Friday, March 19, 2010

Email from a gay guy with flakey gay friends

About a week and a half ago, I received another request for advice from a reader who emailed me about his first gay relationship last year. This time, he's got different issues:

Dear GB,

I recently had some unpleasant experiences when communicating with my gay male friends and I hope you can enlighten me on the situation.

First case with friend W.

Background: I did ask this guy out for a date before which he rejected cuz he said he was not recovered from being dumped from a long relationship) so we are just friends, and I am totally cool with it cuz I don't really have many gay friends to hang out with anyway (we did hang out a few times after that).

Situation: Back in February he casually asked me to watch a major blockbuster with him and I agreed. In March when the movie came out my other friends asked me to watch it with them, but I recalled I made promise to W. So I texted him to see if he still wanted to watch it with me to which he replied "sure", but we never fixed a specific timing. After a few days I realize there aren't many seats left on weekends and we have to book online fast before good seats ran out. So I left message on his facebook in the morning, which he never replied to (he was online at the time), at night I texted him again asking specific timing before the seats ran out, no reply again. Later I told him through facebook chat that if he does not get back to me I will have to book with someone else (he definitely received my message as he was online), but no reply again. Soon I realized there were only 2 front rows left, which is quite a bad place to enjoy a 3D movie, so I booked with other friends on another date.

A day later, W texted back saying that his phone had had no credits to reply (I call it bullshit lol) and asked wat's up. I told him I already booked with other friends since I didn't receive any confirmation from him and asked him to quickly book himself if he still wants to watch the movie. Later he replied "No worries, I got the tickets already", Me "wow that's a fast booking, enjoy! ;) ", W "*I bought it ages ago, lol*"

Then it suddenly struck me that he made his plan long time ago and was purposely ignoring my messages!

Second case was even worse with friend V.

Background: We met almost 2 years ago during work and were on good terms. He hinted interest in me but I rejected cuz I think he was in a relationship at the time. We remained friends and exchanged messages every now and then when I was on overseas exchange. We met up once after I got back home country late last year (just as friend).

Situation: Being a facebook junkie I always "like" or comment on my friend's pictures or status (including V's occasionally). One day he wrote on my facebook suggesting a meet up soon and I gladly reply "yes", but there was no follow up conversation on that. A few days later I checked my planner and realized I have a "pending" meet-up with him so I texted him asking if he wanted to have lunch sometimes next week. He never replied for 3 days! As a typical type A person I easily get impatient and annoyed if people don't reply to my messages or emails (especially when he suggested meeting up in the first place!) so I just went to write on his facebook "hey dude why you never reply my message regarding lunch next week?" Yeah, I know it sounds desperate but that's just my style if I don't get an answer.

Still no reply! And he could happily update his status on facebook when my message was RIGHT BELOW! I was like "fuck!" why is he ignoring me?!! Till almost A WEEK later he talked to me on MSN "hey, let's have lunch next week, I know I reply slow, haha" I was having 2 exam next week so I just replied "sorry kinda busy next week, probably next time".

At the beginning I was extremely annoyed by these 2 people as they are super flakey. But later when I complained to my straight friends they told me that I might have appeared too eager, too desperate, so they got the signal and were playing hard to get. Now I look back, indeed, I was suggesting everything and always messaging them. I would definitely appear as a desperate guy if I was dating.... BUT I AM NOT! I just treat them as normal friends and see going to movies or lunch as normal meetings. I just want to watch a movie, either with straights or gays I don't care!

I am kinda person who is usually very active in social life and very enthusiastic when treating my friends. I reply messages within minutes and always check my emails (24/7 alert on my Blackberry) , I like to make plans (always proactively suggesting meet-up with my friends) and follow them accordingly. I have no problem when dealing with straight friends. Even straight girls (who don't know I am gay) will gladly have lunch or dinner with me. And straight guys (who know I am gay) have no problem going to bars or movies with me. All my straight friends like me and most of my friends are straight.

When it comes to gay friends, it's not so smooth anymore. I didn't realize it might be because of the "sexual/relationship potential" in a gay friendship till these 2 cases happened. I always like to make things black and white, if I am interested in you I will ask you out, otherwise I will just treat you as a normal friend. And I heard there are "dating rules" in the gay world, but I don't know if I still need to follow these rules when dealing with gay friends.

I have searched all your Dear GB entries and couldn't find answers, all friends/relationship category are actually about relationship (you see, that's the problem, gays are constantly guessing, does he like me or not? can we be more than friends? While some people like me just want to make friends and enjoy our lives.....)

So GB, here are my questions:
  1. Do you think my 2 friends are flakey? Or maybe I am just too intense and expected too much in people's responding speed.
  2. Do you think I might have appeared too desperate and they got the wrong signal and might have played too hard to get in those 2 cases?
  3. If 2 is true how can I prevent similar cases from happening in the future? Do I really have to pay special attention and change my habit when communicating with gay friends (e.g. wait for 30 mins to reply when I usually reply within seconds....). I am just confused when dealing with gay friends when I am looking for mainly friendship rather than relationship/sex. (I can't say "hey dude I am not interested in you, but let's just hang out" right?)
Sorry for the long email (that's me again, always talk a lot and write a lot in communicating, which might sound eager and desperate again. Just my style, can't change it!) and I look forward to your reply.

