Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Email from a guy with a confidence problem

Last week, I received the following email from a young gay reader that was as follows:

Dear GB,

I love your blog a lot and have been reading it for over a year now, when I came across it by accident. I'm a big fan. I'm writing to you because I don't know who to talk to about this and need some advice, which is cringe-full even now that I am writing it.

I am a 20-year-old Indian guy who's at university. I have been out for sometime and have never had a boyfriend; I started to explore my sexuality on gaydar with no real success. In fact, I hated the sex I had with the guys from gaydar, and it has kinda put me off gay sex a little.

Recently I went on a date with a guy, considering I am 20 and have never had a boyfriend, thinking it would be good to have someone in my life. However, I fell for going back to his place for a spot of fun. When we where getting down to it he said causally "Oh you're really tiny … it's cute". At that point, I was so embarrassed I had to leave. I never saw him again. Funny and embarrassing as it is, this made me very paranoid after.

I am 5inches erect and I know that's on the smaller size of the so-called average but I can't help but be paranoid about being a little small. I have now met a really cool guy who I like a lot and he likes me, but he keeps asking me why I won't go out with him as his boyfriend. I just keep making excuses but really I know at some point I will have to show it to him and I can't afford a repeat incident. Gay people talk, and me and him know the same people, so if for whatever reason our relationship did not work out on good terms I could not afford him telling people about my little chap, because it would really be kicking a guy down when he's down.

I know you have said previously, that you would prefer a harder dick than a bigger one. But I really can't help thinking whether it really is an issue. I have no way to get over my trauma over what my date said to me and now I don't know what to do because I think about it all the time.

Thanks for listening; I would value your thoughts a lot.

My immediate reaction to this reader's email was that it's an awful indictment of the society that we live in, because it's only peer pressure that makes guys feel this way if they're smaller than average in the trouser department. In fact I'm guilty too, because although it's true that I prefer hard dicks to big ones :-), I drew attention to the fact that the guy I met after the lengthly courtship had a big dick and that kind of writing just perpetuates people's obsession with dick size :-(. Of course, the point about hard dicks is that in my experience, guys with big dicks don't usually get as hard as guys who are smaller, and I'm sure that the hardest dicks that I've played with were ones that were smaller than average!

This reader's email also reminded me about a TV programme that I saw last September, which was made by a guy called Lawrence Barraclough. Lawrence has a penis which is just 3½ inches long when erect and he's made a couple of TV programmes about it, looking into why he's bothered about the fact that his dick is smaller than average. One important conclusion that Lawrence reached was not to have surgery to try and make his little chap bigger, and I would definitely recommend that this reader avoids surgery too. One reason why surgery is a bad idea is because there's nothing physically wrong with this reader. I agree that 5 inches erect is smaller than average for an Indian or Caucasian guy, but by definition 50% of guys are smaller than average because that's what average means!

However, it's clear that this reader does have a confidence issue relating to the fact that his dick is a bit smaller than average. It's what I call the confidence mirror, but working against him. Because the reader feels that his dick size is a problem, that's the reaction that likely to be reflected back to him when he's in intimate situations with other guys. Somehow, he needs to learn that to a large percentage of the population dick size is not important, even if they joke about dick size like I did recently.

It's true, of course, that there are some shallow gay guys out there for whom a big dick is an essential attribute in their sexual partners. There have been times when I've been on gaydar and guys lose interest in me when I say that I'm average. If that's important to a guy, them I'm sure that I have no interest in him either. Actually, I can honestly say that if I'm cruising on gaydar, I NEVER look at how a guy describes himself in terms of 'Dick Size' on his profile. I've certainly had many enjoyable encounters with guys of all sizes, including many with guys that are a similar size to this reader. In any case, in terms of boyfriends and relationships, the thing that matters most is whether two guys get on with each other or not, not the size of their equipment!

I'm also sure that when that guy said this reader "Oh you're really tiny … it's cute" the guy had nothing but good intentions, because 'cute' was surely meant as a compliment. This means it was a failure of communication, because the reader's lack of confidence made him feel embarrassed which caused him to leave. So what can the reader do to overcome his confidence problem?

