Sunday, August 31, 2008 Be Who You Want to Be

Last month, I published a 'Dear GB' email from a gay American navy veteran called Robaire Watson. Last night, Robaire emailed me to say that he now has his own blog: Although there's only one post at the moment, a copy of the same article that I linked to from my post last month, I'm sure more will follow :-).

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Am I making it all up?

Last week, I was shocked when I realised that a guy called Michael, who left a comment on my post last Monday, didn't believe that the story was true. So I'm left wondering to what extent readers believe the stories that I write about my life? To find out, I've decided to conduct a poll as follows:

Question: Are the stories that GB writes about his life true or untrue?

Possible answers:
Gospel truth: all GB's stories are true in every detail and I can't believe anyone would think otherwise!
Mostly true: GB's stories are basically true, however minor details may have been changed to protect everyone's anonymity.
True and untrue: GB mixes and matches, so some stories are mostly true and some stores are mostly untrue.
Mostly untrue: GB uses his vivid imagination to construct all the stories out of minor incidents in his life!
Complete fiction: GB probably isn't a banker and not gay either!!

The poll can be found at the top of my side-bar on the right-hand side. Please vote :-). I'm keen to understand the people who read my blog!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Email from a broken-hearted gay guy

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I'm trying to get over a relationship I had with a guy that started in March this year. It will soon have been four months since we broke off, and while I've willed my flesh to move on, my spirit is still broken.

I've dated, watched movies and had meals with perfectly respectable men whom I find savagely attractive... only to find that beneath the physique there isn't anything that comes even close to the level of affinity I felt for him. I've went to 4 saunas in Hong Kong, 1 in Shanghai, 3 in Taipei and messed around in mass orgies in steamrooms, in hot water tubs and in open view in front of tons of other men... yet I still picture him over me and inside me when I'm getting fucked.

I've come to the realization of just how messed up I am right now. I'm still in love with a man who unceremoniously ended communication when his on-again-off-again ex called. I'm still in love with the man who swept me off my feet after two months of intense dating, phone calls and lovey dovey nicknames. I'm still imagining falling asleep in his arms when I am alone in bed. At night, I end up listening to sad Jay Chou songs over and over... the moment I hear Josh Groban sing "You Raise Me Up" I tear uncontrollably if I'm in private.

I've grown impatient and can't be bothered with others. I have friends in church, from school, from work. But when I'm out with them I find it so strange that I feel as if it's such hard work being friends and such a chore to make conversation. In some sick way I miss the effortlessness that we had, I miss the fluid flow of offhand remarks that just came out of thin air. The cheeky humor, the sarcastic one liners, the words that were dense with playful loaded meanings. It was a living sitcom and I relished it. I actually felt alive.

With him, everything changed. For the first time I felt a clear direction in finding what to do after graduation. For the first time I found the endurance to outperform my peers. For the first time I found myself being more detailed, being able to see things in multiple perspectives. For the first time I could wing presentations and still do well. For the first time I didn't care if strangers discovered our covert displays of affection. For the first time, I could lift more at the gym and actually upped my bear quotient. For the first time my relationship with my parents improved... and for the first time I could see real goals for myself five years down the road.

Suddenly the standards of which I used to judge if I clicked with people just changed, and in the absence of his presence in my life I have started to fling about wildly, unrealistically expecting to find the same level of synchronization with my friends. Bless them for their patience.

What do I do now? It's been nearly four months since he removed himself from my life. I've hardly seen him since, and he never calls. We say we'll meet up, yet it's always me calling him. I just want to move on now. I just want to forget and go back to being that guy I was. Yet I can never bring myself to delete him from my life. I'd never forgive myself if I did.

I guess I wish I could just find a way to see the world the way I used to see it before he came into my life. I feel as if I had on a veil of innocence that is now torn away.


This email arrived with the title "How do I go back seeing the world as it was?", and having thought about it a bit, I ended up sending a reply which included the following paragraph:

As a brief thought which you may find helpful, I think your desire to go back seeing the world as it was is misjudged. Your email describes lots of good things that happened to you while you were briefly with your boyfriend, in terms of your confidence, outlook, your relationship with your family etc. So I'm sure there are lots of valuable things you can learn from the experience, and perhaps even recapture some of the positive things even though you don't have that boyfriend any more, now that you know you have it in you to feel and behave that way.

A day later, I received his reply:

Thanks for taking the time to read through my email, I appreciate it that you take the effort to think through some of the issues that a random person like myself just emailed you out of the blue.

Certainly when we were together many good things happened in my life. Can I attribute these things to him being in my life at that point? No. Can I be sure that those good things happened because of my own efforts? No. Do I have it in me to behave and think in that same manner? Yes, I think I discovered untapped energies when we were together.

But am I happier? No. I want to just go back to being happy. Even though I didn't outperform my peers, I did well enough to sail through. Even though I didn't lift as much in the gym, I didn't feel any frustration. I'd give it up to be that happy goer again.

I'm kinda confused and frustrated at myself. Maybe I'm just too used to being miserable now. I want to move on, but I forcing myself to be positive is just so tiring and I'm honestly worn out after several months. I thought I'd slowly accept it and be able to move on naturally, but now it's soon going to be half a year that I've mellowed and cried over a two month relationship that just frankly makes me seem like an utter emotional wreck and basket case.

Please let me know what you think.