Best regards, xoxo

Having read this reader's email, I can't help thinking that I share some of his characteristics. I also get impatient easily, and will often reply immediately to txt msgs and emails. However, unlike the reader, I don't find it necessary to treat my gay friends any differently to my straight friends.

With all types of people, whether they're friends or colleagues or strangers, I think the golden rule when you start interacting with them is to try treating them in the same way that you'd like to be treated yourself. However, beyond the initial interactions, I think it's wise to adjust one's behaviour depending on whether the other person reciprocates your attentiveness. There's a fascinating scholarly article about the evolution of cooperation which suggests that a good way to behave is to adopt a tit for tat approach. In this context it means that you start out assuming you'll get the response that you're looking for from someone, but then if they ignore you, then in return you should ignore them. But if they treat you well or stop ignoring you, then you can treat them well or stop ignoring them in return :-).

In his email, the reader mentions dating rules. Rather than following any predefined set of rules, I'd say that the only important thing is to be cool. Indeed, I've said before that I don't like dating rules, and in one sense I think they're largely designed to help inherently uncool people appear cool! However, perhaps type A guys do need some guidance in this area, so maybe this reader should keep those kind of rules in his mind.

It's also interesting that the reader perceives a difference between gay and straight friends, so I can't help wondering whether subconsciously he does see them all as potential boyfriends and sex partners, in spite of his protestations to the contrary. Talk of 'dating rules' and 'appearing too desperate' are also terms that usually apply to relationships rather than friendships. I don't think it's necessary to treat gay friends any differently to straight friends, so perhaps the reader needs to acknowledge his desires, and if he doesn't have any sexual desires for these guys then he can relax.

To answer the reader's specific questions:
  1. Are his friends flakey? By the reader's type A standards, yes, of course they're a bit flakey! But alternatively, perhaps they're just type B guys who can't be hurried. Or perhaps they're guys who find it impossible to focus on more than one thing at once, so if the reader wasn't their top priority at the time he sent his messages, then they weren't able to give him any attention.
  2. Was the reader too desperate? I wouldn't use the word desperate because that applies to relationships rather than friendships, however I would use the world 'uncool' to describe his behaviour. Such behaviour is unlikely to produce the response that the reader hoped for.
  3. How can the reader prevent similar cases from happening in the future? Just adopt tit-for-tat tactics, but above all be cool. So I think it's fine to respond immediately to txt msgs and emails, but wait a long time before following up if they don't also respond quickly. Even guys like me who usually respond immediately aren't always able to do so, after all, I do go to bed sometimes :-).
Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?


Unknown said...

GB, it's unfair to call your reader "uncool". He is "reliable" and still getting used to the fact that some guys are not upfront about what they want or don't want (and probably themselves don't really know either).

To your reader: do not take W's or V's reactions to you personally. There's nothing wrong with wanting people to be straight with you (even when they are gay, hahahah). To me, W lacked integrity and V was plain rude. But it's all about perspective. Maybe to them, that's the "normal" way to behave towards other guys and they see nothing wrong with their behaviour. Maybe to them, you ARE needy.

The question is, if you know yourself that you are really not 'desperate', are you going to change your natural behaviour just to please people who might misinterpret you as 'desperate'? Just forget about them and keep being yourself and enjoy trying to meet other new people until you find people who have more similar values to yours and won't treat you the way they did. You don't have to "play cool", just be yourself.

By the way, people HAVE said to me "hey dude I am not interested in you, but let's just hang out" and sometimes it has not worked out but sometimes it has (as friendship). Everything is possible.

Good luck and have fun
Adil x

Gauss Jordan said...

Interesting. As a recently-out type-A guy, I actually am wondering about the same thing. I'm looking for two things:
1. gay friends
2. a boyfriend

I'm not yet sure how to separate the search for these two things (or if I need to at all). I have precious few single gay friends around the US. In town, I have single gay "acquaintances" at best.

I get the feeling that I'm doing the same thing that this reader's doing. Hrm. tit for tat...

somethingeveryday said...

Personally I'm the awful type-a who is ridiculous when it comes to these situations. I tend to drive people away.

roobs said...

personally, reading this guy's letter was pretty scary. maybe he should try putting himself in his friend's shoes and trying to imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end of various msgs bombarded from 3 different mediums (text, fb chat, fb msg) etc..

My suggestion - don't take it too personally, sometimes its a technical fault and the msg doesn't get through. Having said that, don't be a coward and MAKE A PHONE CALL. I realized the reader didn't make an effort to make a call at all. Texts/emails can be too impersonal and ineffective sometimes.

The Cool Thesis Guy said...

OMG - I totally agree with you flakey gay men "keeping their options open until Kingdom come". My friends (if I can even call them that anymore) asked me "whatsup" in the morning, then say "I'm game for dinner", and that "I'll give you a call for dinner", and then stops answering phones or text messages until 11pm when all of a sudden "I'm too tired". Sick of flakes. I know I'm in the minority, but seriously, I rather have no friends than so-called friends that take you for granted like that. I have to remind myself again and again, that I'm being treated that way cause "they're not really into me" (whether as a romantic partner or as a friend),