Monday, March 05, 2012

Email from a guy whose boyfriend is going to work abroad

It's confession time. I've been getting seriously behind with answering the emails that people send me asking for advice. It was 16th September last year when the email below arrived in my inbox, so it's been in the queue in this blog's right-hand side-bar for almost 6 months. For most of these "Dear GB" emails, a response which is 6 months late is pretty useless :-(.

A few months ago, the growing realisation that it was taking me too long to post responses to these "Dear GB" emails made me start replying to them in a different way. Instead of short responses telling people that they were in the queue, I started giving people some of my thoughts immediately, together with the option to join the queue and wait for a full posting. This new approach seems to have been working well, and to date I must have answered about a dozen emails in that way :-). The two emails which are currently in the "Dear GB" queue are ones that got that kind of response, with the readers who sent those two emails opting to join the queue.

Anyway, back to the reader who sent me the email last September. He had some big dilemmas about his relationship. For reasons which I'll explain later, I know how things turned out, but his original email was as follows:

Dear GB,

I apologise if this email is disjointed – I have a lot of different angles on this but I'll try and keep it concise.

I'm 21 and I'm in my first long-term relationship. We have only been together for about 16 months but they have given me the happiest times of my life. Though I've had deep feelings for someone before and have had purely sexual "relationships", this is essentially my first love. In about a year my boyfriend wants to leave to teach in Japan (for at least a year). He says he isn't sure yet what we should do about our relationship at that point, and because of this he doesn't like thinking or talking about it. This has given me reason to do some serious re-evaluating about where we stand, and what I want. It genuinely feels like I'm being split down two paths, and if I don't pick one my head will be seriously messed up. But how do I pick the right choice for me? I can basically boil it down to the common 2 opposing stances:

  1. I truly love my boyfriend, and it's reciprocated. If I broke his heart it would be the most cruel and horrible thing I've ever done, and it would probably take me a long time to recover from it too, whether it would permanently affect how I viewed relationships, I don't know. But he is – and I could honestly say this even if we weren't together – the nicest person I know. This could well be the naivety, and I am well aware of how unlikely it is that a first love is the one, but we talk about the future realistically, we know things might not work out but we hope for the best, because we make each other truly happy, and to stay together in the long-long-term is right now the ideal aim. Granted we can also make each other feel like crap, but I reckon that's always the flip-side of being that close to someone, and the one time we were faced with breaking up it felt like the mother of all mistakes, and we fixed things up the next day. I don't know if this is the "first relationship" aspect talking, and am aware I could have severely impaired judgement, but this guy is the most important person in my life.

    Having said all that:

  2. I ache for other men, but I try to rein my urges. The trouble is – I really don't want this to come across as big-headed – guys come on to me a lot. I used to be a bit of a twink but I've recently built myself up a fair bit and the combination really hasn't been conducive to monogamy. Gay clubs are an absolute minefield, and drink just fuels my lust. On the rare night out I just can't help but cruise and enjoy being cruised. And on top of that, I can't seem to have gay friends who don't try to make a move. Last week my hairdresser propositioned me; my boyfriend's bisexual housemate is like a hungry dog – a real hazard during house parties; my supervisor where I worked was well into sexual harassment territory, and the most beautiful Portuguese boy I met on a night out is determined to visit Ireland in two weeks to consummate months of heavy flirting. It is taking the core of my being to turn him down, but I still haven't ruled it out. He is pretty much the epitome of everything I find physically attractive in a guy, the ultimate temptation for my lust. I don't want to look back on years and think, "I should have gone for it, I should have whored myself around and lived the pure freedom of it all."
I've already had a few slip-ups, but I can't have the best of both worlds, can I? I know I'd hate it if I found out he had cheated, so an open relationship is not for me, not to mention the boyfriend would hate the idea. But taking approach 3. and becoming a serial adulterer behind his back shouldn't really be a viable option, and would most likely devolve to 2., but I have considered it ...

