Sunday, August 19, 2007

Manipulative love or business friendship

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from a guy on the other side of the pond:

Dear GB;

I need a little friendly advice. I'm a 62 year old gay community activist and organizer living in a large American city. In my city there is one gay village. I have this dream of creating another and it is slowing coming together one gay and lesbian at a time over the past few years.

A few years ago, purely by accident I met a younger guy C in the community. C had just turned 40, and he said he would help me realize my dream. He has lots of talents. By day he works for a travel agency, travelling around the globe writing gay travel articles and developing new travel adventures for clients. By night he is a well known local queer DJ. We share the same music, community involvement and the same qualities in life.

We clicked, not in a sexual way more as business friends at first. C is in a relationship with a guy 15 years younger than him, but it's not much of a relationship. His boyfriend hangs around with a flock of fag hags and rounders. He never comes to our gay community events with C and I rarely see them together. All my friends notice it.

C has been flirting with me over the past four years and I like it. Although he recently said he is doing it unknowingly. I have had lots of great relationships over the years some lasting ten years or more. My last one ended just about time time I met C.

I made C our organization's media spokesperson shortly after I met him. That has worked out well and our new queer village is getting the recognition it deserves.

While all this is going on, he and I have been going out to community events, gay and straight, occasional dinners, pub nights alone. I also sometimes keep him company when he is being a DJ at some local bar. I've built some web sites for him (I am a web editor) and I didn’t charge him anything either.

Mid July this year I realized that I find him quite endearing and that I love him. I suppose an agape-phileo love, since there has been no eros. In July he had asked me to redo one of his websites. I took a long time doing it, about 72 hours. Then he asked for even more changes. I said I would be happy to do it, if he loved me, in an email.

His response was: “I want you to know that I like you as a friend, enjoy our times together and enjoy working with you. Like you, I am a difficult person to get to know, but I think I am good natured and respectful of others overall, like yourself. I want to keep our friendship the way it is without complications. I enjoy the laughs, the community involvement, we have created, the fun times and the bad times…This is what friendship is all about.”

I have to say, I took it badly and threw the baby out with the bath water (fired him). We had no contact for three weeks. In the meantime he carried on as if nothing had happened. He was still promoting the community and came to our community events. He said he would talk to me, just not about the day I fired him.

He has started to flirt again in his emails and asked me out to a local community event this month and said we are still friends. I push it, let him back in the organization, mainly because I need him. I am sure he knows this. This past weekend he and his boyfriend went on a trip together, but we are supposed to connect for a mild chat this week.

A close friend of mine said, I should lay my cards on the table in a face to face meeting. Tell him that working closely with him, going out with him, him flirting with me in recent years has had an effect on me, and it was only natural to fall in love. Tell him because of it I was looking for a closer friendship, maybe not an intense relationship, just a special moment, a hug, a kiss, a shag once in a while.

Another friend said "C has been using you to advance his career and as doormat. Throwing you little tidbits, a little flirt here a little flirt there and going to events once in awhile to keep you happy. Probably does it with everyone."

"Tell him you're backing off, no more going out together, no more flirting in emails, don’t attend his DJ nights when he is alone and no boyfriend around. No more doing special favours for him like making websites. If he misses your companionship he will let you know."

"Continue the business friendship angle, but keep a low profile and only ask for his help when you need it most. See what develops, but don’t wait around forever, you're not getting any younger!"

As usual, I replied immediately when I received the email. When the reply arrived it suggested the title "manipulative love or business friendship" that I've ended up using, and so for the first time ever I'm using the title that the guy who wrote the 'Dear GB' email has suggested.

Unfortunately I think I have to agree with the thoughts of his friend at the end of the email. It strikes me that C is the kind of guy that is constantly striving to be regarded as special amongst his peers. He needs to be thought of as successful and important. His boyfriend is significantly younger than him, perhaps a "trophy" boyfriend? Being seen to play an important part in the local gay community also enhances his reputation.

If C thinks a younger guy is good for his image, he's likely to think the opposite about a relationship with an older guy. Alternatively, if C simply prefers younger guys in bed, he's also not likely to want a more intimate relationship with an older guy. Either way, it means that the relationship between C and the guy who sent me the email isn't going anywhere.

So I think the guy who sent me the email needs to avoid C as much as possible. He needs to try and avoid C for his own sanity, because I reckon his affection is highly unlikely to be reciprocated. But if he can use C selfishly to him help achieve his aims, I guess that's OK, but like his friend said, "... only ask for his help when you need it most".

Does anyone else have any other thoughts?


Anonymous said...

So what if hes not into you?! You said it your self that he has been very usefull then i have a hard time seeing how his taking advantage of anything! Also its funny how you tell him you will change things in his website ONLY if he loves you...??!

I suggest you listen to the song:

Infatuation - Maroon 5

Anonymous said...

