Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pillow talk

Candle burningThe activities are over, and the only lighting in the room is a candle that's almost run out. But it doesn't matter! If anything, I prefer cuddling in the dark :-). Soon though, the cute Mexican guy that I'm with starts telling me about his relationship problems.

"I think I may have to leave him," he tells me quietly.

"Really," I reply softly. "The last time I was round here you were talking about civil partnership ... what's happened?"

"Oh I don't know," he says, "what do you think I should do GB?"

I usually only go into 'agony uncle' mode when someone sends me a Dear GB email, but I don't see any harm in trying to help this lovely guy if I can :-).

"So what's gone wrong?" I ask.

"Well, I don't think we're sexually compatible. We don't have sex any more. He's over ten years older than me. Perhaps he's had too much sex in his life and he doesn't want to do it any more, do that you that's possible?"

"I've never heard of that," I tell him, "and I think it would be quite unwise too! We all need sex to keep us healthy :-)."

"I used to feel so attracted to him, but when I'm being honest with myself, the sex was never that great. But I get on with him so well, living with him. We never argue, and I enjoy going out with him, with friends, shopping, EVERYTHING!"

"How long have you been together now?"

"About two years."

"Hmmm, but that's not very long to have already got tired of each other sexually. I've been with boyfriend S for 18 years, and although we don't have much sex any more, we did have sex together for many many years. And I still enjoy it very much with boyfriend P."

I haven't mentioned boyfriend R to him, and now doesn't seem like the right time.

"Have you tried discussing opening the relationship up?" I continue.

"Yes," he sighs quietly, "but he's very much against it."

"But you're doing it anyway!" I laugh.

"Yes I know," he says, twisting round in my arms to look me in the eye. "How can I resist a guy as cute as you!"

I laugh again, to myself this time, because for a while now I've felt that I'm a bit old to be referred to as 'cute'!

"What about relationship counselling?" I offer after a minute or so, after he's relaxed back into my cuddle again.

"Do you think it would help? The problem is sex!"

"But perhaps he'd see that some sort of open relationship isn't so bad?"

"I don't want to lose him GB, most of the relationship is perfect. But he never tries to start sex with me, and neither do I because I don't feel attracted to him any more :-("

"What would happen if he walked in on us now," I ask after a pause.

"I'd tell him that you're the only one that I've been since we stopped having sex," he says quickly, almost without thinking.

"But that's not true is it," I laugh, "I bet your mobile phone is FULL of numbers of guys like me! Anyway, saying that might not be the best strategy ..."


"Yeah, some guys have open relationships where they insist on emotional monogamy, which often means that each of them can only have sex once with any particular guy."

He wrestles with the word 'emotional', as though he knows what the word means but has never tried saying it before.

"So, all my emotionzz are for him. Yes that's right, I do love him, I don't want to leave him if I can help it."

"But that idea's no good," he continues, "because then I wouldn't be able to see you GB!"

I give him another tight hug. Soon though, his mobile phone rings and it seems like time to go. I'm not sure whether I've helped or not, but perhaps he's got one or two things to think about that he might be able to discuss with his boyfriend.

The interesting thing about the situation is that this guy isn't yet 30, whereas his boyfriend is slightly over 40. Usually, it's the younger guys who are more idealistic, whereas older guys tend to be more pragmatic in terms of open relationships. But then, I have the impression that many of the young idealistic guys are the ones who haven't got themselves into real situations that require compromise. Monogamy is all very well when one starts a relationship, but I reckon that most of us find the reality of long term monogamous relationships impossible to handle!

Monday, January 28, 2008

How should gay relationships be constructed?

When a guy starts a gay relationship with another guy, most of us construct the relationship using the only model that we're familiar with, namely the heterosexual one that our parents used. This has very ancient roots which are certainly evident in the old testament of The Bible where the ten commandments preach "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife". I have a big problem using these rules as the foundation for a gay relationship so I've decided to devise a new scheme.