The passage of time is usually the cure for a broken heart. However I've heard of a rule of thumb that suggests that it typically takes about half the amount of time that you're involved with someone to get over the end of the relationship. This poor reader is clearly way past that amount of time, so he must have been very deeply in love with the guy, even though they were only together for a couple of months.

Apparently it was Nietzsche who said "That which does not kill us makes us stronger", and as I said in my original reply, it's important for the reader to learn from this experience and to build on the positive things that happened while he was together with this guy. The reader clearly has an amazing capacity to love, so it will be a lucky guy who ends up being this reader's boyfriend.

My guess is that when he met the guy, for some reason the reader was particularly susceptible to the situation that he now finds himself in. Perhaps he'd been looking for a boyfriend for a long time and had almost given up hope of ever finding one, perhaps he'd recently lost someone important in his life and subconsciously saw the guy as a replacement for whoever it was? It's hard to guess, but since his reaction to the end of the short relationship has been so severe, it might be a symptom of something else. If so, it would be worth trying to work out what that 'something else' is. A better understanding of why he feels like he does would be a big help for the reader in terms of moving forward in his life.

Whatever the cause, the reader must try and focus on the future rather than the past. Given the way he currently feels, I don't think he's ready to go looking for another boyfriend just yet. Instead, I reckon he should find other personal development goals to focus on, and work at appreciating himself as an individual.

However, when he is ready for a relationship he needs to proceed carefully. Fellow London blogger Kenski left an exceptionally useful comment on a recent post of mine, when he said:
Simple old truth: if you go out looking for love you'll never find it. The number of times I've seen people go out to 'find a boyfriend'... (almost) always ends in disaster. That kind of search is basically egocentric and selfish. You're out there looking because it's something *you* want to have or because you have so much love that *you* want to give to someone. It's rarely about the other person. It's all about you.
Given that the reader feels a big hole in his life without his ex-boyfriend, it strikes me that the reader might well be the kind of guy that this applies to. So he'll need to be careful to take any new relationship slowly, not to expect everything from the start, and not to be too clingy which is very unattractive.

One last thought is that it's the journey through life which needs to be enjoyable rather than the destination. When someone has reached their destination, i.e. fulfilled all their goals, then what next? So when the reader starts focusing on the future, he should understand that the path to achieving the goals that he sets himself is just as important as reaching them. The example that I'm thinking of here is the goal to find a boyfriend.

Perhaps some other readers have also had problems recovering from past relationships, in which case it would be good if they could leave comments describing what worked for them. But as usual, all comments and advice welcome :-).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Such naughtiness!

Last week, the evening before I posted my thoughts about how gay guys recognise each other, I went to the gym after work. After my workout, I head for the showers as usual. The showers consist of two rows of cubicles facing each other, with a big space in between where guys can dry themselves. Each cubicle has a shower curtain, so the shy guys will make sure that the shower curtain is fully in place, whereas less shy guys like me don't bother too much.

As I enter a free cubicle, I notice a cute Asian guy on the opposite side of the room, showering without having drawn his shower curtain. What's more, he notices that I've noticed him. In fact I spot that he's being quite cruisey, because while I'm trying to turn on the water in my cubicle, I see him move a bit outside of his cubicle to look around before moving back. It turns out that my shower cubicle isn't working properly, and as the only other unoccupied cubicle is next to the cute Asian guy, I walk naked across the shower room to use it.

These days, I find that I rarely make a mistake in terms of assessing a guy's cruisey behaviour, so it's already clear to me that this guy is gay. But now that I'm in the adjacent cubicle, I'm curious to know how far he'll go in a very public shower room. Of course, I do need a shower so I start washing my hair, but I stand with my back to the wall and the shower curtain only half drawn so that I can see out of the cubicle.

Sure enough the Asian guy leaves his cubicle slightly, ostensibly to soap himself without the water from the shower immediately washing away the soap, and while he's outside his cubicle he looks very directly into my cubicle. I actually feel a bit embarrassed, simply because it's such a public shower room. I look him in the face (but not the eyes) and out of curiosity I can't help but look downstairs to see whether he's at all excited or not. Possibly a bit excited, I decide, but not too obvious.

Two minutes later and he repeats the exercise, even though most of the other cubicles are occupied so that some guys might well see what he's doing. With the thoughts of mentioning the importance of eye contact in my impending blog post, this time I decide to show some interest him, after all he is a cute guy and in any case since I'm inside my cubicle no one can see what I'm doing! So I simply look him directly in the eyes, then look at this soapy crotch, and then look him back in the eyes again and smile. This time, he's definitely a bit more excited downstairs! He smiles at me, but then disappears back inside his cubicle.

However within a few seconds he's outside again, looking around, and I wasn't ready for what happens next. Suddenly, his hand reaches inside my cubicle and gives my pink oboe a few quick strokes! Shocked, I look outside my cubicle but no one seems to have seen, or if they did they don't care. But honestly, such brazen naughtiness in a public shower room, what on earth is the world coming to LOL!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Last night, fellow banker and gay blogger Sir Wobin brought to my attention an interesting article in this week's New Scientist. Then when I checked my inbox this morning, there was an email from a reader in Sydney containing a link to the same article. Although the monogamy subject is perhaps a bit tired and worn out here, none the less the article is quite interesting:
Polygamy is the key to a long life
The reader in Sydney also sent me a link to a slightly older article:
Love unlimited: The polyamorists
Although the articles are written from a straight perspective, I'm sure the same concepts applies in the gay world.

