Sunday, December 24, 2006

An email from a gay male student in San Francisco

A few days ago, I received the following email from a guy in California:

Dear GB,

I stumbled across your blog today, and spent much of the evening reading through your life, quite intrigued.

San Francisco, as photographed by GB, see post dated 30th May 2006I am 20, at university near San Francisco, and have been in a relationship with an amazing guy who's a couple of years older than me, for a little over a year.

Prior to being with him, I dated casually and had many casual sex encounters, and until recently, I have been totally satisfied with him. I definitely want to stay with him, yet I want to bring casual sex back into my life. For him sex is a very sacred thing and I am afraid if he finds out I am having sex with other guys it will be over.

I feel a bit awkward asking the advice of a total stranger, but how would you handle my situation? I know I am young, yet I truly love this guy and want to keep our relationship while having sex with other people. Should I just do it behind his back? See what he thinks about an open relationship (i know the answer though-NO), or what? I would feel guilty just cheating, but I almost compulsively check the web for potential hookups and know it will happen sooner than later.

Again, great blog and I look forward to hearing from you.

I reckon this is a very common problem. In the western Christian world, we've all been programmed with the heterosexual stereotype, which implies that relationships should be monogamous. So even if a guy is gay, his instinct is often that gay relationships should be monogamous too. That was certainly my instinct when I first got together with boyfriend number 1.

I changed my mind of course! These days, I reckon that boyfriends are your very closest friends, the ones you can rely on and share your life with, and the ones that provide you with long term companionship. Sex is usually part of that of course, but actually I don't think that the two have to be connected. It's easy to imagine a situation where a guy is a perfect close friend and companion, but lousy in bed. Similarly it's easy to imagine a sex god who's great between the sheets, but is an emotional retard and hence a terrible friend.

But all gay couples have to work out what works best for them. However, as I've said before, I think a key ingredient in this should be a recognition that people may change their mind. I changed my mind, but I felt unable to discuss the subject with boyfriend number 1. As long term readers of this blog will know, when I went through a rocky period with boyfriend number 1 my infidelity surfaced, and things became very difficult as a result.

So what's the best advice to give to the student in San Francisco? One thing that occurs to me is that both this student and his boyfriend are relatively young. It seems unnatural to me for guys who are still in their early twenties to commit to a monogamous relationship, because sex with a variety of partners is enjoyable. Even if a guy has a boyfriend who is a perfect companion and a sex god, with so many years of their lives ahead of them eventually the sex is likely to become dull. So I think a move away from a rigid monogamous relationship is sensible.

Also, if guys are going to have successful long term relationships, it won't happen unless they can communicate properly about important issues like this, so I do think this student should try and discuss the subject with his boyfriend. How about starting a conversation with

"I've been thinking, what would we do if either of us changed our mind about wanting a monogamous relationship?"

Or if he knows a gay male couple that have a successful open relationship, perhaps he could try bringing up the subject by talking about them.

Once a conversation has been started, one idea would be to suggest finding guys to have threesomes with, perhaps as the first step away from a monogamous relationship. The idea is that both guys are always both present when they're having sex, but there may be someone else joining in too! Threesomes can be difficult though, because it's important to make sure that no one feels excluded.

Moving towards real open relationships, there should still be rules. Safe sex is by far the most important rule, because passing on a nasty disease to your long term boyfriend isn't something that any of us would want to do. Apart from that, some couples insist on emotional monogamy, which often means that either partner can have sex with anyone else once, but only once so that no emotional bond develops. My situation is that I'm allowed to see other guys, but never in the home that I share with boyfriend number 1.

So I think this student should definitely try and discuss with his boyfriend. He should also try and anticipate all the possible answers, and possible directions that the conversation could go, so that he has his responses ready. Hopefully there are a few ideas in the paragraphs above that will prove useful. And if he's lucky, it's just possible that the boyfriend may have been having similar thoughts!

If he can't get an agreement to move away from a monogamous relationship though, and if he doesn't want to split up from his boyfriend, then he could always cheat on him. If he takes this path, hopefully he'll feel a lot less guilty if he has tried to discuss everything with his boyfriend. Of course, I originally cheated on boyfriend number 1 and it worked just fine for ten years, but eventually it all came out in a very messy way. So mate, if you do decide to cheat on him, just don't ever think that you can get away with it forever!

Do any readers have any other thoughts?


Snoskred said...

It may be too late now but maybe the best idea would have been to point him at this blog and see what he thought of it.

Sometimes a really good way to get other people's thoughts on things is to say hey, take a look at what I found on the innernet today..

But you know, if my partner (being that I am female and he is male, so it's a little different) said hey, I truly love you, but I want to be able to shag other people, I'd be very resistant to that idea. Because it's just not me. You seem to be saying it's not this guy's style either, so..

I don't know - I would break up with someone before I cheated on them, at least these days I would. When I was younger, it wasn't so important. Maybe this is a case of right guy, wrong timing..

Reluctant Nomad said...

Too stuffed to think of something intelligent in response to your post so I'll resort to saying 'Happy festive season'.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Many of us are in a similar situation to the SF student. Adn very cool adivice. As you say, I know that cheating is not an option because it'll come out eventually, so I have resorted to vicariously living through blogs like this :-) Not the best, not the worst situation. I hope that eventually we'll sort things out (we've been together for four years) and meanwhile, I'll try to keep coasting without letting temptation get the best (and worst of me). Really cool blog.