For one thing, as is evident from the bible, the heterosexual scheme is so negative because it's all about what one mustn't do! But my scheme is oriented towards the positive and good things that one should do instead :-). Using old testament language, I reckon the following criteria outline a much better way of building a relationship:
  • Thou shalt love thy boyfriend
  • Thy relationship with thy boyfriend shalt take priority over other friendships
  • Thou shalt strive to be thy boyfriend's best friend
  • Thou shalt support thy boyfriend through times of hardship
  • Thou shalt take care of thy boyfriend when he is ill
I don't think my scheme is complete yet, but building gay relationships around love, companionship and mutual support seems to me like the way forward. After all, I think that's what gay relationships are for. The old heterosexual scheme might be good for raising children, especially in ancient times which were less civilised than our societies today, but relationships between two gay men are fundamentally different.

Often, when young guys are thinking about going into a relationship, they focus on whether they're ready for monogamy. But as I discussed above, thinking "Am I ready to give up shagging around so that I can be this guy's boyfriend?" is quite a negative way to start a relationship. The idea is that if one loves someone enough then one will be prepared to deny oneself something that one enjoys. I say focus directly on the love instead. Start by thinking "Am I really ready to love and care for this guy?" along the lines of the relationship criteria listed above. "Would I be prepared to help him if he has a bad accident and brakes both his legs, or if he loses his job and becomes depressed?"

Sex is great fun, and sex with someone new can be hard to resist. One reader described it to me in an email recently by saying that there's an "undeniable dynamic of sex with strangers". Some guys may still want monogamous relationships, which is fair enough, but I think that the important thing is that gay couples fulfil criteria like the ones that I've listed above. I reckon it's true that men are naturally promiscuous, so when two men are involved in a relationship the monogamous heterosexual model isn't appropriate. That doesn't mean that guys in a relationship don't have to be faithful to each other, because I think they do. But they need to be faithful to the agreed relationship criteria, not to the inappropriate heterosexual monogamy straight-jacket. None the less, even if a gay couple do allow each other activities with other guys, they should always put their own relationship at the top of their priorities. That's one of the implications of the second criterion that I listed above.

In the end, a lot of gay couples end up working out for themselves that monogamy doesn't matter so much. When a couple of guys are theoretically in a monogamous relationship and one of them admits that they've had sex with someone else, it's the love and companionship that can hold them together. This is exactly what the guy who recently sent me a 'Dear GB' email implied when he said "I always said the first time [my boyfriend slept with another guy] would be the last but then I wasn't thinking of love, and I do love him, very much". None the less, thinking "I forgive him for sleeping around because I love him" is misdirected thinking. A much better thing to do is to measure a relationship against relevant criteria. As long as there's love, companionship and mutual support then the relationship is healthy :-), although if some of those are missing a guy might realise that his boyfriend doesn't reciprocate his love after all!

Update 30-Nov-2008: More on how gay relationships should be constructed

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rafting in Chile

I've been blogging for almost three years now, and have never posted a pic of myself here, let alone a pic of one of my boyfriends too. But last week, myself and boyfriend P went rafting in Chile's lake district, and the tour company that organised the excursion took the following pic of us both in the raft. The guide is at the back of the raft, and myself, boyfriend P, and three other tourists are at the front. I'm the one with a purple helmet!The rafting was great fun, so I guess I've now got something else to add to the list of things I'm glad that I did in my life so far :-).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boyfriend nomenclature

"I can't go on being boyfriend number 2," said boyfriend number 2 to me recently.

"I know, I'm sorry," I reply, "it's just a consequence of the original name of the blog."

Long time readers will recall that until November 2006 this blog was called "Things I can't tell boyfriend number 1". At the time when I started this blog however, there was no intention to start numbering boyfriends. But having devised the name boyfriend number 1 for my main boyfriend in London, when he wouldn't go on holiday with me in summer 2005 and I went with another guy instead, it seemed natural to call the other guy boyfriend number 2.

"The readers know that you're called 'P', if they look back at some of the old posts", I continue, "so perhaps I could start referring to you as 'boyfriend P' instead?"

"Hmmm, maybe," replies boyfriend P, "lets discuss it later."

