Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Email from a guy who's in love with an attached man

At the start of June, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

Recently discovered your blog and I'm addicted! You give great advice and I love reading about your relationships. I am in a situation that I hope you can give me some advice on.

I'm in my mid-twenties, and am newly out to some family members and close friends. I met a guy six months ago via a hook-up site. We had fun and established a "friends with benefits" type situation. He has a boyfriend for many years, and they are in an open relationship. I knew this going in and had no problems with it. However, after a couple months in I have developed strong feelings for him.

I shared these feelings for him and he was very kind and understanding about things. He was honest and told me he doesn't feel the same but he liked our arrangement and friendship. I told him that I would be fine and that I wanted to continue to see him and we have since resumed our "friends with benefits" arrangement.

I am confused and am unsure of myself and my emotions. We text almost daily and I really enjoy having him as a friend and do not want to lose him. There are days when I feel I'll be OK, but also days where I hate myself for getting in this situation to begin with. He is in almost every way my ideal guy but he has made it clear he does not feel the same and would never leave his boyfriend.

Am I playing with fire, waiting to get burnt? I'm afraid my feelings will only intensify and I will get hurt badly down the road, but I can't convince myself to end things with him either. What should I do?


After I'd read his email, I couldn't help thinking that it was already too late for him to avoid being "burnt" as he put it. So I sent him a reply in which I included the following paragraph:

My quick thoughts are that your arrangement with this guy won't ever go any further. But I can't help wondering whether this guy has any single friends which he could introduce you to. If you like this guy, then it's possible that you may like some of his friends, so perhaps you could use him to help you find the boyfriend that you deserve? In any case, I think you need to find other guys to date, because the longer that this goes on the more that you'll be hurt :-|.

Within a few hours he'd sent me the following:

Hi GB - awesome getting a reply from you so soon! Thanks so much !

I have broached the topic of him introducing some friends of his who are single to me but he kinda shrugged it off in the past. I don't think I would want to bring it up again.

I feel pathetic because I don't want to give up what we have even though I know the feelings are one sided. I'm rational enough to understand feelings can't be forced, etc. The moments we share I cherish so much. I've never felt this way for a guy before that it scares me.

Take care !

I was glad that the reader had had the idea himself of trying to get his lover to introduce him to potential boyfriends, but I was disappointed and somewhat surprised at the casual way in which his lover seemed to have declined. However, it made me feel more strongly that the "friends with benefits" relationship wasn't good for the reader. So I sent the reader another email to tell him that I'd do this "Dear GB" posting for him, and at the bottom of the email I said:

It'll probably take me a few weeks to get round to doing the posting for you, so meanwhile, just think about this. If this attached guy really cared for you then he'd want you to be happy. By keeping you available as a "friend with benefits", and also by not introducing you to guys who might be able to become your boyfriend, then he's being exceptionally selfish. How can you love such a selfish guy?

Again reader replied quite quickly:

He's told me that I shouldn't not see others on account of him, and that we'll still meet even if I do. Maybe I'm just blinded but I truly don't think he's being selfish at all. A friend of mine who I shared this with did tell me that no truly good person would continue this friends with benefits relationship knowing one party is more invested than he is.

Her advice and where your advice seems headed does make me think. Perhaps my sense of judgement is just impaired.

Thanks for your responses. You're awesome ! Look forward to your posting.

A few years ago, I think I said that straight guys learn all about love and relationships in their teenage years, whereas that doesn't necessarily happen for gay guys. Gay guys and girls may hide their sexuality while they're teenagers, and in that case they don't learn how to handle their emotions until they eventually come out. My guess is that's exactly what's happened to this reader, because he said that he only recently came out, and it sounds very much as though he's got a teenage crush on this guy that he met on the hook-up site. So as he rightly started to wonder in his last email to me, his judgement is indeed impaired.

