Monday, July 02, 2007

Email from a gay guy with relationship issues

Just over a week ago I received the following email:

Dear GB,

Was researching for Gay London information and came across your blog, and am totally fascinated by it! You have given me a lot of insight in terms of the modern gay life in a metropolitan environment, especially in respect of relationships.

I have been with my bf for 7 years and we moved in together around 5 years ago. I must say that our relationship has fallen downhill since then, and now it has come to a point that we almost don't have sex anymore. We don't have any common interest. I am virtually not allowed to go out and see those friends that he doesn't like. He gained at least 40 pounds from the first day I knew him. When we talk about my career, he sounds more like my father than my partner, and he's 37 and I'm 34, so there's not such a big age gap.

But the rest is good: he is mentally strong, career successful, good-looking (not model good looking but he has style), socially capable, can speak 4 languages, and, most of all, he loves me (or at least that's what it seems).

My love to him is definitely not as intense as 7 years ago, but every time I questioned his love to me, he said that he loves me more and more, and he could not live without me. His explanation for not having sex is his loss of sexual desire, but of course I know he has been fooling around.

Of course there is a strong emotional attachment between us, after all we have been together for more than 7 years. Of course we are not the only sexless couple on this earth, no matter gay or straight. But sometimes I feel like I'm stuck, and I am not sure if he is the one I wanna spend the rest of my life with. I am not sure if I'm not ready to give up on fairy tale / hollywood style of love yet, or if I'm just an ungrateful son of a bitch.

I hope this email is not too long to bore you, but what I need is someone like you who has definitely been there and done that to spare a few minutes and give me some advice.

This guy then went on to suggest in the final paragraph of his email that perhaps he could meet me for a coffee sometime, because he's going to be visiting london soon. But of course, as long term readers of this blog will know, I don't meet guys who know that I'm GB except in a very small number of cases where the other guy is an established blogger. Still, he did tell me the name of his gaydar profile, and he is certainly a very attractive guy :-).

His situation reminds me a lot of the 'Dear GB' email that I posted in mid June. Perhaps he saw that, and then thought about his own situation and decided to write to me. Everything I said there applies here, so I don't think there's anything wrong having a relationship either mostly or wholly based on companionship. In any big city where lots of gay guys live, sex is a commodity, but love and companionship are much harder to find. However, if he does stays with his current boyfriend, I do think it's better to formally adopt some kind of open relationship, rather than fooling around behind each other's back and pretending that it's not happening.

What concerns me about the this guy's situation though is that he says there's no common interest, and that he's virtually not allowed to see friends that his boyfriend doesn't like. It sounds as though his boyfriend gets a lot out of the relationship, but if the guy himself isn't getting either the sex or the companionship he wants, then he should probably try and find a new boyfriend to share his life with. If he stays with his boyfriend just because the boyfriend says he can't live without him, he's wasting his life if those feelings aren't sufficiently reciprocated.

Perhaps he should try imagining how would he feel if his boyfriend was involved in some terrible fatal accident? If there's more sense of excitement from the freedom rather than a huge sense of loss, his connection to his boyfriend probably isn't strong enough to justify continuing the relationship at this point.

I can't help wondering what originally brought this couple together? Was it just the sex, or was there originally some common interest too? If so, perhaps that common interest can be found again?

So I reckon the guy needs to negotiate both an open relationship and some change in the companionship aspects of the relationship. Seven years in a gay relationship is an achievement, so it's worth seeing if the relationship can be saved rather than throwing it all away. But without sex or any common interest, there's bound to be a better match for him somewhere out there.

Does anyone else have any other thoughts on this guy's situation?


Anonymous said...

I've been in a relationship for over 7 years (we moved in together after 3 months). Though we haven't had sex in a long time, I consider myself as having a perfect relationship that enriches my life immeasurably. The history, love and support are much more meaningful than sex which, living in NYC, is ever present and available. We came to an understanding long ago that we would have an open relationship, though we don't discuss it regularly. But we still have fun together and support one another through tough times. I love and respect him even if there are days when I would rather be partying at the gay bars instead of dealing with him when he's in a bad mood.

The only issue I see for this guy is the belief that they have nothing in common. If life together is not enriching (not easy or perpetually happy necessarily, but fulfilling in some sense), you should ask why. It could be the boyfriend or it might be other issues you're facing at this stage in your life. Feeling "trapped" might result from believing "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" (i.e., the responsibility-free single life) as much as from the boyfriends' demands.

A "fairy tale" love is just that - a fantasy that fades with time. True, long-term love is an enriching, fulfilling partnership where both are committed to helping each other through life and facing the world together. It requires riding out the tough waves, but still feeling love in some form.

I'd say give it time. Agree on some form of sexual openness in the relationship and see if it helps you feel less "trapped". It might also make you appreciate that you have something worth saving.

Monty said...

GB, as always, your advice seems spot on! You are becoming a bit of an agony aunt (uncle) for the Gay world...and I think it's great!!! Keep up to good work!

Sir Wobin said...

Sounds like the poor sex life is a symptom not a cause. As good as a spot of agony uncle advice is, it sounds like this couple have much deeper issues. New exciting experiences with others won't solve feeling no common interests with his partner. It doesn't sound like they even have good companionship at the moment, which is not to say that it can't be put back.

People grow significantly in 7 years and sometimes grow apart. If they do want to put the companionship back into their relationship, a spot of relationship counseling may be very helpful. My husband and I have had our issues and relationship counseling was invaluable to help us build a newer and stronger relationship than we had before the trouble. This sort of counseling isn't a quick thing and requires commitment from both partners.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about this topic so much since my 14-year relationship approached its end last year. The lack of sex was only part of the issue. (and apparently, at once a month or so, I had it relatively good compared to many other people in long-term relationships). And the companionship and shared interests we enjoyed were great for the most part. And though we had some rocky roads towards the end, couples therapy was great and gave us a renewed lease on the relationship.

So what went wrong?

The natural thing to do, since the lack of sex was part of the problem, was to experiment with 3somes and to open up the relationship. If successful, it is a way to have it all: stability, love, and occasional sweet, familiar sex with someone you love; combined with occasional sexy no-strings romps so that you can still feel hot and desirable (as well all know, or should learn, its not about just getting off which you can do with your left hand, but rather the need to feel hot and desirable, and successful in the hunt so that you feel like you still have your mojo).

However, perhaps because my ex was an American, or he is just morally/mentally/emotionally wired more like a lesbian, he can't have sex with anyone without falling in love with them. And so our experiment with opening up the relationship was a disaster when a 3rd person (a friend) got in the way. And at the end of the day, neither of the 3 of us are together.

In the cast of the guy with the relationship query, I have this to say: For a relationship to really work out, you need at least 3 of the following 4: shared values, a shared feeling of committment, love/companionship, strong mutual sexual attraction. I had 4/4 for a long time, it went to 3.5/4 when the sex started dying, and then down to 2.5/4 when my ex no longer understood the meaning of committment and became confused by his feelings for the other guy. And when I say that 3/4 is sufficient to sustain a relationship, I mean that the 4th thing can be substituted. Opening up a relationship sexually gives you the missing 4th if that is ann issue. Different values can be dealt with using separate bank accounts or an agreement to disagree about your lifestyle, love/companionship is an important quarter of the equation, and I'm not sure there is a good substitute, although good, close friends can offer some of that; and the lack of a shared feeling of committment can again, be solved in a sense by judicious opening of a relationship.