I've said before that I don't like the boyfriend numbering scheme that I've accidentally devised so indeed, it's time for a change! Henceforth, I'm going to refer to the guys that I call boyfriends as follows:

Boyfriend S – the guy formerly known as boyfriend number 1
Boyfriend P – the guy formerly known as boyfriend number 2
Boyfriend R – the guy formerly known as boyfriend number 3

Although the original scheme was infinitely extensible, the new scheme is clearly limited to the number of letters in the Western alphabet. None the less, with only 3 of the possible 26 letters taken, I think I've got enough room for expansion for the time being!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The guys in Atacama

Valle de la Luna near San Pedro de Atacama"Do you think those two guys over there are gay?" I ask boyfriend number 2 while we're having dinner one night at our hotel in the Atacama desert, while on holiday in Chile recently.

Boyfriend number 2 looks round and shrugs.

"Could be," he replies in a disinterested kind of way, "but I'm not sure."

The two guys in question are probably around 30 years old and look very northern European, possibly German, Dutch or Scandinavian. They also sitting on their own, both dressed in white or very light coloured clothes, and without any female companions! It's the most expensive hotel in the region and straight guys their age would normally stay somewhere cheaper with their wives or girlfriends, either saving money so they can start a family one day or because they've already got kids. But with two incomes and no thoughts of kids, gay couples often have more disposable income.

"Actually GB, I think those two guys are gay," says boyfriend number 2 the following night over dinner, nodding to where they're both sitting. Again, they're both similarly dressed, in white and light colours.

"There's something about their attitude," he continues, "and I also spotted the one on the left there sunning himself by the pool this afternoon in very tight trunks :-), definitely gay!"

"So what did you think of him in trunks?" I ask lecherously.

"OK, I admit, I did check him out but he wasn't that big!" he says looking mildly disappointed, "but maybe he's a grower :-)."

Looking over to where they're sitting, I find it amazing how little attention the two of them are paying to anyone else in the room. They're totally focused on each other, playing backgammon while eating their dinner. Very sweet, but perhaps a bit too intense? Their behaviour suggests to me that they've only been boyfriends for a relatively short period of time.

In any case, I'm always happy to see other gay couples staying at the same hotel as me when I'm on holiday. The more visible we all are, the more normal it is to be gay, and the easier it is for closeted gay guys to come out. But since it is relatively rare that I spot other gay couples at the hotels I stay at, it was a pity that on this occasion the guys were so wrapped up with each other. I enjoy socialising and making new friends, and with the other residents of the hotel being both straight and older than ourselves, chatting to some other gay guys would have been very welcome!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Things I'm glad that I did in my life so far

At the end of the 'Dear GB' email that I posted recently, there was a question:

"From your experiences, what are the things you were glad you did in your life? Road trips? Being drunk silly? Sitting under a clear starry moonlit sky?"

I didn't reply to that in the corresponding posting because I thought it would detract from the main issue. However, I thought that it was a good question.

Now that I've had time to think about it, I can confirm that there were occasions when I was glad that I did all of the suggestions :-). But I also feel that there are more serious, career-oriented things that it's right to include in such a list. So without further discussion, I reckon my list is as follows:

Learning how to program computers when I was a teenager at school: when I was at school, computing was an extracurricular activity. At the time, some of the other guys in my class thought that I was being stupid learning how to program in 'Basic' in my spare time. Back then, it wasn't obvious how important computers and subsequently the internet were going to be in all our lives, so in hindsight it's clear that it was an excellent decision!

Socialising with other students at university: meeting other students with very different backgrounds to my own broadened my mind enormously. But if I was to pick out one representative event to remember,Drunk students I'd choose the formal dinner that I organised for about fifty people, after which there was a party. The whole evening was very alcoholic and a huge success. It's still remembered by my university friends today. The evening ended for me as I was playing a drinking game with another student, however I don't remember the end of the game. Apparently I slid off my chair onto the floor and fell asleep completely drunk. Although I had the worst hangover of my life the next day, I don't regret a thing!

Studying for a PhD: after my undergraduate degree, I studied for a PhD because I was unsure about what career path to follow. I even had ideas of being an academic. Although my PhD has been of no use to me in banking, I enjoyed doing original research enormously and I certainly would make the same choice if I had my time again. Of course, the research I did was very obscure, but none the less the main journal paper that came out of my PhD is still occasionally cited by researchers in the field today :-).