It seems clear to me that the guy that the reader has the crush on hasn't been very good for the reader. The reader must have told the guy that he only recently came out, and I had been that guy, I like to think that I'd have done much more to help the reader start enjoying a gay lifestyle. Instead, the guy declined to think about whether he had any friends that might become the reader's boyfriend, and has continued the "friends with benefits" arrangement even though he must surely know that the reader is going to end up hurt.

The emails that I exchanged with the reader were trying to push the reader to realise this all himself, and in his last email it did indeed seem like the reader was starting to wake up to the reality of his situation. It's been several weeks since we were last in contact, so I hope in that time he's been able to start looking for other guys, and spending less time with the guy in the open relationship. But if he is still seeing him, then my advice would be to stop seeing him immediately!

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this?


TwoLives said...

Successful relationships REQUIRE that both partners be on the same page. Your reader doesn't seem to understand that. Instead he's expecting an unrequited crush to suddenly fall in love with him. (Just as I'm waiting for Tom Daley to fall in love with me.)

The "friend" has very clearly stated his limits. It's now your reader's responsibility to LISTEN. If he chooses to ignore what he's been told, and instead lives in an imaginary world where change *might* someday happen, he's setting himself up for a whole lot of pain.

When wishful thinking conflicts with reality, reality ALWAYS wins.

So many people refuse to believe this. Instead, they prefer to live in denial for as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

For a moment I thought this was my email. Because I've dated a lot attached guys!

Just wondering, there is no reaon for a good man being single, isn't it? They are all good and I'm always too late.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a similar situation to the reader. My guy is in a committed relationship with his partner and their arrangement is always playing together. Since we meet one on one therefore my guy keeps me a secret. He has made it clear that it's more physical than emotional involvement. I like him enough so I agree to our arrangement and don't push any further. He would ask me many times if I have met anyone for fun or dates and promise to introduce me to some friends he knows for me to settle down. On some occasions he would display that he cares for my well being and could be quite protective when he feels that I'm in trouble. However, I never let him get involved in my things because to me he's not my partner and there are ways I can take care of myself before requiring his intervention.

My point is, I could easily find myself going down the path of the owner of the question. But as soon as we're away from each other, I do my best to shake off all possible emitions I have for him. Even though they hook up with others but I know technically he's cheating on his partner with me. It's not something I'm proud of doing but since I'm unable to put an end to it, I try my best not to stay in the background and not give them the trouble. Although he promised to introduce a few good friends of his, so far that hasn't happened yet and I suspect that he probably wants to keep me to himself for as long as he could. I told him clearly that I will continue to have fun with others and look for my own guy if he ever appears.

Bruce Chang said...

The whole "introduce me to your friends" thing seems like a bit of a flawed test. If you're looking for an indication of how selfish he is, it's flawed in that there are other circumstances where he wouldn't want to introduce you to others. For one, if he's partnered (even if it's open) he may not want his friends putting two and two together and finding out that his friend is getting sloppy seconds... and he might not want his friend to know that he and his partner have an open relationship. If you're truly just hoping to meet his friends to network for potential mates, it's kinda flawed in that guys don't always have friends that look and or act just like them. I mean, I honestly don't have that many single friends and the ones that I do have don't look like me at all so I'd probably have a hard time setting a guy that's into me up with one of my friends. Besides, in the hook-up games, I get a few people that fantasize about me "getting a few of my buddies together" and playing and I tend to roll my eyes at that. I don't have that many fuck buds that are also tops, first of all. And it's all fantasy cause the laws of attraction don't always work that way unless you like others that can pass for your clone.

But anyway, I do agree that the reader should move on. I recently had a friend with benefits that told me he developed feelings. Like the reader, he's in his twenties. I'm a dozen years or so older and partnered. He wanted to change our relationship to be mostly platonic... but to also cuddle and make out every now and then. I was actually fine with just becoming friends, but that last part threw some major red flags for me. So I said, "No." He proceeded to say that I was a bad person, heartless, and that I just wanted him for his body, etc. And I didn't stop him or disagree. He needed to demonize me to close the chapter on me 'cause it's easier to part ways with a jerk than with a guy that you've really taken a liking to. For me, I was okay being the bad guy because I sensed that we needed to split. I was stunting his growth and his ability to date others successfully.

