Friday, December 28, 2012

Email about online dating and cross cultural relationships

A few months ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I have finally decided to join the queue of those seeking your opinion and that of your readers. I am not sure what my main point is, but having come out to myself (because others could see it much earlier!) quite later in life at the age of 27 a lot of the aspects of life as a sexually active gay man are still new and sometimes puzzling to me. I suppose it all has to do with a certain anxiety of what is going to happen in the future, instead of just enjoying life as it comes which I ought to combat in myself.

I am a 32 year old Greek guy, doing a PhD in the UK. I have been living in London on and off for the past 10 years. I am a total rice queen, a term I learned from you first. I did not use to be, but after my first experience with what the English call ‘orientals’ I somehow got stuck in seeking guys from the Far East. I cannot pinpoint what exactly it is that attracts me, perhaps a combination of looks and the exotic culture. Well, after I started losing my hardon during sex with guys of other ethnic backgrounds, I realised it was time I concentrated on dating mostly Asians!

So far I have been in relationships with a Korean guy and then a Japanese guy, and have dated a few Chinese and others for various amounts of time. It has all been done via grindr, jack’d and other websites. When I go to clubs in Soho I have been lucky to attract the attention of guys I also like, but nothing more than that. I guess my first question has to do with dating. As I have to study a lot and spend more time than I prefer with my laptop, going online and finding someone comes easier, almost natural, to chatting up guys at bars or at uni. I might be posing questions you have already discussed, but can one really build a meaningful relationship with someone one has met online? It is so disheartening to see guys you’ve been dating for some time go back to grindr, or even finding myself craving it after some weeks of ‘electronic abstinence’. Lots of people just dismiss the idea of finding someone for more than sex online. My first relationship lasted 3 years but it started as an online sex date and with sex being perfect, feelings developed and we ended up together. What eventually killed it was turning it into a long distance affair because of my study.

With my second question I would like to turn the spotlight of the blog back to you (and the good old days when you were describing your life experiences) and ask you what, if any, have been the cultural barriers, differences and challenges you faced in your relationship with your latest partner who is Asian. Trying not to stereotype, I have found, for example, the Japanese in particular to be very much attached to their own culture, even after more than a decade of living in London. Understandably, it is difficult to ‘read’ people especially when they come from conservative or introvert cultures. Did you or the readers ever have this problem, and how did you deal with it? I get cross when sometimes friends tell me “ah, you shouldn’t date guys from such different cultures to yours, it is always going to be difficult”.

Have a great weekend.

All best wishes,

The reader who sent me this email also attached a picture of himself to the email, which was a nice gesture. I think it helps me write these responses if I know what the person looks like, because I think it's possible to get a useful impression of someone just by looking at them.

When I first received this email, I sent back an immediate response in which I gave the following short answer to his queries:
I think the brief answers are "Yes" one can build meaningful relationships with someone that one has met online, and that cross cultural relationships can be more rewarding precisely because of the cultural differences!
There's certainly no doubt in my mind that it's possible to find long-term boyfriends online. In my case, I met all my recent boyfriends online! It was almost 4 years ago that I met boyfriend T online. We then became boyfriends about 3.5 years ago, and we're still together :-).

However, I think that some web sites are more sex oriented than others. I haven't done any online cruising myself for 3.5 years, so I'm not the best person to advise on which the best web sites are for relationships rather than sex. I found my boyfriends on gaydar and, and when I used to use those web sites I recall that manhunt was well known for being sex rather than relationship oriented. Back in 2009 I wasn't aware of either grindr and jack'd, because at that time they were only just starting to become popular. Perhaps a few readers could leave some comments on which web sites are best for sex hook-ups, and which are better for finding guys who want a relationship.

In any case, looking at the reader's email again, I think that he partly answered his own question because his first relationship was with a guy that he met online, and it sounds like the relationship was a success. It didn't end because either of them craved online *fun* with other guys, instead it ended because it turned into a long distance relationship. My relationship with ex-boyfriend P was a long distance relationship so I have some experience in that area. Long distance relationships are always bound to be difficult.

The reader says that it's disheartening to see guys you’ve been dating for some time go back online, but I'm not sure that I agree. In my case, after I first met boyfriend T online, I still carried on looking online for other guys. After all, we weren't boyfriends at that point. But I grew to love him more and more, so after around 6 months I asked him to be my boyfriend :-). Judging from the reader's email, perhaps he expects too much too soon from the guys that he meets. I reckon that one of the golden rules of dating is to take things very slowly, and don't expect any loyalty unless you've discussed whether your friendship has a future as a relationship. A long time ago, a reader left a comment on this blog (or sent me a private email, I can't remember which) in which he said that one shouldn't discuss "the future" with a guy until you'd known him for 2 years or more. I agree with the sentiment, but not the length of time! I think that you can start to discuss that kind of thing after a few months :-).