Coming out as gay: I came out soon after I moved back to London. Like some of the guys who write 'Dear GB' emails to me, I didn't find it easy. However, the joy of finally admiting to myself the truth and the subsequent fun that I was able to have was absolutely fantastic.

Meeting boyfriend number 1: although things have been difficult between us for the last few years, we've had many good years together. The first holiday that we had particularly memorable because I'd never been on holiday with a boyfriend before, and previously I'd always been jealous of my straight male friends who were able to go on holidays with their girlfriends. We went to Morocco and hired a cheap car, then drove from town to town staying in one cheap hotel after another. At one particulary remote village it was fascinating watching the people we were staying with making hashish from raw cannabis leaves.

Meeting boyfriend number 2: the holiday that I had with boyfriend number 2 in Asia in 2005 was wonderful. Before that holiday, I didn't know boyfriend number 2 very well. The dinner we had together on the first night in the open air under a starlit sky at the luxury hotel where we were staying was particularly memorable.

Began blogging: although there are many other things that I could write, for now, the last thing I'm glad that I've done is to start this blog! It has been my therapy through the difficulties in my relationship with boyfriend number 1, and without doubt has played a major part in my recent personal development.

Because I'm currently on holiday with boyfriend number 2, I was able to ask him for his thoughts on this question. He also cited his first gay relationship, but the thing that he said which was the most different from all the things in my list was the memory of his first long distance air flight. It made him realise that the world is so much bigger than the city where he grew up :-).

Do any readers want to share with us a few of the things that they'd put on their list?

Monday, January 14, 2008

How does a closeted 25 year old gay virgin build a social life

A couple of weeks ago, I received the following email from a relatively new reader:

Dear GB,

I've recently been introduced to your blog, and I'd like to say the articles are very helpful. Your escapades in what appears to be a wonderful London are certainly most interesting! Congratulations on the GLBT Verve Award. It is well deserved!

I've read many of the Dear GB articles, and many of the difficulties they face are close to my heart. Your advice is very helpful, and non-judgemental, which I appreciate. And that has inspired me to ask for your advice :).

I'm turning 25 soon, and I have realised, that I have not fully come to terms with my gay sexuality. (I'm gay.)

I'll start with my background and some history. I'm an Indian who grew up in the Middle East. I realised I was gay when I was 12ish. I could not accept the cultural environment of the Middle East ("Gays are to be executed", among other bullshit), neither that of my quite Indian family ("Gays are a pariah of society").

I guess I had to look elsewhere to find acceptance of who I am. In retrospect, satellite TV and the Internet has built much of my belief system today. But I've let the fear of being found out completely dominate me as an individual.

The home environment became extremely turbulent and by 17, I moved to India for Uni, which as a repressed gay person, with an unsupportive family, was one of the hardest and darkest phases of my life. I started working at 20, and enjoyed some short lived happiness being independent and away from family. Eventually, the truth dawned that I would never be accepted in India, as well as the cultural friction I faced there in day to day life (I don't speak the language, and I don't look too Indian), drove me to change my circumstances again. I proceeded to take out a Masters degree in the UK, and one thing led toanother, landing me a job here.

Seeing other gay people here in the UK has made me realise how I have given into my fear of being found out, and let it completely dominate me, keeping me away from people, away from making good friends. I've frantically focused on being financially independent and it has been six years since I have seen my parents.

I've never been in a relationship, and to a very successful extent, I am ashamed to say, satisfied all my sexual needs with Internet porn. I've taught myself that since I am gay (from the age of 13) that I have to be alone. I think I've wired myself to the point that today, I am satisfied with where I am. It's sad, I guess, but somehow I am actually OK with it.

Reading your list of what makes you happy, was an epiphany. I do not want to look back in another five years, and see that all I have achieved is to be a financially independent loner, who has never cuddled! I may not regret it today, but I might tomorrow. All I've got today is a good job and a bunch of financial investments, the focus of my attempts at building an independent life! No memories or nostalgia or anything.

I want to change all of this, or at least be sure of what I want. I do not want to come out, for the risk of losing my few friends, and because work is filled with much older people, who are not exactly gay friendly, only *possibly* gay tolerant. (Because of the laws maybe?)

