Monday, December 29, 2008

Email from a guy with relationship difficulties

Just over two weeks ago, the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I have been reading your blog and I've wanted to write to you for advice but haven't had the chance. Now I am so heartbroken and I need a third party to tell me what they think I should do.

To start with, I am a 28 year old oriental guy living in NYC. I am working in the financial industry like you, but not a banker so my job is pretty safe in the current situation. Anyway, I am dating an American guy who is just over twelve years older than me. That is not an issue with me but the problem is that he is in a situation like you were before. He is living with his ex because the ex can't stand on his own feet. This is what he told me which I sort of believe. But the problem is that I really like this guy and I am the type of person who is really paranoid and needs to do things to confirm what he says. I feel like he is telling me the truth, because he even tells me that they sleep in the same bed, with one duvet but with a pillow in between them. They don't cuddle or kiss and those things. But how would I know. That makes me paranoid. And every time he comes over to my place he has to go home. If he stays he needs to tell his ex that he has an office function so that he has to go to a hotel or something. This makes me feel like he has to go home for his ex not to think that there is something going on. We spend a lot of time together though. He comes over after work if he is not going to the gym and he stays until around midnight, so he doesn't really spend time with his ex. Except when he gets home and his ex is there. On weekends, he wakes me up with a call and he comes over and we have breakfast then he goes home to do some stuff then we meet somewhere. This makes me feel a little bit confident about our relationship but still there are doubts.

Another problem I have is that every time I ask him what we are, he won't say we're boyfriends or in a relationship, instead he'll say that we are "dating". This makes me feel like he is not over with his ex, or that he is embarrassed by me. By the way, we started seeing each other last February. At that time I had just broken up with first bf who I was with for over 6 years. This guy that I am seeing has now been living with his ex for almost 7 years, but he tells me that they haven't been boyfriends for the last two of those years. What he told me was that they just fell out so they don't spend time together any more. I think he is in a similar situation to what you were before your ex moved out. But you could afford to buy your ex a house but my guy is not doing that well. I am happy to move in with my guy. We actually almost live together. But he won't take the risk. I don't think he trusts me that well yet, and he's lived in the same place for years.

Now I am sulking because I recently found out that he lied to me. He organized a party at the favourite restaurant of his ex in TriBeCa, I wasn't invited of course, and I asked him several times where this party was but he lied a couple of times. This really annoyed me off because the party was also on his ex's birthday. So I don't know whether the party was also a birthday party for his ex. I am really confused and need third party advice. I told him not to call me ever again when I told him that I know all about their party. I don't know if I was too paranoid in making some calls to find out if he was telling the truth, but the point is that he lied to me several times. I found out because I am just so resourceful. So I don't know what else he's lied to me about. This email now seems very long but I am having a drink with this and I just want to give you all the details. I am going to send this without reading what I wrote. Hope to hear from you and good luck! I really enjoy your blog and get excited when my RSS tells me there's a new posting from you.

Many Thanks,

The situation that this reader describes is indeed similar to the situation that I was in with boyfriend P and ex-boyfriend S. Although I lived with ex-boyfriend S, I spent time with boyfriend P whenever I could. However there are some differences. I only started calling ex-boyfriend S an ex-boyfriend once he'd moved out of the house that we shared, whereas the reader's guy already calls the guy that his lives with his ex. Also, in my situation both ex-boyfriend S and boyfriend P knew of each other's existence, however it's not clear whether "the ex" knows about the reader or not.

My best guess is that the guy is fond of both the reader and his ex-boyfriend and can't decide which is more important. The reader faces the classic problem, being in love with a guy who's already got some kind of partner, so his hope is that the guy will eventually leave his partner and start living with him instead. The current situation is clearly unsatisfactory for the reader, so I think he should try and move ahead in two distinct ways. Firstly, the reader clearly loves this guy so I think it's worth trying to deepen the relationship with him. However, I think he also needs to start looking for someone else, in case the relationship with this guy turns out to be a dead end.

To deepen the relationship, it strikes me that the next natural stage would be to start meeting each other's friends and family. They've been "dating" for almost a year, so if this hasn't happened yet then it should start soon. In particular, if "the ex" who lives with the reader's guy is really now a flatmate rather than a boyfriend, then there's no reason why the reader's guy can't introduce the reader to him. If a meeting with "the ex" is initially too difficult for whatever reason, no doubt the reader's guy has other friends that he could introduce the reader too. In any case, if the reader's guy is telling the truth, two years should be sufficient time for "the ex" to have accepted the break-up and to have accepted that his former boyfriend will be looking for someone else. Indeed, one can envisage a situation where the reader is fully integrated into the guy's life as his new boyfriend, and where they socialise with each other's friends even though the guy still has "the ex" as a flatmate. The key difference between "fuckbuddies" and boyfriends is that one never introduces a fuckbuddy to one's friends, so the reader needs to get the guy to move beyond the fuckbuddy stage! However the reader must be aware that for the relationship with this guy to work, it'll be important for him to get along with all the guy's friends including "the ex".

In terms of looking elsewhere, I don't think the reader needs to break-up with his guy, or to start looking for a boyfriend behind the guy's back. Instead, there needs to be some kind of discussion between the two of them about the future. When I first got to know boyfriend P and regarded him as a part-time boyfriend, I would always encourage him to try and find a full-time boyfriend because I wanted him to be happy. We still saw each other when we could, but I was aware that the situation might change if he did find a full-time boyfriend. I think the discussion between the reader and this guy should be along the same lines. There's no reason to break their connection, but the guy needs to understand that the reader will be trying to find a full-time boyfriend, assuming that the guy himself isn't available. It'll be a difficult discussion, but open and honest communication is vital in any relationship, so whatever happens they need to be able to discuss these kind of matters if their relationship is to last.

One last thought is that the reader probably needs to relax a bit, and try and become a bit less paranoid. It sounds as though he's come a bit too clingy and needy, and that's never attractive. If he does ever start living with this guy, I get the impression that he'd constantly be worrying about where the guy is, and what he's doing. That won't work. Instead, the reader needs to reach a point where he's confident and happy about the pivotal role that he plays in the guy's life, so that he can let go of any anxieties related to the whether the guy loves him or not because he'll know for certain that he does :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this situation?

Thursday, December 25, 2008


When I met my colleague P and his boyfriend D for drinks last month, we all agreed that we'd go out for dinner together before Christmas. We also decided to invite W and his Polish boyfriend along too, because no one else had ever met W's boyfriend so we were all naturally curious to find out what sort of guy he is. Then, a week beforehand I realise that my colleague M would fit in with this crowd given that myself, P and W are all bankers, so I invite him along as well.

The day arrives and after work, I take a taxi with M to meet the others at the appointed venue, which a decent restaurant in Soho. On the way I tell M a bit about the other guys, so that he'll have an idea about who everyone is. But then a question occurs to me:

"If they ask, how shall we say that we know each other?" I ask. "It's clear that there's no way we could have met just from doing our daily jobs, let alone have worked out that we're both gay!"

"I'm not sure what's best," replies M, realising that we should co-ordinate our stories, "what do you think?"

"Well we could tell the truth if you like," I offer, "but perhaps it would be better to say that we met at the interbank drinks a few months ago instead?"

"Yeah, interbank drinks definitely!" laughs M, and it's agreed.

Everyone is pretty much on time. We have an aperitif in the restaurant bar, and later when we move to the table I end up seated in the middle with P's boyfriend D on one side, and M on the other side.

"There are a lot of countries in the world where we couldn't do this," starts M once we're all seated, "six gay guys socialising together openly in a smart restaurant!"

"Yeah, I think we could all be stoned to death in Islamic countries," says W.

"Actually," says M, "I've heard that in Islamic countries, if you're always the active guy you're not regarded as gay! You're just doing it for fun, because you don't have a woman or something!!"

"So, are you 'gay' GB?" D asks me quietly, while the others carry on talking about the attitudes that different religions have towards being gay. On several occasions D has tried to tempt me into getting to know him a bit better, but since he's P's boyfriend it feels inappropriate. I smile at him in a mildly disapproving way and carry on listening to the conversation about religious attitudes to homosexuality.

