example - consider the guy I met in Austria during my work placement there. He was shorter than me with thinning hair and a beer belly. Yet he made me cry. But the South African lawyer in London? Good looking, tall and fit - and I didn't feel a thing. I had exactly ZERO desire to see him again. Does this mean that there was something wrong with me? Was I having high standards or being too picky? Because I wasn't attracted to a good looking guy? So how do I explain falling for a shorter guy with a beer belly? Is that high standards too? Physically he was almost everything I would normally describe as off-putting. Could it be that there was something about their personalities and/or the way how they conducted themselves that made all the difference? Again, NONE of this was a conscious decision on my part. It's not like I DECIDED to have chemistry with one guy and not the other lol. It was an intuitive, subconscious, automatic reaction that grew on me for a few hours/days that I spent with them. I mean, how do you make a conscious decision to cry? Or get sweaty hands and heart stuck in throat?

So... how do I get that again? I like your advice that I should build a social circle of gay friends and join a few gay social groups. Do you mean some of those sport clubs like swimming or badminton? Please don't try to lure me into running! I would die before I finish the first half a mile LOL. Would you be able to suggest a few links please?


It was the line in the reader's first email where he wrote "I would rather keep renting until I find a place that I KNOW is perfect for ME" that made me wonder about whether he's the type of gay guy who's always thinks that the next guy might be better.

In any case, having reread the emails this morning, I'm convinced that finding sports or social gay groups would be a good thing for this reader to do. A quick google search found the Time Out list of gay sports clubs in London, so hopefully there's something there that appeals to him :-).

But do any other readers have any thoughts that might help him?

Monday, March 16, 2015

New UK laws against "revenge porn"

Back in January, I was contacted by the UK's Ministry of Justice to ask me whether I could support their campaign against revenge porn on this blog.

In case anyone hasn't heard of it, a good definition of revenge porn is "the sharing of intimate, sexual images of a person without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress". A typical scenario would be when a couple take intimate pictures or videos for fun during their relationship, but then when the relationship comes to an end, one of the couple take revenge on the other by making the images public.

However in the near future, making those kinds of images public is going to be an offence under UK law, punishable by up to two years in prison. The Ministry of Justice is also running a campaign Be Aware B4 You Share with hashtag #NoToRevengePorn to try and make everyone aware of the new offence and corresponding punishments.

Thinking about the issues here, although I have a few intimate pictures of my ex-boyfriends, there's nothing that might cause me to make them public. For me it would be like discussing the sexual preferences of an ex-partner in order to make fun of them, which is similarly a very nasty thing to do. People don't tend to discuss their ex-partner's preferences, so keeping images or videos private should fall into the same category of behaviour. What happens in the bedroom should stay there!

Looking back, ex-boyfriend R (a.k.a. boyfriend number 3) was very shy about allowing me to have ANY electronic image of him. He always said that with electronic images, one could never be certain where they might end up on the internet, so he didn’t let anyone have any. Similarly, although I've got lots of photos of ex-boyfriend T with clothes on, I don't have any intimate images of him. I always remember the trip to Paris with him before we became boyfriends. I took a picture of his naked buttocks while he was getting undressed but unfortunately he forced me to delete it! I guess he was scared where such images might end up as well. However, I've still got some slightly naughty pics of ex-boyfriend S (a.k.a. boyfriend number 1), although I keep them well guarded :-).

Regarding images of me, I seem to recall that ex-boyfriend R (a.k.a. boyfriend number 3) might have an intimate video of me taken on his mobile phone a few years ago. However when I asked him about it last year, he said that he couldn't remember. He's probably telling the truth, because he's a slightly dis-organised person, so if it did ever exist it's almost certainly been lost as he's upgraded his phone over the years.