I am not really ready to cruise or have multiple partners like you, but would like a steady partner for the long haul, someone I can talk to, travel with, and cuddle with :) (Don't we all, eh? :P)

And this is where I need your advice. I simply do not know how to go about it. I hope you can see where I can coming from, it's been a hard but satisfying journey to get to where I am. However, having never kissed, or pulled anyone ever, and at my age most people go to clubs which again I have no clue how to do, I can't dance, no gaydar etc. The closest "gay" experience I've had is men checking me out in the gym shower! It's that bad :P

Perhaps what I need is a gay friend to show me how it's done! I should have joined the University LGBT society, but it's a bit late for that now. What would you suggest I do? Any pointers or advice would be appreciated.

I'm also taking a strong critical view of my life. From your experiences, what are the things you were glad you did in your life? Road trips? Being drunk silly? Sitting under a clear starry moonlit sky? :) I'd appreciate it, at the very least to realise what I am missing, and what I need to do.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will help.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Some aspects of this reader's email actually reminded me of what I used to be like. I didn't join the gay soc at university either. I too was a virgin until I came out, also without ever having kissed anyone. However, back in the 1980's there was no such thing as internet porn, but in fact I didn't need it because I've got quite an active imagination :-).

Anyway, what I think this reader needs to do is to start meeting people face to face who know that he's gay. I don't think that he's ever actually had a conversation with someone who knows his secret. The good thing is that he lives in London, because it's a very good city for coming out. And for this situation, I can't think of anywhere better to do this than London Friend, which is a charitable organisation that's been going for more than 30 years. For a while, when I was coming to terms with my sexuality, I went there too.

London Friend LogoLondon Friend has two types of service that could help this reader. What he's aiming for is Turning Point, the men's group for guys who are coming to terms with their sexuality. If he goes there, he'll start making friends with other guys just like him who are also worried about being gay. However, if being with a group of gay guys who all know that he's gay is initially too much for him, London Friend will be able to give him one-to-one counselling to prepare him to join the group. I still have friends that date back to the time that I went to London Friend, because very strong bonds are formed in such stressful situations like that, where people are emotionally very vulnerable.

Just for the record, I notice that London Friend now have a service called E-Talk, where they provide advice by email. I can see that some people might prefer this instead of emailing me, because if you email me for advice your email gets posted here in my Dear GB category. But with E-Talk it's completely confidential. None the less, one of the advantages of the Dear GB format is that you don't only get my thoughts, you also get the thoughts of some of my readers who leave comments :-).

In terms of his workplace, it seems very likely to me that once the reader who sent me this email gains a bit of confidence, then eventually he won't mind if his colleagues know that he's gay. It could well be that, at the moment, they make jokes about gay people in front of him. However, in my experience, in London these days people only do that if they think there aren't any gay people around because most people don’t want to cause offence. My boyfriend number 1 worked at a company like that in the 1990's, and when he finally came out, his bosses and colleagues were then embarrassed about things that they'd said in the past.

The reader also asks me what the things are that I'm glad that I did in my life so far. That's a very good question, but I want to think a bit about that so it'll make a great post for another time :-).

Do anyone else have any other thoughts which might help this reader?

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Moche

Wandering round the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino in Santiago yesterday, I'm startled by a room full of pottery and small sculptures of people engaged in various sexual activities.

"These are all about death and sex!" says our guide with a slightly disapproving tone in her voice.

"Death and non-procreative sex :-)!" says boyfriend number 2 correcting her, looking up at us having read the explanatory information in one of the display cases.

Moche pottery imageAnd indeed, it seems that before the Incas, there was a civilisation based in the same region called the Moche. The death of the Moche king was apparently marked by an orgy of sexual rituals, which is what the pottery and scultpures were depicting. Death was associated with non-procreative sex, so the rituals involved anal sex, oral sex, masturbation. Then, after all the non-procreative sex, finally there was vaginal sex to symbolise rebirth and life.

In many ways, it's an obvious idea to associate death with non-procreative sex, and live with procreative sex. But this suggests to me that gay guys in such a society would be outcasts, being associated with death given that gay sex is non-procreative. I've always thought that homophobia was associated with the modern religions, especially christianity, but if this interpretation is correct it suggest that some ancient cultures were homophobic too.