Regarding the reader's other question, I think it's good if there's some kind of complementarity between the two guys in a gay relationship. With straight couples, the fact that one of them is male and the other is female immediately provides a lot of complementarity, because men and women often have quite different perspectives on things. Similarly, if a guy's boyfriend is from a different culture, then that too provides complementarity :-). So I think that cross cultural relationships are good, and learning how to 'read' the views, moods etc of one's boyfriend is one of the things that makes the relationship more interesting.

My own experience is that after the initial honeymoon period when everything was perfect, as it always is during the very early stages of a relationship, boyfriend T and me did sometimes argue a bit. Looking back, I can see that it's precisely because of what the reader alludes to, namely that we didn't understand each other properly. But in fact, as time has passed, we have learned how to live and get along with each other. These days, arguments are much rarer :-). We didn't consciously think about why we used to argue, but somehow we muddled through. So if you're aware of this issue in advance, it's even more likely that you'll be able to make a success of a cross cultural relationship.

Do any other readers have any thoughts on these issues?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Suggestions for Christmas Charity donations please

Christmas treeWhere has all the time gone? It seems like it was only yesterday that I was writing last year's version of this post!

For the last five years, I've asked readers to give me suggestions for Christmas charity donations (see 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011). This year there's around £800 to give away, and all sensible suggestions are welcome :-).

Email from a guy who wants an open relationship

Right at the end of August, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I find myself writing this letter to you because I need to express my feelings to someone and no one in my offline life is appropriate for this subject matter.

First, a little about my situation. I have been with my boyfriend for almost 10 years. We have been together since I was a teenager. I love him dearly; however, I find my mind thinking about other men all the time. It has gotten to the point where I can’t look at a man without wondering what his dick looks like.

To compound things, our relationship is already strained. Money is an issue because I am a full time student and therefore I do not contribute 50% of the expenses. Furthermore, I plan to pursue a PhD, and unless I get an amazing scholarship package, I won’t be able to contribute 50% until after school. This leads into me being sort of financially dependent on him, which muddles the situation even further. Another issue is that we live in a relatively small town where one is two sexual partners away from everyone.

I honestly don’t know how much longer I can stand being monogamous. I find myself cruising gay hook-up sites every other day (as horrible as they are, being out of the dating scene I have no idea what the good websites are). I daydream about other men when my boyfriend is around. I feel sort of lost.

I do not want this relationship to end, (1) because I love him and we basically came of age together, and (2) because I cannot afford it. Another thing is that he has a massive dick, which is somewhat of a fetish for me. He has made it extremely clear that monogamy is the only way to go. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to resist. It has been so hard already. One of the main things holding me back is my fear of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. What are your thoughts?


When I received the email, I thought that it would probably take me a while to get round to doing a posting for him, so I sent him a quick reply which included the following paragraph:

It'll probably take me a few weeks to get round to doing the posting for you, so in the meantime here are my initial (unedited!) thoughts. What you describe sounds like quite a dangerous situation, in the sense that if you don't solve it somehow, eventually it'll all come to a head in an uncontrollable and damaging way. If that happens when you're still financially dependent on your boyfriend then it'll be even worse, so I can't help thinking that for now you should postpone plans for a Ph.D. If your relationship is strained because of money, then that's another reason to postpone the Ph.D. Unfortunately not all relationships last forever, especially because I think people do change very gradually over the years, so maybe the time has come to split up. If that's done in a controlled way then it's likely that you can still be friends. But have you really had a 100% honest conversation with your boyfriend about this? Your email sounds like you're about to *pop* any minute LOL, so does he really know how much this is tearing you apart? If you haven't spoken to him about it recently then the sooner the better, because it sounds like at the moment you can honestly say that you've still been monogamous, which is a good starting point for a conversation. Remember, honestly is vital, without that you've got nothing. Another thought is that relationships aren't worth very much if you can't communicate properly with each other, especially on important issues like this, so I think you should probably start having some difficult conversations otherwise your relationship is doomed anyway. Don't forget, there are many ways of having more open relationships, including threesomes, just being allowed to go to sex parties or gay saunas occasionally, rules about not seeing the same guy more than once, etc etc.

Although the reader didn’t reply to the email that I sent him, I still think it’s worth doing a posting using his email because it may help other readers if they find themselves in similar situations.

