Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living dangerously

Last October, I receive a nice email from a reader which is typical of one sort of email that I get on a regular basis. On this occasion the email is as follows:

Hi there,

By accident, I have just found your blog. I read three postings and they were fun. I am a consultant based in Zurich, born in Japan but spent most of my adult life in US. Not completely in closet but am under cover at work.

As you might expect, I travel a lot for my job. Will definitely contact you for drink or two if I get to go to London.


I send the guy a reply thanking him for this kind thoughts, asking him whether he has a blog, and pointing out my policy that I only meet people who know that I'm GB if they're also established bloggers. Within a couple of days I get a sensible reply from the guy, but he doesn't seem to have a blog and after we exchange another couple of emails the communication dies.

Two months later, just after I've done the post about the 'timeout' with ex-boyfriend P, the guy sends me another nice email:

Just read your latest post - sorry to hear that you broke up with P. Hope you get it over soon. Frankly speaking, it is depressing to me as well. In some sense, you were a living evidence that gay people can also lead an emotionally stable life as a straight couple ...


Looking back now I guess he knew more than me, because it turned out that my relationship with ex-boyfriend P was effectively at an end! In terms of communication with this guy however, again after a couple more emails the communication dies.

It's just after Christmas when I hear from him next:

How are you doing? I am spending my vacation here in Shanghai, China. Gay scene here is not particularly interesting, but got to meet several interesting people. In fact, one of the most interesting meetings was a discussion with a partner in a rival consulting firm. We talked about what it is like to be a gay partner in conservative work environment. He is single and handsome (which is quite a rare combination).

Hope your Christmas went well.


I send him a quick reply:

Christmas for me was fine, W. Your meeting with the gay guy sounds interesting. Now, if only you had a blog, you could tell us all about it in more detail LOL! Stay happy, GB xxx

but it's when I get his reply that things start to get more interesting:

In fact, I do have a blog; especially after being inspired by you, I started writing more secrets in my life. And then realized one terribly scary fact ...

If I share my blog with you, there is a serious issue of imbalance. At the moment, I know your secrets but don't know who you are - at this point you know who I am, but don't know my secrets (other than I am gay - I trust you in this aspect since you seem to be a nice person :-)). But if I share my blog, you know both my identity and secrets - all the details on my personal/professional life.

Maybe I should not have told you who I am at the beginning. It was again stupid in two senses
- I wanted to meet you in London in person, but in the end I never went to London, and generally speaking you don't meet people in person anyway.
- Now that I have demonstrated my identity, I am limiting my relationship with you in some sense.
Gosh - I thought that revealing identity is the first step. As always, I make stupid mistakes in gay relationships and at the end, limit my own options. I should learn how to flirt and play hard to get.

Maybe I have to create another identity sometime in the future without you noticing and then approach you again :-) ... For the time being, you will be my secret penpal friend with blog :-)


What a fabulous email! I reply immediately:

I can't help but laugh, W, this is a dilemma entirely of your own making LOL!

But in fact, I think you should tell me the web address of your blog, because I handle people's confidences all the time :-). Don't forget, I'm an agony uncle and I regularly get emails from guys wanting advice, telling me all about themselves and often including very intimate details. I hope you'll agree from what you read on my blog that I handle it all with the utmost discretion. In any case, I'd be extremely surprised if your blog contained nearly as much information as mine, because I've been blogging for almost 4 years so there are now 600+ posts in mine!

Anyway, wishing you a prosperous New Year :-), GB xxx

It took two weeks, but the next email I get from him contains the web address of his blog, with little request: Hope you don't judge me ... I am not that weird. Finally, this guy has got my attention!

His blog is very personal and seems very honest. Although with sufficient effort the words in any blog could be manufactured, I'm a great believer in Occam's razor, namely that "The simplest explanation is usually the best". In this case it seems overwhelmingly likely that the guy and his blog are genuine. Indeed, looking a bit further and using the information in his blog and his emails, I get some independent confirmation because I find some old web pages about him from the university that he attended a few years previously!