Later in the evening I end up chatting to D again while the others are talking about how good their respective mobile phones are at taking pictures.

"Actually my phone is quite good," says D quietly to me again. "Look, this is a great picture isn't it?"

I look at the picture that D's brought up on his phone and it's a picture of him, sitting there naked with a huge erection! I wasn't expecting that at all so I burst out laughing.

"What's that picture?" says P to D with a suspicious tone in his voice.

"Oh, just showing GB the pics that I took last weekend :-)," and indeed, when he turns the phone round for P to see it's a harmless pic of the two of them together in the countryside.

Everyone gets on very well and we spend almost three hours in the restaurant, chatting, eating and drinking. Eventually it seems like time to go and soon we're all saying goodbye to each other outside the restaurant and wishing each other Happy Christmas.

The next day though, I get a txt msg from D:

Hi GB nice seeing u last night .. Behave during Xmas . LOL . D

That's sweet, and mildly playful from him as usual, so I send him a playful reply:

Nice to see you too mate! Somehow I think it's you who are more likely to mis-behave than me LOL! Anyway have a good xmas, whatever you get UP to! GB xoxo

But his reply is a lot more direct that I was expecting:

You too .. Maybe we could mis-behave together one day xxx

Oh dear! The last time I met P and D I found out that D had fallen out with a close friend of P's in connection with D's activities, and the fact that D isn't monogamous seems to be a constant source of tension in their relationship. Everything tells me that I shouldn't get involved with D beyond the playful friendship that we've established, so I have to tell him that:

But I think that would make things too complicated! I don't want to fall out with either P or you. Anyway, I get the impression that your harem is quite full LOL. Stay safe, take care, GB x

D is an attractive guy of course, so surely he can find the fun he's after without needing to resort to seducing with P's friends and colleagues! Half an hour later D's answer arrives

Mm don't worry we wouldn't fall out ..x

but I don't respond.

It's a bit of a dilemma! Should I tell D that I'll never be available for any activities while he's P's boyfriend? Should I try and keep my options open somehow but without actually doing anything with him? Or should I take another course of action and hope that after a single session he'll be satisfied and then move on to focus on his next target? If any readers have any ideas on what I should do with D, please let me know!

Meanwhile of course, today is Christmas Day :-). The timeout with boyfriend P continues, so I'm spending it with ex-boyfriend S. He's an excellent cook so I'm very lucky :-). But anyway, wherever you are or whatever you're doing today, let me wish you a very Merry Christmas :-).

GB xxx

Monday, December 22, 2008

Beers with some straight guys

I can never decide whether it's better for one's banking career to try and stick with one employer, or to change banks regularly so as to keep in touch with the job market and ensure that one is properly rewarded for one's efforts. For much of my career I've followed the latter path, switching bank every few years. However I've noticed that sometimes the most successful guys are the ones that stayed with an early employer, building up their connections within the bank over the years, and sticking it out through the difficult situations that inevitably arise in the course of any long career.

Pub imageAnyway, one of the benefits of switching employers regularly is that one builds up a network of contacts at other banks, so last week I went out for some beers to catch up with a couple of guys who I'll refer to as A and B that I used to work with in one of my previous jobs :-). We agree to meet in a pub not too far from The Bank of England after work. A is on his own when I arrive, half way through his first pint of beer, so I offer to buy him another one while I'm at the bar getting one for myself.

"Thanks GB :-)," says A as I hand him his pint, "so how's life treating you?"

"Well I've survived the recent cull :-)," I say, "but who knows what'll happen next year! How about you?"

"Did you know that I took voluntary redundancy last month?" replies A. "The bank seems to have decided to try and exit complex products as much as possible. I'm sure that they'd like to sell my old trading book if they can, but I doubt there'll be any buyers in this market!"

We chat about the markets for a while, and A tells me about all the problems that he experienced on his trading book over the year. It's interesting to hear about what's been going on, because although I was a trader for a reasonable portion of my career, these days I focus on other things. Of course, the original problems that caused the current financial crisis were in the sub-prime and then the credit markets, but the things that A tells me confirm that even in markets that are not directly connected to those areas there's been a huge increase in risk aversion. The result is poor liquidity which causes all trading books problems, whatever instruments they're dealing with. We're still chatting about the markets when B arrives.

"Hey, B, there you are :-)," says A when he spots B walking towards him. "Get me a pint while you're at the bar mate :-)."

"Errr OK!" replies B accepting the inevitable, "do you want another one GB?"

"Sure, thanks :-)," I reply, taking a gulp of the one I bought myself earlier to try and make sure that I don't slip too far behind.

"But if you end up out of a job, you'd be all right wouldn't you," asks A, once B's returned from the bar and replenished our glasses, "you don't have a mortgage any more do you?"

"Actually I do have a small mortgage now," I admit. "I split up with ex-boyfriend S earlier this year so I bought him a house to live in, because he wouldn't have had the resources to do that himself. So I took out a mortgage on my main house to help pay for it!"

"You did what?" replies A, with an expression of disbelief on his face, "Why on EARTH did you do that, mate??"

"Well, we'd been together for over eighteen years and it seemed like the right thing to do :-)," I explain.

"You clearly don't understand the point of being gay!"

"Which is ... ?" I ask, looking at B in case he can give me any clues as to what A's talking about.

"Which is that you can have as much sex as you want with as many people as you want, and you don't have to explain yourself to anyone, and you certainly don't need to buy your ex-shags a house!"

"Referring to my partner of 18+ years as an 'ex-shag' is an interesting way of looking at things," I laugh, "but luckily I think I've got a better sense of perspective than you have mate!"

A's conversation is typical trader behaviour, pushing things too far to see how it feels, and to see what the reaction is. But I'm used to this playing around of course, so I don't let it bother me.

The evening continues in much the same fashion. It's good to see them both again and to hear their news. When I'm in this sort of company the beers slip down very easily, but after three or four more pints we're all feeling a bit hungry.

"Do any of you guys fancy getting something to eat?" asks A looking at the two of us. We both nod our heads eagerly.

"What shall we go then?" asks B.

"Well, a curry is traditional after all these beers!" I point out.

The tradition for straight British guys to go out and drink too much beer and then pile into an Indian restaurant to see who can eat the hottest vindaloo curry isn't one of the country's finest cultural achievements, but unfortunately after one has consumed too much beer it usually seems like a good idea! So we drain our glasses and head out onto the street to find a cab to take us to the nearest curry house.

During the course of our curry and lager supper, the conversation slips onto the subject of A and B's wives and children. I decide to test out my relationship ideas in a straight context to see what the reaction is.

"Tell me," I say while we're waiting for our main courses, having eaten all the poppadoms that we'd ordered, "if you continue to look after your wives and children and put them first all the time, would it really matter if you sleep around and have other women on the side?"

Luckily neither A or B have any food in their mouths when I ask this because they both erupt at this suggestion.

"Have you EVER had any relationship with a woman GB?" asks A immediately, "In fact, have you ever even slept with a woman??"

"Rude isn't he!" I say, talking to B and shaking my head.

"Basically, once you've had kids, marriage is WAR!" continues A, forgetting his two questions. "You both want the best for your kids, and it's great if you agree on what to do, but it's always a nightmare when you don't agree!"

"But why does that mean that you can't have a mistress?" I ask.

"Because she'd be seen as a potential threat to the marriage, and hence the future of the kids GB," answers A emphatically, "so I don't play around like that!"

"What about you?" I ask B, who'd been keeping rather quiet throughout this whole conversation.

"Um, oh yes, neither do I :-)," says B after a pause. However, something about his body language suggests to me that he might not be telling the whole truth! After all, I only wanted his opinion on the whole conversation, but it seems like his guilty mind focussed on the infidelity issue before finally summoning up the courage to deny everything!