Rereading what I put in my reply to him, I think that my quick thoughts to this reader actually constitute quite a reasonable response. But there’s one point that I think is worth emphasising, namely that if you’re in a relationship and you can’t communicate about something that’s tearing you apart, then it’s not a good relationship. We don’t know why the reader thinks that his boyfriend is so completely against any kind of open relationship, but we can probably assume that the boyfriend has no idea how bad the situation has become. So if the boyfriend did know, then perhaps he'd soften his view to some extent? And if he doesn't soften his view, then at least both of them will appreciate that the relationship might be near its end.

One further thought relates to the fact that these two guys "came of age together". That means that they must have been boyfriends for all their adult lives, so although they probably experimented with various sexual partners when they were teenagers, since then they've been sexually faithful to each other. Many old posts on this blog relate to my view that lifetime monogamy is an unnatural state for our species, especially now that we generally live much longer than we used to (see e.g. 1, 2). Viewed from this perspective, it seems quite natural to me that a bit of *fun* outside their relationship looks appealing, because a gay adult life with only one sexual partner is quite unusual.

Of course, as the reader himself points out, there are risks associated with casual sex namely sexually transmitted diseases. Risking one's own health is one thing, but if one ends up passing something nasty on to one's boyfriend then that's a very bad situation, especially if the boyfriend thinks that he's in a monogamous relationship. So all the more reason to communicate with one's boyfriend, and try and find a path through the crisis which works for both of them.

Do any other readers have any thoughts about this?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Comment from a guy who's terrified of being gay

Earlier today, the following anonymous comment suddenly appeared on my most recent post:

Dear GB,

I don't know if you'll get this but I'm going through quite the dilemma. I think I'm gay, which totally terrifies me. My family can be pretty homophobic at times.

My father passed away when I was very young leaving me and my siblings to care for my sick mother. I've become sort of her rock. I help her with so many things and I love her so much that I'm willing to sacrifice my own happiness. I refuse to put her in a home and I will attempt to care for her with the help of a personal care worker till the day she dies. It would totally destroy her if I finally come to terms with my sexuality and came out. She's a devout Christian and I was raised or indoctrinated to think negatively of the word gay. My mother doesn't hate gays but she thinks being gay is a sin. She believes that gays should be allowed to live in peace without being oppressed but she still does not approve of that lifestyle.

A lot of self loathing comes up when I have a thought that isn't so straight. I can never love anybody else romantically until I learn to love myself I am told, but I don't think I can ever fully love that side of me. I don't hate gay people but it's been ingrained in me that if I'm gay it would be wrong.

Even if I do come to terms with being gay I'd lose everything! My family means the world to me even though we may disagree with many of their views. I have the feeling that they would disown me if I was to ever come out. I'm also extremely concerned and self conscious about what every one would think of me. For example the church members, classmates, friend, co-workers, etc. I care too much about what everyone thinks I guess and I'm too weak and fearful of the consequences.

Let's say as well that I end up pursuing a relationship with man would he be able to put up with my constant fear of being discovered? We wouldn't be able to act like a couple in public, he'd never be able to meet my family and I have lots of trust issues as well so I think it would be cruel to ever get in a relationship and put someone through all that baggage until I learn to sort it out but I don't think I ever can sort it out.

I'm not even sure if I'm gay (I could be asexual) but I most likely am. I find myself attracted to guys but yet I hate being around them at the same time. I never feel comfortable around men since my father was very into physical discipline I have grown to fear men. All my friends are women and when I'm around other males especially the same age group as I am I become extremely defensive and cold.

I honestly kind of think sex and human contact is kind of weird. I've test my sexuality by watching porn and I able to be aroused by straight or gay. I'm a 26 year old virgin and I have no issues about being a virgin for the rest of my life and I have no desire to be with anyone sexually either. I do however enjoy watching porn but I just have no desire to ever want to have sex. So I could be asexual I guess.

I don't know this is a lot to take in but it feels so good to just vent and have someone listen. I'm pretty sure I'll need therapy and loads of it.

Thank you so much for reading this all of this.

The first thing I need to do is to apologise to the two people who're in the "Dear GB" queue in this blog's right-hand side-bar, because by re-posting this comment I'm obviously allowing a bit of queue-jumping. Nonetheless I think it's the right thing to do. This comment is probably the first thing that this reader has ever done regarding the fact that he might be gay, so I think that's it's important to respond as quickly as possible and hence reassure him that he's not alone.