Last night I emailed Sir Wobin, joking with him that it was a pity the first article gave no clue as to the optimal number of boyfriends. However the unexpected reply that I received almost immediately from him really made me laugh:
Less than 86 according to this Nigerian bloke. Does he look tired in the top photo? :-)
Well exactly!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The gaydar advantage

I was about to leave a comment on The Muscler's recent post about online dating when I suddenly realised that it would be much better to post my thoughts here instead. The Muscler wants a boyfriend, and not having found one at bars and gyms, he's going to try online. He writes
... most people would say that finding a decent boyfriend/husband via a gay chat website is impossible
and I think he's right that people think that sites like gaydar are just for sex. However, if he approaches it in the right way I think he'll be successful. Indeed, I seem to find all my boyfriends that way!

The initial focus of meeting a guy from these web sites will be for sex of course, and there's nothing wrong with that, in fact that's the key. It's what happens after the sex that's important. To be successful in finding boyfriends this way, it's important to understand the "There's something about Mary" effect. The point is that once you've both unloaded, it's sometimes possible to have very genuine conversations. Whenever that happens, and if I get on well with the guy too, I always wonder whether a deeper friendship or relationship might be possible. Of course it often turns out that the guy is unavailable for whatever reason, for example he may already have a boyfriend and be the type of guy who thinks that one boyfriend is enough. Occasionally though, one finds a nice guy who is available, and then it is possible to develop things further.

By comparison, I really hate idea of formal dating. The "Oh, and what do you do for a living?" kind of conversations that one has on first dates are so DULL. Much better to short circuit the process with some enjoyable activities, get to know the real guy at precisely the moment when he doesn't have anything to hide, and take things from there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How do gay guys recognise each other?

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from a straight teenager:

Dear GB,

I am a 17 years old heterosexual boy who grew up in the countryside. I came to Paris this summer and often when I go to the swimming pool there are gay men who try to chat me up. Before coming to Paris I had never met gay people, and now so many men come all of a sudden, I am a little scared to tell you the truth.

Is there something gay people do to recognise each other? Are gay men attracted to men the same way the girls are? (from a physical stand point)

Thank you very much.

I replied to him immediately to tell him that it would take me a couple of weeks to get round to writing this post for him. I then when on to say:

If a gay guy starts chatting you up, just think of it as a compliment. It's nothing to be scared about, however take the first opportunity to say that you're not interested. I've never heard of any gay guys getting abusive or violent if someone they try to chat up isn't interested, so just don't worry about it.

But the email raises a couple of interesting questions, namely how do gay guys recognise each other, and do gay men look for the same physical attributes in another man that girls look for.

Regarding the first question, I have in fact written about this subject before, in a posting last year with the title Is he or isn't he? As that post says, the most important aspect is definitely eye contact. A cruisey gay guy can look another guy in the eyes and the look on its own can say "I want to get naked with you". As a blatant example, if the cruisey guy looks the guy in the eyes, then looks at the guy's body and packet before looking the guy in the eyes again, then any guy whether gay or straight will understand!

In fact, when I was at university, a "straight" friend of mine made a pass at me in exactly that way. It was one evening, we were alone together, and having had a few drinks I was about to go back to my room to go to bed. We were saying goodnight to each other when he stopped talking to me for a second, looked me knowingly in the eyes, then looked at my crotch, and then looked me back in the eyes again. He then did it again with a more serious look in his eyes. Back then I was too scared to be gay so I ran away! It was quite a surprise coming from this particular friend, because he was the kind of guy who always had a girlfriend, and indeed he's now been married for years. I guess it proves that sexuality isn't always as clear cut as one might suppose.

To try and guess whether a guy is gay without eye contact, I'd try to work out who he looks at. If he's in the gym, is he looking at the women or the other guys? Straight guys instinctively don't want to be caught checking out other guys so they'll tend to keep their eyes to themselves if they're not checking out a woman. Even closeted gay guys can give themselves away like this, and in extreme circumstances it's possible to work out that a guy is gay before he knows it himself. I know that when I'm in a gym, I can't help myself looking at the other guys, especially in the changing room and showers!

If the person whose sexuality you're trying to determine is a friend, there are other things that can help. For example, if a guy has an unambiguous and keen interest in women, although he could just be hiding the fact that he's gay, almost certainly it's because he's straight. But of course, a lack of girlfriends could mean that the guy is gay.

All this talk about working out whether someone is gay or not reminds me of something that happened about ten years ago on the trading floor of a bank that I used to work for. Although I'd been working for the bank for a year or so, there was a London based colleague who had been working in one of the bank's offices abroad so I hadn't met him yet. But soon after he returned to the London office we began working on a deal together, and I recall being amazed by feeling an almost electric, telepathic connection when we were close to each other, such as when we were looking at a spreadsheet together on one of our workstations. It was quite intense and completely distracting, and I've never experienced anything like it, before or afterwards. I certainly had no idea what caused it. However, a few months later, that was the 'straight' colleague that I spotted in pleasuredome sauna. So if there really is such a thing as gaydar being like radar, then that was definitely it!

