Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The cop out

Just over a week ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I've been reading your blog and came across your advice section. I also note some of your stories reflect some of mine. So I thought I might ask you for some advice.

I'm a 23 year old guy, not the best looking in the world but not ugly. I go to the gym regularly (to work out, not pick up! lol) and I'm academic and have what most would consider good prospects ahead of me. I don't mean to sound like I love myself, haha, just setting the context.

I've not long been out. Or I should say I'm still not! I have a close bunch of gay friends who I hang out with, and these are separate to my university friends. My family don't know, but that's a whole story in itself. I still go out on the scene occasionally, and I'm comfortable with it completely. I'm not constantly looking over my shoulder and I don't always care who sees me.

So I'm 23 now, which to most readers might seem young, but I've know I'm gay since I was 14, hence it's been quite a while now. My first encounter with a guy was when I was 16, and the next, which was a proper encounter, was at 18, so I've been at it for some time now. lol.

I need some advice...

This might sound pathetic, but in all my experience with guys, I find I never have trouble picking up, I just have trouble holding on to them! Several times now I've met guys who I've got on great with, and after a handful of dates, maybe a month or two of 'hanging out', they disappear! I always get the "it's not you, it's me" line and I'm finding it hard to believe now. How is it that every guy is wrong, and I'm perfect? It's just not possible, so I need to know what I'm doing wrong.

I need to give you some perspective, so I'll tell you about my most recent experience...

I met a guy one night when I was out in Soho. A policeman on duty, let's call him Sid for the sake of the story. I walked past Sid and his partner in their police van with my friends, and whispered that the policeman in the van was beautiful, but clearly straight. One of my friends, being a loud American, decided to announce my confession at the top of his lungs. So we went into the bar opposite to save me from my embarrassment, and when we came out, Sid and his partner were watching us, smiling. They hailed us over, and needless to say my American friend was there in seconds, telling Sid that I was interested. He laughed, and when I walked over I thought he could be nothing but straight. He was also very shy, which was extremely cute, and when we were left alone to talk for a minute his cheeks were red which was also very cute. But that was it. I, surprisingly confidently, asked for his number but he said he couldn't give it to me. Straight, for sure! So I said my goodbyes and took my friends and walked off.

We had just turned the corner at the bottom of the street, and arrived into the main busy stretch in Soho, when we heard a siren getting close. I turned around and saw a police van, lights and siren on, and the driver was hailing me to the side of the road. Bollocks, I pissed him off, I think and go to find out. Everyone in the street is watching at this point, and when I get to the van's window, Sid's partner explains that Sid is not allowed to give out his numbers while on duty. But there is nothing to stop Sid's partner from giving me the Sid's number! So he did, and Sid gave me a wink.

God I was so happy that night, I thought that was such a sweet, romantic move. Amazing. Lovely, beautiful guy, I thought. We spoke later that evening, and he came to see me while he was working the next evening. He told me he was going up north on holiday for two weeks, and that we should go on a date when he gets back. I agreed.

For the two weeks Sid was away, he called me every day, and I would text him probably just as much as he did! It seemed a bit odd to me, as we didn't really have much to say to each other, but it was nice. So the two weeks pass, and on Friday, we agree to go out the next evening.

Saturday afternoon comes and I haven't heard from Sid. I'm out with my friends at a bbq, and they all know that tonight is finally the night! Exciting. I text him to ask what the plan is, and two hours later still no reply. So I decide to call. I hear two rings, and I'm diverted! I try again. Same. And now I know something is wrong. I text again, saying I'm worried about him, and want to know he's ok, and he sends me back a message saying he's fine, and he's sorry. End of!

Two weeks of not hearing from him, despite texting and trying to call every now and then (much more than I should have done), I grew a little depressed. What on earth happened? That was all I wanted to know, and he would not answer no matter how much I asked!

After two weeks I grew frustrated and sent him a message saying that I hate how things turned out, and I want him never to get in touch again. Honestly, I was a little rude in it and told him he was not a man, but just a boy. So he replied, with a really obscene message, and I leave it at that. That evening he texts saying sorry, and that he's an idiot, and that I am a great guy. So I call him and he answers! He tells me the reason he went quiet is because us talking everyday was too intense for him and he didn't know how to handle it. Things were moving too fast for him. I was stunned during this conversation and said absolutely nothing. He didn't want to know how I felt, and wanted to talk about him and his feelings. I wish I'd told him I felt the same, and reminded him that I only ever called him twice in those two weeks. Anyway...

