Saturday, July 28, 2007

Email from a guy with an ex-boyfriend situation

A few weeks ago now, a young guy who lives in South Africa sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Your blogs have kept me in thrall for some time now, though sometimes I find your views more shocking than I'm used to. I live in South Africa which was, and sometimes still is, a rather conservative community. I find that the advice you tender in reply to the 'Dear GB' mails you receive often at a tangent to my moral 'North', but said advice always seems sound and thoughtful; more often than not, thought provoking. As a result I have decided to write one such letter of my own.

When I was at university, and after having recently broken up with my then boyfriend, I started a relationship with a young man who had only just realised that he was gay. We were similar ages, and I adored him. Our first two years together were very good ones, we were both studying full-time and saw a lot of one another. We grew very close (or so I believe). Our third year together was marked by him living and working a long way outside town. We saw each other every weekend and I was very much in love with him still. At the end of that year, he asked me to move in with him, which I immediately agreed to, since I had been hoping that he would ask for some time, even though I knew career opportunities for me where he lived would be almost non-existent.

We lived together for a year there, away from both our families with only each other to rely on, and I was ecstatic, because he was the one I wanted to be with, though my salary was literally not one sixth of his. But he grew tired of supporting me, and asked me to leave, though it came as a total surprise to me. I was heartbroken, but I knew there was nothing for it, but to pack my things and go. Love or no love.

Since I could not support myself I moved to my parents' house in a completely different town, and even though I hadn't lived with them for several years. It took me a while, but I did manage to get back on my feet, and meet a few new friends, which I find difficult, because I am shy, and a sceptic. I kept in touch with the great love I had lost, and we were on good terms.

Recently though, I moved back to the city where I was at university. I was very excited at first because I love the area and all my old friends live here, only I did not fully realise that they were now my ex-boyfriend's friends as well. He had even befriended the one or two friends of mine that he had never met while we were together.

I have been out with them; and had dinners; and have gone to the movies; but he always seems to be there. I don't mind his presence exactly, since he is a nice guy: fun to be with and good to talk to. I mind that I cannot seem to escape the thought of him, while he is always there. We recently had a bit of a falling out, and I do not think we are exactly on speaking terms right now, me and my once-mr-right. Now I am again pseudo-ostracised even though I live not an hour away of my closest friends. I don't think it is fair of me to expect of our friends to choose sides, so I haven't, and I won't.

The question I was wanting to ask is this: How do I, a young man in my mid 20's, a little shy and a little bruised, go about meeting people? The friends I have that could possibly introduce me to new friends or love interests, have, shall we say, prior engagements with my ex-boyfriend, because his relationships with them have strengthened, while mine have weakened since I have been away. I know nobody else here except a few aunts and uncles whom I am definitely not going to ask for referrals, and my colleagues at work are to be honest christianic homophobes. I am by no means enough of a black belt quite yet to risk my income. Clubs usually bore me, and (sadly) the ones around here are just too sleazy. The Internet is a bust, since the only replies I ever get are solicitations by married bi-guys or men who are far enough my senior to be my father's colleagues, and even those want little more than a quick romp. I am not looking for a romantic relationship, though if one comes along, I won't at all mind. I am just looking for people to invite to dinner and a movie with me or to have a conversation with about something other than work or family. I am too young to feel down because I am sitting at home alone on a Friday night. Have you any advice, or should I pretty much just stop feeling sorry for myself?

Since then, I've exchanged a couple of emails with this guy, and although he's told me a few more details, I think his original email explains his situation every well.

Having thought about this guy's situation a bit, one thing I think he needs to do is rebuild his confidence somehow. In connection with this, I was re-reading the Confidence mirror post that I wrote last month, and it occurred to me that to some extent my sentiments correspond with the so-called Law of attraction. The Law of Attraction was first explained to me by boyfriend number 2 in a restaurant in Buenos Aires, and although I think it's utter rubbish that thoughts attract the corresponding actions "through the resonance of their energetic vibration", I have no doubt that positive thinking has a beneficial effect.

At present, I think this guy has got himself into a situation where he feels like a victim. It's quite understandable because the poor guy had his boyfriend dump him, he was then forced to move back with his parents, and when he picks himself up he finds that the ex-boyfriend has stolen his friends. But as long as he thinks like a victim, that'll be the most likely outcome of his endeavours. To say he should "stop feeling sorry for himself" is unhelpful because when one is feeling down it's not that simple. But as long as someone feels sorry for themselves, they'll probably have something to feel sorry about.

To get started, I feel I must disagree with the guy when he says "the Internet is a bust". Gay guys are in the minority in any city, but as the Internet has grown, it's made it so much easier for gay guys to find each other. By co-incidence, a gay guy from South Africa recently asked for me for some career advice, and although I've done ' Dear GB' postings giving career advice in the past, I'm trying to avoid doing that these days so as to keep this blog more tightly focused on gay issues. However I did reply to the the request for career advice, so I felt it was fair game to ask for some advice in return. When I asked him about the Internet for gay guys in South Africa, his reply was as follows:

There is of course, which is pretty much only used for cruising. Even if someone states on their profile that they're open to lots of options, in my experience it's really only about getting a quick shag. But there are two other options:
1., which has a dating/chatting section and is free but I prefer
2. You have to pay to be a member, but you can browse the personals for free. It's much less about sex than the other sites and the people who do subscribe genuinely do want to meet people. So I'd point him in that direction.

