Thursday, September 19, 2013

Email about East-West gay relationships

Last month a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I'm looking for good suggestions or also books regarding gay relationship between Western guys and Chinese guys. Maybe you have some advice for me. I would really appreciate. Sorry for my mistakes in the English language. I’m from Germany.

I met my boyfriend at the end of May on a gay app. It was just a nice conversation and we decided spontaneously to meet the next weekend. I’m 40 years old and he is 23. Yes it’s a big age different but I’m acting very young and look also younger. He lives 450 km away. I’m from Frankfurt and he is from Dresden. He's a student, ethnically Chinese. He is in Germany since October last year and he had a lot experience with German guys. OK, here’s my story.

I met him on the next weekend. I rent a hotel and we talked 3 hours before we went to bed. On the next day he decided to come back to me to Frankfurt. He stayed until Wednesday. The time with him in Frankfurt was great. He stayed at home while I was working. In case it would be boring for him, I dropped him into the city centre and he explored a little bit Frankfurt. We baked together cheesecake and we cooked together Tofu and stuff like that. A friend of mine came to me during that time and he saw him and me sitting on the couch and my boyfriend was laying his head on my shoulder while we watched movie. At that time we weren’t a couple. But some small things happen during the time what let me feel very comfortable with him. When I picked him up from the city centre he asked me: "You forget something? Give me a kiss". Also holding hands, cuddling, he cooked for me and he gave me his passport picture for my wallet. Then he went back to Dresden on Wednesday. While he drove back with a transport service, we texted some lines. He said he is scared about relationship with Western guys but he is also sad to leave me now. After that we texted every day and he invited me to go with him to a big event in Dresden 2 weeks later.

I tried to lower my feelings because around 5 month ago I finished my relationship to a Vietnamese guy and it was horrible. I needed almost 6 month to get over him. He cheated me a lot and I don’t want the same shit as before.

2 weeks later I came to Dresden and he showed me his international friends. He is out to almost all of his friends, except the Chinese friends. We had big party and I made friendship with his friends. He took care of me and said I don’t have to drink too much and I took care of him as well. He kissed me in public and he also hugged me. He took my hand and all the people on the street could see it. Well you know, he is student and have not much money but he paid for me the food and when we were at a Chinese restaurant and I paid the bill and went to the toilet, he put some euros into my wallet.

Back in Frankfurt we almost talked via phone every day and two weeks later I went again to Dresden. The first night some friends of him were in his new small flat and they wanted to go out. We walked at the street and he said to me “go slower, I want to go back with you”. So he wanted to be in private with me. We had again a nice weekend together. This time he came again back to me to Frankfurt because he wants to go to the CSD in cologne with me. We stayed almost 10 days together and had a nice time in cologne. At that time we still weren't in a relationship, although maybe other people thought we were. During his time at my place in Frankfurt, we bought together some furniture’s for the Winter garden, he assembled the whole stuff and surprised me when I came back home.

After his return to Dresden he changed a little bit. He doesn’t text me that much as before and I saw him online on that gay app. Yes, I controlled him sometimes and I talked about that with him. I asked him directly: Should I search for a guy in Frankfurt and he said NO. He told me he was scared about me because I know a lot of Asians and he wanted to wait until Friday but he want to ask me now. “Do you want to be my boyfriend” and I said yes and he was surprised. He told me he wants to settle down.

Since that day he was sometimes online on the gay apps and I was wondering why. He said he just looking for friends but we know that those gay apps is not for friends, it's just for sex. The next weekend was very nice in Dresden. He really gave me that feeling that he like me and love me and want me. Also in the past he was interested in my life and asked about me. On that weekend we drove to Prague and had a nice time together but after the weekend it changed. He doesn’t want to call me and I also saw him again on that gay apps. OK, to be fair, he didn’t use it a lot, not really often. But when I saw him on gay app or also Facebook messenger I contact him instantly, and that was maybe my fault.

You have to know that he started learning for his exam, so he was also very busy but did also some party with his friends. In the past when he had party with his friends, he gave me a message at night but in that time he didn’t. After his last exam he had his last party on 5th August and on the 6th he came to me to Frankfurt because his flight back home to Asia was on the 8th. We had again a nice time but I had the feeling he was still grumpy because of my controlling and complaining. I’m honest. I really don’t trust him 100%. I guess he had sex date. Maybe before we committed.

OK now he is at home in Asia and he told me he is not happy there, because his family is having a few problems that are nothing to do with him. So he can’t go to his home place; he had to stay at his cousin place and so on. So he didn’t contact me that much and one day as I complained about that, he said he doesn’t know if it work between him and me but he want to try it. I guess he has a lot of things in his head right now and can’t handle my complaining. So I decided not to contact him at the moment. I just waiting for his messages and will reply then.

That’s my story and I really hope I can do something to get together with him again. He will be back in Frankfurt at the end of September.