When I was contacted by the UK's Ministry of Justice back in January, one of the things they said is that they'd be interested to hear from people who'd been the victim of revenge porn. It may be that they're not interested anymore, because it's been about two months since I received the original email, and it looks like their campaign may be over. Nonetheless, in case they are still interested, please send me an email if you've been affected by revenge porn and I'll forward it on to them. Alternatively, all comments on this post are welcome (as usual), especially it's done in such a way that it's possible to contact the commenter to follow up :-).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Email from a guy who needed life-saving surgery

A couple of months ago I received the following email:

Dear GB,

I originally moved from Northern Ireland to the UK, after having major life saving surgery, to start my life again at uni. The culture is not so open here in the North east of England compared to NI. One thing though is I don't know how to really chat guys up anymore since my lack of confidence from surgery 6 years ago. I'm now 26 and when I meet a guy for no strings fun, they just get up and walk away when they see the scars and the bag that's attached to me. Now this has not stopped me trying to chat people up, but I can't seem to talk to anyone in a bar. I've had a few moments when a straight guy has talked down at me when they found out I was gay and then walked away. I would like to find that person in my life, but I'm wondering how I should go about chatting up guys, and should I tell them about my surgery when they know me a lot better?


I didn't pick up the email immediately because I was busy with other things. However, as soon as I saw it, I sent him a reply in which I included the following:

I can't help wondering whether you can find ways to build confidence in other areas of your life? If there's anything that you're good at, or can be successful at, then building confidence in whatever it is should eventually have a positive effect on your confidence when dating.

I've been thinking about this guy's situation a bit more now, and I think he's right, there's no need to tell people about his surgery straight away. To my mind, there's an approximate parallel here with one of the main characters in the recent Kingsman film.

*** plot spoiler follows! ***

The Kingsman film film is about a fictional independent British spy organisation (called Kingsman). The spies are mostly from upper class (i.e. rich) backgrounds, and there's a young recruit with the nickname Eggsy who's from a very working class background. Eggsy tries to get along with the other recruits, who're also all quite upper class, but most of them look down on him because of his background. It all comes to a head in a scene where six recruits, including Eggsy, do a parachute jump as part of their training. They're falling through the air, about half-way through the skydive, when their training instructor tells them that he didn't give one of them a parachute, and that they need to work together to solve the problem!

Eggsy formulates a plan, namely that they need to pair up and hold each other tightly so that if the parachute of one of the pair fails, the parachute of the other will save them. However as they get closer to the ground, four of the recruits can't handle the idea that they might not have a parachute and one by one they pull their ripcords. All four parachutes work, leaving Eggsy and the other (female) recruit still falling. Luckily they manage to implement Eggsy's plan, with the other recruit pulling her ripcord and finding that the parachute does work, so both land safely together. On the ground, Eggsy then says to the instructor in a bitter voice "So I'm the expendable one then :-(", because the parachutes had all worked for the upper class recruits. The instructor then pulls Eggsy's ripcord and the parachute does open, so in fact all six recruits had had working parachutes after all. "You need to lose that chip on your shoulder!" says the instructor.

(In case any readers don't know the meaning of the phrase "have a chip on your shoulder", I think a good definition is "to seem angry all the time because you think you have been treated unfairly or feel you are not as good as other people".)

The parallel with the reader's situation is that he seems to have a chip on his shoulder in connection with his surgery. The surgery was obviously a major event in his life, so it's quite understandable that it's had such a big effect on him. The way he feels now is probably the result of a few bad experiences, where guys that he met genuinely did look down on him. The result is that he now he's now worried that everyone will be like that, which undermines his confidence. I'm always saying that confidence is the most important attribute when dating, so as I said in my email to him, finding ways to build confidence in other areas of his life will help.

After all the training he had, the character Eggsy in the film would never deny or try to hide his background, but neither would he think about it very much. It's just part of who he is. The same should be true for this reader. The surgery is just a part of what's happened to him, and there's no reason to mention it early in any friendship, because that gives it an importance that it doesn't deserve.