It was a very enjoyable evening, although all the beer, lager and curry made me feel a bit tired the following day. Even if my relationship ideas don't appear very useful in a straight context, I reckon A's ideas about gay life are a bit warped too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The post-orgasmic sensitive helmet phenomenon

Over the years that I've been meeting other guys for fun, I've noticed a couple of differences relating to the male orgasm. Firstly across guys of a similar age, some guys are able to cum very quickly if they want to, whereas other guys really need to build themselves up to it. For example, there's one young guy that I see sometimes who cums almost as soon as I get his clothes off, but I've been with other guys who're around the same age who need much much more attention.

Perhaps more interesting, however, is the issue of sensitivity to touch after orgasm. After they've cum, the helmet of some guy's cocks will suddenly become incredibly sensitive so that it's very painful for them to have it touched. With other guys however, myself included, there's not much difference before and after orgasm.

Just like the issue of the gay gene that I mentioned previously, it's interesting to speculate as to the evolutionary reason for the post-orgasmic sensitive helmet phenomenon. Is it simply meant to encourage guys to rest once the deed is done, and to save their seed for another occasion? Related to that idea, perhaps the idea is that the guy should move on and find another women to impregnate?

Another thought is that since the helmet is bound to be touched afterwards, for example on exit from one of the guy's partner's orifices, sexual activity for such a guy is presumably always expected to be accompanied by a bit of discomfort at the end. This surely acts as a deterrent to having sex, which strikes me as the reverse of what evolution would be trying to achieve? But maybe the sensation of the orgasm itself in such a guy is more intense and enjoyable to compensate?

It would have been interesting if I'd been keeping detailed records of the ethnic background of the guys that I've encountered who've had the post-orgasmic sensitive helmet, because my impression is that a lot of them have been east or south-east Asian. However, taking consistent notes on the sexual characteristics of the various men that I've had fun with over the years would have been a bit geeky. One can imagine the situation immediately after the finale:

"Ooooo, Arrgh," says the guy, accompanied by a sharp intake of breath, "Sorry! It gets very sensitive ..."

"That's interesting," I reply, reaching for my PDA, "where did you say you come from again?"

"Errr Singapore," replies the guy, relaxing a bit now after the event, "why do you ask?"

"Oh I'm just interested, don't worry," I reply, avoiding the question. But then I grab his helmet again, "And does that still hurt now?"


But of course, I'm not that weird! I don't take notes on this or any other phenomenon.

I guess I find the post-orgasmic sensitive helmet phenomenon interesting because I'm not one of the guys who experiences it to any significant degree. And if orgasms for guys that do experience it are more enjoyable, I guess I'm just a bit jealous!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A wecent twip to a westaurant

Back in April 2007, a guy calling himself Bwave Sir Wobin left a comment on one of my posts. When I looked at his blogger profile to find out who he was, I discovered that he'd just started a blog himself, so I left him an encouraging comment to welcome him to the blogging world. Since then he's left many insightful comments on my posts, and we've exchanged several emails too, so a few weeks ago we decided that it was time to meet each other face to face. Although as a rule I don't meet people who know that I'm GB, I do make exceptions for established bloggers when I've built up some kind of rapport with them over a period of time.

"Actually I know a nice restaurant near where you work," I tell him in an email, "so I'll make a reservation there. And it'll be my treat of course :-), don't argue on this one!"

On the agreed day, we confirm with each other in the morning by exchanging txt msgs:

So LWW, are you still on to meet up tonight? If so, see you there at about 7pm :-). Of course, you don't know what I look like, but since I've got your pic from that web site and you've got my mobile number we should be able to work it out! I suppose I could send you a pic, but then that would spoil the fun, wouldn't it! GB xxx

Within half an hour I get his reply:

Hi GB. 7pm at the restaurant it is! Let the mystery linger a wee bit longer. :-)

I get there first and I'm just checking that I don't have any pending emails or txt msgs on my PDA when Sir Wobin arrives.

"Over here LWW," I shout, "I'm over here :-)."

The guy whose attention I'm trying to attract turns round, in search of the voice that knows his name.

"Ahhh, so you recognised me :-)," he says, walking over to join me with a smile on his face.

Wine glasses"I'm just looking through the wine list," I say as he sits down next to me, "how about I get a bottle of eight year old grand cru Chablis as an aperitif?"

"Sounds good to me GB :-)".

I find a waiter and place the order, and while they're sorting it out for us, we start to get to know each other beyond what we say about ourselves in our blogs. The Chablis arrives while LWW is telling me about his recent holiday to Argentina.

"So did you get a chance to do any gay tango dancing while you were in Buenos Aires?" I ask, "they have regular events there every week organised by lesbians and gay guys, and the guys dance the tango with guys and the girls with the girls!"

"We didn't have time to look into that on this occasion," replies LWW, "but perhaps we'll have a go if we return :-)."

After about an hour the bottle of Chablis is almost empty and our table is ready in the restaurant, so it seems like time to have some food.

"Do you like red wine too?" I ask, once we're seated.

"Not as much as white," says LWW, "but I'm happy to try some if you like :-)."

"Actually I'm quite partial to it, so how about a light red wine?" I suggest. "I really love Burgundy which isn't usually that heavy, so it should be ideal if I can find a good one :-)."

We order the food, and I spot a Faiveley Latricières Chambertin on the wine list that should be ready for drinking so it seems like a sensible choice. With all the important decisions behind us we can relax.

"One thing that I've noticed is that you've got a link to some gambling web sites on your blog," says LWW a bit later, "are you a gambler?"

"Actually online gambling is a bit of a hobby of mine," I confess, "and one can get much better prices from web sites like Betdaq and Betfair than from high street bookmakers. Do you gamble at all?"

It turns out that LWW is a bit of a poker player, and he tells me something about his interest in this activity. We chat quite a lot about gambling, as described in LWW's posting about the evening so it seems unnecessary to repeat everything here.

Somehow we manage to drink almost the entire bottle of Latricières Chambertin before the main course arrives, so anxious to avoid a dry patch I ask one of the waiters to bring us a bottle of Batailley 1996 while LWW is visiting the gents.

"I hope you don't mind but since we've almost finished the Burgundy I've asked them to bring us a mature claret to accompany the main course," I admit when he returns, "I hope that's OK?"

"No complaints so far, GB!" he replies smiling at me.

Later, after we've finished our main courses, LWW receives a txt msg.

"It's from the husband :-)," he explains, looking at his phone, "he's just wondering if I'm having a good time."

"Let me send him a reply!" I suggest, "He knows you're with me this evening doesn't he?"

I type something into his phone, press 'send', and hand the phone back.

"That's no fun," laughs LWW reviewing my txt msg, "you've said you'll return me to him 'undamaged'!!"

Looking back at the evening, I must confess that beyond the first glass of claret my memory about what we talked about isn't quite as solid as for the first part of the evening, and the half-bottle of Coutet 1998 that we had with the dessert only made things worse! I probably told him all my darkest secrets, and he probably told me all his secrets too! However, one thing that I can remember is that it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I certainly hope to meet him again in the not too distant future :-).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Charity suggestions welcome again

Christmas treeThis year, like last year, a bit of an excess has built up in my account with the Charities Aid Foundation. Since it's almost Christmas again, I reckon that now is a sensible time to empty the account and give the money to good causes :-). Last year there was an excess of £1.6k, and taking into account the suggestions that I got from readers, £400 was donated to each of The Terrence Higgins trust, Crisis, The Albert Kennedy Trust and Action for blind people. During the course of 2008 I've sponsored a few more friends than last year, so this year there's only an excess of £1.3k. None the less, if any readers wants to make sensible suggestions in terms of who to give some money to then I'll try and take their thoughts into account. All suggestions welcome, as long as they're registered UK charities :-).

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I think I've been quite lucky with some of the characteristics that I've inherited from my parents. Lucky, because I reckon I've ended up with my father's brains and my mother's sunny disposition. Although my father is a clever guy, he's got a significant depressive streak in his personality. On the other hand, although my mother isn't academically strong, she's a sensible and kind woman who always looks on the bright side of life. Indeed, if forced to take all characteristics from one parent, I'd go for my mother's characteristics every time.