But did the Moche enjoy their rituals? On one of the exhibits depicting oral sex, I spotted the following explanation:

"The look of disgust on the woman's face suggests that she's not a willing participant."

So maybe guy-on-guy would have worked better? The gaydar chat rooms in London certainly never seem to be short of guys eager and willing to engage in that activity!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A minor failure

When I saw boyfriend number 2 in October last year, he discovered that I'm a blogger. At the time I was very worried about what he'd think, but since then I've decided that the revelation was a good thing. Blogging is one of my favourite hobbies, so it's good to be able to discuss it with a boyfriend.

"Did you vote in my poll about what you wear in bed at night?" I ask boyfriend number 2 as we're having lunch together after his arrival in Santiago.

"Oh GB," he replies looking slightly embarassed, "I've realised that I can't read your blog ..."

I look at him quizically.

"Well," he continues, "it's like reading your private diary!"

Which unfortunately means that one of my crafty little plans hasn't worked :-(. Readers may recall from my Christmas day post that boyfriend number 2 usually sleeps with his undershorts on. I had been hoping that the evidence that so many other gay male couples both sleep naked together would prompt him to start sleeping naked with me too!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gay chat in Chile

Flying over the Andes this afternoon, en route to Santiago in Chile, the mountains underneath the plane look very impressive. The original plan was to meet boyfriend number 2 in Santiago around lunchtime, but unfortunately he's been delayed so I'm going to have to make the most of it until his flight arrives tomorrow morning. But what on earth can a gay guy do in a strange city without any of his boyfriends to keep him company?

Once I'm in the hotel and everything is unpacked, curiosity gets the better of me. I can remember that early last year a reader from Chile had emailed me his and gaydar profile names, so I find myself wondering how many gay guys there'll be in the and gaydar chat rooms. I try both, however the Chilean chat rooms are completely empty, which seems very strange because I can't believe that all the guys in Chile are straight! Indeed not, because with the help of google I find the web page, and soon I've located a Santiago gay chat room at which has over 200 guys in it. But I don't speak Spanish :-(. I decide to give myself the chat name of "English tourist" with a bio line starting "No hablo español, Santiago hotel, ..." and which goes on to divulge my age.

www.chatgay.clNo sooner have I entered the room when 4 guys all contact me at once. Wow, I think, this is going to be easy :-). Silly me! In spite of my lack of Spanish, when I look in detail at their chat names and bio lines I can immediately tell that 3 of them are escorts :-(. However, the fourth turns out to be a friendly 25 year old bisexual guy from the Maipú region so I get chatting to him. But it's a difficult conversation. Although his English is much better than my Spanish, his English still isn't very good.

Over the course of the next half hour or so I probably get contacted by 20+ guys, which is much more interest that I get back in the UK these days! However, I guess it's clear that I'm a little out of the ordinary here, so presumably that encourages guys to contact me :-). None the less, I still get the impression that the younger guys here are much less ageist than back home. One question that kept coming up was "do you have MSN?" so presumably guys meet in the chat room but then move to MSN to continue chatting, exchange pics, and perhaps use webcams. However, none of the guys speak particularly good English so communication is difficult for me.

Living in the Europe, and especially the UK, it's very easy to think that most people in the world speak English. But Latin America is probably one of the best places to remind oneself how untrue that is, because Latin America has a thriving culture all of its own. Indeed, one gets the impression that the majority of the people living here would barely notice if the whole English speaking world suddenly ceased to exist. Coming here is certainly a good antidote to Western culture :-).

Even though I get lots of interest from guys in the chat room, I decide early on that I'm just there to chat. If I was feeling lonely on a business trip, I wouldn't think twice about having a guy back to my hotel room, but boyfriend number 2 will be sharing this room with me tomorrow so it doesn't seem right to do that. So when the guys ask me "activo o pasivo", I reply "no sex, chat only" and unfortunately that usually kills the conversation. It's clear that the chat rooms are just as sex oriented as the gaydar ones back in the UK. Although a lot of things in Latin America are very different to the UK, I guess some things are the same the world over!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What do you usually wear in bed?

