Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Email from a guy who's worried about his sexual history

Last week, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I really enjoy reading your blog (I stumbled upon it a couple of years ago) and I thought I'd ask for some advice.

I am 23 year old gay guy in a new town in my first proper job. I am (for the first time really) serious about starting a relationship. Two years ago I came within a hair's breadth of having a nervous breakdown and am finally off the medication that helped me recover.

The thing is: I was a little promiscuous in uni (since I have been out I've slept with 18 guys), and am a little embarrassed by my past conduct. I feel that the guys I see myself dating will be put off by this. I am particularly embarrassed as I had some safe sex slip ups (in fact I had a mini affair with someone where we didn't use condoms - at the time I really enjoyed the risk). I was lucky and didn't catch anything nasty, but am worried about how the people I want to date will judge me.

See, I want to date nice, successful, guys (because I did used to be one), and I feel they'll judge me negatively when they hear of my past. Especially with respect to the slip ups. The thing is, I really enjoyed it. I got to have fun with all sorts of guys (I have quite broad tastes in men, and it was enjoyable to have fun with them), and to know what I enjoyed (and what I didn't).

The thing I want to ask is how best to broach this subject with any beaus in future? I understand that I must take responsibility for my previous actions, and that I'll be judged on them; but I'm just terribly worried that I'll not have what I want now that I have a clearer idea of what I look for in a guy (beyond his physical attributes).

All the best.

Having read this email a few times, I think one of the important facts is that this reader almost had a nervous breakdown. It's good that he recovered, but it must mean that he's prone to worrying too much, in this case about all the sex that he had when he was a bit younger. Most of us have a sexual history of some sort and indeed, the older a potential boyfriend is, the more of a past he's likely to have. All sensible guys know that, so there's no reason to hide it. The important thing is to relax, and simply be honest about it when the subject comes up, because honesty and trust are fundamental to any relationship.

In fact, it's easy to put a positive spin on this reader's past. It's quite normal for younger guys to be a bit wild. That's why there are expressions like "Sowing one's wild oats". So some guys might think that another guy is a bit boring if they haven't done some things that they regret in their past. The good thing is that the reader didn't catch anything nasty from his recklessness, and so with that experience behind him, he's learned a bit about life and has matured as a result :-).

Another thought is that a sexual history with only 18 guys doesn't strike me as that many. A few years ago when I was blogging about my encounters, I was playing around with at least one new guy a week! Perhaps that was too many, but the important thing is that I've always been honest about it with boyfriend T.

In the past, the reader must have had some self-esteem issues, to allow himself to have regular unprotected sex with another guy. My guess is that those self-esteem issues were connected with his near nervous breakdown. But he's clearly moved on since then because he's off his medication and is now ready for a serious relationship. So as I said above, he's learned from his past mistakes, which is a positive thing.

In summary, I think the reader has nothing to worry about regarding his past, which is perfectly normal. Instead, he should put all his effort into finding himself a nice boyfriend :-), and then making the relationship work when he's found one!

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?


Anonymous said...

Sowing not sewing.

GB said...

Thanks Anonymous, I've corrected my spelling mistake now! GB xxx

Nik_TheGreek said...

I agree with you. There is nothing to worry about. I think that as a young person being a bit promiscuous is expected or even beneficial. The experience gained is very important. As the reader mentioned, he now knows what he wants and needs and will be able to put all these things behind.
I did the same thing. When I first came to London (a gay paradise in comparison to where I was before), I was like a child in a new toy store. I believe that everybody has to go through a stage like that to gain some perspective of what is around you.

Anonymous said...

Two things: first, one of the primary requirements for relationships is honesty. Irrespective of how you feel about it, you owe it to future bfs to be truthful. If a potential bf isn't able to accept you the way you are and the way you have been, that's their loss. Everybody has a history.

Secondly, at 23, 18 shags may seem like a lot. It isn't! It sounds like a pretty healthy number.

Anonymous said...

As a side point, it's post-Victorian str8-centric society, particulary in the HIV era, that projects the idea that having sex with multiple partners (when single!) is somehow wrong. It's not. It's a natural human urge.

yoshi said...

The only important thing is that he learned something about the experience. But I also had the same response - only 18?

Anonymous said...

Read La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. It's a story in which he can (kind of)relate and at the same time boost his self-esteem and believe tthat there is someone out there.

Andy said...

I agree with the comments....honesty is what everyone ultimately wants in a relationship- if that's not there then the relationship is doomed from the start. I recently came out and am not sexually experienced (@25) whereas my boyfriend has had a lot of experience (lol) and it kind of turns me on (lol). It doesn't bother me as he was 100% honest and forward in sharing it with me when it came up. The person is either going to accept you for who you are or not- all one can do at the end of the day is be honest in who they are and what they say. I think people that put on a mask eventually come unstuck.

Will said...

Something Andy said at the end caught my attention particularly -- that his BF's sexual experience was kind of a turn-on.

I'm very careful and always safe in my encounters, and there are a goodly number thereof, but when approaching sex with another man it is very stimulus to know he's been around the block (or several blocks), knows what he's doing and is most likely going to be highly skilled and uninhibited. All that comes with experience.

My husband once described his pre-me life as "serial monogamy". Then the stories gradually began to trickle out of all his between-relationship experiences and times when he and his "serially monogamous" boyfriends had shared a third or a couple. I loved his stories (and shared many of mine) -- he's "a real man" of the best possible kind.