Monday, August 01, 2005

The first counselling session with boyfriend number 1

A week ago, boyfriend number 1 told me that he had arranged for us both to attend a relationship councellor (A very brief conversation with boyfriend number 1). On the day of the councelling session I get up with mixed feelings. On the one hand I think it will be very good talk with boyfriend number 1 about our relationship problems, but on the other hand I’m scared about what the outcome might be.

Before we leave for the appointment I check my e-mail, and I’m encouraged by a message from a guy called F who’s been reading this blog.

I hope the counselling helps sort things out between you and boyfriend number 1 - I think it will. My partner and I have been together for nearly 15 years now, but went through something similar(ish) a year or so ago.

F goes on to say how he had been in the situation of boyfriend number 1 when he discovered that his partner had met a few guys from gaydar for some brief encounters. However following counselling, they’ve resolved the situation and now have a very happy open relationship. He also mentions what looks like quite an interesting book, The Ethical Slut, which apparently includes a discussion on whether it’s possible to sustain more than one loving relationship!

We arrive about ten minutes early for the counselling session and sit next to each other in a large, otherwise empty waiting room. Five minutes after the appointed time the receptionist tells us where to go for the meeting.

It turns out that this is just an introductory meeting. The counsellor is a middle aged woman aged about fifty. We get asked various routine questions, about both our relationship, previous relationships, childhood, families, do we have any children, and then finally, “Why are you here?”. We both start saying “well, um, shall I, ...”, until eventually I get my act together:

“Well, from the start we agreed to have a monogamous relationship, but in fact I’ve met other guys for casual sex when I’ve been away on business trips. Earlier this year I arranged with my employer to take four weeks off over the summer so we could have a wonderful holiday together. A couple of weeks before we leave boyfriend number 1 tells me he can’t go so instead I go with one of these other guys I’ve met.”

We talk about the situation for quite a while. During the conversation we end up talking about how and when we both came out as gay. This is one of the things which gives me the impression that this counsellor doesn’t have much experience of gay relationships – I’d think that talking about this should be part of the introductory questions. Eventually she says:

“And what do you want to get out of these counselling sessions?”

That’s an easy question. “We want to workout how to stay together or how to split up” I say. Boyfriend number 1 nods his head in agreement.

It turns out that this woman might not be our counsellor. We have to wait for someone to become available at a time that suits us, and that could take four weeks or more.

During the discussions, one of the things that boyfriend number 1 says impresses me:

“I feel quite strong at the moment”, he says, “and if we end up breaking up that’s fine, I just want to get on with my life”.

Recently I had had the impression that he’d felt that if we split up he’d never get another boyfriend. In my experience, when people are in that state of mind there’s only one possible outcome – a difficult break-up.

I don’t want to break-up with him. Somehow I want an open relationship, where I spend a lot of time with him, and some with other guys including boyfriend number 2. I hope very much we can sort things out.

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