Regarding the other question my experience is that everyone, whether male or female, has their different favourite attributes that they look for in their partners. However I reckon that the menu of possible attributes is the same! I also reckon that a gay guy is more likely to be interested in the other guy's equipment than a women is. In connection with this, it's worth remembering that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", so for any particular guy there are likely to be some gay men and some women who find him attractive and others who don't.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these subjects?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Time for a bit of diversity

It became clear to me last month, when discussing my boyfriends with Close Encounters, that I need to find alternative potential boyfriends to boyfriend P. Although I love boyfriend P, and I think to some extent he loves me too, I'm definitely not the only man in his life. So like any good banker looking after a portfolio of investments, I need to diversify!

The following weekend I'm doing some work at home, so I decide to log onto to the usual two gay chat sites that I used to use, namely gaydar and Initially I focus on my work, but when I take a break I notice that there's a guy nearby who's put a message into one of the chat rooms looking for someone local. I bring up his profile and he looks really cute, in fact he wouldn't look out of place as the star of a porn movie! I decide to try my luck, so I open a private chat window with the guy who turns out to be called M:

GB: hi mate, I'm not far from you
M: where r u?
M: stats?
M: whats u into?
M: face pic?

Blimey mate, slow down, we've only just met each other! I answer some of his questions, and tell him where to find my pics on the Internet.

M: nice
GB: although I'm close to you, I can't accom
M: cool
M: im lookin for quick sex
M: u come over, we play, u leave

Wow, this guy is very direct, no beating around the bush with him! I'm sure that I'd be able to focus on my work much better after visiting him, so I find his suggestion hard to resist.

GB: that's fine, I'd love to visit you for a quick session mate
M: is that ok
GB: yeah, sure :-)
M: whats ur HIV status?

I always find it amazing how little I get asked this question when I'm cruising online. I'll often ask the question myself, but being asked instead makes me happy because it shows that the guy is smart, and meeting up with smart guys is always more fun. Although a guy may not know his HIV status, I still think it's a good question to ask because sometimes a guy will know that he's HIV positive and be honest about it, so sometimes it does help prevent mistakes.

GB: I'm HIV negative
GB: u?
M: cool
M: same
GB: so where exactly r u?
M: how hung?

Occasionally when chatting online there's that kind of disruption to the natural conversation flow, where both guys ask something at the same time. On this occasion I reckon my question is much smarter than his, why do guys worry about that so much? Still, I don't mind revealing such an intimate detail to a complete stranger as long as he does the same! We swap measurements and then he tells me where he lives.

M: u know where that is?
GB: i'll search google maps, hang on
M: u have a car? how u gettin here
GB: I'll grab a cab so won't take long. u got a mobile number?
M: yes
M: but dont give, i have a bf
M: need discretion
GB: no worries mate, I am very discrete (have bf too!)

Of course the truth is that my boyfriend situation is rather complicated, but he doesn't need to know that!

M: how long u need
GB: 30 mins max, hopefully sooner
M: 30 min is too long
M: sorry
M: some other time then

What?? After all this, how long did he expect me to take? In my experience it's extremely rare to find someone online who can meet more quickly than that. Perhaps I'm too honest in these situations, simply because I hate giving false impressions. Maybe I should say 15 minutes and then take half an hour or more, which is the sloppy attitude that some guys seem to adopt!

GB: It'll probably be sooner mate
M: make it quick
M: see ya
M: bye

Ahhh, so perhaps I can visit after all :-)? However, saying "make it quick" so soon after "some other time" seems quite contradictory. I hate being stood up so I want a clear answer before I set off.

GB: u want me to come or not? I've got your address, I'll make it quick, but I don't want a wasted journey
M: forget it
M: some other time

Damm!! Ahhh well, better to find out now rather than arrive and find out that he's not there! In these situations I don't think that it's cool to try and get the guy to change his mind, I reckon it's much better to be polite and hope that some future liaison might be possible.

GB: ok take care
GB: bye for now x
M: gotta study
M: u too
M: xxx

So he's got to study? The change of mind might make sense if he had to go out soon, but not if he's staying in studying!

I stay logged into the chat rooms, but reluctantly I close the chat window with M and return to my work. However, 3 minutes later, a chat windows suddenly pops up at me:

M: hey, u still there
M: how quickly could u get here
GB: 20-30 mins
M: ok, why dont u come over
GB: great, see you soon x

I guess that for some reason he'd been in two mind about meeting me, but eventually his natural urges got the better of him!

Since it's summer, I don't need to get a coat or anything so I head out immediately to find a cab. Twenty minutes later and I'm buzzing his flat at the building where he lives:

"Yeah?" says a voice on the other end of the intercom.

"Hi, it's GB," but before I can say anything else ...

"Top floor!"

I hear the door buzzing, and pushing it hard, I'm soon inside. It turns out that it's a five storey building and there isn't a lift, but none the less it's not long before I'm knocking at his door. The door opens slightly and a cute face smiles out at me.

"You got up here quickly :-)," says M in an American accent.

"Well I think I'm reasonably fit :-)," I say smiling back, "a few stairs don't bother me!"

Face to face he looks just as good as he did in the pics that I'd seen online, if not better. Once inside, I see that he's only wearing a pure white dressing gown. I imagine that he's not wearing much underneath, so I start to take my t-shirt off while he's closing the door.

"Not wasting any time I see :-)," he says approvingly, looking me up and down.

The flat consists of just two main rooms, a bedroom at the back, and a living area which includes the kitchen at the front. I follow him into the bedroom where I spot a large table covered with books with a laptop in the middle. No doubt he had been studying, just like he said.

"Can I put my clothes on that chair?" I ask, pointing at the chair in front of the table.

"Oh sure, leave them anywhere".