We tried being friends for the next couple of weeks, but he ignored me lots when I would text him, and finally I lost it. I told him how I felt, and how he never took into consideration how I felt when I was deserted without explanation. Nor did he take into account that I was crushed afterwards. I told him he should have and he seemed surprised at how I felt! Like he thought I was actually fine after it all happened.

It stopped there. I know not of him now.

I'm aware my email is dragging, but I just want some help. All my 'relationships' with guys end the same way. I always end up being ditched, or I just don't hear from them again. The only way this is different is that we never properly had a date, nor did we have sex.

I don't understand and it's getting me down. I've become horribly pessimistic about being gay and having a boyfriend, and I tell myself that I need to get used to being alone for the rest of my life. I'm 23 years old and should not think like this but I'm hurting and people have noticed how negative I've become about everything. I want nothing more than a guy to share my happiest moments with. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for reading such a long and intense email.



When I first read the email, I was impressed that the reader had been able to get the personal phone number of an on-duty policeman. It's a pity that he didn't meet up with Sid for a date, and it was certainly inconsiderate of Sid just to avoid contact with the reader instead of cancelling their planned meeting with a txt msg or phone call. However, my experience is very much that younger guys can be quite fickle like that, so the reader shouldn't get too upset about what happened.

Indeed, young gay guys can often have quite a lot going through their minds. On top of all the standard dating dilemmas that straight guys have, there are all the gay issues too. "Am I really gay, or am I just going through a phase?", or perhaps "I don't want my friends to know yet that I'm dating another guy", and so on. So I think it's quite normal that the reader hasn't had a long-term relationship yet. Until the young guys that the reader has been dating become more mature and start knowing their own minds better, they'll often change their mind about things, just like Sid did. My guess is that for some reason, perhaps because this reader is at a similar stage, he's particularly attracted to guys who're not yet sure about things in their own minds and so is particularly susceptible to receiving the kind of behaviour that he's been experiencing. I know many gay couples, but I only know of one gay couple that have been together since they were in their early twenties. So although there are guys that are lucky enough to find their long-term boyfriends that young, I don't think there are very many of them.

However, reading the email carefully, one thing strikes me about this reader namely that he's obviously quite an intense guy. For example, someone who says that they're "horribly pessimistic" about ever finding a boyfriend is surely overreacting given that they're only 23 years old. The reader also describes his email as "long and intense". So I think that the reader needs to learn to be less intense, or in other words to be cool, and to take things much more slowly.

With Sid, it sounds like they were both responsible for the over intense communication while Sid was on holiday up north. Even if it was Sid who was doing most of the calling, the reader was no doubt encouraging him to keep up the frequent communication. It would have been much better if the reader had played it cool and avoided the ridiculous situation where two guys who don't really know each other are keeping in contact every day. The reader describes it as 'nice', but I'd call it crazy.

So it sounds to me as though the reader needs to play by some kind of dating rules. Ex-boyfriend P always used to tell me that there were rules such as not contacting a guy for three days after a date, even if one had had a really good time and really liked the other guy. I've blogged about this before, with the conclusion that dating rules like that are designed for guys who're inherently uncool, to try and make them seem cool! But until this reader can learn how to be cool naturally, I think that he needs to follow these kind of dating rules to avoid taking things too quickly and to avoid seeming too intense.

So how does he learn these rules? One gay reader wrote to me a few months ago to say that his straight friends swore by a book called The Game. However, that book is all about the pickup, and this reader doesn't have a problem in that area. So a book like The Rules is probably more appropriate for this reader :-).

Does anyone else have any ideas for him?


John F said...

First, let me say that the reader's friend's nationality is irrelevant. I wish he hadn't felt it appropriate to mention that he was a "loud American" and "needless to say" did something obnoxious. This interlude, however humourous the intent, was really uncalled for.

Anyway, your reader needs to RELAX. Really. If he doesn't, he'll explode and self-destruct in three years' time. Taking a step back from the whole thing sometimes (and not appearing too desperate) is not always a bad thing - indeed, in the case with the cop, it could actually be a good thing.

As regards Sid, ultimately the cop's behaviour seemed very childish and labelled him as not the kind of person whom your reader would want to be involved with long-term. There's plenty more which can be said about this but it would be a waste of time.

To the reader: just take a deep breath and calm down. Relax. Become comfortable in your own skin and being with yourself. You're obviously a gifted man with lots to share. Once you quit appearing so desperate to find someone, the men will flock into your arms. I promise you.

Kail said...