Confronting the issue head on is one possibility. So the next time the guy that's sweet on the reader asks him why they can't be boyfriends, perhaps he could confide in him and say it's simply because he's slightly embarrassed because he's a bit smaller than average. In that situation, the guy is highly likely to say that it doesn't matter to him. In any case, I can't imagine any circumstances which would cause the guy to discuss the matter with anyone else, even if they become boyfriends and later split up. Everyone knows that what one learns about someone else's naked body and sexual preferences is confidential, and isn't for discussion with anyone else. Talking about those kind of things with other people reflects badly on the person who divulges the information, not on the person who's secrets are being divulged. In any case, given the way that the reader feels, it's probably worth raising the issue somehow before he gets into the bedroom. Getting naked with a guy for the first time should be an enjoyable experience :-), so the reader shouldn't be worrying about what the other guy is going to say when he sees his tackle!

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New houses

"You know what my barber says GB?" shouts boyfriend S from the upstairs bathroom of his new house, while I'm downstairs.

"No what?"

"When he moves into a new house, there are two things he changes immediately!"

"Uh huh, and what are they?" I ask, only mildly interested, "let me guess, the front and back door locks!"

"Close," says boyfriend S, coming downstairs now, "but in fact he changes the locks and the toilet seats!"

I chuckle to myself at the idea that someone feels they need to change their toilet seat, presumably just because it's main purpose has been for other people's arses to sit on!

"But what does he do when he visits a friend's house and needs to use the toilet there?" I ask.

"Oh don't ask me," replies boyfriend S chuckling too, "perhaps he doesn’t use any toilets when he visits friends, perhaps the horrible thought of having to sit on someone else's toilet seat keeps his rear sphincter tightly shut!"

In the past, I've heard people worry about who might have died in their new house, but worrying about toilet seats like that is surely taking hygiene worries to a ridiculous extreme!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monogamy? A cautionary tale ...

Patrick had been with his boyfriend Colin for five years now and was happy. Although he knew that his previous boyfriend Gary had loved and cared for him enormously, Gary had always been evasive when the subject of monogamy was raised.

"But why do you think that monogamy is so important?" Gary would ask, "Don't you think that I love you? Don't you think that you're my top priority all the time?"

"I know you love me and everything," Patrick would reply, "It's just that I saw what my father's infidelity did to my mother, it almost destroyed her :-(. I always swore to myself that I wouldn't let that happen to me!"

Eventually Patrick decided that he had to find a boyfriend who could commit to monogamy, and so by mutual consent Gary and Patrick went their separate ways. It didn’t take Patrick long to find a nice guy called Colin who also wanted an uncomplicated monogamous relationship.

Although the honeymoon period of his relationship with Colin was a long time ago now, the two of them had settled into a comfortable every day existence which didn't give Patrick any cause for concern. He knew that the split with Gary had been the right decision. Monogamy was just so important to him.

One day, Colin came home to Patrick with some good news.

"Guess what, I've just been head-hunted!" announces Colin, "I'm not sure yet whether I'll be offered the job but I've got an excellent chance. It would mean that I'll have to travel to Asia on business regularly, but it's a much better role! The new firm has also got a much better profile that my current firm so I think I should go for it :-)."

"Yes I guess," replies Patrick, "but I'll miss you terribly when you're away :-(. Anyway, I know I can trust you :-)."

After a series of hard interviews, Colin gets offered the job and soon he finds himself travelling to Hong Kong or Singapore every month or two. But as time passes, doubts start to arise in Patrick's mind.

"Where were you when I phoned you in your hotel around 11pm three nights ago?" asks Patrick after Colin has just returned from a trip to Singapore, "I thought you said that you had to work on a presentation for the following day!"

"The clients insisted on going to that girlie bar Top Ten," laughs Colin, "well of course I didn't want to go but I didn't have any choice!"

"Anyway," continues Colin, "where were YOU when I phoned yesterday morning? You've always got your iPhone with you when I'm around!"

"Actually I did have it with me," explains Patrick, "but I'd forgotten to put it on charge the night before and I didn't realise that it was out of power until the afternoon."

Much more time passes.

Years later, by chance Gary spots his ex-boyfriend Patrick on the street.

"Wow it's Patrick isn't it?" says Gary with a huge smile on his face, touching Patrick on the shoulder to grab his attention, "I haven't seen you for YEARS! How's that boyfriend Colin :-)?"

"Oh, well, we split up ages ago," replies Patrick looking mildly upset by the subject.

"Really? What went wrong?"