I sit down to take my shoes off, and when I look up M's lying naked on the bed, slowly playing with himself. I can certainly tell that he's pleased to see me!

"Wow, you're not wasting any time either :-)."

Looking at his fit body, I decide that he must quite a keen member of a gym somewhere. I feel like I'm participating in a porn movie.

"Just join me when you're ready," he replies in quite a relaxed voice now, "no hurry."

Soon I'm naked too so I hop onto the bed and start touching him.

"Do you have sensitive nipples?" I say, rubbing them gently.

"Mmmmm, yes :-)" replies M.

Gradually we get more and more involved with each other, and we have a wonderful time with together. But it's over all too quickly.

"Phew, that was GOOD!", says M, panting slightly.

We lay there for a short while, relaxing.

"So I guess you're boyfriend doesn't know that you meet guys like me!" I say to him.

"No," says M firmly, "Actually he's very funny about this kind of thing. But I reckon that sex outside a relationship is like dessert, a nice extra that compliments the main course! The boyfriend doesn't need to know about this, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him. For example, it's nice to meet older guys like you sometimes for diversity :-)."

"That's exactly the way I think about relationships," I say, "but so many guys seem hooked on the idea of monogamy for some reason, it's crazy!"

"Yeah I know."

"Can I have a quick glass of water before I go?" I ask, getting up to put my clothes back on.


M gets up and strolls naked into the living area to get to the kitchen, and soon returns with a glass of mineral water, still looking quite horny!

"Thanks :-)," I say, "What's your boyfriend like anyway?"

"Oh he's mid 20's like me, a very fit gym jock type, actually his body is a bit too perfect! I'm not sure that I'll be with him much longer though."

"Really?" I ask, "What's the matter?"

"He limits himself so much, because he only likes gay male company. Everywhere he goes has to be gay, gay bars, gay gyms, and if I try to go out with him to a restaurant or something which isn't gay he's visibly uncomfortable. I'm gay, sure, so I like having sex with other guys and I want boyfriends but that's it. I don't need to live my whole life in the gay ghetto! What about you anyway, does your boyfriend know what you get up to?"

"Actually I'm splitting up with my London boyfriend," I say.

"Sorry to hear that."

"Yeah, well, I've actually got another boyfriend who lives abroad so life's a bit complicated at the moment!"

M looks fascinated, but I don't feel like discussing it at the moment so I try to change the subject.

"Anyway, what are you studying for?"

"Oh, it's these FSA exams that I've got to pass :-(, they're a real bore!"

"FSA? I guess you work for a bank then?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I did those exams too when I started work in the City. I also work for a bank!"


"Anyway, I'd better be going? As I recall, you just wanted a quick visit!"

"Errr yeah, thanks for coming over :-)," says M looking as though he wished I could stay a bit longer, "Let's keep in touch, eh :-)? Hope to see you again sometime?"

"Yes definitely :-)," I say, "I'll look out for you online!"

Sitting in a cab going back home, I realise that in many ways it was a perfect encounter. A bit of fun with a genuinely gorgeous guy, and then when we got chatting with each other afterwards we really seemed to click. I still love boyfriend P of course, but just as M says, sometimes it's nice to have a tasty dessert :-)!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Email from a bisexual guy in love with another guy

A couple of weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I have been reading your blog for quite some time and I have finally decided to write to you. I am a bi-sexual/gay man. I would say more gay than bi-sexual, though the majority of my important relationships have been with women. Since January, though, I have been having a relationship with a guy that I met on gaydar. This would be my first relationship with a guy. I have had a couple of sporadic encounters with guys, but this is a real relationship. We both pretend to be bi-sexual and we are both still in the closet. We don't live in the same city (I live in London, he lives in Paris), so we only see each other a couple of times per month. I can honestly say that I am in love with this guy, though I'm pretty sure he's not. I have told him a few times that I had missed him. He chose never to return the compliment. We do exchange emails (not necessarily very long ones) almost daily and he does cute things from time to time, like sending me a text to wish me good night. My realization that I am actually in love with him came now that I will go to New York for one year and the thought of not seeing him for longer periods of time makes me sad. I have also discovered that he's seeing other guys. There is at least one I have discovered by reading the text messages on his mobile phone. Not very nice you could say, but I was suspecting this, and I just got my confirmation. I didn't confront him because this would imply confessing how I know. This finding of mine kind of broke my heart. I can't really concentrate at work, and I am running behind the schedule with the project I'm working on. I guess this seems like a non-problem to you, given your multi-boyfriend situation :). It might be my mainly heterosexual relationship track record, but this is just the way I feel. I don't feel the need to be with someone else, just with this guy. Of course, another thing I don't like is that we don't know each others friends, given that neither of us has publicly accepted his sexuality.

I am continuing this email after quite a long pause. Things have happened meanwhile. I have actually left for New York and I told the guy that I loved him during my last weekend in London when he came to visit. It was a perfect weekend. I don't quite know how to qualify his reaction when I told him. He's definitely not indifferent. It was quite emotional when I confessed my feelings. I was so sad to be leaving that I was incapable of holding back my tears. I even saw a few tears in his eyes, which I guess is a good sign. To be honest, I think we are closer now. I was very down when I arrived in New York. He knew that and kept encouraging me. The seeing other guys part was never mentioned, but this is something that hurts like hell. To be honest, I don't know how you do it. Or, better said, how your boyfriends do it. Maybe it requires a level of maturity that, despite my 30 years, I don't have. I don't bring the subject up, because I guess I am quite scared of the answer. I intend to do it, though. He will come visit me in New York in August. This is what he says, at least. I guess I could very well be with other guys, but I just can't bring myself to do it too. It would just be to get back at him, which seems wrong.