This is going to sound bad but all this reader needs is time. We've all been there. Like GB said guys under 25 have SO many issues to sort out still. The reader's whole life's still infront of him. Good luck though.

(Btw, I'm only 28 but you grow up so much in your twenties...)

VegasLane said...

I have been a steady reader of your blog for over six months and have never left a comment. Now I feel compelled to respond as I am confident that my experience in the rejection between gay young men is an epidemic. Perhaps my words can offer both solace and some real world advice in terms of understanding human nature.

I owned a high volume gay bar in a major college town for over 12 years. With 22 college campus in the metro area, we served thousands of people each week. And, I made it my business to know the names of virtually every regular customer. With the gift of being able to call people by their first name as they entered the bar, many sought me out for advice and someone to talk to about personal matters. Many asked to come into the office so they could talk privately. The story your reader tells has been repeated thousands of times, with minor twists and turns. I am convinced that for gay men, the thrill of the chase induces an emotional rush almost as strong as orgasm. Although most guys go through with the initial hook-up, the guy being pursed may want another date or he may think their suitor is boyfriend material. Here is where things tend to derail most of the time.

Long term bar patrons tell me that they become "invisible" to most guys they have had sex with after the first encounter. The very next night they cross paths with their sex partner of less than 24 hours and they may even attempt to exchange a greeting and are rebuffed or totally ignored.

Now, in the case of your 23 year old reader, he never got the first date. Given the fact that his prospective partner was a policeman and another policeman was a witness to setting all of this up, I would guess that in the light of day, common sense prevailed. Policemen have chosen a lifelong career path. And most probably "Sid" was not willing to risk what he had worked so long to achieve.

Cont'd - next post.....

VegasLane said...

Part 2 - cont'd..

Many "straight" guys explore their gay side through the chase and then don't go through with the date or sex. This can happen many times before they are mentally able to cross that barrier. I have considerable personal experience in that matter on many levels. I used to pick-up college guys on a campus a few blocks from my house. While the vast majority of the time sex was involved, there was an occasional guy who just wanted to talk once we got back to my house. I always obliged as I considered each a learning experience. Also, I feel that there is nothing more rewarding than providing emotional comfort to someone who just wants to talk, even if they are a stranger.

A regular dancer at my bar who was "straight", was happy to have my company, be taken out on the town, even travel with me on many trips. He lived in another city and stayed at my house while he danced at many bars on weekends. For over two years this went on without any sex. My instincts told me that barrier would be broken, eventually. I never once attempted to engage him in sex. He eventually made the move on me following the break-up with his girlfriend. We were in my pool one night, both stone cold sober and he suddenly said that he could not deny his feelings anymore. This began a long sexual affair that lasted until I sold the bar and moved away. Few guys would be that patient I realize, but he was worth the wait.

Now, the big question remains of how to find a boyfriend. No doubt there are as many opinions on this subject as there are people in this world. However, here is what I told most of my bar patrons that were at their wits end on this subject. In the game of life, the best friendships, partnerships and long term relationships happen by chance meeting. You are in the grocery store, mall, wherever and you exchange glances with someone and you get a positive response which comes in the form of direct eye contact (gaydar), a nod, a smile and the very best indicator, a look back over the shoulder as you pass by. How many people have the confidence to turn on their heal and go back to talk? One in 10,000, if that? Those are missed opportunities that cannot be recreated. Call them what you will, but that is the spark of intuitive human connection that is real and must be acted upon. Now certainly, both parties have to have felt the same spark, which is not always the case. But if you recognize it and you feel the same way and you are available, then you should act. The worst thing that can happen is the other person says no. On the other hand, you may have just passed your life partner.

VegasLane said...

Part 3 - cont'd...

I know from personal experience and from talking with many astute men, this is the way real connections are made. Yes, the first few times will send an adrenaline rush through your system and send your heart racing. You will feel the urge to bolt and run. Each time you repeat the process you will become more desensitized and eventually you will become almost comfortable with it. But the results will ultimately result in some great new friendships or something even better.

Many years ago, I owned a medical claims billing operation which required a large copy machine like you would see in Kinkos. I made the machine available to all of the tenants in the office building. One Saturday morning I heard the machine running but I could tell it was not picking up any paper. I went into the copy room and found an Adonis of a man my age needing assistance. My gaydar is 99% accurate and I mustered the courage to ask him if he wanted some lunch as I was just about to head out. He said yes. That was one of the best moves of my life. We were together for nearly 7 years.