I know I'm young and lacking in this kind of knowledge, but I'm trying my best to look ahead and get even the vaguest picture of what I will want in the future, but by nature this is pretty much impossible, I guess I can only gain wisdom through experience. Maybe I need to make these mistakes myself in order to learn from them? Maybe I need to literally and/or figuratively grow up..? The thing is, when my boyfriend leaves to Japan I'm going to be forced to make a decision, I won't be able to put it off any longer. It's not tricky to stay faithful when he's around, but a year or more apart?? And especially while our relationship is still relatively young, it would really be the catalyst for me searching for greener gay pastures to have sex in. It seems like I'm keeping one hand firmly on my boyfriend while the other grabs at other men... and I'm going to have to choose what I want before I end up tearing my relationship or myself apart.

Sorry this is so lengthy, I tried to cut it down but probably just edited in mistakes. I normally just keep this kind of stuff in a pseudonymous blog to vent and help me process the conflicting thoughts, mainly concerning the long-distance prospect. If I'm lucky I may get some semblance of sensible resolution before this whole thing ends up collapsing around me. Most of this message was actually just going to get posted there in some form or other, but after reading a lot of your blog and the existing posts I thought I would seek your advice, as you seem to have strong views on monogamy and a lot of insight on this kind of thing. I really don't know how to proceed, part of me thinks the relationship now has an expiry date, and the boyfriend really doesn't like me bringing it up. I hope you don't mind me emailing, and of course you're very busy so I completely understand if you can't respond. Thanks for reading this anyway, your blog is the only one I regularly return to, it is genuinely the most interesting I've read on here :)

Thanks again,

I thought that this reader had a great writing style, which was very engaging. I immediately sent a reply which contained the following paragraph, partly because I thought that the questions I was asking might help lead him towards a resolution:

The first thing that I thought was, if your relationship is going so well, why is your boyfriend making plans to live apart from you? Is it his way of trying to end the relationship? It might be interesting to see what his reaction is if you can find a plausible way of telling him that you're thinking of spending a year or two in Japan as well, so that you can be with him. You don't mention what his ideas are for the future of your relationship, given that it's his idea to move away from you. That's an important part of the puzzle. Also, even if you somehow keep the relationship going while he is away, I think that a break-up may be inevitable if he then returns to Ireland. Travel broadens the mind, so unless you have similar experiences, you're liable to seem parochial to him on his return. The best course of action may be an amicable trial separation, starting very soon, with the idea of trying to get back together once he returns from Japan. That would then leave you free for a bit of whoring LOL!

Later the same day I got his response:

Thank you for the quick reply, it must be some work having people send emails whining to you every day :] I really appreciate you taking the time to read it. I'll try and answer your questions as succinctly as possible (and I will undoubtedly fail :)

In my attempt to keep my first email relatively brief I seem to have left out important points! Sorry about that. To clarify: We are at uni together in the UK which is where he's from, but I live in Ireland so we spend a bit of time apart during the holidays. During term we rarely go more than a day apart, and our friend group there is relatively merged at this stage. But this isn't a big factor when I look at our relationship, I know if we broke up we could keep friends on both sides. It may not be healthy that we are that close – location wise – and have been since early in our relationship? Thinking about it, it seems we don't really have a balance: we are either spending the majority of nights together at one of our places, or we are in different countries for a month every holiday, there's no interim. At first it was difficult when we were apart, but it has been easier, though I really do look forward to seeing him. Though I know I love him, what I can't quite figure out is how much of this longing is just me being... well, horny... I find I miss him a lot more when I'm craving sex!

With regards to the year abroad, we had actually discussed me going with him, but it was not too seriously considered, and in all honesty it's not something I would enjoy. Though I haven't a clue what I want to do with my life, I know spending a year in Japan is not on my list. But it is something he has always wanted to do, long before he met me. I understand that he doesn't want to compromise his long-term goals, and I respect that. He is only 20 and I'm shortly turning 22 so in some respects I get that it wouldn't be right for me to tie him down or give him an ultimatum. But he knows I'm not thrilled about the prospect. As I said, he doesn't like talking about it. The most recent time I broached the subject was via text, and his reply went like this:
Atm I think we should stay together but I'd be lying if I said my mind hasn't been going back and forth about this which is why I try not to think about it. I want us to make the best decision possible to help us last the long-term but I don't think either of us has/should have the answers yet, another reason why I'm not thinking about it.
This is the latest of a few times I've brought it up. At one point I openly said "I want us to stay together while you're away" and he agreed, but looking back now he must have just wanted the subject swept under the carpet. He is clearly considering the option of a "break" when he's away, and it's quite possible he's looking at this more sensibly and realistically than I am. I can't predict what mindset I'll be in, but if he is the one to put us on a temporary break-up I think there could be a risk of me harbouring a bit of resentment towards him while he's away, and that, coupled with my libido, could make for a very busy year ...

