Sunday, May 10, 2009

Email from a guy in his first gay relationship

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

Dear GB,

I have been reading your blog for half a year and seen your useful advices to so many readers, so I am writing in hoping you can show me your wisdom on the situation I am in.

I grew up in a traditional Asian family and currently in my early 20s while studying in college. I have remained closeted and seldom went to the gay club scene in my country (Asia) as I still had issues with my sexuality. I took a huge step last year to come out to my parents followed by my close friends (they are really receptive that's why I decide to move on with my gay life).

Last year I moved to US for one year study exchange and decided to be more open about my gay life since I am in a totally new environment. A few months ago I met a guy online who was living in the city nearby, after a few online chats and phone calls he visited me and we slept on the first night we met - the first gay sex for me (I didn't plan to give up my first time so easily but well... I wasn't that strong after all).

After his visit we still kept in contact. I wasn't planning to go into a relationship with him as I am ultimately going back Asia and I know it will be worse if I mix both my first gay sex and first gay relationship together (with the same person). But the guy was pretty persistent and after several visits to his place I found I actually like him as well, so I gave in to start dating him.

At the beginning of the relationship I stated that I am going back Asia after a few months and tried to play tough that I didn't really care about this relationship (the guy is 30 and much more experienced than me, I didn't want to act like innocent inexperienced brats and ended up getting hurt). But after a while I found I really care about him as no matter what this is my first relationship. I find myself jealous when I hear he would go to some gay resorts after I leave US (even though it might not mean he will have sex, I still feel uncomfortable) ... The point is this is my first relationship I don't know when I am going to move on from it when I go back Asia (when will the second one come?) while knowing he will eventually move on with his life after an unknown period of time.

Guess my biggest mistakes is to have my first gay sex and gay relationship with the same person while knowing it's definitely going to end (not a smooth beginning of my gay life isn't it?) After talking honestly to each other, we realize we really enjoy each others' company and I decided to continue this relationship instead of forcefully ending it now. Ultimately relationship is something I need to learn alone the way and I am glad I am learning with this nice guy. But I don't know if I can manage to pull out after it ends instead of getting extremely hurt. So here are my questions:
  1. Even though I have decided to continue, GB please give me your honest opinion did I make the right decision?
  2. If I continue how can I manage myself to enjoy his company while not to fall too deeply in this relationship and couldn't get out after a few months.
  3. I am still quite conservative and traditional about sex, but this guy's opinion about sex is as follows:
    "I know u are traditional but I don't think sex is such a bad thing! I think your perception of this will change over time...of course a relationship is ideal, and promiscuity is bad, but sometimes relationships are not available."
    Is he right? If you are not in a relationship and have sexual desire do you really have to sleep with people to resolve that? Guess it's my mistake to mix my first gay sex with my gay relationship otherwise I can take your fb + fb theory more easily.
Thanks for reading this email and I hope to see your advice on my situation!


It's impressive that this reader has already come out to his parents, because most Asian guys that I know have a problem with doing that. For most of them, the story is usually that they love and care for their parents a great deal, with the result that they can't come out as gay to their parents because they don't want to disappoint them. Anyway, I felt it was important to answer this reader's first question immediately, so I sent him a reply in which I said the following:

I definitely do think you made the right decision to continue with this relationship. If you stop to analyse who you're going to love and who you're not going to love, it takes all the romance out of life. Worse than that, it sets you up to be the type of guy for whom no one is good enough because everyone has their flaws. So I'd say take all the opportunities you can for love, relationships, friendships, however short a time they might last for. Without doubt, life is much more fulfilling that way :-).

Regarding the reader's second question, I can't help wondering whether he's familiar with any Buddhist philosophy. I learned a bit more about it when I was in Thailand last January, and indeed, one of the quotations that I photographed while I was there sums up the answer to this question perfectly:
Today is better than two tomorrows.
One has to let go of the past because it's happened and one can't change it. If one doesn't let go, one carries the past around like baggage and it has a detrimental effect on one's life in the present. Regarding the future, it's important to realise that nothing is permanent. For example, barring almost inconceivable advances in medical science, everyone reading this post in 2009 which is when I'm writing it will be dead by the year 2200. So looking at the big picture, none of our relationships are permanent. The future is less important than the present because it hasn't happened yet, and indeed, anything could happen tomorrow which could change our future permanently. We all have to learn to live with the transitory nature of our existence and the best way of doing that is stay focused in the present. So be happy for what you have NOW. The past and the future can take care of themselves.

