Sunday, February 22, 2009

Love, the closet, and other boyfriend issues

Just over a week ago the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I discovered your blog about 2 months now, and I have been reading it on a regular basis every other week when there is a new post. It was a refreshing prospective, sometime I agree and sometime disagree, but that's the beauty of it I guess. I am a gay male 34 years old. I live in New York but from a Middle Eastern origin and been living in the states about 11 years. I hesitated writing an email for almost a month. But then something happened this week and I decided to give it a shot.

My boyfriend of about 11 months decided to break up with me this week. It was a little devastating and I am still in a little shock zone. I will give you a little background about how we met. We met at the gym sauna! We did not have any fun at the sauna but I went to his place and what started as a hook up turned to a relationship and we been together since. Though at first when we met he was on some sort of long distance with a guy in another country, but after 2 months of being together I made it clear that he had to choose. And since then we've been together. He is 4 years older than me. We both in Finance but I recently lost my job!! He still works for an investment bank. He is very closeted and I on the other hand am more open toward my friends and the people I know. But I was never open at work, though people might have suspected but I never talked about it. On the other hand he has very limited friends to which he is out (about 2), so this situation has created some sensitivities sometime. At first he was against meeting any of my friends or any introductions that will indicate we are a couple. But then he came along slowly, and he came to my birthday party, and he met a few of my friends on other events as well. But he remained always very uncomfortable about the idea of being public about being gay even within a closed circle of friends. He was a bit upset when he ran into an old colleague during my birthday party. But he got over it with time.

So for the last 10 months we hung out a lot almost every weekend and a night or 2 through the week. I will admit ... that sometimes I tend to be on the needy side and if it was up to me ... I would love to have moved together already. But he was always against it and at first he said it was too early. But with the time it became just not an idea on the table to discuss. I come to the realization that the idea of moving together is still too soon; so I let it go.

He travels a lot sometime and I tend to miss him a lot when he goes away. During the last holidays he took a long vacation with his family (he is not out to them). That lasted a month and half!! It was very hard on me, having him gone all that time. But I dealt with it. He warned me before he traveled that it will be very hard for him to call me as he will be surrounded by his family most of the time. I was patient as much as I could ... but I still find it a bit hard that he could not call or sms once in a while. We kept some sort of email or phone call like once a week. At the end of his vacation I suggested to meet him in his original country (South America) since he was due to go there for work after the vacation for 2 weeks before returning to New York. He said it would not be a good idea as he will be busy and working. After some persistence from my part he reluctantly agreed. So I flew for a week to meet him and we had a great week. After his work we would go for dinner and during the weekend go to the beach and such.

But I felt he was distant and seemed like he was just being nice since I was there. We had a lot of sex in that trip. But I felt it was a distant sex and not with the same patient as we used to.

Then came the bomb. When we returned to New York. We returned on separate days. He called me and said we need to talk, and then he said "that he needed to be by himself and that he does not feel like being a boyfriend anymore". As much as I was devastated I asked that we need to meet in person and talk about it. We met over a cup of coffee and it was a hard conversation. He said that he needed to be alone. But when I pressed on knowing the real reason he said few things. Like that he hated being exposed and that I exposed him a lot. He did not like meeting my friends or inviting them over. He did not like being out as a couple. He also said he did not like the fact that I was at his place every weekend (something I can agree a little bit with ... but If you love someone wouldn't you like to spend time with them?)

He said he is selfish and he tried the committed relationship but it is not for him. (Prior to me his other long relation was with a girl about 12 years ago and lasted 2 years). He asked about remaining friends and having fun and travel together but not being committed. I was upset and I said I love him and that I can't be just his friend. I got a bit emotional and I cried. He said he needs sometime to think. But he kinda made it clear he want to move forward but at the same time said to leave it in God's hand! I agreed to give him time and let him think about it.

I love him. It hurts me so much. I realized his problem with having a long term relation but over the time we been together he made a great progress and that's what keeps me hoping that with time he will be ok.