So I would say to your reader that he needs to experiment and find what works for him. If he really wants a boyfriend, he won't find him in a bar and probably not online either. People in bars are looking for one night stands. Online, it is virtually impossible to feel that intuitive spark I referenced earlier. The game of life happens in real time person-to-person.

One only needs to look at sites like Manhunt, DudesNude or Adam4Adam to see how many incredible hotties are home alone on weekend nights. The trouble is, they don't know how to play the game called life.

John F said...


Absolutely flawless.

Preston said...

I just want to ask, on the subject of being intense, why it's a bad thing? For a guy to know that another guy is really into him ... surely that's a good thing?

I for one am new to these dating rules, but if after a date with a guy he does not bother to text me for several days, I will probably assume he is not interested. It simply would not make a good impression on me!

Going by GB's comments and those above, it seems to me that the reader's problems stem simply from a lack of experience. And yes, he does need to relax, but at 23 and being fresh on the scene, I think he needs to be cut some slack and learn from his past mistakes, and those yet to come.

benniboi said...

23 is still very young. Being a bit full-on is understandable. By time and experience (usually bad time and experience), you will realise, humans are pathetic. The more you not care, the more they want you.

Sir Wobin said...

Some people have to kiss a lot of frogs to find their prince. Your kiss will only transform the ones that are right for you. Let the frogs be and don't hate 'em.

You're 23. That's lots of time to find yourself a prince or two. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Way too intense! Relax and take things for what they are. Don't put too much stock in anything until a real, rather than imagined, relationship grows. Most people are clumsy, awkward or rude when it comes to communication (particularly when txting). Wait until you've dated someone for 3-6 months before assuming anything.

Anonymous said...

@John F - There is such a thing as spoiling a joke by being too PC! Ever considered the reader may be from, the US too? Even if not, just laugh and let it be.

@ Reader... Sounds like a lucky escape. You're young and new to this, so you will 'fall in love' with lots of guys you meet. You need to learn to differentiate lust from love, and sift through the trash to find your man. It's a long process of sifting and you'll find an awful lot of trash, but you sound like someone who'll get the prince they deserve. Hang in there and just have LOTS of fun for now. And to hell with him, most policemen have seen too much wrong in their lives to have a stable mind.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. We have all been there and the other posts are right when they say that creating relationships stage is easier with guys in their mid-twenties upwards. That's really just allowing gay guys some time to work things out on a whole range of things. Having said that, I got into a relationship a few years back in my early twenties and we're still going so rare as it may be (as GB points out), it happens. Just based on what you said, it is hard to work out why you seem to have trouble progressing from the pick-up to starting something. Your writing indicates that you're in touch with your feelings and that's an important element in progressing things. I think it is fair to say that standard rules of the game don't always apply and like the comment about only texting three days later, it has to be tailored for the two of you. In your situation, I guess you felt that both of you were enjoying the daily comm while Sid was away and as it turns out Sid wasn't. It will be helpful for you to clue up with regards to people's reactions, body language, etc. You have to be able tor ead your and work out what makes him tick. Does he want you to keep whispering sweet things in his ear or he does just like it when you hold his hand every so often. Last words, you're too young and it is too early in the game for you to give up. Take a chill pill, pay heed to what VegasLane said about random encounters being some of the best ones...and things will work out!!

klim said...

I read three comments made by VegasLane and had to say they made my day / weekend for the least. Being labeled by my friends as a very keen individual (the nice version of desperate gay guy in mid-twenties), I have been searching a relationship in bars (Soho, Shoreditch you name it), web portals(manhunt, gayromeo, etc) and recently IPhone (Grindr) with no success in the last four years in London. Sometimes I blamed the fast pace of the city that no one wants to settle down or slow down. So now I've shifted my attention to having 'fun' instead given how everyone is only looking for sex with little incentive of moving to next level and spending more time in the gym. At the same time, I have planned to attend more gay lesbian drinks organized by school and work/professional circle and am even considering of doing an MBA in M7 in US to find my future "husband". Anyway, I guess that's how life usually is, I am just a bit unlucky in relationships...

VegasLane said...

Klim, from your words and your obvious intellect, it sounds as though the concept of letting a chance meeting happen on the fly makes sense to you. Great! I wish you all good things in life. Just remember that love and life connections come when we least expect them, usually when we are not looking for them. And, that is exactly why being out and about (no pun intended) can put you into the path of destiny.

Now that I have had a few days to reflect on this post, what I wrote and the comments posted, I have something more to add.