I'm writing to you to basically ask for an outside opinion, that I cannot ask from my friends. Despite the sadness, it's quite refreshing to again have such strong feelings for someone. I do feel, though, that I'm making the same mistakes I have made before. Throwing myself blindly in this relationship that, if I'm honest with myself, I think has no future. On my side, I am actually thinking of coming out to my closest friends. I don't think he intends to do something similar. I have actually invited him several times to come meet some of friends (to be introduced as a friend), but he always found excuses not to come. Anyway, this is briefly my story. I have only defined myself as a gay/bi-sexual guy but there is something that I haven't mentioned. I am actually a gay/bi-sexual banker ... :)

Having read this email quite a few times now, I think there are several issues that the reader needs to address.

To start with, is he a genuine bisexual, or a gay guy who's been having relationships with women so as to pretend that he's not gay because of the perceived stigma? If he's bisexual then he should occasionally be lusting after women. I think that the classic bisexual behaviour is serial monogamy but switching each gender each time a relationship ends, weaving an almost incomprehensible web of sexual liaisons because the bisexual guy's partners may well be other male and female bisexuals! But given the way he wrote the email, my suspicion is that the guy might well be gay rather than bisexual. In any case, whether he's gay or bisexual he needs to come to terms with it properly, because it's hard to develop relationships with people of either gender when the foundation of one's own sexuality is uncertain.

Although neither of the guys have properly accepted their sexuality, it sounds like the reader who sent the email is a lot closer to accepting himself that his (boy)friend. I hesitate to use the word boyfriend here, because I think that word implies some kind of commitment between the two of them, and the email gives me the impression that they haven't discussed their relationship properly so I don't think the word boyfriend is appropriate yet. Of course, it's no surprise that they haven't done had that, because before they can discuss their relationship properly they need to be comfortable with themselves. Since none of their friends know about their activities with other guys they're clearly not comfortable yet.

The good thing about the situation is that it sounds as though their love for each other is pushing them towards accepting themselves. I think the best thing they can do is to make progress there before trying to work out what kind of future their relationship has. Thinking about this in heterosexual terms, when straight guys and girls are young teenagers, they play around being each other's boyfriends and girlfriends. However it's usually not until they're getting towards their 20's or older that solid relationships are formed. However old this reader and his (boy)friend actually are, in gay relationship terms they're just young teenagers, so they need both to mature a bit before they should think about whether a real relationship is possible. If the reader has been holding back his feelings for other guys for most of his life, the emotional turmoil within him will be particularly strong now that he's started discovering who he really is. Even though his feelings for his (boy)friend are very deep, if he is still a teenager in terms of gay emotional development he should try and "play the field" and date a few other guys to help his gay personality mature.

Because no commitment exists yet, the reader shouldn't have checked his (boy)friend's mobile phone. That's exactly the kind of thing that young teenagers do, because one can quite imagine John saying to Janet "I saw you kiss James in the playground so I'm not going to be your boyfriend any more"! Whether to have a monogamous or an open relationship would be part of the adult discussion that they can have when they're comfortable with their sexuality.

In the last paragraph, the reader says that he thinks the relationship has no future. The only reason to say that is because the reader has the mind-set of having to hide his sexuality. That was necessary 50 years ago but it's not necessary today. As I said in my previous post, even investment bankers can be openly gay these days :-). However, thriving in a banking environment as an openly gay man requires a much higher a level of confidence than the reader currently has. His strategy there should be to develop his confidence with his friends and family first, and simply avoid telling lies at work. I wrote a post about conversational evasion techniques last year which may be helpful.

Anyway, I see every possibility that the relationship could have a future, if the reader first takes the time to develop the confidence to be an out gay or bisexual guy, and if his (boy)friend does the same. That will take time of course. But if they see each other when they can while the reader is in New York, and if they work on becoming comfortable with their sexuality while they're apart, then by the time the reader returns to London they could well be ready for an adult relationship :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts for this couple?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Being 'out' in investment banking

Over the years, I've had a lot of emails asking me what it's like to be 'out' as a gay guy working in investment banking, for example I did a 'Dear GB' posting about it last year. On this subject, I recently had an interesting conversation with a young gay guy called M who works at the same bank as me as a junior sales person but on a different trading floor. Having established that we're both gay, we ended up going out for drinks together one evening.

"Have you always been 'out' at the bank?" I ask him, when we eventually get onto the subject of being gay.

"Yes," replies M, "I've never hidden it. Actually the guy who recruited me was gay, although I ended up reporting to a different guy who originally didn't know."

"But your boss knows now I guess?"

"Yes, one day he asked me outright, in the middle of the trading floor!"

"Really? What on earth did you say?"

"I just said Of course I'm gay! and carried on with my work, it's not a big deal to me. I'm sure I could make a complaint to the personnel department about harassment or something, but it wouldn't get me anywhere. My boss doesn't mind anyway, he just wanted to know."

"Actually," continues M, "I was getting a price on a deal from one of the traders recently when the trader suddenly sneered at me and said I'm not used to working with GAYS. I guess the news had spread!"

"So what did you do?"