So I don't expect my current sadness to last. For a few days last year, I felt almost overwhelming sadness when I finally realised that my relationship with ex-boyfriend S was irretrievably broken. This time though, the sadness relates to boyfriend P.

I didn't blog about it at the time, but last summer an opportunity arose which might have allowed me to get an investment banking job in the city where boyfriend P works.  Unfortunately the global financial crisis put a stop to that, so I've been hoping that perhaps boyfriend P could move to live in London with me. Indeed, over the last year or more he's given me many signs that he might be able move to London one day. After our recent trip to Asia together, I thought that  everything was good between us.  However, now that ex-boyfriend S is out of the way and moving to London has actually become feasible, boyfriend P is no longer sure that it's such a good idea for him.

After a lot of discussions about our future, a couple of days ago we agreed a "timeout" so that we'll take a break from each other and discuss everything again in January. This means that we won't be with each other for either Christmas or New Year :-(. What's more, when we do discuss everything in January, it's clear that we might split up :-((.

If that does happen, at least I know that with my mother's cheerful outlook on life, the resulting sadness and depression won't last. Then, eventually I guess I'll be looking for a new boyfriend. Preparing myself for the worst, I think I've got lots of characteristics that other guys might find attractive :-), although I do have one skeleton in my closet. In the wake of the global financial crisis, my current job is in an area that lots of guys might regard as extremely unfashionable!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Do successful gay relationships have to start out as monogamous?

This is a subject which has been quietly sitting as a draft post in my blogger account for over two years now! Before my second ever 'Dear GB' posting, I had an email discussion with the guy who sent me the corresponding email. It was in my reply to his original email that I speculated that when it comes to the monogamy debate, perhaps the most relevant question is whether successful gay relationships start out as monogamous ones. Then yesterday, I got an email asking me a related question, namely do I think that it's possible for gay men to have a healthy monogamous relationship? My thoughts on these two questions are linked, so at long last that draft posting is finally seeing the light of day :-).

My answer to the question about gay men having healthy monogamous relationships is that "it depends"! But I'm prepared to be more specific than that :-). I reckon that short term monogamous gay relationships are very common. When a relationship is new, it's all exciting and there's no need to look elsewhere for anything.

However, the honeymoon period doesn't last forever and gradually things change. Lots of things change for the better of course, as the two guys grow more and more comfortable with each other. However one of the guys will typically have a higher libido than the other. Eventually, perhaps after many years, the guy with the higher libido is likely to feel the need for sexual excitement with someone other than his boyfriend. So I reckon that two gay men will only manage a very long term monogamous relationship if they both have low libidos, which is quite rare!

Indeed, when I meet guys from gaydar or wherever for a bit of fun, often they're guys with long term boyfriends and they're playing around with guys like me without their boyfriend's knowledge. That's why I've written so many posts saying that monogamy isn't a good idea. So many good guys with good relationships end up being dishonest with their boyfriends, and all because monogamy is the de-facto norm and so that's what they're expected to adhere to. The end result can easily be the destruction of otherwise sound relationships.

Going back to that two year old question which has been patiently sitting in my blogger account, when I opened the draft posting yesterday all it said was "I'm not sure", with a reference to the emails behind that that old 'Dear GB' posting. However, I think the answer is probably "Yes, successful gay relationships do start out as monogamous" :-). In the early stages of a relationship, which can last for several years, I think a guy can get everything he needs from his boyfriend. Furthermore that period is important, and probably necessary, to build the solid foundations which will allow the relationship to last. So successful long term gay relationships will probably be monogamous at the very beginning.

I guess this means that my "official" view on the subject of monogamy is being refined! Monogamy is great to start with, but don't expect it to last forever. The most important point is that no one can tell the future. A guy might *think* he wants to be in a monogamous relationship forever, but can the guy actually know that he'll always feel the same way? Of course he can't, things change! So to all the guys who're looking for their first boyfriend, and to the guys who're in the early stages of any relationship with long term prospects, if you think you want a permanently monogamous relationship please please bookmark this posting. Yes, you might always feel the same way, but lots of experience suggests that at some stage you or your boyfriend are likely to change your mind. Why should your relationship be any different to the norm? At some stage, the success of your long term relationship is likely to depend on how well you handle change. And if you accept now that just possibly such a change might occur, it'll be easier to deal with if and when it happens :-).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More on how gay relationships should be constructed

Last January, I wrote a post about how gay relationships should be constructed which suggested a model for gay relationships which doesn't assume monogamy. I've been thinking a lot about this recently and I still feel that monogamy isn't necessary as long as there is a sound basis for the relationship. Part of the reason for mentioning this again is in response to the first comment on my last posting.

Reading the post from last January again, I still can't fault it. The idea that I was trying to convey is that if all interactions are good between the two guys in the relationship, it really doesn't matter what happens when they're not together. For the interaction between them to be good there would need to be mutual support, lots of companionship (i.e. a strong interest in each other's lives), so that they're always each other's top priority :-). That's the best succinct definition of mutual love that I can devise on a Sunday afternoon! However it's vital that the guys in the relationship are each other's top priority. It's when either of them have other priorities that relationships fail, whether it's work commitments or other friends or lovers.

The fact that that kind of relationship is incredibly hard to find is why it doesn't matter whether they have sex outside the relationship or not. Once the relationship is established, the idea that anyone would abandon such a loving environment because they had some good sessions with another guy is ridiculous. However appealing another guy might be, leaving a functional relationship to take a chance on whether the other guy might be even better would be incredibly risky. In any case, the other guy would be foolish to enter into the relationship, because someone who leaves their partner in such a situation can't be trusted.

One final thought is that if two guys want a monogamous relationship for whatever reason, the monogamy bit needs to be in addition to the mutual love and support that I've described above. After all, I don't think it would make sense for a guy to say "My boyfriend doesn't really care about my life but at least I know that he's not sleeping around"!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Catching up with my colleague P

A bottle of CristalIt had been quite a long time since I'd been out after work in the evening to catch up with my colleague P, so last week we decided to go together to the drinks event for gay guys who work for banks in London. It turned out that P's boyfriend D was also free that evening, so even though he doesn't work for a bank we take him along too.

"Let me get a decent bottle of red Burgundy for us to drink," I say once we've found a table to occupy at the drinks venue, "I know that if I lose my job I probably won't be able to afford it any more, but until that happens I'd rather drink good wine if possible :-)."

"Thanks GB," says P, "but please don't be too extravagant!"

Ignoring P, I ask one of the waiters to bring us a reasonable looking 1999 Volnay premier cru from a top négociant, before settling down to chat to him and D.

"So have you guys been up to much recently?" I ask.

"Well a few weeks ago," starts P, smiling at me, "we saw my friend XXXX that you met a couple of years ago :-)."

Glancing at D, I realise that suddenly he looks distinctly unhappy, which wipes the smile off P's face as soon as he notices.

"Yes, … , well," continues P, acknowledging the situation, "D and XXXX seem to have fallen out :-(."

I can see that it's a difficult subject for them, so I start talking about something else. But later in the evening, when P is talking to another gay colleague, I manage to ask D what the problem is.

Fireworks"Well GB," begins D quietly, so as not to attract P's attention, "when we visited XXXX, he asked me what I'd been up to recently, while P was out buying the Sunday papers. So I told him that I'd had a little fling with this older guy, it wasn't anything serious, the older guy was a married man who'd only recently realised that he was gay and he needed a bit of support. Actually I haven't seen him for ages now. Anyway the following week, XXXX called P and they went out for a drink together, and XXXX told P all about this other guy :-(!"

"But why on earth did you tell XXXX in the first place?" I ask, feeling that D only has himself to blame.

"Anyway, P then confronts me," continues D, ignoring my question.

"But he knows that you sometimes play around a bit doesn't he?"

"Yes I suppose so, but he doesn’t like it much. But he was livid that I'd told XXXX about it!"

"So why did you tell him?" I ask again, hopeful of getting an answer this time.