People found each other, including gay men, long before the internet, video chat and even the telephone. Gay relationships are chronicled even before the days of the Roman Empire.

Allowing yourself to become a slave to technology only dampens down your social skills. Becoming comfortable in your own skin comes easily for some and is difficult for most. As a student of psychology, I know there are many factors which influence self esteem beginning with the level of positive reinforcement people receive from their parents. Unfortuanatly, this is severely lacking in today's society.

I cannot begin to tell you how many stellar men I have met over the course of my life who look in the mirror and see someone who is less than ordinary. On the occasions that I have been able to develop a dialog to the level that I could ask about their childhood and their relationship with their parents, it was most often distant, cold and sterile to levels of hostility once the parents realized they were gay.

In my earlier post I mentioned the dancers in my bar. They all had one thing in common, they were all looking for attention and most suffered from low self esteem.

What few people understand is that living in a positive environment absolutely affects brain chemistry which is the key to our sense of well being. People who are constantly exposed to loneliness, rejection and negativity are prone to be withdrawn, suffer from depression and varying degrees of social anxiety. Without intervention, they go through life in an ever downward spiral. That said, if you are living a life where you are exposed to any of these factors, abuse by your parents, siblings, co-workers or extended family, then you must do whatever you can to remove yourself from exposure to this negativity. If this means moving to another city and starting a new life, then you must develop a plan to make this happen.

Those who live their lives without the use of street drugs can't understand why people try and get hooked on this garbage. They are actually self medicating, especially with the use of cocaine. The drug is a substitute for anti-depressant drugs. Then as the addiction deepens, they turn to alcohol or downers so they can sleep. Anyone living like this needs qualified medical intervention.

While we can't change the past, as adults, we can certainly alter the future by doing everything we can to live positive balanced lives. Those who feel isolated must make concerted efforts to blend into society. Then amazing things can happen. Gyms are great places to start new social interactions. Timing your visits so that you are exposed to lots of people is something you can work up to if you are not comfortable with large groups of people. Striking up conversations and going to get something to eat or drink afterward is a great way to kindle new friendships.

cont'd next post.....

VegasLane said...

Part 2 - cont'd..

While people are replacing social interaction with social networks on the internet, they feel even more isolated. And therein the catalyst for isolation, maldevelopment and loss of social skills with dependence on wired connections sets in. Have you noticed how many kids can't sit through a movie without constant texting?

The key to all of this is balance. Sure, you can participate in social networks, but your life can't revolve around it. You can go to bars, but not five or six nights a week.

Healthy environments where people with balance thrive are your best bets to engaging yourself with people who are living life. If you think about it, the vast majority of those people are looking for something. That can be a great new friend, a lover, an activity partner or just someone to hang with at night, which can lead to more.

For anyone who is reading this and thinking, "that's just not me or I could never do that" please consider this. You have conditioned yourself to this way of thinking. And, it didn't happen overnight. Whatever it is you want in life, it is necessary to move out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals. If you are convinced that you are helpless to make this happen, then I suggest you seek counseling. In this regard, I recommend that you begin with talk therapy, perhaps with a psychologist before you seek anti-depressant therapy. While anti-depressant drugs certainly are necessary for those who are acutely depressed or having suicidal thoughts, talk therapy can work wonders. Take it from someone who knows. I have experience both routes.

If you are stuck in a rut, you are the only one who can change your life. And it can happen in baby steps as your comfort level permits. Only the self aware and the willing can make a decisive change in their future happiness and well being.

Anonymous said...

To John F: So first, you take a hit to your strong, sense of national pride (there's nothing wrong with having a strong sense of national pride btw), and then you comment on how inappropriate and uncalled for it was... then you proceed on to tell GB's reader to relax? I mean no offence, but I respectfully have to ask, "Do you see the irony?"

To everyone: There is a marvelous book for gay men of all ages. It's called The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs, PhD(he's a gay psychologist). It's about gay relationships and is written in a refreshing style of an open dialogue to gay men. If you plan on loving or understanding a gay man at any point in your life, that book will do wonders for you.

To your e-mailer: "What others have said." Boys can be turds. Being very close in age to you, I understand how difficult it is and how much your heart leaps when you find a potential connection. Part of the issue of younger guys not knowing how to act lies in a lack of a guidebook, and of course, fear. Straight kids have role models to the left and right, while gays are not so lucky to see strong older gay couples who have stood the test of time and can teach about it.

Anyway, to Mr. Long and intense e-mail, and for the rest of us: best of luck =)