Re: the Anonymous comment - Perhaps he made this comment "I said I would be happy to do it, if he loved me, in an email." as a flirting joke, as they were still friends at the time. As there may be a timeline between the web work and the firing, there other factors here that we are missing.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but is it just me who thinks that the original writer got it all wrong. The writer said that the guy was unknowingly flirting with him and he gave C the ultimatum of "I would be happy to do it, if he loved me, in an email". I think C just want to be friends with the writer. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, he might have uknowingly flirted with the writer but he never did it with his own intention. The writer clearly misinterpreted this and the writer chose to blind himself that C is actually flirting with him instead of confronting him about this. And when C finally said what he felt, the blinded writer acted in the most spiteful way as possible by firing him. As for the job of editing his websites, it is the writer's decision not to charge him in the first place. C could have thought it's a token of friendship and the writer might have something along the lines of "if you need any help with your websites, i'm your man", and naturally friends will take advantage of this situation.
In addition, C has a boyfriend. They may not exactly appear close to the writer but perhaps there is a special connection between the boyfriend and C that the writer didn't know about.
I just don't get why the writer chose to obsess about C even though C did told him that they were just friends. There were signs i.e. C admitting he's been doing the flirting subconsciously. I mean I'm sure everyone does this. Hell, I do it and I only realize that I did it after a couple of hours. It's pretty harsh to say this but the writer seems desperate for this guy even though the guy said that they're just friends.

Anonymous said...

Since the very beginning he knew C have bf, and C never promise anything other then friendship. Nothing wrong if he just want to keep friendship the way it is. It is just time sharing, having company and helping each other. Nobody is using anyone in this case. Doing favors for him is what his willing to. Stop it, if he doesn’t feel he want to continue. But I don’t agree this is using him…

It is not about age or look. C never think of a relationship with him, he told in the beginning he have bf. Accept C answer and take him as a friend if he can, otherwise he lost a friend he care.

GB think back to those guys you have met. They knew you have bf before having fun with you, if any of them ask you for relationship after meeting you sometime and you reply; want to keep friendship the way it is, is that mean you are wrong or you had use him?

Anonymous said...

One more thing, (Just my personal opinion) if he already agree to do the website work, he have the responsibility to finish it.

Anonymous said...

The writer is a friend of mine who told me his letter had been published. I do know the website was finished. They patched things up and agreed to have mild chat. My friend told me C kept saying in emails chat soon. This dragged on for three weeks, no meeting took place. My friend also didn’t know there was a BF in the picture till late June this year and was under the impression from friends that it was rocky relationship on the verge splitting up. My friend got bad vibes from some of the more recent emails, nothing to do with the BF or the original complications. My friend sent C, an email saying he was backing off everything. Told C he would keep in touch for organizational purposes only. C demanded an immediate chat-up. My friend said no. Thinking he wasn’t to eager too meet, before this happened, why now, when the pressure is on. C agreed to this arrangement. So that’s where it stands today. Who know what will happen tomorrow. I agree with GB and it sounds as though, my friend has done the right thing. Time will tell. I don't think C will cum that he would have already if the thing was more than just a user friendly thing. It is a pain when things like this get in the way...and as we get older we have more to lose. I am sorry that they are having to drift away. BUT there may be some nice NEW thing for my friend just waiting for this moment. Hope it happens! He deserve a break!

Tales of the City said...

Errm GB I am surprised at the advice you gave. I dont think C comes across as a User at all. Afterall even after he was "fired" by the all powerful webmaster and controller of the gay village, he still carried on spreading the word and doing stuff for the community. Think C made it clear that friendship and business were all thats on the table. Just because Webmaster/controller of village want to misinterpret his actions and words then that is his problem. Perhaps webmaster should look at his own life first and see why he is so needy and need to want to build a realtionship with some who is unavailable. I am not sure any of us can truely comment unless we our selves are in that situation. Right I will get off my soap box. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am the author of the original letter. I am not going to be influenced by every tidbit of contrary blather that comes out of the mouths of every anonymous Tom Dick and Harry.... I will NEVER have any peace of mind. I am NOT be disturbed by the comments of others...who do NOT really know the real me..

If I step back and look at the situation..there is probably a suitable solution. I will CHOOSE to do only that which you feel comfortable with. I am not MEAN....just be sensible.
EXAMPLE:- I will continue to share/promote C's things because they are part of the VILLAGE scene and happenings....not because I am doing him a favour.

- I will continue to partner with him in situations that I choose to be part of and on MY pre-agreed terms.

I have no intention of letting myself get sucked into all sorts of added stuff BECAUSE I fantasize that I might GET SOMETHING OUT OF HIM as a praise or a squeeze or a wink or a feel or a hug. THAT IS JUST SILLY!!

I am way past that in my life. When someone comes to me and genuinely gives me a HUG or a kiss or a kind is really a great feeling...especially if it is NOT connected to a wish list.

Today C is still a friend and working two community partner programs. I am RELAXING and will be paying no more attention to Dear GB’s column. In hindsight wish I hadn’t written the letter for the world to see. I was going to sign blog name, but it is a non de plume and would be a dead give away.. M

GB said...

This evening I got a brief email from 'M', the author of this 'Dear GB' email. He confirmed that this 'Anonymous' comment was indeed from him, and said that in the second paragraph here he wrote "I will CHOOSE to do only that which you feel comfortable with", what he meant to write was "I will CHOOSE to do only that which I feel comfortable with".

Just one general further thought. I'd really appreciate it if people could get google accounts so that they can leave attributable rather than anonymous comments.

GB xxx