"Well, I'd had a little *fun* with XXXX too, ages and ages ago now," answers D sheepishly, clearly regretting the incident, "so I guess I thought I could talk to him about these things. Actually I said to P 'I bet XXXX never told you about the time we he had sex with me'! So I never want to see XXXX again, now I know that he breaks confidences like that :-(."

At this revelation, I only just manage to suppress my desire to burst out laughing, because it's sounds exactly like an excerpt from a farce! None the less, it's an unfortunate incident, and is clearly a point of contention between the two of them. But perhaps P just needs to relax a bit? D always seems very committed to P, so it would be a pity if some irrelevant sex gets in the way of their relationship.

Monday, November 24, 2008


SunglassesWhile I was on holiday with boyfriend P recently, I needed to buy a new pair of sunglasses. The sunglasses that I'd been using for the last couple of years had in fact belonged to ex-boyfriend S, and naturally he'd taken them with him when he moved into his own house. So while we were in Singapore on the first leg of the trip, we found a little shop with an extensive range of sunglasses and I started trying on a few different brands.

"Do these sunglasses protect from both UVA and UVB?" I ask the shop assistant while looking in a mirror.

"Hmmm, I don't think those really suit you," interrupts boyfriend P, handing me another pair, "how about these?"

I try on a few different styles with varying degrees of success.

"I guess these are all made from some tough kind of synthetic material," I say, "but I wonder how scratch resistant they are! Sometimes I can be a bit clumsy, so ideally I need them to be very durable."

"Good idea," replies boyfriend P. "But I wonder, perhaps a squarer style of lens would suit you better."

We look at a few more pairs and I think I find some that I like. Good protection, durable, and they seem to suit me too. So I buy them :-).

"You know," says boyfriend P afterwards, "it was fascinating how you were so focused on the practical aspects of the sunglasses."

"Well of course!" I laugh, "there's no point if they look good but don't work well as sunglasses. Were you just worried about what they looked like?"

"Well all the sunglasses in the store would probably work OK, but finding the ones that look best is always a real challenge! Just a different approach I guess."

Thinking about it afterwards, it's fascinating how we had different priorities. Indeed, I can't help wondering whether guys that make the best boyfriends for each other are ones who provide each other with complimentary points of view like that!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alex - the cartoon on stage

Last year I did a posting about the Alex cartoon. As I said last year, Alex is an old favourite of guys like me who work in the investment banking world in London. Anyway, the Alex stage play is now back in London for just 4 weeks, from 25th November to 20th December, and if any readers who live in London want to go and see it a 10% discount is available. This offer was sent to me by the play's producer, no doubt as a result of the friendly treatment that I gave Alex in my posting last year. So, in case anyone's interested, details are as follows:

Where: Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX
When: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Fridays also at 4.30pm
Economy Seats: £12 and £29.50
Business Class Seats: £45 includes a glass of Moet & Chandon, Souvenir programme and specially designed seatcover!
Youtube promotional video: click here

SPECIAL OFFER: Call 0844 847 2475 and quote ‘Megabank’ or visit and enter ‘Megabank’ as the promotional code for a 10% discount on all tickets until 6th December

Monday, November 17, 2008

Email from a guy with a relationship dilemma

Last week, I received an email from a gay guy who's got a boyfriend who lives in the UK. The email was as follows:

Dear GB,
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I only recently found your blog and have found it a very interesting read.

I am currently facing a relationship-related dilemma for which I hope clarity could be achieved from unbiased, objective third-party views.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am in my late 20s and have recently returned to my native country after a long stint in the UK as a student. For 2 years preceding my return, I lived with the guy I am currently in a relationship with. Barring the odd drama, our relationship is otherwise stable, and uncomplicated, which is how we both prefer it. As clichéd as it may sound, we "get" each other, share a fairly identical sense of humour and are at complete ease in each other's company. He absolutely adores me and I do him. As a partner, he complements my cynical, non-trusting, and at times glass-half-empty nature. The understanding at this point is that I will return to join him.

The current state of economy of the UK, in which I am sure you are far more well-versed than myself, does however make me question the arrangement of my plans and priorities. I have professional ambitions that are more easily fulfilled in my native country, compared to as an alien in the UK. While the qualifications I have under my belt are reasonable, they are by no means outstanding. The current graduate glut (and the apparent record levels of unemployment) that I keep reading about in the English press has only made the difficult task appear impossible. That said, the situation does not seem as dire where I am now, which leads me to believe that I could go much further here professionally.

On the other hand, if I were to discard this perfectly functioning relationship, I suspect finding another one will not be easy. I have no complexes about my sexuality, but nor do I wear it on my sleeve. There exists a gay scene here, but there is a complete lack of variety apart from the stereotypical campy merriment which, while I fully support an individual's right to enjoy himself, does not sit well with me. I doubt I would be willing to immerse myself in all that in the hopes of a happy accident. Besides, my overwhelmingly heterosexual-male circle of friends here are marrying off one by one (even a few gay acquaintances!), and I do not doubt very soon the pressure will be on me to do the same. It is extremely unlikely I will go down the route of scamming a poor girl into sham matrimony but I wonder how it feels to be "that old guy who has never married who lives by himself". I also wonder how my traditionally-minded parents are going to handle queries about me from nosy friends and relatives. I wonder how I will handle them.

I know the answer is ultimately mine but I really could use the benefits of the opinions of those who have been there and done that, or simply have been in the game for longer than I have. Thank you.


Although the reader doesn't say where his native country is, my guess is that he comes from one of what bankers call the "emerging markets", perhaps somewhere like the Indian sub-continent. Exactly where he comes from isn't relevant, however given that there isn't much gay life where he now lives, it seems highly likely to me that he'd find it a lot easier being gay in the UK. Gay people in the UK can now enter into civil partnership, the law protects us from discrimination, and it's easy to meet other gay people either online or on the gay scene in the major cities. For these reasons alone, even if he didn't have a boyfriend in the UK, I would suggest that he should consider moving over here if possible.

These days, the UK seems to welcome English speaking graduates, wherever they come from. There's a points based system for qualifying for a work visa, which takes account of age, qualifications and previous earnings, although there's also a requirement to have had the equivalent of £2,800 savings for three months prior to the application. Then, once someone has lived legitimately in the UK for 5 years, they can apply for "indefinite leave to remain" which means they can stay forever. By comparison it's much harder to reach the same point in the USA for example. In today's global knowledge-based economy, I think it's a smart move by the UK government to make it possible for graduates to move to the UK like this.

At the moment though, it's true that the UK is entering a recession. However now that the UK government has moved to support the banks, and with a pledge to restore growth from the G20 group of nations, my best guess is that all the right ingredients are in place for an eventual recovery. Inside and out logoA week ago I went to an event which aims to recruit gay graduates into banking. Like last year, my role was simply to talk to the students and to recommend banking as a career to them. But while I was there I also spoke to a few of the bank's human resources representatives, and in spite of the recession it's clear that they're all still hiring graduates.

In terms of career versus personal life, I think personal life should always come first. It can be hard to prioritise because without an income (presumably from a career) it's hard to have a fulfilling personal life, however I think a person who derives all his satisfaction in life from career success is likely to end up sad and lonely. So although the reader may be able to focus on a career in his home country for a few years, he won't be able to ignore the fact that he's gay forever. Given that it'll be hard to find a new boyfriend where is is, he may well find himself trapped in a loveless life after a few years with mounting pressures from his family to get married. It was Fran from Strictly Ballroom who said "A life lived in fear is a life half lived", and they're wise words!

For all these reasons, I would lean towards suggesting that the reader should move back to the UK if possible. Unlike where he's currently living, the UK is a good place to be gay, because he won't to be able to ignore that side of his personality forever. Since he already has a boyfriend here, it'll be much easier for him to move than it would be for anyone who's never lived over here before.

Until recently, the reader who sent me the email was in a different country from where he grew up, which is exactly the same situation that boyfriend P still finds himself. Similarly, boyfriend P also has a boyfriend who lives in the UK :-). So since boyfriend P has known about my blog for a while now, I asked him for his thoughts on this reader's email and he had the following things to say:

There are so many issues that this reader has raised that I think I need to tackle them methodically.