Regarding the reader's final question, presumably he worried about whether one should be allowed to have sex with other guys when one is in a relationship. If he was ultra-traditional then he might think that one should only have sex when one is in a relationship, in which case the only person that one has sex with is one's boyfriend. However he was worried that it might have been a mistake to mix his first gay sex with his first gay relationship, so clearly he thinks that when one doesn't have a boyfriend then it's OK to find other guys for sex. Indeed, that's what he did because he wasn't in a relationship with his boyfriend when he first had sex with him.

All long time readers of this blog will know that I'm not keen on monogamous relationships, although I accept that every couple needs to make up their own mind on this issue. For me, the most important thing in a gay relationship is what commitments the guys in the relationship make to each other. I drafted my thoughts on what those commitments should be over a year ago, and I still think that my list is pretty good.

However one thing that I haven't said before is that I hate had the term "open relationship". The problem with the term is that it's describing the relationship in terms of the fact that there's not a monogamous sexual commitment between people in the relationship, with the result that one focuses on the sex. As I've said before, all the positive, caring, loving commitments are so much more important, but by describing a relationship as "open" it's as though the sex is the only important issue and the other details are irrelevant.

So to answer the reader's final question, my view is that his boyfriend is correct. It's also my experience that lots of gay guys start off with traditional views about sex and monogamous relationships, but then as time goes by many guys move more in line with my way of thinking as they gain experience. Given that he's already had the extraordinary courage to come out to his Asian parents, I wouldn't be surprised if eventually this reader turns out to be just such a guy!

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these subjects?

Update 11-May-2009: Unfortunately I didn't have time to incorporate a recent email from the reader into the posting yesterday, but a couple of days ago he sent me the following:

Hi GB,

How are you? Guess my email will be posted on your website soon, so I think it might be helpful if I give you some updates on my side.

Past one month has been awesome experience with my bf. We love each other deeply. He told me that he has never been so close with anyone after his ex broke his heart one and half years ago.

In fact he is actually looking for job in my country. He told me that he always wanted to work in Asia for a few years and I become another reason for him to pursue that. I am quite surprised but also really happy for that. Even though chances are SLIM given the current condition in my country, I am already appreciative of his move. I will just fully enjoy the last two months with him. In the end, no matter what the outcome of this relationship will be, I hope I have healed his broken heart and restored his confidence for pursuing long term relationship in the future. That's the least I can do for this great man!

Also thanks to this relationship I have become more confident and came out to more friends. They are very receptive and really happy for me. Love gives me confidence =)

Thank you so much for your email! I hope my story can encourage those who are afraid to love to follow their hearts and treasure every minute of their lives.

ANYWAY I guess I have a new question. If he cannot come with me, how could I slowly pull myself from this when I stay alone in my country (since I have fallen in love deeply). I know my bf may easily move on as he separates sex from love and can quickly divert his grief through sex with other people. But this is just not the way I want to follow. Any suggestion?

It's not easy to answer his new question. The Buddhist ideas that I mentioned above in connection with his original email should be some help. Apart from that, the best way to move on may be to find a new romantic interest, after an appropriate period of grieving for the relationship with his current boyfriend. His recent emails shows that his current relationship has helped him grow enormously as a confident out gay man, so there should be no regrets. Indeed, given his proven capacity to love, if his current relationship comes to an end there's no doubt in my mind that he'll make a wonderful boyfriend for some lucky guy :-).


Anonymous said...

Sex is natural, however you do it. If anything it's more natural than forming a relationship, but that's not to put down relationships at all.

I would say that as long as you have your eyes open going in and you know what you want then follow your heart.

Will said...

My feeling is that, of course he should keep the relationship going if he and his new boyfriend are working well together. If every gay man said he wouldn't become somebody's boyfriend because he was going to college in the fall out of state; or he was going back to his home country; or--whatever, then he'd never have any romance or sex in his life.

Putting a life on complete hold like that is silly--and hurtful. Whether they break up this week or in three months, it will be an emotional wrench, so why not have something lovely to remember rather than three months of misery?

Was Once said...

I am so happy you address "open relationships." I totally agree, and the importance of trust and knowledge of where your partner's heart(and yours) really lies at the core of any good substantial relationship.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with comment from Was Once. Also really liked this bit "So I'd say take all the opportunities you can for love, relationships, friendships, however short a time they might last for. Without doubt, life is much more fulfilling that way :-)"

I really like your blog but I really enjoyed reading your response to this email patyly because I found it resonated with some of my own views.

Unknown said...

There cannot be some pain in love. They go hand in hand. You cannot have the one without the other. As terrible as the prospect is, that is the reality. But to experience one is to experience the other as well.

Enjoy all aspects of it, for it is the whole that feeds us.

Phunk Factor said...

I really liked ur advice! It's really nice tht u do ur best to help ppl!!

N i agree to ur opinion about 'open' relations...very nicely put into words!