"Well, Colin started travelling to Asia a lot on business. One day on his return, I found a pair of undershorts in his luggage that weren't his. He said that the hotel laundry must have made a mistake but at the time I didn't believe him. We gradually just ended up mistrusting each other and then quarrelling all the time. He wouldn't change job so in the end our relationship just disintegrated. Anyway … did you find another boyfriend after me?"

"Yes of course, actually I think it was only a few months after you started going out with Colin," answers Gary, "we're very happy together :-)."

"And are you monogamous?"

"Oh you know me," laughs Gary, "I wouldn't commit to that on principle, but in fact I can't remember when I had sex with a guy who wasn't my boyfriend! I guess I just got bored of all that ages ago. Of course my boyfriend thinks the same way as I do, he agrees that it's the positive, caring commitments that we make to each other that are much more important than that old monogamy issue! Anyway, who are you with now?"

"Well, actually," says Patrick slowly, trying to find the words, "since Colin I've been single :-(."

"Awww, sorry to hear that mate," replies Gary, "Look, I've got to dash now, but you must come round for supper with us sometime :-)?"

"Yes. OK. I suppose …," says Patrick looking a bit uncertain, "what's your cell phone number, I'll give you a call soon?"

But although Gary gives Patrick his number, for some reason Patrick never calls him.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Email from a guy with a mid-life boyfriend crisis

It's been a while since anyone emailed me for any advice so I was happy to receive the following email last week from a guy who's got boyfriend problems:

Dear GB,

I am a new reader of your blog, living in London. I am really looking for some advice from you. It's difficult to discuss my dilemma with friends for reasons which will be obvious.

I am in my mid 40s and have been in a relationship with my partner for nearly nine years now. He is in his early 30s. He is bright, good looking, and treats me very well. I am his first boyfriend. Sounds like a dream come true for any gay 40 year old! The problem is we have not been having sex much at all for the last couple of years or so. We are both still interested in sex, but something seems to stop us enjoying it together. I have got through this with the occasional encounter and I assume he has too, although it's not discussed. A genuine open relationship would not be an option with him because he knows I have cheated on him before and he is too insecure to handle it. I don't mean that as a criticism. If anything it should be the other way round.

Last autumn I started chatting to a lovely guy on gaydar who lives in Brighton. Again he is bright, attractive to me, in his mid 30s, funny etc. We met for sex once and it was great. Since then we have texted and chatted on the phone a lot. He is away a lot. For a while I was making the running in terms of the texts etc and he was a bit reticent. I put that down to the fact that he had just come out of a long relationship and did not want to get involved with me given my circumstances. However, I've been around the block a few times and I like to think I know the difference between disinterest and being scared of falling for someone. I know he likes me a lot and think we could have a future together. I know it sounds mad to make such a bold assertion on the basis of texts and calls etc but sometimes you just know don't you?

I have fallen for him big time. He is on my mind 24/7. It's a bit like being 17 again. Although I live and work in London, I could move down to Brighton permanently to be with him because it's an easy commute to London on the train.

So the dilemma. Is this a mid life crisis or not? I have never felt this way about anyone during my time with my partner. I realise that when its written down in black and white it looks like madness to even think we could have a future together. The reality is we hardly really know each other and would be coming together after two LT relationships - hardly a recipe for success.

But maybe it's time to move on. I love my partner but not with the burning intensity I know I could love this guy. I think the best thing to do is to continue the connection with this new guy and see where it leads. The more we get to know each other the greater the chance we may lose interest in each other. I feel I have to find out or I could regret not taking the chance for years. Or should I "get a grip of myself" and put all my efforts into rebuilding my relationship with my partner?

I hope I have not bored you to tears. However, I would genuinely value your thoughts. It's a great blog too by the way!


I don't like the term "mid-life crisis", but since this reader is around the middle of his expected lifespan, I guess his problems falls into that category! I actually think it's healthy to assess the direction of one's life every now and then. For a lot of us, including myself, we follow the expected path from school/university to job and relationship, probably including children if one is straight, strive for seniority at work so as to earn more money, and it's only in one's late thirties or forties that the path peters out. So around that time, anyone with a brain should be questioning whether they're headed in the right direction or not!