Firstly, the way I see it from the email there's the professional ambition issue. Then there's the underlying relationship dynamic between him and his partner and the fear of not being able to find another relationship. The third is the issue of societal/parental pressure to get married.

So let me tackle the first. Career-wise, it's always important to not put all your eggs in one basket. I reckon he is about to graduate and will be looking for a job. Instead of just focusing on one market, why not put a word out to prospective employers in different markets, different countries. Whoever offers the best prospects and remunerations is worth considering seriously. Until that happens, it's too early to tell. I don't really know where this reader is originally from and what kind of environment that country of origin is in so it is hard to assess. Also, be practical about long-term prospects. It may be easier to get a job in his native country, but a stint in the UK may be far highly valuable in the longer run. But again, don't count your chicks before your eggs are hatched. The reader should send his resume out and gauge the responses of employers. The decision will be more pragmatic then.

The second issue I am surmising is that he is not 100 per cent happy in the current relationship. He seems to suggest that they are coasting along. But coasting along in a relationship is never good enough. There has to be passion. One important question he needs to ask himself: "Am I in love with him?" The fear of not being able to find another boyfriend shouldn't even be a subject. Life's too short, and he's too young to be feeling trapped in a loveless relationship. At my age, and I'm no spring chicken, I still believe in great loves and The One. Yet there are many The Ones coming into our lives, of course. But I honestly think if one relationship doesn't work out, another one will present itself over time.

The third issue: parental/societal pressures. I suspect that the reader is originally from a conservative country in Asia with strong Confucianist influence. If that's the case, the pressure to conform with the rest of society and marry and provide offsprings is highly intense. That pressure is real, especially if the reader is not out to his family and friends. Having lived in the UK, it will be especially hard for him to adjust to life back at home. Again, I think life is too short to be feeling unhappy and trapped. Think about the option of coming out to family. Assess the possibility of being upfront and truthful to his parents and siblings. If telling a parent is hard or impossible, tell a closer sibling. And get his or her perspective. I don't know what his family dynamic is, but all I know is that it is not healthy for him to pretend to be someone he is not.

So those are my thoughts. Plenty of things for him to think about. The final decision should be based on having thought through all these issues carefully. We can only provide perspectives, but the reader has to come his own decisions because he knows the full story, the intricacies and complexities in his life. The question of him being in love with his partner should be central in the decision-making process, but shouldn't be the only one that he based his final decision on.

I wish him all the best. It will be an exciting time no matter. Whatever his decision is, he needs to be happy with it. When that happens, everything else falls into place.

Now, GB. I hope this is not your way of asking me to think about OUR own issues....

And as an aside note to GB's readers, some of his postings recently have put some of his and my conversations a little out of context. Certain things were omitted for artistic and dramatic purposes. I'm not the mean-spirited person some readers have made me out to be. Like many of you, I'm looking for true love too.

Boyfriend P

Do any other readers have any further thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The gay reproductive advantage

I recently spotted an interesting article about homosexuality in The Economist. The article describes a new theory which tries to explain why the genes that cause homosexuality have survived in the population. If you think about this it's a bit of a mystery, because genes that make parenthood less likely should gradually eliminate themselves from the gene pool over the long periods of time, so the genetic expectation is that gay people shouldn't exist. However, the new idea is that the genes that make people gay also confer reproductive advantages as long as they do not push the individual possessing them all the way to homosexuality.

For example, apparently personality tests show that gay men rank higher than straight men in standardised tests for agreeableness, expressiveness, conscientiousness, openness to experience and neuroticism. Further data suggest that having a more feminine personality might indeed give a heterosexual male an advantage, because women can be attracted to those with feminine traits such as tenderness, considerateness and kindness, because such men make better carers and providers.

For me, this theory has a ring of truth about it. After all, in my experience, it's not uncommon to hear single women say that all the men they fancy are either already married or gay!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Email from a gay guy wanting dating advice

About a week ago, the following email arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I came across your blog, thought it was pretty intriguing. I was just reading your "gaydar advantage" and "something about Mary effect" posts, it got me thinking about my online dating history so far. Most guys I've met online seem to just want sex and some of them will say anything to get in my pants. In fact, I met someone on Manhunt a month ago, thought it went pretty well, turned out he was just playing and wanted to have sex with me. I didn't have sex with him when we met despite his somewhat aggressive way to get me to it, I actually told him from my experience if I have sex with someone on the first date he usually won't call back and I didn't want to rush things with him cuz I like him, apparently it went over his head. Now I'm wondering if I did the right thing? He might have thought I was too tense and prudish. Should I have just got the sex out of the way and see what happens next? Or should I unload myself before I go on a date?

Obviously I'm moving on and trying to keep dating, but I'm really confused about the right approach to internet dating, the right mentality for gay dating, the whole sex or dating priority conflict. I just turned 25 today, and I've never had a boyfriend. I'm at a point where I'm (secretly) desperate for a relationship more than anything and I don't wanna get my feeling hurt over some random guy again (even tho it doesn't happen that often), I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I mean, going at this rate I doubt I'll ever have one. Should I drop dating/sex sites?

Anyways, hopefully I made sense lol. Looking forward to your insight on this. Would really appreciate!!

Looking back over the years, I've had some good experiences with sites like gaydar and, so I don't think it's necessary to stop using such sites. Also, although I think it can be a good idea for straight guys to unload before an important date, I don't think that it's a good idea for gay guys. Gay life can be quite sex oriented, so I reckon it's better to keep a full tank to use with one's new friend :-).

Indeed, I think the "gaydar advantage" post summarises my view quite well. As the reader says, I reckon one should just have sex and see what happens next! Perhaps one thing that I didn't say was that after a successful liaison, it may be that neither guy feels confident enough to phone the other guy for another meeting. However given that one met online, it usually feels much easier to make contact online again. So rather than waiting for a phone call, if one likes a guy a good plan can be to watch out for him again in the chat rooms, and arrange subsequent meetings in the same way that the first meeting was arranged.

Since dating is quite a personal thing, I thought it would be a good idea to get some other views on this subject. So I took the reader's email, deleted his name and email address, and sent it to a few of the bloggers that I've met to get some further opinions. The first guy to respond was Monty who had the following to say:

Mmmm, tricky question. “right approach to internet dating, the right mentality for gay dating, the whole sex or dating priority conflict” Initially, I started out somewhat like your reader, seeing Mr Right in quite a few guys that I met. And as a consequence, this lead to a lot of disappointment. I suppose the thing that prevented me from getting too disheartened was the fact that I was also out there meeting quite a few Mr Right Nows as well (for shags). My attitude towards internet dating was that I was online looking for a Mr Right and therefore, the likelihood was that Mr Right was online too, looking for me. We just had to find each other. And so, I was going to search my arse off. BUT, I also realized that there was plenty of guys online who weren’t looking for Mr Right (even if they said they were) – they were just looking for a shag and that was it. So, I thought that while my search was going on, I was going to take all the opportunities that arose (no pun intended) to have some fun. No point in being a nun! So I was fairly laid-back (again, no pun intended) when meeting up with guys…if there was attraction, I was up for it. Even if I thought that the guy had potential, I still was willing to shag first, ask questions later. And this did lead to a few mini-relationships (3 – 4 weeks) with guys who I thought could have been, but obviously, in hindsight, weren’t Mr Right. And eventually, it did lead me to meeting my gorgeous McBrad – the thing is, we did chat on the phone a couple of times before meeting, but when we did meet, we did shag on the first date. And it did more than work out.

3 rules that one of my friends gave me in relation to internet dating were also good. Always have a face pic, always talk on the phone before you meet up, and always meet in a public place. This was not only beneficial from a personal safety perspective, but talking on the phone allowed me to get a bit of an idea about the guy first too. Your profile could also state that you are open to a relationship – this may put off some guys who are only after a shag, but that’s a good thing if you’re wanting to find a guy who is open to a relationship.

What am I trying to say to your reader? Best advice – chill out. Don’t stress about whether to shag or not. Date as many guys as you like, keeping an open mind about them and sooner or later, you’ll find HIM! The right one won’t mind if you have sex on the first date. Relax and Enjoy the search.

