Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Email from a bisexual guy in love with another guy

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I have been reading your blog for quite some time and I have finally decided to write to you. I am a bi-sexual/gay man. I would say more gay than bi-sexual, though the majority of my important relationships have been with women. Since January, though, I have been having a relationship with a guy that I met on gaydar. This would be my first relationship with a guy. I have had a couple of sporadic encounters with guys, but this is a real relationship. We both pretend to be bi-sexual and we are both still in the closet. We don't live in the same city (I live in London, he lives in Paris), so we only see each other a couple of times per month. I can honestly say that I am in love with this guy, though I'm pretty sure he's not. I have told him a few times that I had missed him. He chose never to return the compliment. We do exchange emails (not necessarily very long ones) almost daily and he does cute things from time to time, like sending me a text to wish me good night. My realization that I am actually in love with him came now that I will go to New York for one year and the thought of not seeing him for longer periods of time makes me sad. I have also discovered that he's seeing other guys. There is at least one I have discovered by reading the text messages on his mobile phone. Not very nice you could say, but I was suspecting this, and I just got my confirmation. I didn't confront him because this would imply confessing how I know. This finding of mine kind of broke my heart. I can't really concentrate at work, and I am running behind the schedule with the project I'm working on. I guess this seems like a non-problem to you, given your multi-boyfriend situation :). It might be my mainly heterosexual relationship track record, but this is just the way I feel. I don't feel the need to be with someone else, just with this guy. Of course, another thing I don't like is that we don't know each others friends, given that neither of us has publicly accepted his sexuality.

I am continuing this email after quite a long pause. Things have happened meanwhile. I have actually left for New York and I told the guy that I loved him during my last weekend in London when he came to visit. It was a perfect weekend. I don't quite know how to qualify his reaction when I told him. He's definitely not indifferent. It was quite emotional when I confessed my feelings. I was so sad to be leaving that I was incapable of holding back my tears. I even saw a few tears in his eyes, which I guess is a good sign. To be honest, I think we are closer now. I was very down when I arrived in New York. He knew that and kept encouraging me. The seeing other guys part was never mentioned, but this is something that hurts like hell. To be honest, I don't know how you do it. Or, better said, how your boyfriends do it. Maybe it requires a level of maturity that, despite my 30 years, I don't have. I don't bring the subject up, because I guess I am quite scared of the answer. I intend to do it, though. He will come visit me in New York in August. This is what he says, at least. I guess I could very well be with other guys, but I just can't bring myself to do it too. It would just be to get back at him, which seems wrong.

I'm writing to you to basically ask for an outside opinion, that I cannot ask from my friends. Despite the sadness, it's quite refreshing to again have such strong feelings for someone. I do feel, though, that I'm making the same mistakes I have made before. Throwing myself blindly in this relationship that, if I'm honest with myself, I think has no future. On my side, I am actually thinking of coming out to my closest friends. I don't think he intends to do something similar. I have actually invited him several times to come meet some of friends (to be introduced as a friend), but he always found excuses not to come. Anyway, this is briefly my story. I have only defined myself as a gay/bi-sexual guy but there is something that I haven't mentioned. I am actually a gay/bi-sexual banker ... :)

Having read this email quite a few times now, I think there are several issues that the reader needs to address.

To start with, is he a genuine bisexual, or a gay guy who's been having relationships with women so as to pretend that he's not gay because of the perceived stigma? If he's bisexual then he should occasionally be lusting after women. I think that the classic bisexual behaviour is serial monogamy but switching each gender each time a relationship ends, weaving an almost incomprehensible web of sexual liaisons because the bisexual guy's partners may well be other male and female bisexuals! But given the way he wrote the email, my suspicion is that the guy might well be gay rather than bisexual. In any case, whether he's gay or bisexual he needs to come to terms with it properly, because it's hard to develop relationships with people of either gender when the foundation of one's own sexuality is uncertain.

Although neither of the guys have properly accepted their sexuality, it sounds like the reader who sent the email is a lot closer to accepting himself that his (boy)friend. I hesitate to use the word boyfriend here, because I think that word implies some kind of commitment between the two of them, and the email gives me the impression that they haven't discussed their relationship properly so I don't think the word boyfriend is appropriate yet. Of course, it's no surprise that they haven't done had that, because before they can discuss their relationship properly they need to be comfortable with themselves. Since none of their friends know about their activities with other guys they're clearly not comfortable yet.