This reader's case reminds me of the email from the gay guy with long-term relationship issues. That guy was also contemplating leaving his long-term partner for another guy, and just as in that situation, change for the sake of change is probably a bad idea. When there are problems with one's domestic situation, it's very hard to be objective about the the merits of dumping one's boyfriend for another guy, because the prospects of a life with the other guy will always look better than they really are. Given this, I doubt that this reader's love for the other guy is any stronger than his love was for his current boyfriend when they first got to know each other, and the burning intensity of his love for the other guy will gradually fade. Even so, that doesn't necessarily mean that a relationship with the other guy would be a mistake.

The bottom line is that this reader really needs to talk to his current boyfriend. Communication is vital to maintain a healthy relationship. In terms of communication it's clear that the relationship has broken down, because they're not talking about their sexual difficulties, which is causing at least one of them to look elsewhere. Whether he ends up separating from his boyfriend or staying with him, both courses of action mean that he'll have to talk to him about difficult subjects. And the fact is, if he can't bring himself to talk about difficult subjects with his current boyfriend, he's not likely to be able to do so with any other boyfriend when difficulties arise in any future relationship.

The ultimate outcome must depend on what happens when the reader starts discussing his relationship problems with his partner. Although he says that an open relationship is out of the question, that may be preferable to both parties instead of splitting up. Nine years in a gay male relationship is an achievement, and it's a shame to throw it all away without trying to fix it. The reader says that 'something' seems to stop him and his current boyfriend enjoying sex with each other. My guess is that solving their communication problem could well be an important milestone in terms of finding a solution to that, because if they love each other enough to share their most intimate thoughts with each other, loving each other physically too will seem very natural.

To make a success of any relationship over a long period of time, I think it's important that both parties to continue to work at it. It's not clear to me which of them stopped working at their relationship first, but it's probably true that both of them have let it slip over the last couple of years. At any rate, it's important that the reader enters into discussions with his current boyfriend with an open mind, without trying to pre-judge what will happen. In this way, the reader will be showing his willingness to try and make the relationship work again. If, in spite of his best efforts, the boyfriend won't properly engage in the discussions, or doesn't want to start putting any work into the relationship again, then perhaps trying for a new relationship with the other guy would be the best course of action. Since it seems that this is the course of action that the reader wants to follow, he should bear in mind that it's very easy to mis-interpret what was said and hear what one wants to hear, so to try and overcome this he really does need to listen properly to what his boyfriend has to say otherwise he's not giving it his best shot.

If the ultimate conclusion is that it's best to end their nine year relationship, I think it's less traumatic if they can do that and still somehow remain friends. Although it's not clear where my relationship is going with my boyfriend S, if we eventually decide to stop calling each other boyfriends then I think it's likely that we will remain friends. I reckon that people who break all ties in these situations usually end up being less happy in the long run, because they're effectively putting a big part of their life into the dustbin!

Do any other reader's have any thoughts on this situation?

Friday, April 18, 2008


Although I'm a big fan of the cartoon South Park, I'm not an expert on lesbian sex. So I have to admit that I was a bit confused when, watching South Park series 11 episode "D-Yikes!" recently, I suddenly heard the character Janet Garrison say:

Really, I don't even understand how two women can make love, I mean, unless they just kinda, scissor or something?

In case any readers aren't familiar with the South Park characters, I should explain that Janet Garrison was a bald man until series 9. He then had a sex change operation and became a bald woman, which lasted until series 12 when she had the operation reversed to become a man again. Anyway, I wasn't sure whether scissoring was a genuine entry on the menu of lesbian love-making, or whether it was simply the product of the over-active and awesomely fertile imaginations of the South Park writers!

Luckily wikipedia came to the rescue. The article on tribadism, explains that scissoring is indeed a term for the sexual activity where two women rub their genitals together in a form of mutual masturbation.

In the world of gay male sex, I'm familiar with frottage of course which is the closest equivalent. Unfortunately though, I don't think the scissoring position would work with two guys. On the contrary, I think it would be absolutely ball-gridingly painful!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coming out to a friend about the situation with boyfriend S

"I'll probably be seeing my friend P for lunch today," I tell boyfriend S one morning last week, "so I think I may as well tell him that we're buying a house for you, and that we'll end up living separately."

"OK sure," replies boyfriend S, looking a bit uncertain, "and what will you say if he asks ... "

"... if he asks whether this means that we're not going to be boyfriends any more?" I say completing boyfriend S's sentence for him. Boyfriend S nods. "Well, I'll tell him that it simply means we're buying a house for you, so that we can live separately, end of story :-)!"