"I simply said Well I'm not used to working with arseholes! and walked off. Since then, no one's mentioned it!"

I think this guy has got the perfect attitude for dealing with his colleagues in the banking environment. However, the only reason he can pull it off is because of his high level of confidence, and the fact that in his mind he's dealt with all the issues relating to being gay so that it's now just one component of who he is. None the less, it does prove that with the right personality, being gay isn't a problem in investment banking these days :-).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Supper with czezhOUT

What a strange world the blogosphere is. Last October, I sponsored czechOUT when he went on a charity walk to raise money for Leukaemia Research, even though I'd never met the guy! After that he suggested that we should meet for a coffee, so that he could thank me in person. Although I don't usually meet anyone who knows that I write this blog, I do sometimes make exceptions for established bloggers like czechOUT.

I can't remember why but for some reason we never met up last year. However when he again suggested meeting for a coffee recently, I had a better idea. I think it's much nicer to meet someone over dinner so I invited him out to a smart London restaurant instead :-).

"It should be me taking you out, to thank you for the sponsorship last year," said czechOUT in an email to me beforehand.

"But I don't expect other people to pay for my expensive wine habit!" I replied, "so it'll be my treat :-)."

I arrive at the restaurant first so I'm at the table, busy dissecting the wine list, when czechOUT arrives.

"Were you here long?" he asks, smiling at me.

"Not at all, only just got here," I reply truthfully, although of course out of politeness I'd say that anyway!

On his blog czechOUT admits to being a lawyer, and for some reason that had made me think that a rather stuffy legal gent would be my dinner companion for the evening. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the person now sitting down at the table with me didn't fit that description at all!

We make small talk, chatting about what we've been doing that day while we look at the menu.

"So shall I order some wine too?" I ask.

"Sure, but let's not have a heavy red wine if that's OK with you?"

"These days I often prefer lighter red wines anyway, especially pinot noir, so that's fine :-)."

For white wine we end up plumping for a 2004 Pouilly-Fuissé from a Château that I visited years ago, and for red we find it hard to resist René Engel's 1994 Grands Échezeaux. With all the hard choices behind us, we settle down to enjoy the evening.

"There's one thing I must ask you," I say, when we get round to discussing blogging, "why on earth did you call yourself czechOUT? Before you renamed your blog to 'Made in Scotland', I'd always assumed that you were a Czech guy!"

"Well I've got connections with the Czech republic, for example one of my old friends from Scotland lived there for ages," he replies.

"And what about me," I ask, "how do I measure up to your expectations?"

"Actually I thought that you'd be over 50! And your personality seems quite frivolous, not at all what I expected given your 'Dear GB' postings where the advice you give always seems well thought out."

"Well I hope to be over 50 one day," I joke.

I think it's quite true that when I'm relaxing or out enjoying myself, the frivolous and even childish side of my personality often dominates. At work though, and hopefully when I'm responding to a 'Dear GB' email, I take things much more seriously.

All too soon the evening is over, so I ask the waiter for the bill while czechOUT goes to fetch something from his bag.

"Here you are GB," he says on returning to the table, "a little gift to thank you for a taking me out tonight, and for a lovely evening :-)."

He hands me a small black bag, and I'm delighted to find a couple of Dr.Hauschka products inside.

"Thanks very much mate, you didn't have to but it's much appreciated :-)," I reply feeling genuinely grateful, "In spite of my frivolous comment on your blog recently, I did think that any present you'd get for me would be something like that, rather than an all expenses paid rent boy session!"

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Are gay male relationships different from straight marriages?

About two weeks ago, the fascinating email below arrived in my inbox:

Dear GB,

I came across your blog a few months ago when I was planning a relocation from the U.S. to London for work and have enjoyed reading your thoughts ever since, particularly as they relate to gay relationships. You have some very refreshing views that are a stark contrast to the mid-western U.S. hyper morality that I was raised with. Surprisingly, these conservative traditional values, which have their roots in puritanical Christianity, seem to apply even in the gay community here in the Midwestern U.S. While I am including the expectation of monogamy, I am also talking about an expectation that as long term partners, my boyfriend and I should behave just as a married couple might. Both of us seem to have (mostly) worked through the monogamy thing and have played around with others occasionally (mostly by adding a third person). However there are other aspects of our relationship that, in my opinion, have suffered recently as a result of following expectations that we act like a married straight couple. My partner is a bit less adventurous than myself and also has a successful career here. Consequently, he was not at all interested in coming to London with me, nor was he interested in exploring the possibility of a re-defined relationship that would allow us both to pursue different career paths in different locations, but remain together as meaningful parts of each other's lives.

Who knows if the long distance thing would have worked in the long run, though I figure that since we are, and always have been absolutely crazy for one another that we could figure something out, at least for a few years. Under pressure from my partner, some of our family members and a number of our friends, I did not follow through with my plans to re-locate for the sake of preserving our relationship. Unfortunately, the feelings of frustration I am experiencing at having felt pressured or backed into a corner on this issue are starting to make me question what my actions in this case actually preserved. While I need to respect my boyfriend's prerogative to make the decision he made, and take responsibility for my own decision not to leave my boyfriend to pursue this opportunity, I am aggravated that well meaning straight (and sometimes gay) friends and family members insist on framing our homosexual relationship in heterosexual terms. It feels to me like this pressure to honour the straight relationship paradigm has caused us to act differently than we might otherwise do.