A couple of days later, I got a reply from czechOUT, who said:

Internet Dating vs. Internet Cruising: The problem you are experiencing looks like it can be easily fixed. Consider the nature of the website that you are using. We are blessed (or cursed) with a huge choice of dating, chat and cruising sites. You say that you were using Manhunt. Like Gaydar, Manhunt is a cruising site where guys tend to be looking for Mr Right Now rather than for Mr Right. You may well stumble upon Mr Right along the way, but guys usually go there to cruise for no-strings sex. In contrast there are gay dating and social networking sites whose purpose is to bring like-minded men together for other activities. Try OUTeverywhere, a site where the focus is on dating rather than meeting for sex.

The "no sex on first dates" rule: It is not unusual for people to have a "no sex on first date" rule. This tactic is only going to have meaning where we meet someone on a real date and not where the other person is only looking for sex. When people want to meet for sex then once they have "done you", unless they are looking for a regular fuck-buddy, you are ticked off their list. It sounds like the people you are meeting simply aren't seeing those meetings the same way you do - as a date. For them it's about sex. In the future use the cruising sites to cruise. If you are looking for a serious and proper date, then switch to a dating site.

Then, yesterday evening I got a reply from HBH, who said:

While I understand this readers predicament I feel he's looking for love in an unlikely website. Manhunt, I fear, has even more of a sex factor than a love factor. I think there may be some readers who would beg to differ but I base my knowledge about Manhunt from the friends I have and what they look for on that website. And, it's not love.

I myself, a user of Gaydar have always had two minds about this website. I'm proud to say I have found love there and put to rest a notion that it's on the same level as Manhunt. With a higher love factor than Manhunt I think the reader might find better luck on Gaydar or perhaps Again, this is solely based on my situation and an off the cuff analysis from my dating experience on Gaydar.

The reader seems to worry about second guessing himself in his approach. I think if he is looking for love then my all means he is right to be very up front with his dates. It is the failure to be up front that often leads to confusion after sex. Then the reader no doubt spends days after waiting or wondering what happened. If all is set out in clear, concise words (tactfully) then the reader will either find exactly what he seeks or not. Like the guy the reader spoke about, who had his words 'fly above his head' should be seen as a good thing and not the opposite. It's a good thing to be firm. The result is no false expectations regardless of how heartbreaking.

I would suggest he continue his string of dating from websites if that is what he is comfortable with that medium. It takes some patience and kissing a few frogs before a prince will turn up. Alternatively, I would suggest the coffee shop scene. Coffee shops in noted gay areas are becoming good meeting places. The reader seems to have a good head on, and knows what he wants. I caution against being too desperate as that can set off alarms. It's never any good to be desperate about anything.

Finally I got a reply from DL, a straight blogger that I met last June, who said:

As your writer had come to realise, most people in chatrooms and dating sites seek sex with no strings attached. I guess at the end of the day, what is more important is to follow his heart and know what he wants to get out of his actions. He can still use such sites but continue to hold on to his principles. Maybe he'll need to examine why he hasn't found a bf after all these time? He'll probably need to deal with those first? In any case, i think it is possible to not rely on such sites. A friend of mine met his partner in a lift! He may be the rare few but it is certainly possible. Also, he could consider using the tips in your blog. ;)

Hopefully amongst the thoughts of myself, Monty, czechOUT, HBH and DL there'll be some ideas that the reader can use :-). But do any other bloggers or readers have any other thoughts on this subject?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Redundancies in the City

Last week, I get a phone call from a guy who used to work for me, and who now works for a small European bank's London branch.

"Hi, is that GB," he starts.

"Yes, who's this?"

"It's W, remember me? I think I need some advice. They're making me redundant :-(!"

I'm always happy to give advice to guys who used to work for me, but in this case I decide that it would be better to discuss things face to face, so I agree to meet up with him after work. Later that day, I contact a trader I know who works for the same bank as W by sending him a message on Blooomberg, to try and find out a bit more about what's going on. I get a reply within a few minutes:

They're making about 1/3 of us redundant. Looks like they're moving the profitable businesses back to head office, but I'm still here for now, enjoying the easy markets ...

I guess that 'easy markets' means that there's very little going on in the market that this guy trades, which can't bode well for his future either.

After work, I meet W in a smart City wine bar. I order a decent bottle of red Burgundy, before sitting down with him to see whether there's anything useful that I can tell him.

"Apparently they did some kind of assessment," says W, "and worked out that I was the most expendable, because my work could be done by the other guys in the team :-(."

"Sorry to hear that," I reply, "but perhaps I can tell you one thing which might be of use. Ask for more redundancy money!"

W looks at me, slightly unsure of what I'm saying.

"There's always more money," I continue, "actually maybe there's not 'always more money' any more, with the credit crunch and so on, but in the past there was always more money in these situations so it doesn't hurt to ask :-)."


"Yeah, well in the old days banks always wanted to avoid scandals with disgruntled employees. They'd never put all their money on the table at the start of the redundancy process! However, success here is only down to your powers of persuasion. Make them think that you might cause trouble, even though I would strongly recommend that you don't, apart from asking for more money. The package will already be a lot more than the statutory minimum, so you'll have no grounds to demand anything. Just use all the best arguments you can as to why it's unfair, and why you need more money. Do you have a lot of financial commitments, for example, a big mortgage or anything?"

"Not a big one, but I've also got a few buy to let properties which could cause me a few problems if I can't rent them out to cover the mortgage payments. What about you anyway, is your job safe?"

"No, of course not!" I reply, playing down my own situation, "who knows what's going to happen ..."

"But you don't have a mortgage do you?"

"Actually I do now! I've split up with my partner, so I took out a mortgage on my house so that I could buy him somewhere to live."

I suddenly realise that I'd never said anything to W which would indicate that I'm gay, except for the sentence that I'd just uttered! I catch his eye briefly and I can tell that he noticed.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" I ask.

"Um, errr, well ... actually ..." he says, trying to find the words, "I guess I’m errr ... in a similar situation to y-you."

I'd always knew that W wasn't married, and that he didn't seem to have a girlfriend. But he doesn't seem very comfortable admitting the truth to me.

"I always thought that you could be gay :-)," I laugh, trying to put him at ease.

"Really," he says, "how come? D-did I give myself away??"

"Only by never talking about your private life," I say, "and because I don't really believe in asexuals these days, you had to be either a closet gay guy or a frustrated heterosexual! So let me ask the relevant question then, do you have a boyfriend?"

"Errr yes actually," replies W, starting to relax a bit, "a young polish guy that I met a few years ago. How old was your boyfriend by the way?"

"Just a couple of years younger than me. Why do you ask?"

"The guys that used to work for you all assumed that you were rich enough to have a cute young trophy boyfriend!" he says smiling now, "but in fact I guess it's my boyfriend who could be put in that category! He was only 20 years old when I met him a few years ago, so he's quite a bit younger than me. I suppose I'm a cradle snatcher!!"

"That's not at all my style!" I say, laughing at the thought of their discussions, "but why didn't you let any of us know about your situation, not even me?"

"Well," replies W weakly, "I guess I didn't want anyone to think that you hired me because we were both gay, or anything."

The poor guy doesn't seem very comfortable admitting his sexuality, even to me, so I let it go even though it's a pretty weak argument. We chat a bit more and I give him a bit more support in relation to his redundancy, and also in relation to being gay in the City. However, although he's a talented guy, I'm sure that there are lots of other talented guys who're being made redundant at the moment. So, unfortunately it may be a while before he gets to put some of that advice into practice.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A recent conversation

At the end of my holiday last month, boyfriend P stayed with me in London for a few days for the first time :-). Furthermore, while he was here, he met one of my oldest friends. Although I've met loads of his friends now, prior to that meeting he hadn't met any of mine, so even though there's a long way to go in that respect at least it was a start.

"Actually GB," says boyfriend P to me on the morning of his flight out of the UK while we're having breakfast together, "I didn't expect to like it here. I thought there'd be loads of stuff relating to ex-boyfriend S, but there isn't much."