Two weeks ago, my Christmas day post was titled Who goes to bed naked? In conjunction with that post, I set up a poll with the title "What do you usually wear in bed?" to investigate the subject. The results are now in, and are as follows:

Pyjamas/nightie11% (37 votes)
Shorts and vest13% (46 votes)
Shorts only21% (75 votes)
Vest only4% (15 votes)
Stark Naked :-)51% (180 votes)

Thanks to the 353 readers who voted in this poll, and for some interesting comments too. Although one anonymous commentator rightly pointed out that there may be hygiene issues associated with sleeping naked, it seems that half of us do it anyway :-). It's certainly been my favourite for many years and not just because, in the words of another commentator, it provides easy access when one's sleeping with another guy!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Email from a successful gay guy with relationship problems

Late on Christmas day, I received a short email from a gay guy with the title "How did he cope?". The email was as follows:

My bf number 1, we've been together for 19 years, is cheating on me - he has been for years. I've pretended it was a mistake etc but now he's having a mid life crisis as well and keeps saying he doesn't know what he wants! I'm left hurt and angry and crying and he's making his mind up about what he wants.

I always said the first time would be the last but then I wasn't thinking of love, and I do love him, very much. How did this happen? I don't know apart from the fact that I want to grow old with him and I think he's frightened to death of the idea!

Cheating is just cowardice, I think he's glad I found out and now I think he would be only too happy to let me dump him - it takes the responsibility away from him and puts it square on my shoulders.

Looking at the email in more detail, I was surprised to see that the guy had sent it from his work email address, because most 'Dear GB' emails get sent from personal email addresses. The company in question is a well known international firm, so I tried googling the guy's name in conjunction with the company's name to see what I could find out. Although I'd never heard of the guy who sent me the email, it was clear from the google results that he's one of the company's best known employees, a guy who's right at the top of his creative profession.

The fact that the email contained the phrase "bf number 1" led me to think that the guy might be a bit like me, with a good job and more than one boyfriend. I also wondered whether the main boyfriend might feel in the shadow of the guy who sent me the email, given that the guy is extremely successful in his professional life.

So modelling the situation on my own circumstances, on Boxing Day I sent the guy a reply where I suggested that his boyfriend needed his support to re-establish his self-esteem and find a purpose in life. I also sent him the web site address of the counselling service that myself and boyfriend number 1 had used. But later that day when the reply arrived, it suddenly became clear that I'd made some bad assumptions:

I'm going to try and be my own best friend in all this - and no I have never had any other bfriends not even kisses he really was my first. Thanks for being understanding, I don't think I will be in touch again but I will be fine.

Unlike me, this successful guy has been 100%+ faithful to his boyfriend. Furthermore, given the length of their relationship, they probably met when they were both students so they've been together throughout the time that this guy has been building his career. Until now, the guy has simply been turning a blind eye to his boyfriend's behaviour because he loves him. And of course, the answer to the guy's original question as to how my boyfriend number 1 coped isn't very helpful, because as it turned out he didn't cope very well at all :-(.

Having had a couple of weeks to think about this situation, I think the two key points are that the guy's boyfriend is now having a mid-life crisis of some sort, but in spite of all the problems the guy still loves him. Also, although it's not clear what effect the guy's professional success has had on the relationship, I'd be surprised if there's been no effect at all. One possibility is that the guy has had to put so much energy into his career to get where he is today that his relationship has had to take second place.

Since they've been together 19 years, and since the guy still loves his boyfriend, I reckon it's definitely worth trying to save their relationship. But if the boyfriend is having a crisis of some sort, he's not really in a position to be in a relationship with anyone. So I think part of the original advice that I emailed on Boxing Day is valid, because I can't see how the relationship can survive unless the guy helps his boyfriend through his crisis, even though the boyfriend has been unfaithful. Furthermore, the relationship will emerge much stronger if the guy can somehow provide his boyfriend with the help and support he needs.