The good thing about the situation is that it sounds as though their love for each other is pushing them towards accepting themselves. I think the best thing they can do is to make progress there before trying to work out what kind of future their relationship has. Thinking about this in heterosexual terms, when straight guys and girls are young teenagers, they play around being each other's boyfriends and girlfriends. However it's usually not until they're getting towards their 20's or older that solid relationships are formed. However old this reader and his (boy)friend actually are, in gay relationship terms they're just young teenagers, so they need both to mature a bit before they should think about whether a real relationship is possible. If the reader has been holding back his feelings for other guys for most of his life, the emotional turmoil within him will be particularly strong now that he's started discovering who he really is. Even though his feelings for his (boy)friend are very deep, if he is still a teenager in terms of gay emotional development he should try and "play the field" and date a few other guys to help his gay personality mature.

Because no commitment exists yet, the reader shouldn't have checked his (boy)friend's mobile phone. That's exactly the kind of thing that young teenagers do, because one can quite imagine John saying to Janet "I saw you kiss James in the playground so I'm not going to be your boyfriend any more"! Whether to have a monogamous or an open relationship would be part of the adult discussion that they can have when they're comfortable with their sexuality.

In the last paragraph, the reader says that he thinks the relationship has no future. The only reason to say that is because the reader has the mind-set of having to hide his sexuality. That was necessary 50 years ago but it's not necessary today. As I said in my previous post, even investment bankers can be openly gay these days :-). However, thriving in a banking environment as an openly gay man requires a much higher a level of confidence than the reader currently has. His strategy there should be to develop his confidence with his friends and family first, and simply avoid telling lies at work. I wrote a post about conversational evasion techniques last year which may be helpful.

Anyway, I see every possibility that the relationship could have a future, if the reader first takes the time to develop the confidence to be an out gay or bisexual guy, and if his (boy)friend does the same. That will take time of course. But if they see each other when they can while the reader is in New York, and if they work on becoming comfortable with their sexuality while they're apart, then by the time the reader returns to London they could well be ready for an adult relationship :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts for this couple?


Anonymous said...

GB is right. You can not move forward until you are accepting of who you are.

Mybananalife said...

Love the fact that Gay Banker has matured brilliantly into the role of an Agony Uncle!!! hahahhahah...well done and cheers...

Ken Skinner said...

Dammit... long response disappeared!

Summary: enjoy life. Don't go looking for a relationship, you'll think you find one but it'll only be a projection of what you think you want from another person... and it sounds like what you're really doing is trying to come to terms with this side of your sexuality by engaging in an unrequited love trap, in which you use the other guy as a reason not to enter into genuinely valid relationships while you sort yourself out emotionally.

Ta-da! Pop-psyche 101!

Anonymous said...

A couple of comments on bisexuality from one who knows at least a few things about it:

First, nobody wants you to be bisexual. The question is always, "Is he gay or straight?", with zero mind-space allocated to anything in between. Kinsey put gay/straight on a scale from one to five which allows for varying degrees of attraction to one sex or the other. But society wants no part of that, it wants you to make up your mind, especially if your a man. I don't think society feels quite the same way about bisexual women.

Second, society sees bisexuality as a real threat to monogamous relationships and marriage. It invariably means two bedmates and this is probably harder for people to deal with than the concept of bisexual attraction.

I was actively gay before I got married. My wife was part of my circle of friends and thus friends with my partners and bedmates. Our relationship is way outside of the norm. Even our close friends who know what's going on shake their heads in disbelief. We also have good friends who are none the wiser.

It can be fairly devastating for those who discover, or finally admit to an attraction to men after marriage and children. Some of them keep it completely secret from their families (I don't approve, but I do understand) and others decide to bring it all out in the open; and some, like me, manage to make it work.

Finally, I guess I oughtta say that I'm an American. I would be curious how a less uptight society reacts to bisexuality.

GB said...

Glad you agree with me Jay :-).

Back from the dead banana, you haven't left a comment here for years! Anyway, glad to see that you're still alive and well :-).

Interesting points Kenski, you could well be right. Anyway, good luck with your Fillmore Five Project.

Fascinating comments, jaggedEdgeMan. It sounds like you're exactly what I was trying to describe when I wrote in this post that "the classic bisexual [weaves] an almost incomprehensible web of sexual liaisons because the bisexual guy's partners may well be other male and female bisexuals". But again as I said in the post, I think this genuine bisexuality is very rare, and I don't know any such people in the UK so I don't know the answer to your question about the reaction of a less uptight society. However, anyone interested in this subject might also be interested in one of my previous 'Dear GB' posts about bisexuality, and especially some of the comments that the post attracted from bisexuals.

GB xxx