"OK great," says Boyfriend S smiling now, "I just wondered!"

Around mid-morning I get a txt msg from P checking that I'm still available for lunch, so I reply immediately to confirm. Over lunch, I keep trying to find an appropriate opening in the conversation to tell P about boyfriend S, but I find it really hard. It reminds me of the feeling that I used to get years ago when I was unable to find the right moment to tell someone that I was gay! Eventually though, P asks about boyfriend S so it's now or never:

"Actually we've decided to live separately going forward, so I'm buying boyfriend S a house to live in nearby," I tell P, trying to sound calm as I get the words out.

"Oh really?" says P looking mildly surprised. "But you'll obviously still be boyfriends right! I guess that makes sense, you obviously need your own space because you've been taking all those holidays on your own. Anyway ...", and he starts talking about something else.

So although this is huge news in my mind, P hardly reacted at all! Just like when a guy comes out as gay to one of his friends and they tell him that they worked it out ages ago. I decide that now isn't the time to tell P that in fact I haven't been taking holidays on my own, and that I've been going on holidays with another boyfriend (South America, Bahamas, Argentina etc)!

When boyfriend S does move into his own house it's bound to mark a huge change in our relationship with each other, although I'm sure it's the right decision. One of the issues that I mentioned in the Dear GB posting that I wrote for myself last year was the fact that boyfriend S's mental health was deteriorating quite badly. However, since that low point he's recovered significantly, and I'm sure the improvement has a lot to do with the independence that he'll be gaining from owning his own home.

But how will I live my life in future? Although I like the idea of deepening my relationship with boyfriend P (who's a different guy to my friend P), boyfriend P doesn't live in the UK which is obviously sub-optimal unless one of us relocates. Boyfriend P also continues to go on dates with other guys, saying that what he really wants is to find is a nice guy who's also looking for a committed monogamous relationship. Of course, I reckon that gay relationships don't have to be based on monogamy! But one thing that myself and boyfriend P do share is a desire for kids, because at this stage in my life I'm definitely keen to become a father if possible.

Over the last few years, the whole situation with boyfriend S has been a bit traumatic. Still, whatever happens going forward I can't help thinking that the next few years of my life are likely to be more interesting than the ones in my recent past. And once I get over the shock of the separation with boyfriend S, hopefully they'll be more enjoyable too :-).

Saturday, April 12, 2008


One of the emails that I got last week was from a New York company wanting me to put an advert on my blog for the Gilt Groupe, who are a company that run an invitation-only web site which is about to start organising sales of luxury designer menswear brands. I was about to hit the 'spam' button when I realised that the guy who sent the email had provided his contact details, which is unusual in a spam email. Furthermore, he must have read my blog at least once because he said "I'm working on a project that would be perfect your blog, especially since I know how much your boyfriend likes to shop". Well indeed, one of them certainly does :-).

The boyfriend who likes shopping is boyfriend P, so I decided to forward him the email to find out what he thought. Within a few hours he'd sent me an enthusiastic reply:

Yeah that email is definitely legit, I've heard of them. Ask him if he has tickets to the next Fashion Week shows at the Tent in Bryant Park NYC! I'd love to go!

As a final check I googled Gilt Groupe and indeed, it seems that they're a genuine company that's reasonably well regarded, see for example this article on Forbes.com. One has to register with the Gilt Groupe web site, and then one gets notified just before the sales start.

So boyfriend P has persuaded me to run the advert in an attempt to get him a ticket for Fashion Week in NYC next September! For guys who want cheap designer goods, it does sound as though it might be worth a look. However if any reader registers with them and has any problems, please let me know because I'll remove the advert and do a posting about their bad experience. But perhaps the only catch is that this web-site is US based, so what are the rest of us on this side of the pond meant to do!

On Wednesday April 16th, for the first time ever, Gilt Groupe, an invitation-only "sample sale" website which has
been phenomenally successful offering women's fashion and luxury lifestyle brands at up to 70% off, will launch a store for men! The first men's sale will be merchandise by designer John Varvatos, followed by Hickey on Friday, April 18, Dolce & Gabanna on Tuesday, April 22, and Lambertson Truex on Thursday, April 24.