The situation echos one of my standard themes, namely that love and companionship are hard to find, but in a modern urban environment gay sex is just a commodity. So if the love and companionship are there, my advice to the guy who sent me the email is not to worry so much about infidelity. Having reached a crisis point, they'll have to negotiate with each other regarding what their relationship will look like in the future, so it should be possible to set rules for how everything will work.

The two guys here probably reached this point because of the history of their relationship. In their youth, guys who become boyfriends often set themselves up with the traditional heterosexual model of monogamous relationships, but then as they grow older it can be hard to discuss changing the rules if one of them feels that they don't want to be monogamous any more. More likely, an opportunity for infidelity presents itself, and the additional thrill of breaking the rules makes it impossible to refuse. I was certainly guilty of going down this path, but of course I now know that I should have found a way to discuss with my boyfriend number 1 beforehand. It's like the guy said in his email "Cheating is just cowardice" because the brave thing to do is to be honest and discuss things with one's partner!

It would be very convenient if the relationships that we start when we're in our twenties are the right ones to last us through our entire lives. But just because something is convenient doesn't make it true. Each year we all change a little bit, sometimes we change a lot, and it's quite likely that two people in a relationship will change in different ways. And if people change too much in different ways, after a decade or two what was the perfect relationship at the start can be the nightmare relationship instead. Recognising this is tough, and although the couple here haven't yet reached that point, it is a possibility that the guy must bear in mind.

Do any other readers have any advice for this guy?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Do you "have sex" or "make love"?

I was looking at a few gaydar profiles recently when I spotted a guy who'd written the following sentence about himself:

"Prefer making love to having sex, as such the terms top/bottom, active/passive/versatile do not apply"

Although I've never really liked the terms top, bottom etc, I'd never really given much thought as to why I don't like them. But suddenly, when I read that line, everything became crystal clear!

Suit and handkerchiefSo much cruising relates to the mechanics of who does what to whom. There's no love, or interest in the person, apart from their ability to play the right role. Of course, this isn't new because before online cruising existed, the Hanky Codes were invented to help guys hook-up in the combinations that they wanted.

My experience suggests that a lot of gay men focus almost exclusively on the mechanical aspects of sex. If someone is able to play all the right roles well enough, the two guys may end up in a *relationship* which will last until they get bored, perhaps for a few months or maybe even a couple of years. I reckon guys who behave like this are having sex with each other, but never making love. In this context where there's no love, monogamy makes even less sense to me because we're just behaving like dumb animals, following our primordial sexual instincts. It's the world of pornography where one guy says to the other "Yeah bud, you like it like that don't you"!

The curiosity is that so many of the gay guys that contact me via this blog seem to be interested in love, especially the guys who are in the process of coming out, whereas many of the guys that have come out and that one meets online only seem to be interested in the mechanics. I can't help thinking that as guys come out, they often get gradually more involved in their local "gay scene", and that somehow encourages them to focus on their primordial sexual desires rather than gay love. Indeed, I've heard of several bisexual guys who've chosen a woman as their long term partner because they feel there's no love in gay male relationships.

When I'm cruising online however, I reckon that I always start by trying to find guys that it would be nice to make love to :-). But sometimes, I admit that I'll just end just focusing on the mechanics! I think the act of cruising gradually makes me feel more horny, so that if I 'm unable to find a nice guy to make love to, I'll end up just trying to find another horny guy to have sex with. But I do think that I try not to focus on the mechanics, and perhaps that explains why I have some success finding guys who want to be my boyfriend. Looking back only a couple of weeks, I can now see that my list of ten things which make me happy is incorrectly specified. It should definitely talk about 'making love' rather than 'sexual activities'!

Unfortunately the guy who wrote the sentence quoted above that inspired this posting lives on the outskirts of London, so meeting up with him would be inconvenient. But I did contact him to tell him that I'd be using his sentence in a posting, and to ask him whether he wanted me to attribute the sentence to his gaydar profile using a web link. He said he was flattered that I liked what he'd written, but didn't want a link.

Perhaps just "having sex" is something that we all have to get out of our system before we can focus properly on "making love" instead. Some guys probably get seduced by the gay scene and end up permanently focused on having sex, but I think many more tire of it and move on. My view is certainly that making love to another guy, and especially making love to a boyfriend, is infinitely superior to just having sex with him :-)!