Anyway, long story to come about this point: I think a lot of us agree that this particular friends with benefits relationship should end, but I'm not so sure we can nor should attempt to reconcile the end of the relationship with the partnered guy's character. The reader might need to for closure, but I'm going to refrain from speculating as long as the reader knows that it's important for him to move on.

Plavi 9 said...

If I were the reader, I would quit the arrangement before it gets any worse. It's unlikely to benefit anyone in the long run.

Nonetheless, the reader's a grown man. If he decides to stay with this friend of his, it's his prerogative. Matters of the heart have no right or wrong, they're driven purely by hormones and emotions.

Good luck mate!

N_R said...

Hey, hope this isn't so stale as to not do any good, but here goes.

I came out in my late teens, and am now over 50, but I vividly remember the intensity of the feelings I'd get for some guys I slept with, whether they were available or not.

The main point I'd want to make is: when you're in a long relationship, it can be tough to keep the sex happening and to keep it hot. So I bet that the partnered guy actually sincerely enjoys the good sex with the original poster. That legitimate appreciation may be confusing the poster, because he can sense that he's being truly valued. But the trouble is, the partnered guy has no intention of substituting his younger sex-buddy for the role his partner plays in his life. So the younger guy, while valued, can't really compete with the partner, and isn't really competing in any way except sex.

I would also say that what the poster may not grasp is that, besides the sex, the partnered guy is probably actually enjoying the friendship, too. I'd encourage the poster to view the situation not as, "life is unfair," or "I'll never find love," or "all the good ones are married."

Instead, I'd encourage him to view his situation as a compliment to what good company on a friendship level he is. If there wasn't something particularly endearing about him, his partnered lover could probably just get his needs met by a series of random tricks.

But the fact that someone thinks you are awesome as long as you participate in the relationship on THEIR terms, in a way that's most comfortable for them (but leaves you wanting more) doesn't mean that the partnered guy is giving enough. A real friend, a real caring gay person, would seek to find ways to equalize the power imbalance between you, would be looking for ways to actively compensate, while keeping you engaged.

So, bottom line, I don't think the partnered guy is putting enough effort into the situation to deserve the continued attentions of the original poster. Not every sex-buddy relationship is inherently inferior to a committed partnership, but the giveaway that the partnered guy is not truly emotionally healthy is that he's comfortable with (and apparently guiltless about) the power imbalance, the unrequited aspect of the relationship.

That's not good enough. The poster has the right to be pretty pissed off, and I want to validate that. Even if the partnered guy seems awesome, his not apparently caring about the power imbalance is just a touch sociopathic at worst, solidly un-empathetic in the middle, and just blithely clueless at best.

As "Savage Love" columnist Dan Savage writes, DTMFA. (Look it up. ;-) )

GB said...

@N_R even if the reader who sent me the email here doesn't see your comment, your comment will still be seen by other people in a similar situation who end up finding this :-).

And to save everyone looking it up, DTMFA = "Dump The Mother-Fucker Already"! LOL :-)

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi there - I'm the original poster, and I want to thank you for your comment. Could we talk more?

GB said...

@recent anonymous commenter, I assume you mean that you're the guy who posted the recent anonymous comment rather than the guy who sent me the original email. Anyway, whoever you are, feel free to email me :-).

GB xxx

GB said...

@N_R, the most recent anonymous comment was a comment from the guy who sent me the email here. He'd like to discuss with you somehow. If you see this, perhaps you could email me and then maybe there's some way that I can put you in touch with each other.

GB xxx

Anonymous said...

Bruce Chang...I lost in touch with you, let me know how we can get re-connected..
David in Westminster