The sales are first come, first serve, one day only, and the full
collections of merchandise are always available at the start of
the sales which begin at 12pm EST.

To join Gilt Groupe for free and to gain access to the men’s
online store visit: www.gilt.com/menslaunch9

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Old British gay comedians

"Do you ever see that old comedian who lives near you?" says the taxi driver on the way to work, one day last week.

"Errr, who's that?" I answer in a dis-interested kind of way, looking up from my PDA where I'd been reading a rather amusing email from a colleague. The taxi driver himself is a cheery soul, but looks as though he passed retirement age many years ago! He could well be thinking about someone that I've never heard of.

"Oh what's his name ... ," says the cabbie, "he used to be on TV all the time. He lives there with his boyfriend. I used to pick him up in the cab occasionally, but I haven't seen him for a year or so now."

Hmmm, I guess that's vaguely interesting :-), a famous gay comedian who lives (or lived) near me! But why has the cabbie started discussing gay comedians with me? Dressed for work I look as straight and boring as the next guy! Anyway, I'm not aware of any comedians who live near me so perhaps the cabbie's made a mistake. I start to compose a reply to my colleague's email.

"Barry Took!" says the cabbie triumphantly after a few seconds, "Do you ever see him?"

"Is he still alive?" I ask. I decide that the reply to my colleague can wait so I put my PDA away. "I've definitely not seen him around, and I've been living in the area for over five years now."

"I don't know, perhaps something's happened to him because he used to be quite a regular customer."

"I guess you've picked up loads of famous people in your time?" I ask, fishing for a story. This guy could well have been a London cabbie since before I was born!

"Oh yeah, over the years they've all been in the back there :-)," laughs the cabbie.

"When I was young, I was on the taxi circuit that used to pick up Frankie Howerd," he continues, "Do you remember him?"

"Yes of course :-), what was he like?"

"Well I didn't know about him at first. To tell the truth, I didn't know much about anything when I started out! 'Don't go in for a coffee' they told me when they gave me the job to pick him up for the first time. They all knew about him but how was I meant to know what that meant? He was a lovely guy though, very pleasant to talk to!"

"But did you go in for a coffee?"

"Only once!" laughs the cabbie, "and let me tell you, I got MUCH more than just a coffee!"

Monday, April 07, 2008


There's been a bit in the news over here recently saying that within a couple of years there's likely to be a referendum in Scotland about whether it should remain part of the UK. My immediate reaction to this news was that the rest of the UK also needs to hold a referendum on whether we want to remain unified with Scotland!

I myself have roots all over the UK, and have always been interested in the history of how the UK came into existence as a combination of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But although one of my grandfathers has Scottish ancestry, and one of my grandmothers has Welsh ancestry with the other two grandparents having English ancestry, I've always labelled myself as English because I was brought up in England.

Co-operation is fundamental to modern society. If any of us city dwellers had to make from scratch any of the items found in our homes, whether food items, furniture or anything else, then it's likely to take us literally hundreds of times longer that it takes us to earn the money for it and buy it in a shop. How did we manage to evolve into such an advanced state of existence, given that most people are fundamentally selfish? This question can in fact be answered mathematically via a variation of the prisoner's dilemma, which shows that even if there are some short term advantages in not co-operating, provided the long term advantages of co-operation are greater then always co-operating is the best strategy .

The 1707 Act of Union which united Scotland with the rest of Britain is a perfect example of the advantages of co-operation. Around 1707 Scotland was quite a poor country, but after the Act of Union Scottish merchants were able to start exploiting opportunities which became available because England was a colonial power. A lot of wealth was generated in Scotland, and if the Act of Union hadn't happened then it seems likely that The Scottish Enlightenment wouldn't have happened either.

But how do Scots feel about all this today. In spite of everything that England and Scotland have been through together since 1707, I have a strong impression that a lot of Scots people don't like the English. The Scottish reaction to England playing in international sports matches is particularly revealing. Whatever the event, and whoever the opponent is, it seems to me that a Scottish person would usually prefer to see England lose. Another example is the reaction that an Indian colleague had while holidaying in some of the remoter parts of Scotland, where he was told that he was particularly welcome because he wasn't English! Although I'm a strong believer in co-operation, when the other party doesn't want to co-operate it doesn't work.