It has been 4 days since we last spoke. And though it is hard for me, I have not tried contacting him, even when he is on-line on msn or Google chat. I log in as invisible this way he will not see me. I get weak sometime and I get tempted to call or sms him. But I am still strong so far. I don't know what else to say.

Sorry for the long email. I feel confused and I am not sure if this is something I should give it a thought or it's over? As much as Valentine's Day is over rated, this was going to be the first Valentine's Day when I was hoping I would have a real boyfriend.

I had 2 relationships before which lasted less than a year.

I hope to get some feedback. Losing my job and now losing the BF is like two bad strikes.

Kind regards,

I felt very sorry for this reader when I read his email. It's clear that he's very much in love with his ex-boyfriend, so as he says, losing his job and now his boyfriend must be very tough on him. He sent me a quick update a couple days ago, which said:

I tried calling my ex last weekend and it was a very short call. He said he is putting his things in order and this is what he wants. It was a 1 minute phone call. I should have known better but in any case I was not that upset about his distance. I have not tried getting on touch with him since then. Though it is hard, I am focusing on finding a job these days. I have some interviews set up and am hoping for the best.

Indeed, I see no hope for this reader to get back together with his ex-boyfriend in the short term. The ex-boyfriend is clearly not comfortable being gay. No doubt this has something to with his upbringing. Presumably he was brought up as a Catholic, in the macho South American culture too. Both those things are obstacles that he will have to overcome at some point if he's ever to lead a happy life as the gay man, which is presumably what he is. But while he fights against himself and against the people like this reader who love him, I think by far the best thing to do is to leave him alone. Of course, the ex-boyfriend is being very foolish to let such a loving guy like this reader go, but while the ex-boyfriend in his current frame of mind there's nothing that can be done about it.

The email reminded me about an English guy that I met who's a friend of my friend P. This English guy lived with his Chinese boyfriend for 14 years, and then one day the boyfriend suddenly announced that he was ending the relationship and that he was going to leaving the country to go back home. It turned out that the boyfriend had been planning this for almost a year without the knowledge of the English guy. The ultimate reason for the break-up was the pressure that the boyfriend had been receiving from his family, who didn't know that he was gay. From the point of view of the reader who sent me this email, he should be happy that he's found out about his ex-boyfriend's state of mind after only 11 months, rather than after 14 years!

One good thing is that the reader is obviously a clever guy. It's clear from his emails that he knows that the best thing to do is to leave his ex-boyfriend alone. It's clear that he knows that he's often too needy, which is always unattractive in a boyfriend. And it's also clear that he knows that the best thing for him to do is to try and find himself another job, which should have an additional benefit of helping him feel less needy. So I'm not sure how much I can add!

If terms of finding a boyfriend, I think it would probably be best if the reader gives himself a few months to recover from having been dumped by his ex-boyfriend. Hook-ups for sex are fine, but in the short term he should avoid thinking about relationships. Indeed, I'm following a similar strategy following my break up with ex-boyfriend P. I've decided that hooking-up for fun is fine, as it meeting potential boyfriends to get to know them. However I'm not going to commit to anything kind of relationship for at least six months!

Although I think this reader needs to look for love elsewhere, I think he also needs a strategy in terms of what to do if his ex-boyfriend contacts him. For the moment, while he's recovering from the situation, I think that he's wise to stay hidden on MSN and Google chat, but eventually he should allow himself to be visible. He mustn't contact his ex-boyfriend of course, but it's possible that eventually his ex-boyfriend will contact him. If that does happen, then I think it would be bad for the reader to compromise too much in terms of what he needs from a relationship. Such a loving guy like the reader clearly needs to aim for a live-in boyfriend who can be open about his sexuality. So if the ex-boyfriend gets in touch with the reader, unless the ex-boyfriend has changed his mind so that he's happy to work towards that kind of relationship, I think the reader should avoid taking the guy back as his boyfriend again.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?


Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to your correspondent; he is obviously a sensitive and caring man, and he has fallen for someone who in my opinion doesn't deserve him.

A few thoughts:

To the bereaved man: I know it sounds trite, but time really does heal all wounds. Distracting yourself (especially with something as all-consuming as a job search) is a great way of focusing your thoughts elsewhere and keeping your mind from running wild. You will have something positive to concentrate on and it will help you channel your emotions elsewhere.