Over the next couple of weeks, we exchange a few more emails, and then towards the end of January he sends me the following suggestion:

If I don't go to Munich tomorrow night, there is high chance that I could pay a short visit to London next weekend. In fact, one of my best gay friends is visiting London for fun, so might be good idea to visit as well. I hate traveling alone. In case I do visit London, are you free for coffee, lunch, dinner, or drink during the weekend?

So it's decision time! My policy says that I'm sometimes prepared to meet established bloggers, but is this guy really an established blogger? Putting together all the pieces, I decide to live dangerously so I send him the following reply:

Let me know if you're going to be in London and hopefully we'll be able to meet :-)

But it's not to be! He ends up with work commitments which prevent him travelling to meet me after all. Which is a pity, because having read his blog and found out other stuff about the guy, I'd started to look forward to meeting him!

A week later and our email conversation continues with a new suggestion:

It sounds weird, but how about meeting in Paris?

I love Paris of course, and it's an easy train journey for me, so even though I've never met the guy it seems like an attractive idea. And now, after several weeks, it looks like it's going to happen soon :-). Indeed, just to agree some of the final details I chatted on MSN with the guy yesterday:

GB: Now, which hotel will you stay in Paris? You're welcome to stay in my room of course, I've booked a room with a double bed, but is it too dangerous to agree to do that before we've met each other?
W: I will stay in your room
GB: ok that's cool, but you need to be aware, I may end up touching you hehe
W: wait ...
W: double bed means ... one bed ...
GB: yeah
W: hmm
GB: if you want to stay elsewhere, I don't mind at all
W: I somehow thought it would be two queen beds
GB: there'll just be one bed
W: ah we will figure this out
GB: I won't mind if you get your own hotel room
W: it is really a practical problem
GB: if you stay in my room (which would be nice), we'll sleep in the same bed and I'll want to feel the warmth of your body :-)))
W: I cannot sleep if someone else is in the same bed
GB: really?
W: but at some point we should sleep right?
W: I mean
W: I'd love to cuddle with you
GB: good, cuddling is my favourite too
W: but we can't do it for 8 hours
W: ah never mind, should be fine
GB: yeah it'll be fine :-)
GB: although don't forget !

We haven't met yet, and maybe all the plans will change, however at the moment it looks like we've both decided to live dangerously!


Superchilled said...

Ah this is too much fun.
And now we have a serialised story... can't wait for the next edition.

Anonymous said...

Look, GB, I do think that we need a policy on this.

If a guy wants to share the same bed with you and is now msg. the various scenarios, we all are getting somewhat confused and slightly disoriented. Obviously, a new policy statement may be a great help here. (Have fun, no matter what...)


GB said...

Indeed Superchilled, I felt this was becoming too much fun as well, which is why I had just to blog it and let everyone know!

Sorry SilverRRCloud, I don't understand what you mean when you say "... is now msg. the various scenarios". In any case, surely the existing policy is sufficient? The guy that I'm hoping to meet in Paris is now an established blogger, and all the policy says is that I don't meet readers although I make exceptions "... for established bloggers, when I've built up some kind of rapport with them over a period of time" :-). Anyway, thanks for your kind wishes, I will try and have fun!

GB xxx

A rebel all the way... said...

hope u have a great anyways is or no sex...m sure its gonna be great :)

ajw_5025 said...

Without wishing to criticize you, I found your reference to "independent confirmation" a little cold and clinical as an approach to a relationship. Would you say your precautions come from the fact you want to protect your blog identity or is it something which croses over into you every day life?

I think I can be this way at times, cynical I guess is the best word for it, kinda bums me out though to think I'm like that and I haven't even made if out of my teens yet!

Keep writing though, I look forward to your updates. I have an industrial placement with a bank in the city for 14months starting in June, and your blog has given a lot of helpful stuff for me to think about :D x

GB said...

Thanks Rebel, indeed it's always nice to visit Paris :-).