I am fully aware that what I'm about to write REEKS of hypocrisy, I really can't help feeling it, but I hate the thought of him being with another guy. He has always been the "steadier" one in this relationship – I think in most couples one is more likely to stray than the other – and if I found out he had been with someone else while away, I reckon that would be the nail in the coffin as far as we're concerned.

Funnily enough, even writing this to you has made me really consider this not working, and you suggesting a pre-emptive break may be the best idea. But going to uni in a relatively small town means that even if we started being apart tomorrow, we would see each other on nights out all the time, and I predict on many occasions would end up in bed together at the end of a drunken night. It wouldn't be long before that plan fell through or the "amicable trial separation" became a "messy full-blown break-up". Not to mention how much I would miss the sex on tap ;) And I should really mention that I am happy with him, and it would be really shitty spending the last year of uni around him but not with him. Though I am thinking increasingly of the long-term, it would be very difficult for me to give us any kind of separation in this next year unless I'm forced to. A year apart is certainly one way of forcing me to act. More and more I am seeing it as a deadline.

The immediate dilemma I face right now is this Portuguese guy. I can never really describe how much this guy affected me the night we met. It's really quite pathetic. If there is such a thing as "love at first sight", I came pretty close to it that night. Looking back I think it was more of a surge of "lust at first sight". I had never felt anything as strongly as I did in that moment. There was something about him that reminded me of a guy at uni who I had a crush on a couple of years ago, but it was like this attraction was intensified tenfold upon seeing this destructively gorgeous man in front of me. Everything I found attractive had been bundled up and placed 10 feet away from me.

I've kept in touch with this is guy since I met him, and met him twice over a weekend a while back, but nothing more than kissing and some mild foreplay. Now he wants to visit me for a few nights, and I'm sorely tempted to let him. This would undoubtedly result in sex and I will have for the first time "fully" cheated. I know the right thing to do is tell him it's not a good idea to visit, but I will hate myself if I look back on this and regret not having this dumb fun. Even worse if my relationship doesn't work and it's too late for me to act on this with a guy who I think it's safe to say is the most beautiful guy I will ever know. I never knew what a mind-fuck felt like until I met him. The boyfriend is visiting this coming week, and ironically Portugy is planning to visit the day after he leaves. To say I'm "in two minds" is an understatement, but I haven't put him off the idea at all yet.

So, SO sorry for writing so much, it seems the more I type the nearer I get to some sort of resolution, but questions lead to more questions and then I ramble. It's all getting a bit complicated. Anyway, I might as well ask you, do you think this relationship is, for now at least, a sinking ship? Do you think if it's doomed now that it could be the sort of thing we could salvage at some point in the future, when we're a bit more mature and I don't want to be... such a slut..?

Thank you again :)

The reason for me suggesting "an amicable trial separation" in my email response to this reader was precisely because I thought that in the short term, their relationship was indeed "a sinking ship". It seemed to me that even if they lasted to the end of the current university year, there was no way that their relationship would then last while the boyfriend is away in Japan, given the reader's high libido. However, perhaps when the boyfriend got back from Japan it might have been possible for them to start their relationship again, especially if at that point the reader had become tired of the cruisy lifestyle that he would undoubtedly adopt!

I sent the reader an email in early January to ask for an update prior to doing this posting, but that was two months ago now and I never got a response. However, at the end of his first email the reader mentioned that he had a blog. It wasn't that hard to find, so I think I can reveal that the details of the reader's blog are as follows:
Unfortunately, as I had expected, a posting from January tells us that they did split indeed up. However, it's a very well written blog, so if any readers want to know more about this story, I can recommend giving it a read :-).

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