In fact, this is another case of The Confidence Mirror. If a person feels uncomfortable about something when talking to someone else, then that discomfort is often reflected back to the person. Similarly, if a person feels good about something, then that often gets reflected as well. I usually talk about this in connection with a conversation where the person comes out as gay to the other person, because in that situation it's important that the person who comes out feels good about themselves. For the reader, this applies to the life-saving surgery that he had (as well as to being gay). The scars etc that he's been left with are the proof that he's a survivor, so perhaps if the thinks about them like that then he can feel a bit better about what's happened to him.

In the film, Eggsy lost the chip on his shoulder, and then with the right attitude goes to save the world from the evil billionaire villain. I see no reason why the reader can't do the equivalent thing, and find himself the boyfriend that I'm sure he deserves :-).

Does anyone else have any ideas for this reader?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Email from a guy looking for a more exciting (sex) life

A couple of months ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Recently I stumbled upon your blog and immediately was drawn to it. I've read through most of your posts, especially from your earlier years and somehow I can relate with a lot you have been writing.

Actually, I think I might be in a somehow similar situation you were about ten years ago. I'm a gay engineer in my early 30s and have been in various relationships over the last ten years. The longest was over five years long, the current runs about 3 years. All of these relationships were strictly monogamous. However, sometimes I was just flirting on Grindr with other men without actually visiting them. This changed when I was on a longer business trip to Asia a couple of months ago. I finally met a guy for real and somehow the chemistry was so great that we not only had sex once but almost every other day for the three weeks I stayed here. I did tell him that I have a boyfriend at home but still we kind of fell in love with each other, spent a lot of time together and had a very tearful farewell when I finally left. Of course I didn't tell my boyfriend anything but I keep in contact with my Asian friend and even might consider him my boyfriend number 2.

Back at home I was still drawn to Grindr and met some other guys for quick fun. I was especially drawn to Asians. Still I didn't tell my boyfriend anything. He is a very nice guy and I'm quite content with our relationship. However, it is also kind of boring and I have to say that the rest of my life is also a little bit boring. I'm pretty much settled in, have a nice apartment with my boyfriend, a good job, a good salary and already achieved a lot during my younger years. It looks like that everything is just "nice" but not so exciting any more. So it kind of boils down now what to do with my life. I feel similar to you when you were younger that I would prefer a more exciting life instead of just the same routine, nice stuff every day. I had more excitement during my business trip to Asia and also during my brief gay sex here at home. But I don't think that's really a healthy way to go forward (especially by cheating my boyfriend). So maybe I would need an open relationship but I'm not sure.

Anyway, I was wondering what happened to you. Did you finally settle in with a less exciting life? Or did you have anything other (like work or hobbies) filling up for it? Maybe it's some kind of early mid-life crisis but I wonder if as a gay man if there's something inherently different to most straight man who usually found a family.

Looking forward to your reply. Kind regards.

I thought that the email raised some interesting points, and within a day I'd sent him a response which included the following paragraphs:

I think I still have an interesting (exciting?) life :-), but the interest isn't generated by *activities* with lots of different guys! Although I split up with boyfriend number 1 back in 2008, we're still very good friends, like brothers in many ways. Both ex-boyfriend T and boyfriend K were/are keen on monogamy so since early January 2010 I've been monogamous too. Of course, my long term relationship with boyfriend number 1 lasted 15+ years, whereas even the relationship with ex-boyfriend T only lasted 4 years and it's still only around a year with boyfriend K. So perhaps I'll feel the need to find *activities* with other guys again if my relationship with boyfriend K reaches a similar age.

Looking back to the time when I was with boyfriend number 1, I always had a much bigger sex drive than him. So when things were difficult with him, or when I was away from him, I felt compelled to find *activities* elsewhere. Looking back, it feels like I went through a phase (an addiction?) where *activities* with other guys were very important to me. Perhaps because I went through that phase, it's out of my system now and I'll never go through it again. Boyfriend number 1 has various insecurities, so unfortunately he wasn't able to handle the idea of an open relationship. If he had agreed to one, I think I may well have got bored with it after the while, in the same way that I've been happily monogamous since January 2010. In part, a lot of the excitement of all the *activities* came from the naughtiness of it all, and if it's allowed it's much less naughty LOL!