Perhaps the guy with the ex-boyfriend situation has tried these web sites, but if so, I can't help wondering what he said about himself in his profile. When he wrote his profiles, was he feeling unhappy, or was feeling happy and positive about life? I can think of gaydar profiles I've seen that were clearly written by someone when they were feeling bad about themselves. So whatever online profiles he has, I think he should review them when he's in a positive frame of mind.

However he does it, just getting out and meeting people, gay or straight, is what he's got to do. Perhaps there are ways of meeting guys through work, the gym, perhaps he can meet new people via his old friends in spite of his ex-boyfriend, perhaps there are social events he can go to as a result of hobbies he may have.

My last thought is about how he needs to behave when he does meet new people. Someone who's regaining their confidence is naturally liable to be quite a needy person. But he must avoid coming across like that, because most people find 'needy' and 'high-maintenance' very unattractive. He's just got to try and be cool!

In fact, the last e-mail the guy sent me said that he had been going out a bit recently, so I feel sure that he'll be OK. None the less, does anyone else have any helpful thoughts for him?


Unknown said...

Try smiling at men. It may lead to a fun chat or a wink or a sigh.
Keep a sparkle in your eye. Make yourself do this. Life has it's own timetable. Dance to your own music. Remember, Smile. At young men, old men, any men. It sets people at ease. Soon you will be too. kAll it takes is one.



Anonymous said...

Hi there, Liked the site and all texts even I thibk some of them are a bit to long to read online, but it worth anyway.
Have a nice day.

Calista*Was*Here said...

Thank u for responding, but still not sure where exactly include code/link to enable pop up window(s).
I just start to learn managing HTML.

Additionally, I face "blog under review" problem.
Thank u!

TheDreamer said...

I think you're right, GB, the internet is rarely a total bust. Normally, we meet new people through friends of friends. If this guy has too much baggage invested around his ex and those friends, then finding new people to meet is the first step. Internet dating at least lets you pre-select a bit. Failing that, say yes to every invitation, smile at cute guys and see where you end up...

Monty said...

I agree with GB, that one's attitude does make a difference. In my early stages of coming out, I felt too shy, to inadequate etc to be sucessfuly at meeting guys. As my confidence has grown (by meeting guys online, meeting them in person, etc) I now find myself in the position of having to "beat them away with a stick" (relatively speaking). If you walk into a bar feeling confident (or at least projecting that), the boys are like bees to a honeypot! Good luck mate!

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is common for friends, and even couples, to have that occasional tiff. Some recover from it stronger while some don't. As long as the other guy doesn't make their common friends choose sides, there is no reason why the writer couldn't continue to hang out with them. It may be strange initially but perhaps it really isn't as bad he thinks.

Anonymous said...

Like GB said, your situation is not so unique. I think everybody had their heart broken sometime or another and most of us more than once. All these things are happening in our lives for a reason, not to break us but are part of our life lessons and journey on earth. The question is what do you do with this heartache and pain that crossed your path. Do you learn from them or do you keep hanging on to the familiar, the heartache and pain, the ex boyfriend through your friends that you both share now or do you stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop feeling like a victim, and start living life again. I totally agree with GB that no doubt positive thinking has a beneficial affect. Only you can make the decision to be happy again. I know its difficult when you are in such bad place right now believe me, I’m in more or less the same situation but only you can make the first step in faith. Life is supposed to be an abundance of love, laughter and happiness. Sometime you are so focused on what you can’t get that you are totally blinded what is right in front of you. Recently I’ve met this absolute wonderful guy whom I felled hopelessly in love with and this guy also can’t let go of the past. He is so caught up in what has been and what could have been that he reached a stage where he is so comfortable in this own misery and unhappiness that he is totally blinded to what is right in front of him. I’ve told him how I feel about him and I know he likes me too but he also told me that he is not looking for a boyfriend right now, only a friend. Things that he said and done in the time I’ve met him make me to believe he is not so closed for the possibility to meeting somebody, as he would like me to believe. I cant help feeling that he is only keeping his options open to find out if there isn’t maybe somebody better out there. Believe me it doesn’t do much good for once self-confidence but at least for me I knew from the start where I stand with him. I understand that it’s hard letting go especially if you love that person. We are still friends and I still love him with all my heart but I’ve made a dissection to acknowledge my heartache and pain and deal with it, not closing myself off to love again like in the past but take that first step in faith. Not all guys are just out to get laid, not all guys are heartbreakers. There still are some good and descent guys out there that are just afraid as you for getting hurt again, guys who just want to meet that someone special to share their life with, guys like me...

Anonymous said...

Just a few thoughts to anonymous reply: Normally when one found oneself in such a situation one tend to make a list off does and don’ts in an effort to try to protect oneself from getting hurt again. That’s probably why the guy you’ve met only wants to be “friends”. Normally they are so fix on the wants and don’t wants that they are totally blinded by the fact that life actually brought them something so much better than a friend. Live gave them a second chance to love again. I know that one does not see it like that when one feel sorry for oneself but deep down everybody want that one thing, love. It is very noble of you to push your feelings aside to be a friend to this guy and maybe it’s a good thing not to push him for a relationship at this stage but it can just as well blow up in your face. If he keeps up with his pursued to find friends he might just met that guy whom he is going to fall in love with and then you are going to be the miserable one. On the other hand if he just used it as an excuse to test the waters to see if there isn’t somebody better out there then what? If he does not find what he is looking for and decide he wants you then what? How is it going to make you feel? Are you really going to be happy knowing that you weren’t his first choice? Either way it seems like you are a victim to.