You don't seem like the type to jump right into another relationship, which is good. I would caution you against rushing into anything straight away; give yourself a few good months to repair your self-esteem and rebuild your self-confidence.

This man clearly wasn't the right one for you. He was happy to have a physical relationship in his terms, but seemed to me completely incapable of accommodating your needs; that in itself disqualifies him from being worthy of your attention. Don't waste time beating yourself up about traits of yours which you think repelled him or he might have had a problem with. As they say, every pot has its lid and you will surely find the right man for you in time.

Hang in there.

ΖΩΗ (Life | Жизнь) said...

When my Scandinavian boyfriend and I broke up, I have prepared so many words ad strategies. However, in practice, you end up saying and doing very different things than you prepared or rehearsed.

I would say, just go with a flow making a job hunt a number one priority.

Anonymous said...

Good advice here!

First, focus on securing your future. Your new job is your top priority.

Second,draw a line and mentally end any relatioship with your Ex. He is simply history. Treasure the moments of joy and move on.

Third, learn from this experience:

A guy can be pushed around for a while. He can make amends. He can meet yours (and even 'his' friends) but if he is fundamentally opposed to being somewhat openly gay, he'll snap back sooner rather than later and return to his old ways.

A guy like your Ex, is more likely than not, no BF material to start with. He is homosexual, alright, as he has developed a constant pattern of sexual relationships with men. But he is not gay, as in being interested in having a committed, monogamous relationship and seeing himself deeply emotionally tied to his BF. He was distant; did not want you to move in, etc. ... Actually, he was increasingly unavailable, emotionally, physically and mentally that is... . You and he have very different understanding of what being in love means for the common future of the two of you.

Last but not least, we ought to look the world from his prospective, too. He still has his job. He also has a big family and seems to be very much tied with it, too. His long vacations with them clearly show, where his interests and priorities are. He certainly enjoys male2male sex but does not wish to come out and sees very little need to tie himself in into a relationship as opposed to having ocassional fun while playing the field.

It takes both considerable skill and great deal of knowledge to overcome the cultural barriers between the men of highly different backgrounds. Draw your conclusions here and make sure that you do not repeat your old mistakes in the future.

Anonymous said...

Yes! silverrrcloud, you've reminded me of the other thing I wanted to say.

To the bereaved man: I know it sounds harsh and brutal, but I recommend severing all contact with your ex and with all memories, details and symbols of your ex. It seems like you know deep down that this is the right thing to do; indeed, you contacted him recently against your better judgment (and don't worry; we ALL do things like that) and it backfired. Good. Let this be a growing point. Delete him from your messenger lists so that you can't see him signing in and have to actively resist the temptation to write him; that way it's easier to ignore him. Delete him from your mobile, since even if you know his number by heart, having to type the numbers in individually instead of picking him from a list makes it harder to spontaneously contact him. Same goes for deleting him as a facebook friend, deleting his address from your email address book, etc. Every time you have the urge to call or message him, get in touch with someone else. Meet a mate for coffee. Depend on your friends because that's what they're there for.

And the hardest but probably most important thing is to erase all physical reminders of him from your life. If you have truly decided to move on, then having reminders of him at your disposal will bring nothing good. Destroy all images of him and especially all images of you and him together (note: if you cannot bring yourself to destroy them, then at least send them very, very far away - like another country). The future is you, not you and him. There is no need to be weighed down by painful reminders of an unhappy past.

Best wishes to you.

MadeInScotland said...

In the words of A. R Rahman, Love's Never Easy.


Anonymous said...