His reply took less than a day to arrive:

Thanks for your quick reply and being so open.

You are right that the "excitement" might come from the naughtiness of the activities. Maybe it's one way to escape a boring life by spicing up things a little bit -- you might get caught after all. It's like sex in a dark park or the car, part of the fun is that you never know if someone catches you.

Your part about this phase in your life being like an addiction also resonated with me. I think it can be a very nice feeling if you know all these hot people like you and want to engage in activities with you. That's why I also enjoy just chatting with them, without ever meeting. It's like watching XXX movies, just a little bit more real. But you have to become careful that it doesn't become dominating your life. That's something I already fear and guess I have to stop now when I can still control it reasonably well.

Having thought about this reader's emails, I can't avoid thinking about a very personal question relating to me, which does have a lot of bearing on the reader's situation. The question that keeps popping into my mind is, what advice would GB today give to the young GB back in 1994, before the trip to NYC where I first strayed from my monogamous relationship with boyfriend number 1? Imagining this as a court case, I find it very easy to write "the case for the defence", namely the case for doing everything in exactly the same way as I actually did.

The (unapologetic) case for the defence: In the end, everything has worked out brilliantly. I had many good years being boyfriends with boyfriend number 1. Having *activities* with other guys outside my main relationship with boyfriend number 1 was much more fun than it would have been had I been in an open relationship, for the reasons discussed in the above emails. Obviously there was a difficult patch with boyfriend number 1 when we ended the relationship, but at this stage 7 years later, we're good friends again and I regard him as part of my extended family. Boyfriend number 1 had firm views against open relationships, so if I had been told him about my *activities*, it's likely that we would have split up in the mid 1990's which would have been a great shame. If I had been monogamous and stayed with boyfriend number 1, I wouldn't have had any opportunity to meet a host of fascinating people, including my other boyfriends. In everyday life, the opportunities for meeting people in completely different walks of life are quite limited, except when one is dating (or cruising!). I've also met a lot of wonderful people as a result of my relationships with boyfriend number 2 and now boyfriend K, so I would have missed out on a lot if I was still in a monogamous relationship with boyfriend number 1. There's a lot of on the internet about the shelf life of relationships, and in many ways my relationship with boyfriend number 1 ran its natural course. Monogamy helps straight couples raise kids in a safe and stable environment, but has less relevance in the gay world.

The case for doing things differently: Boyfriend number 1 has been a very important person in my life, and at this stage I think that he always will be. However, I completely failed to respect his views on monogamy. Worse than that, I didn't give him the support that he needed starting about fifteen years ago, when he was gradually becoming more and more depressed. It's easy to look back and rationalize what happened by making the excuse that I thought we were drifting apart, but in a good relationship the partners should be able to rely on each other in the bad times. So in reality, I let him down very badly.

In fact, I do accept that I should have done things differently. The hard question to answer is what. One thing that occurs to me is that if I'd started talking to him about a more open relationship in the early years, then it wouldn't have come as such as shock to him when he learned that I hadn't been faithful. The uncomfortable truth is probably that there was a fundamental incompatibility between me and boyfriend number 1, because he wanted strict monogamy, and looking at what happened I needed something a bit more open. Open relationships can be constructed in many ways, but I was never able to have that conversation with him. Freedom to play with other guys when I was away on business might have been enough.

Coming back to the reader who sent me the email above, one concern I have is that he seems to be bored with his current relationship after only 3 years. I was never bored in my relationship with boyfriend number 1, although as the early posts in this blog prove, I enjoyed looking for more. I think that there are many benefits to having a long term boyfriend, but perhaps reader's current one isn't the best match for him.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?