"So might you ever come and live here with me?" I ask.

"I can imagine that, possibly, at some point," he says smiling at me, "maybe I'll come and stay for a couple of weeks, sometime next year :-)."

"Great :-)."

I think about it for a short while, and then decide to ask him a question.

"Do you think we make some kind of commitment to each other?" I offer.

"Can we? How would that work?"

"I'm not sure," I say truthfully, "but maybe we can think of something?"

"Hmmm," replies boyfriend P after a pause, "I think we should remain independent for now."

"So it's OK is it if I find another boyfriend, a guy like M for example, and we wander off into the sunset together to live happily ever after?"

"I guess," says boyfriend P smiling at me, although looking just slightly unsure.

Within an hour the taxi arrives and we're hugging each other goodbye.

"Actually I'm quite sad to be leaving," he says with the taxi waiting, and with my front door open ready for him to leave, "thanks for everything :-)."

I hug him again and wave to him as he walks towards the cab, and within a minute he's on his way.

It still seems amazing that we've build up our relationship over the years without ever having lived in the same country. But at this stage in our relationship I find boyfriend P's desire for complete independence mildly disconcerting. We've got lots of good history and shared experiences now, we're happy to introduce each other to our friends and family, so we've become big parts of each other's lives. If the relationship means anything, complete independence is surely an illusion? It makes me think that perhaps he wants another try at finding a boyfriend in the city where he lives. Which leaves me with the thought that maybe he thinks I'd be an adequate boyfriend for him, but not a good one. Even though myself and boyfriend P have just had another great holiday together, it seems that once again I still need to hunt for alternatives.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sex positive

Last week, Close Encounters suggested a trip to the National Film Theatre to see a documentary called Sex Positive, which was showing as part of the London film festival. I hadn't seen Close Encounters since before my recent holiday, so being keen to catch up with him, I readily accepted the invitation.

The film was about a guy called Richard Berkowitz who was living in New York in the early 1980's when the Aids epidemic began. Richard was perhaps the first guy to advocate what we now call safe sex, however at the start of the epidemic it wasn't a message that most gay guys wanted to hear. According to the film, some guys felt that the freedom to have sex with other guys had been a difficult battle to win. Consequently they felt that Richard Berkowitz must have a very negative attitude towards gay sex, because he was saying that guys needed to change their sex lives if they wanted to avoid infection.

It turns out that Richard Berkowitz has quite an interesting background, because as well as being a writer he was also an S&M hustler. It seems that he was quite successful as a hustler, and had a big clientele. When a session was starting with a client, if there was something a guy told him not to do (e.g. "I don't want to get fucked") then that was the one thing that he made sure he ended up doing! On top of that he also went through a phase where he was addicted to crack cocaine. But although Richard Berkowitz is an interesting guy, the main reason that the film was made was to try and set the record straight and give Richard Berkowitz credit for delivering what was an unpopular message in the early 1980's, namely that gay guys needed to start having safe sex.

Thinking back about the film now however, one thing occurs to me. I could be wrong, but I think that Richard Berkowitz has got quite an annoying personality. He reminds me a lot of a guy that I knew when I was at university, and if this guy was wrong about something he'd never admit it, and if he was right about something he'd never let you forget it. So if Richard Berkowitz is indeed like that guy that I knew, perhaps that goes some way to explaining why people didn't want to give him the credit that he deserves!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I still have a banking job, for now ...

While I was on holiday, the financial markets have been quite 'unsettled'. The fact that the UK's banking system has now been partially nationalised seems incredible . Lots of job losses are predicted in the banking sector, on top of the job losses which have already occurred. However, for now at least, I still have my job.

A couple of days ago while walking in the street, I bump into an ex-colleague who works for one of the newly partially nationalised British banks, so I ask him how things are going:

"It was scary GB," he says, "the day our share price plummeted the dealing room went completely quiet. Everyone was scared. The clients stopped calling, apart for one or two who phoned up wanting to cancel old deals."

"So I guess you were all expecting to survive without becoming government employees!"

"Well yes," he replies, "things must have been a lot worse than we were led to believe. We've got lots of good businesses, but we've been brought down by a few bad ones and irresponsible management. Now we're all tarred by the same brush :-(. There's a lot of resentment. When it was announced that the chairman and chief executive were quitting, a huge cheer went up in the dealing room!"

But an old university friend who I met the following day, and who works for an asset management firm, was more up upbeat.

"These banking stocks are so cheap now," he tells me, "so I bought some! It'll all recover eventually :-). And if you ask me, I think the government is playing a mug's game by buying those bank preference shares. Preference shares give you all the risk but no control ..."

Hopefully this partial nationalisation of the banking system coupled with government guarantees for bank debt will be the low point of this crisis. It's a bold plan which in my opinion tackles the problem in exactly the right way. But if things go wrong now, with governments having already made their move to shore up the banking system, it's not clear that there'll be anyone left to prevent a very deep global recession.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Email from a young guy with a concern about HIV

When I woke up this morning, I lay in bed for a few minutes cuddling up to boyfriend P, but wondering what I should post on my blog today. So later when I found an email in my inbox from a reader wanting some advice, it seemed like an ideal choice. The email was as follows:

Dear GB,

I can’t quite remember how I stumbled upon your blog, however that is irrelevant, as it has been revolutionary for me. As a 19 year old closeted student I hadn't indulged in any form of intimate contact with men till a few months ago as I wasn’t 100% sure. It was your site that persuaded me to use Gaydar, and it has been so emancipating. Thank you.

After finding several people my age, amongst the waves of old men offering to bottom, I decided to meet with one guy. One thing led to another and, well, I ended up staying at his and we had a fun time. We have since met up several times and engaged in all but full blown sex. However I am fearful he is HIV positive. The reasons are:
  • I have suggested anal sex several times, and he refuses to bottom as "he likes being in control" – ok that’s fair enough;
  • I am happy to try bottoming and he always seems so nervous about doing so, and uses the excuse he is too tired;
  • He's very slim;
  • I nosed around in his medical cabinet nothing there, but he went to his studio to get medication; and was very coy about it;
  • He’s asthmatic.
Since writing the above I feel somewhat pathetic coming to the conclusion I have, but I still have this underlying fear. So should I ask him, if so how? Would you still engage in oral sex if he was positive (very personal don’t worry about answering)?

Many thanks,

Doing anything in life carries some level of risk, from walking down the stairs in the morning, to participation in dangerous sports. Having sex with another guy carries a risk which lies somewhere in between those two extremes, because it's possible to pick up quite a variety of infections and diseases including HIV. These days HIV seems to be a manageable condition, however just because it isn't the assured death sentence that it was twenty five years ago doesn't mean it should be ignored. On the contrary, it's still incurable so it's important to avoid being infected if possible. For this reason, as I said a few months ago, when meeting guys for the first time I always ask about their HIV status.

Reading the reader's email, none of the reasons that he gives indicate that the guy is HIV positive. I reckon the only real suspicion arises from the fact that the guy is on medication for something that he hasn't disclosed, but of course he could be on medication for absolutely anything including his asthma if he gets it badly.

As the reader suggests, since they've now met up several times, if they're going to continue seeing each other I think it's reasonable to ask about HIV status. But the reader shouldn't make a big issue about it. Perhaps asking along the lines "By the way, I know you're taking medication for something, so I've been wondering about your HIV status … ?" would work without seeming unnecessarily intrusive.

Even if the guy thinks that he's HIV negative though, there's a possibility that he's actually HIV positive and doesn't know it. Apparently after being infected it can take up to three months for an HIV test to produce a positive result. So whatever the guy's apparent status, if the two of them start having full anal sex the reader should make sure that they always use condoms.

Regarding oral sex, although HIV transmission in that situation is much less likely than with anal sex, it's still possible especially if the guy doing the sucking has bad oral hygiene or bleeding gums. So I wouldn't advise sucking a guy who's definitely HIV positive, because I think the pre-cum of an infected guy does contain some HIV.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?