Sunday, November 30, 2008

More on how gay relationships should be constructed

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Catching up with my colleague P

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 24, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alex - the cartoon on stage

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Email from a guy with a relationship dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boyfriend P

Do any other readers have any further thoughts?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The gay reproductive advantage

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

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Email from a gay guy wanting dating advice

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

Dear GB,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Redundancies in the City

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

"Hi, is that GB," he starts.

"Yes, who's this?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you have a girlfriend?" I ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A recent conversation

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

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

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

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

"Great :-)."

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

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

"Can we? How would that work?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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