Does the rest of the UK need Scotland? Not really :-). It's true that the UK's oil in the North Sea would be Scottish if Scotland was an independent country, but in today's global economy GDP figures are more relevant. Less than 10% of the UK's population lives in Scotland, and their GDP per head is a bit less than the rest of the UK. Without Scotland, the GDP of the rest of the UK may still be greater than France's GDP, and if behind France then not by much.

The idea of becoming independent countries seems madness to me for many reasons. None the less, with their history of unfriendliness with the rest of the inhabitants of the UK, I think it's time for the rest of us to vote on whether to break the union with the Scots. The Scots have been quite clever at always discussing this issue in terms of what Scottish people get out of the union. A discussion about whether the rest of us get anything out of the union with the Scots is long overdue!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Female doctor phobia

Guy riding exercise bikeI hadn't had a detailed medical check-up for many years, so when the opportunity arose recently through the bank that I work for it seemed like a good idea. I reckon health check-ups are more important as one gets older, so with some younger readers putting my age at 'the other end of the spectrum' from them, no doubt they'd think that I've been a bit remiss in leaving it so long! The check-up on offer takes around three hours, so I block out an entire morning in my work diary and book the appointment.

Before the day itself, a long questionnaire arrives which asks a lot of personal questions about my situation, medical condition and history. "Do you feel your relationship is stable and supportive? Yes/No". I tick both boxes, one for boyfriend P and one for boyfriend S. "How many units of alcohol do you typically drink in an average week? " Although I know what the recommended maximum intake is, I decide to answer honestly and see what they say!

Arriving at the health centre, I'm met by quite a cute physiologist who tells me that he'll be doing most of the tests on me.

"First I'll need to take some blood," he says with an enthusiastic smile on his face, "can you roll up your left sleeve for me?"

I knew this was coming, although I never enjoy the procedure. I start rolling up my sleeve hoping to get it over with as quickly as possible.

"Are you any good at phlebotomy?" I ask him, trying to sound knowledgeable by using a word that I learned a couple of years ago at the sexual health clinic. "I sometimes end up with nasty bruises afterwards :-("

"That tends to happen when they're rushing," he explains, "in a hospital for example when they're going round taking samples from dozens of different people!"

He gently prods the fleshy area on the inside of my elbow with his finger, but looks mildly upset so he asks me to roll up my other sleeve. On the inside of my right elbow he finds a particularly juicy vein.

"OWWW," I say, acting rather childishly but wanting him to understand that this isn't my favourite activity. However, within a few minutes it's all over.

"There, that wasn't too bad was it?"

During the course of the next hour he measures and tests me in a huge variety of ways. Vision, lung function, some fancy laser equipment to measure my anti-oxidant levels, urine, the only thing that he doesn't do is ask for a semen sample! And then it's time for a chat with the doctor.

"If you just go and sit back in the waiting area she'll be with you shortly," he says smiling at me again.

Immediately I take on board what he'd said. It's a female doctor. Which is fine for discussing most medical problems, but what if she wants to examine me downstairs or discuss male health? Although I'm very rational in almost everything I do, when it comes to discussing those issues with a female doctor I become a bit irrational and find it very hard. No doubt this is related to the fact that I prefer male therapists for massage.

In fact the chat with her is actually very useful.

"One of your liver enzymes is registering slightly above the recommended level," she says, "and that's probably related to the fact that you drink quite a lot of alcohol. Nothing to worry about at the moment, but it'll probably get worse if you carry on drinking as much as you do."

More interestingly, she links my alcohol intake with the fact that sometimes I don't sleep very well.

"If you drunk less, you would probably get better quality sleep."

Although a few glasses of top quality wine after work helps me relax, I realise that it might be worth drinking a bit less if I could sleep a bit better.

She then gets me to strip down to my undershorts and sit on the couch. Even though she's very professional, I start to feel uncomfortable. She examines me in various ways, including a thorough all-over prodding with a sharp instrument, no doubt to test my nerve reactions. Finally, at the end of the examination, she asks The Question:

"Are you comfortable with me examining your testicles for abnormalities?"

The immediate answer that comes into my head is No, but I know that I should say Yes. Of course, I've got a very good idea what loads of different guy's testicles feel like, including my own, so I would have spotted anything unusual wouldn't I? While I'm looking for the courage to say Yes, she speaks again:

"Or perhaps you examine yourself regularly?"

And of course, that's all the encouragement I need to decline.