Sorry for the long email. Cheers

The email contained a lot of details which might make the reader and his boyfriend identifiable, so initially I decided to send him a private reply by email. The main substance of the email that I sent him was as follows:

I don't know of any books about gay relationships with Asian guys. I have a lot of Asian readers, though, so you may get some answers simply by reading my blog and the comments.

Regarding your relationship, you have to start off by trusting him 1000%. You don't sound as bad as the ex-boyfriend of the wonderful guy who I met in 2007, but perhaps you're getting close! If he says that he wants to try a relationship with you, then that must be good enough to start with.

With all relationships, the key is good communication, especially on *difficult* issues. An obvious example of a *difficult* issue is monogamy vs open relationships. I expect that your Chinese boyfriend would expect a relationship to be monogamous, but it's worth being entirely upfront and checking that you both have the same understanding in terms of that. Regarding the issue of gay dating apps, it seems that you have the expectation that he shouldn't be using them anymore. Again, that's worth discussion, and in particular you should discuss whether you should both delete all your accounts, and if not what the rules are.

All relationships can be difficult at times, and cross-cultural relationships can be especially difficult precisely because the two of you have got less in common to start with, so that you're both starting from a lower position in terms of mutual understanding. Even the concept of a relationship means different things to different people and especially people from different cultures. I recall that the guy who I call boyfriend number 2 in my blog (a.k.a. ex-boyfriend P) thought that the two guys in a relationship should be a bit more distant from each other than what I thought. So avoid making assumptions (such as he shouldn't be using dating apps any more) and initiate discussion instead.

My last thought, which is another opportunity for discussion, is what vision of your future life together do you share? You presumably want to live together, but does that mean you move to live with him somewhere in the world, or does he move to Frankfurt. Unless you share some vision of what the future looks like, your relationship won't work.

The next day I got a short reply, which was just to let me know that to some extent, one of my suggestions had already been dealt with. He said:

I'm sorry, I just forget an important information regarding using the gay apps :-)). He and I decided to mention our relationship on those gay apps, also on facebook. So everybody see that we are in relationship :) That gave me a secure feeling for some time and it was his suggestion to do that.

I replied to tell him that I would do a post for him on my blog, and then a few days after that he sent me an update:

After some days without contact (I gave him space) he called me on Tuesday. He apologized that he was acting like a jerk and he was so glad that I didn't bother him. Now it starts slowly again with sending text messages. He is on holidays, so I don't send him much of text and wait until he send something to me :-). He also sent me the following
Dear [blog-reader], bf

Recently I am preparing the trip of Vietnam. Me and my friends will arrive Vietnam around 1st Sept. Wish me luck and tell me what you want from Vietnam and I can bring back to Germany.

You know that it's better with a local guide for us to travel, so if you have some nice friends in Vietnam, maybe you can help me to contact with them. And I also will try to find some friends via romeo (that's mean I will be online on Romeo while I am in Vietnam). And if you can give some advises in Vietnam that will be wonderful :)

Cheers, Your lovely bf
I try to not care too much about that Romeo thing :-). Have a nice weekend.

The last two updates simply reinforce my thoughts that the reader has to trust his boyfriend much more. His boyfriend has clearly listened when the reader complained to him about the gay apps. Not only did the boyfriend suggest that he makes his relationship status clear on the apps, he's also been warning the reader that he's going to be online while he's in Vietnam. The reader is very lucky to have a chance at a relationship with such an understanding guy. However, unless he starts trusting his boyfriend and stops complaining about his behaviour, I don't think the relationship will last very long.

Apart from that, I don't have much more to add beyond what I put in my first email response to this reader. Except that I now have a very recent example from my own life about how hard communication can be on difficult subjects.

I blogged last weekend that I'd been trying to date a guy called K, but that when I went out on a recent date with him, I actually ended up in bed with someone else! The next time I see K, we both get a bit drunk at a party, and afterwards we go back to my house. Sitting on my sofa, I decide to show K some txt msgs on my mobile phone:

"Look at this," I giggle, "they're from that guy M that we met in the bar a few days ago. Do you remember? I ended up exchanging phone numbers with him!"

"OK," replies K, not paying much attention, "so I guess he quite liked you …"

We're sitting very close, with my hand around K's shoulder, and as far as I can tell we're both enjoying the proximity. I've been wondering whether I might finally be able to get K to sleep with me tonight, although since we're both a bit drunk, it might not be a good idea.

"Well indeed," I say, "but I never expected to end up in bed with him!"

"Errr, you did what? ... How on earth did that happen??"

"Well he phoned me, and I ended up taking a taxi to his place :-)!"

All of a sudden K moves away from me on the sofa, clearly upset, so I take my arm off his shoulder.

"But … , but … , how would you feel if I told you that I'd slept with a guy since we saw each other?"

"No problem, of course!" I answer, "Don't you remember the chat that we had right here on this sofa after our first date? You said very clearly that I should go on doing exactly what I'm currently doing, using all the gay apps etc."