Thaanks guys.. it was very healing to read your comments. It's hard when you love someone and when you put yourself out there. I am not going to deny that while I am focused on moving on and looking for a new job and make my life better. It's hard..i was in love with this guy.. and he was in love with me.. at least he said it many times. I can not and refused to understand why someone would choose to be alone and selfish and refuse sharing life with a loving guy. But I am wise enough to understand that life must go on and I will follow some good advice about stopping all contacts with my ex; if he does not value my love than what can I do. Maybe it's not mean to be.

thanks and all the love to you guys.
The guy who dated a confused selfish guy!.
xo xo

K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The only advice I have for you is to not be embittered by this experience. Some people turn into a jaded pile of mess when their relationships do not turn out the way they had hoped, consequently affecting all their future romantic prospects. You are clearly a romantic and sadly that is quite a rare quality to find in the gay world. Many guys would love to have someone with your romantic ideals so do not let this experience turn you into your own worst enemy.

However to the ex's credit, he did come out of his shell for you, which was a big deal for him. I think that's love, but it seems that simply was not enough given that both of you are on the opposite sides of the closetedness spectrum.

Anonymous said...

while i am trying to move on with my life and focus on the job.. I still have dreams about him and it kills me that I am still love him regardless of what I read or convince myself...I guess it's a process and I still have sometime to go. I know I am afraid to become cynical about this.. and become jaded like some guys.
I would not deny that the thoughts of reconnecting with him still as strong as my love.

thanks guys for all the insights.


fur inspector said...

@Anon guy: it's really hard to move on when you still love the man and think or dream about him but you will eventually. We all have our ways of grieving and finding a way to pick up the pieces but the important thing is that we usually can move on and find someone better in the end who loves and cares for us as we are.

@John F: I don't think it's necessary to be so extreme and destroy all the artefacts of a failed relationship (though it may work for some) -- they can be part of the healing process too. I think it's entirely reasonable to cease contact with an ex but we can't destroy the feelings and memories we have of them. We can only find some inner resolution and move on.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Fur inpsector.
I am still gathering the pieces and it's getting better. But there are moments in every day where a song or a place we been together get all the memory back. break ups are tough and this one is still bleeding. But I have to move on. I have no other choice. thx to all
The guy with the broken heart

Anonymous said...

I've been the other guy...the one that couldn't change enough or give enough or go fast enough with the coming out process.

I loved my boyfriend so so so much. I never knew a love like that was possible. However, I also saw a side that was the breaking point for me. I saw a side that would do ANY and I mean ANYTHING to get what he wanted. There was so much dishonesty and sneaking around. I never knew until around the end when I started discovering things. I was crushed.

It was hard enough trying to come out and get all of that together. But, when you realize the love of your life that was to be by your side actually was spying and trying to move it along faster by dropping lines to those you knew, it's unbelievably hard to fathom that.

Everything was crushed. It ended. We were both devastated. But, how can that continue? That's a huge breach of a fundamental trust in relationships.

Sometimes, I feel like I made the wrong decision. But, I don't think the behavior would have stopped at that.

So very sad still...
MR in N.Carolina

Anonymous said...

To all
Today I got an email from GB alerting me to the last comment on my letter.

***This look like April Fool day joke***
This MR in N.Carolina is not my ex BF. everything that was said above is just lies. I wish I was sneaking; it would have been very easy for me to move on instead of all the pain I felt when my ex broke up with me.
My last contact with the ex was few weeks ago (2-3) and we had a very heated arguments which I needed to finally close the chapter.

To think that my ex would write in a blog it's like a miracle.

So to whom ever decided to write the April fools day joke, nice try buddy!.

Though sometime I am thinking about sending him a link to this blog.. not sure if it is a good idea?!

for MR in N Carolina... give me one hint of truth about me if you really are my ex ha ha =). There was a neck name you always called me and tease about it.. what is it?

(The broken heart guy)

GB said...

Looking at the two previous comments, my guess is that "MR in N.Carolina" had a similar break-up with his bf to the one experienced by "The broken heart guy". However, if "MR in N.Carolina" wants to respond to "The broken heart guy", I suggest he sends me the email rather than putting this correspondence in the public domain.

GB xxx

Musicahole said...

I think you should've seen this coming. You should never be with someone you have to force to do things or change. What you see is usually what you get. So, I think you need to work on yourself for a while, and not be so concerned with being in a relationship. There's nothing most guys hate more, than a needy/clingy person. Good luck with that!!!!