"Errr, yes I do, so I guess you don't have to do it, but thanks anyway!"

The final part of the examination is back with the cute physiologist again for an ECG on my heart while riding an exercise bike. I guess a lot of the guys that he tests are not very fit because as the resistance increases he keeps telling me that it's about to become impossibly difficult, but no doubt because I go to the gym regularly I find it all relatively easy.

Overall I thought it was very useful. Lots of good advice, and if I want to do it again in a year or two they'll be able to give me advice based on how things have changed during the intervening period. However, although I'm not surprised that I didn't let the female doctor examine my equipment, I do wish that I could be more rational about that situation!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Another email from the gay guy with the dating issue

Last week, I got another email from the reader who emailed me a few weeks ago when he had an issue with a guy he was dating who seemed to have another younger lover. The new email was as follows:

Dear GB,

I am sorry to turn to you again but I need some advice on my personal life and career from you.

In my personal life, I've started meeting this guy once again that I mentioned previously. He told me he has no one. However, I strongly suspect he is somewhat like you - i.e. has multiple boyfriends or lovers etc. I am not sure how you do it but I suppose you can because you are very secure in a lot of aspects of your life. Having read some of your postings about your life, I have a feeling the guy I like has a rich financier supporting him like you do with your bfs. He may be one of the financier's multiple bfs. He does not share much about his life with me but asks a lot about me. There are other things he has told me that does not fit very well with his lifestyle.

I know he likes me but I think he is fearful of me that I may leave him or something. Actually he is more concerned that I am only interested in his money because it seems in past he has been hurt by a number of Latino boys. I think that is the reason he is still holding onto his other younger guy - after all he is more dependant on him than say I will be since we are both the same age.

I find it very confusing because I have genuine feelings and I think he has feelings too but he has multiple lives. So in effect his feelings are not really genuine. It is a feeling of the character he portrays himself with me.

In regards to my career, unfortunately it is not going great either and would appreciate some advice as well. My female boss has had a crush on me and because I did not reciprocate she has become hostile and effectively wants me out of the company. I raised the issue with the HR and it seems I basically have effectively signed my resignation letter. I just relocate back to the UK and it is not the most conducive situation. Furthermore, I have been contracting for the last 2 years meaning it is difficult for me to find permanent positions or good roles with career development prospects.

I would be very much interested in your thoughts.

Thank you

I was glad to hear that the reader had resumed seeing the guy that he'd emailed me about, because in his previous email I got the impression that the decision to stop seeing him had been made too hastily. But it still sounds as though he's got some issues with deepening the relationship.

He certainly can't deepen the relationship unless he can grow to trust the guy! However, it's not clear to me why the reader doesn't trust him because I can't see any motive for the guy to lie about his relationship status. The guy seems to be seeking a deeper relationship with the reader, and it seems unlikely to me that anyone would do that and lie about their current relationship situation at the same time. I would certainly never lie about my relationship status if a guy that I'm keen on asks me a direct question in that area. It also seems likely to me that the guy originally mentioned the younger guy that he's loosely connected to precisely because he wanted to be honest about everything before taking things any further.

Small baby steps is often the best approach in these situations. No one can commit to a life-long partnership quickly, so I think the reader should continue seeing this guy, while trying to find ways to trust him. If he can't find a way to build trust then ultimately the reader will need to look elsewhere for his boyfriend, because trust is fundamental in any relationship. But nothing in the reader's emails suggests to me that the guy is being dishonest.

Regarding the reader's career, it's unfortunate that he's fallen out with his female boss. In that situation, since he's a contractor and not a permanent member of staff, I don't think he has any choice but to move on. If he was a permanent staff member then there are laws to protect him from the unprofessional behaviour of his boss.

It's easy to imagine how this situation might have developed. Gay guys are not tuned in to the rituals of heterosexual dating, so whereas a straight guy would have immediately picked up on advances being made towards him and reacted in an appropriate way, gay guys can miss some of the subtle signals. So the boss could well have the impression that some of the reader's actions misled her, because he was probably originally unaware of her attraction.

In terms of finding a new job, perhaps he should aim to have a male boss next time. Since most guys are straight, a male boss would be much less likely to be interested in him sexually. But if the boss did turn out to be gay and also attracted to him, then at least he'd be properly tuned in to the situation!

Does anyone else have any other thoughts for this reader?