"I know but …"

"Well what do you think those apps are for? Grindr isn't the first place you think of going if you're looking for a dinner date!"

K looks at me, and although still a bit upset, he seems to take on board what I'm saying.

"I think I told you," says K, looking a bit calmer, "I don't use any gay apps or dating web sites because I prefer to meet guys the old-fashioned way. Let me think about this a bit more tomorrow when I'm sober!"

Now I also can't help myself from feeling upset, and not only because any chance that I had of sleeping with K that night had clearly evaporated! I'm always telling readers here on this blog that good communication is fundamental, and all of a sudden it seems that there's been a major communication failure between myself and K.

In terms of the reader who sent the email that's the subject of this post, this little story illustrates how hard it is to communicate well with someone who's got a different point of view. Not only is K from a different culture to me, he also doesn't use the gay apps or web sites, and no doubt it was a combination of those two factors that caused the problem. So apart from trusting his boyfriend, and not complaining about his boyfriend's behaviour, the reader also needs to make a continual effort to avoid this sort of communication problem.

Anyway, do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?


Sebastian said...

What do you think of the age difference in this relationship? Will it wok well with older white guys and younger asian guys?

GB said...

Well, Sebastian, it the age difference breaks the N/2+7 rule which is not a good sign. But to answer your question would require input from the Chinese boyfriend, and that's not available.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi GB. Interesting post.

About the reader's e-mail. Do you not think it's worth reversing the point of view?

The bf knows the German guy is quite bothered (or even insecure) about the gay apps ... so why does he still go on them? If he really cares for the German guy, then surely he can make the compromise of not going online to such sites/apps so that he can take care of his feelings. If he can make a sweet gesture such as putting the Euros in his wallet, surely this is something he can meet with him in the middle. There are many ways to make friends - if he indeed just wanted friendship. I think this is a poor excuse for going on those apps. Going on them is a symbol of 'looking' and for other men, it is always likely sex or dates.

I do have to point out the German guy sounds insecure and that might be something he wants to address.

About your conversation with K. What was your intention when you showed him that message? Surely it is something along the lines of trying to illicit a response from him perhaps playful jealousy or letting him know that guys want you while he is playing hard to get. Therefore I am not surprised at K's reaction and actually feel for him. Although you have made it clear from the outset with K that you can go on those apps and sites, there are things that are tacit and latent when it comes to human emotion. Communication can only take you some distance but a lot of things involving how we actually feel are indescribable, indefinite and changes from time to time.

Also, we must remember most guys do say something but think the opposite and I think this is part of the chase and letting go of human interaction. For example a man might say 'yes you can do X, if that's what you want' while what he might really mean is 'I really don't want you to do X and I want to see if you can read between the lines'. It's almost perverse to expect the other person to mind read but if the other person can meet him precisely at this point, this middle ground of mutual understanding and unconditional support, then I think those are fertile grounds for a long term relationship.

Have a nice day :-)


Ken Skinner said...

Early relationship rules are: relax (it's supposed to be fun, not stressful), trust (using an app means nothing these days) and take things slowly. Building a relationship is like tanning: the slower you do it, the longer it lasts.

Anonymous said...

This is a nice video about inter-racial gay relationships.


GB said...

Yes, H, I think you're right about my intention when I showed the K the messages. In my drunken state, it was a mixture of everything you suggest! Also, very good points indeed about communication and the subtleties of reading between the lines for mutual understanding in long term relationships :-). Nonetheless, even armed with your insights, someone like me who's got quite a high sex drive would never have thought that there could be any expectation of fidelity before you've even slept with a guy. This is why relationships between guys from different cultures and with different outlooks are difficult. Guys don't usually mis-understand what is actually said explicitly, it's what's not said (i.e. the necessity of "reading between the lines") where communication failures occur.

Well said as always, Kenski :-). And looks like a good video harry_d, but I haven't yet found time to watch it all the way through.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...


I am an asian guy and all my relationship was with European men. I just find white guys more attractive, more independent and know what they want.

I think the first thing you need to establish is what you want - do you want a very lost last relationship. If so, will the Chinese guy be able to get a job and visa in Germany. Just make sure that he is not "using" you for passport purpose.

Apart from that, as other replies said, its all about feeling and fun. Don't analyse too much just enjoy the process. If the guy I am dating is using gay apps of course I will be mad, but it's essential that you communicate this with him and let him know how you feel. If you still feel a lot of jealousy or suspection. But remember there is no golden rule - just enjoy it if the feeling is right

William said...

From the way I look at it, this isn't necessarily an East/West issue. I think the age difference is precipitating the insecurities of the older guy. While it's true that there are obvious cultural differences when it comes to inter-racial relationships, the problem with age (outlook on life, personal values, priorities, etc.) is pretty universal. Asians aren't all that "exotic" and hard to understand, that's definitely a myth.