I'm sure you know, ajw_5025, that on the Internet you can never be sure who anyone is. So the "independent confirmation" that I found was an important part of becoming comfortable with this whole scenario. I'd say that my behaviour here is just a sensible precaution, and is very specific to this particular situation. I didn't mention it in this posting, but as soon as I found those old web pages I sent him an email asking him about them, so he knew all about it before I posted it here.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

Dear Gb, I had many words of wisdom and questions around this post, but now i feel like saying..what a lovely meeting it will go for it.
I still can't fully understand the philosophy around blogging and keeping it secret, especially from close friends and partners but this seems to be the case for most. I would love my boyfriend to tell me about his blog but alas this i fear will never happen..perhaps he doesn't trust me with his thoughts?????
But back to you....being away is always lovely and meeting new people is as well...even if they know you more than normal!!!! but isn't it safer this way as at least people know about it and you know somethings about them as well...blind dates are the dodgey ones....
So have fun and obviously i look forward to hearing a few snippets about it

take care

Gabriel said...

asian boys are such cockteasers. LOL.......

Kenski said...

"In some sense, you were a living evidence that gay people can also lead an emotionally stable life as a straight couple"

I found this sentence quite funny. These days, particularly in Western relationships, both straight and gay, I actually think that the progress we've made towards equality (all kinds) has led to a breakdown in traditional roles and expectations.

Whilst, on balance, progress is a good thing for both individuals and groups, it does lead to a challenge when establishing a relationship. Without ground-rules you have to figure out this stuff for yourself.

I think it's made straight relationships increasingly challenging and I'd risk saying that the dynamic within straight couples has become increasingly similar to what gay couples have had to deal with over the years.

I've had many cocktail fuelled debates with one of my (gay) neighbours who's convinced that the only way for ANY relationship to work is for one partner to be 'the man' and one partner to be 'the woman'.

Personally, I think that's cr*p. Roles within a relationship can (and should) change depending on circumstance and necessity.

There *are* stable gay relationships out there but for a variety of reasons they tend not to be as visible as 'stable' straight relationships, which seem to be everywhere.

My hope is that with Civil Partnership legislation two things will happen. First off, couples will put more effort into solving their problems before resorting to separation and secondly that 'stable' gay couples will become more visible.

You should probably know, though, that even the most emotionally stable relationship is going to have ups and downs. Often, though, the hard parts are hidden behind the 'public face' of a relationship so nobody knows what's really going on between a couple except for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by this too. One minute you are deliberating whether or not to even meet the guy, the next thing we know, you are meeting in Paris and asking him to share your bed! I found this a bit of a nonsense really!

Antony said...

he sounds like a character! :P

Antony x

GB said...

Thanks for your kind thoughts, first anonymous commenter (a.k.a. SX), whichever one of the recent guys who called themselves SX you are!

At the moment, Gabriel, it looks like we are going to end up meeting :-). And I reckon the cock-tease bit depends on what my expectations are!

I'd disagree with your gay neighbour too, Kenski, because I think I agree with you. These days both gay and straight couples have much more freedom to define the nature of their long-term relationships, and amongst the people I know I can think of non-standard examples that seem to work.

No need to be confused, second anonymous commenter, whoever you are. Just think about it in terms of what happens when I meet guys online from gaydar or In those situations too, the decision about whether to meet them is also a decision about whether I might perhaps be prepared to share my bed with them. Although I've accelerated the decision about the bed sharing here, it's easier to do that when it's not my own house. Also, if it's clear when I meet the guy that my offer of bed sharing was a mistake, I'm sure I'd be able to find myself another hotel room somewhere in Paris. Anyway, needless to say I know much more about the guy that I put in this post!

I think you're probably right Antony, but in any case I'm definitely looking forward to meeting him :-).

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

Amusing yet silly example of renvoi

ΖΩΗ (Life | Жизнь) said...

Hopping on a train from London to Paris sounds fun.

However, try flying 10,461 km (6,538 mi) to Washington from Bishkek at the age of 19 to meet someone you met online.

That is exactly what I did when I was 19 (long time ago) and he turned out to be the Love of my life, although we parted since and live on different continents.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hey GB,

Loving the blog, as always.

I think it's great that you've brought up the 'sleeping arrangements' right off the bat. I try to do this myself, as it helps clear up any potential confusion regarding one's intentions. ;-)

Have fun in Paris!