About two years into the now eight year relationship with my boyfriend, I concluded that dynamics between two men in a relationship are different than that of a man and woman, therefore different approaches need to be taken for the relationship to be successful. First, I think most men, straight or gay, were not biologically intended to be monogamous. Our sex drives often prove this. Fortunately, some gay men who are secure with themselves and in their relationships can work things out when they realize that their partner loves them dearly but also fantasizes about other men on a regular basis. In such cases, arrangements can be made for additional playmates, things on the side, or at the very least some kind of understanding when one or the other messes around. However that doesn't seem to be a realistic expectation for most straight couples, especially if children are concerned. Also, in my own experiences two men, even in a loving, long term relationship can be very competitive. I think unlike our straight friends in relationships or marriages, more often than not we need to step out of the way and allow a long leash for each other and trust that our partner will continue to love us even if this means being apart occasionally so that we can realize career or life goals. Again, this is perhaps more difficult in a traditional heterosexual relationship and more so in marriage where a family (children) are often a concern.

I guess what I am getting at is that we have greater opportunities to approach our relationships differently. Allowing straight people, or other gay people to define how we ought to behave, or caving in to pressure to do so, seems to fly in the face of progress gay people have made in achieving better treatment through the years. Maybe asking to be treated, "just like straight people" isn't an appropriate request. Maybe we ought to be asking to have our differences respected. I am curious what you think about all of this GB. I ask because, even though it would make me very sad to walk away from my boyfriend, were such a wonderful career opportunity to present itself again I am not sure if I will be able to make the same decision I recently made. We had a long discussion about this and while my boyfriend acknowledges my points, he does not understand why I cannot just be happy with my work and my life here. This makes me wonder, why should I be the one to compromise?

Reading this reader's email, I can't help thinking that he might have made the wrong decision about the job in London because he didn't anticipate the feelings of resentment that he now feels in relation to the missed opportunity. The result now might eventually be the end of his relationship anyway, but without the shiny new job in London as some kind of compensation. Of course, decisions are always easier in hindsight. It's worth bearing in mind that in all areas of life, the best decisions take into account all the possible outcomes, the decisions that one might make in reaction to all the different outcomes, and with this process being repeated as far as one can see into the future!

Having thought about this a bit now, I think that all modern relationships between well educated people in the Internet age need to be more flexible than the traditional heterosexual blueprint allows for. I think that both gay and straight relationships need the flexibility, although gay relationships probably need it a lot more. As the reader says in his email, even in a loving relationship two guys can be very competitive, so both guys need sufficient space for their careers. Even for straight couples, the settling down in one's early 20's and having kids and living happily ever after was only designed to last into one's 40's. In the developed world, thanks to modern medicine we can all expect to live much longer than that these days!

One of the problems is that different people have different attitudes to life as they grow older. It's usually not possible to see this at the start of a long-term relationship, so incompatibilities can arise if the attitudes turn out to be significantly different. The reader who sent the email is clearly the type of guy who still enjoys new challenges, and perhaps having exhausted the possibilities where he's currently living, he's now looking further afield. But as the reader says in his email his boyfriend is a less adventurous type, and if he's achieved a sufficient level of comfort, perhaps he has no further ambitions and is happy living out his life with as few disturbances as possible.

In fact, I don't know why the reader's boyfriend was so unprepared to try a long distance relationship, for a while at any rate. These days technology makes such relationships much easier, because thanks to the Internet there are so many ways to communicate. Apart from good old phone calls (which can be free using e.g., there's email, txt msgs, webcams and even blogging! Although I miss my boyfriend P, we communicate most days in some form or another, so even when we're apart we still know exactly what's going on in each other's lives.

My experience is that in the long term it's counter-productive to try and keep people confined when they have aspirations beyond their confinement. I think this applies just as much to the old communist governments, who used to try and control their populations, as it does to people like this reader who feels constrained by his relationship. I'm sure my readers here are bored of my views on monogamy, which is another example of a pointless constraint of course, but I have a work-oriented example of this from when I was in charge of a team of about a dozen people a few years ago.

I became fed-up of all the calls that my team members would get from head-hunters and recruitment consultants, because I didn't want to lose any of my staff. So I devised a plan for one of the secretaries to answer all the phone calls which came through on the general enquiry phone number. The plan was never implemented because my boss hated the idea.

"You can't do that GB," he said, "imagine our liability if a phone call about some family emergency for one of your team members fails to get through!"

"Everyone's still got their direct phone lines, as well as their mobile phones for that," I replied.

"Yes but even so, you're missing the point! It's much better to keep your team happy, so they won't want to resign because they know that working for you in their current role is the best choice for them. They actually need to be in touch with the job market to know that!"

I didn't fully appreciate his argument at the time, however I now fully accept that he was right. Constraints on people's behaviour are counterproductive in the long term. Looking at the big picture, I think the only legitiamte constraints relate to thinks like murder! Alcohol prohibition, drug control, bans on prostitution etc all end up as failures.

Back to the reader's situation and one of the problems is that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence, even though the reality can often be very different. An employee who doesn't realise that might make the wrong choice regarding his job, and in a work context the decision is probably not reversible. But in the context that the reader described in his email, he might have quickly returned to his boyfriend in the USA if the new job in London didn't live up to expectations. Now though, unless he can find some new challenges locally, or unless he can find another distant career opportunity but this time with his boyfriend's blessing, his relationship probably won't survive.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these matters?