Friday, October 28, 2005

My 16 year relationship with boyfriend number 1 is probably finished :-(

Back in June, I thought that if I was numbering the guys I have fun with, then J from the gym sauna would be boyfriend number 3. But J never returns my txt msgs or e-mails, and I never seem to see him since the gym sauna has been “Closed for renovation”. It’s become clear to me that it’s R, who I’ve now met three times, who is the real boyfriend number 3.

About two weeks ago, I spotted R on gaydar so I sent him a msg:

GB: Hi R it’s GB, how’s everything?

R: had a spot of ‘bother’ recently, I’ll tell you when I see you next, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do

What on earth does he mean by that? I didn’t delve further at the time, but a week ago last Friday when I hadn’t heard anything further I was worrying about him so I sent him a txt msg

Hi R :-) hope you’re OK, especially after you said you had a bit of ‘bother’? You know where I work, if you’re ever nearby let me know and I may be able to pop out and have a coffee with you. GB xxx

Later that day I get a reply

Nice message ta :-) am on my way to city for weekend now from 6pm today

That's a nice message too! So I send him a reply and we meet up meeting for a drink around 6pm. It turns out that ‘bother’ was a bit of an understatement - R was mugged near his home and lost his phone, his credit cards, and some money including some cash they made him withdraw from a bank with his ATM card. As a result he’s looking to sell his appartment and move elsewhere. In spite of his terrible experience, we end up talking about me most of the time:

“So how are you getting on with boyfriend number 1?” asks R, wanting to change the subject away from his recent experiences.

“We had our first counselling session earlier this week”, I tell him. “Not much happened. I’ve basically told him again that I want an open relationship. He’s still a bit shell-shocked though. He said he can still remember the day I told him I’d been on holiday with boyfriend number 2, and it still feels very raw.”

“You’ve been really bad to him you know”, says R after some thought. “You’ve basically been wasting his time for years.”

“How so?”

“He’s clearly the kind of guy that wants a monogamous relationship with a boyfriend that won’t cheat on him. He’s invested sixteen years of his life into the relationship with you, and for a large part of those sixteen years you’ve been deceiving him.”

“But it’s only been no-strings sex”, I protest, “why does that matter?”

“It’s not the sex”, says R, “it’s the trust, the honesty. I agree, the sex is irrelevant, but how can he ever trust you again? He can’t live those sixteen years again with someone else who’ll be faithful to him!”

We chat for well over an hour. Slowly but surely, the truth of the situation begins to hit me. And since the chat with R it’s been sinking in more and more.

Last weekend I did some research on the internet on gay male relationships. One web site, Stages of Gay Relationship Development, was particularly useful. In the middle of the article it says

the details of the gay couples' agreement about sex and fidelity may not matter, but the adherence to that agreement does

which makes my mistake very clear. Why didn’t I discuss it with him all those years ago when I realised I wanted to meet other guys for casual sex? Looking back, it was because it was too difficult a subject, boyfriend number 1 always had strong views that his relationship had to be monogamous. Still, that’s no excuse.

But thinking about today, is the relationship fixable? Possibly, but I’ve started to think that it would be best to try and sort out a friendly separation. In all the years we’ve been together, we’ve hardly argued at all. But when I think about all the big arguments we have had over the years (including the big argument last summer when boyfriend number 1 decided not to come on holiday with me), it all comes done to one basic issue. Boyfriend number 1 is after a quiet life, but I want an adventurous one. Now I’ve realised this, I think we should probably try and work out a way to split up.

I’ve been feeling dreadful about the situation all week. I’m really upset. How could I let myself get into such a mess? I love boyfriend number 1 in many ways, how could I let him down so badly?

Last Tuesday I end up having a brief chat with boyfriend number 2 on MSN:

bf2: how are you?
GB: feeling a bit upset, actually
bf2: oh no, what happened
GB: nothing yet, but the more I think about living with boyfriend number 1, the more I think we'd both be happier if we split up
bf2: what was the latest thing that triggered this
GB: I went out for a drink last Friday eve with a guy I've met a couple of times through gaydar
GB: He reckoned I'd been wasting boyfriend number 1's time for 16 years because I couldn't be committed to him, given that I'm so unfaithful. And finally, I'm starting to see the point - he may well be right
bf2: well it's true in a way. ur friend is right to a certain degree. i think his point is that u shouldnt abuse boyfriend number 1's trust
GB: The thing that I've been thinking about the last couple of days though is that, in lots of things, boyfriend number 1 is after a quiet life, and usually I'm not
bf2: u should tell him that
GB: The few arguments we've had over the years have all been about that
bf2: tell me honestly
GB: what?
bf2: will u be happier without him?
GB: In many ways no, in some ways yes
GB: but the yes ways are important!
bf2: then u have already made ur decision
GB: maybe
bf2: anyway, u know im always here for u

Nice of him to say that at the end.

Suddenly it's all getting very serious. The boyfriend number 1,2,3 concept just started as a bit of a joke, but it's not a joke any more. I'm probably going to be alone for the first time in 16 years and I'm terrified. I'm sure it'll terrify boyfriend number 1 too. But fear of being single is a bad reason to stay together.


Anonymous said...

tough one, this.
in my mind, a r'ship is a very complicated thing--- love, sexual chemistry, etc are just components. things such as time spent together, memories shared, companionship, all come into it, and the importance of each component may vary with the stage of the rship, eg, it may be ALL about sex and romance in the beginning. with time, things change, and people adapt, and i believe that if two people are committed to stay together, then there are ways of overcoming whatever obstacles that appear. i would think it quite natural that after a few years, the sexual attraction will wear off to whatever extent, and indeed it is probably quite normal for people to try to hide their "adventures", i guess maybe justifying to themselves that it is not hurting anyone; whatever he doesnt know wont hurt him; why rock the boat.
maybe at that time, honesty may NOT be the best policy. i think the bit about "never being able to trust you again" is a bit over-rated-- the sex seeking nature of men(?humans) is so ingrained that to believe someone can just stop being attracted to others, (and hence perhaps to just give way to temptation) is rather foolish. i think trust is about more than that.
sorry to ramble on....

GB said...

I completely agree with you harry_d. I wish boyfriend number 1 was as pragmatic as you. Still at present we seem to be getting on OK so hopefully we'll end up staying together.
GB xxx

naive said...

I started reading your earlier posts yesterday (from your first post to a few months later and then starting skipping posts in between) but I am terrified that I'm going to end up like boyfriend number 1 when I'm older. I really did believe monogamy could work. Waking up after wasting 16 years with someone is now one of my biggest nightmares.

GB said...

How long do you expect to live, naive? A few hundred years ago, most people were dead by their late 30's, and in that environment it's realistic to expect a monogamous relationship to last for your entire (short) life. But with much longer lifespans these days, people do very gradually grow apart, so the boyfriend that's right for a guy in his 20's is most likely less right for him in his 30's etc. That's not always true, of course, but I think that a guy has to be exceptionally lucky to find a boyfriend who's right for him for his entire life.

Regarding my ex-boyfriend number 1 (a.k.a. ex-boyfriend S), I actually don't think he wasted his time with me. We had many really great years together, and these days we're very close friends. When any of us get to the end of our lives, if we've had a large number of good years in different relationships then I think we should count ourselves lucky.

GB xxx