The reader mentions the Christian religion a couple of times in what he says, so my guess is that one of the reasons for the conflict that he feels is the attitude of Christianity to homosexuality. I was also brought up as a Christian, and my mother is a devout Christian as well, so I can understand what effect that can have.

Christian hostility to homosexuality has its roots in the bible. However, since Christianity means following Christ (a.k.a. Jesus), I think it's very instructive to look in the bible and see what Jesus himself actually said about homosexuality. The answer is, nothing at all! The few homophobic passages in the bible are all the views, stories or interpretations of other people, not Jesus himself. Indeed, having studied the bible at Sunday school when I was a boy, my overriding memory of Jesus's teaching was one of compassion, love and forgiveness. It certainly wasn't a message of hatred. It makes me so sad when I think of all the terrible things that have been done in the name of Christianity when the original message of Jesus himself was so pure and beautiful.

I was very lucky when I did finally come out to my mother. I was a couple of years older than this reader, and I finally did it when there was just me and her having dinner in her house. We're sitting facing each other across the table. I know that this has to be the moment, but I start crying

"Mum," I say, with tears in eyes, "I ... I've got something to tell you."

She can see that I'm very distressed, but all she does is to stop eating and smile at me in the most loving way.

"Well don't worry," she says kindly, "what is it?"

"Well, ... I ... I ... I'm gay! And I've got a boyfriend!! And I want to introduce you to him one day!!!"

And with that I really can't help myself from crying, as though I'm a little boy. My mother gets up from her seat and comes round to hug and reassure me.

"Don't worry," she says, "I'm sure I'll like your boyfriend, because I've always liked all your friends."

She goes back to sit in her seat, and looks at me lovingly again.

"You've always been a good son to me."

"But, I was so worried about telling you," I reply, starting to get my composure back, "because of your faith, and ..."

"But it's not for me to judge you," she answers, still with love in her eyes for me, "one day, that'll be for Him."

Of course, by "Him" she meant God. But given that Christianity isn't known for being pro-homosexuality, I couldn't have hoped for a better response. If only all Christians followed their religion in the same way that my mother does.

Anyway, this is kind of an express response to the comment that was posted this afternoon. There are many more things that could be said, although I'm sure that a lot of the appropriate things to say are scattered through previous "Dear GB" postings on this blog. Also, by giving the comment some prominence with its own posting, hopefully some other readers can leave a few further comments, and hence start to give the reader who left the original comment some of the help that he needs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Email from a French guy who's worried about being gay

A couple of months ago, a reader sent me an email with the title "Catch 22". The email was as follows:

Dear GB ,

I hope you are doing well and enjoying summer,

I know you are a busy person and get a lot of emails, but please take a few seconds to read the following. I would greatly appreciate your wise point of view on my situation.

I am a 21 year old French guy living in London since I was 16. So far so good. Everything is going well for me, well, most of the time at least! I really like London and I study interesting subjects in good universities and all and all, so I cannot complain about that. I am quite a lively person who needs to leave a mark on the world and get some attention. I like all things big, nice restaurants, going out a lot, studying hard, best clubs, etc. Most guys ask me how I manage to be always surrounded by all the hottest girls (arts students, management, fashion). I tell them that I don’t know, but the truth is that since I don’t really care about girls, I don’t get intimidated by them. I also like hanging out with guys, normal straight ambitious competitive guys and to me being friends with them is really important, way more important than being friends with gay guys. They’re not all the same obviously, there are so many types, but the more identifiable ones do live a certain lifestyle and act out all vaggy and flamboyant. So here’s the Catch 22: I have a straight guy mentality and vision, but not the same sexual drive or objectification of desire. What should I do? Because the problem is, there is something missing in my life, and though I like hanging out with my straight friends, they are still a bit different. And sometimes it shows. I feel like they are much ‘simpler’ than I am, and more aggressive too. Hanging out with straight guys is a bit like hanging out with very simple minded creatures who have basic desires and needs. And it makes it all funnier to play the game. Up to a certain extent.

Sometimes I do betray myself. When I am drunk. I start touching some guys because, they’re just ... so hot you know? And so straight as well? And a bit stupid? The more ‘fratish’ they are the better. Or I may do a movement that is a bit weird and suddenly there is a disconnect with the person I am talking to. They start wondering. Also I treat all the girls I go out with quite badly. But somehow they seem to like that. Whatever. Woman’s sexuality and mindpoint is really fucked up too. So I guess people wonder, there are rumours, it’s a sort of running joke. Is he gay? But it’s ok, because it’s all so mysterious and ho-ho ha-ha, he dresses better than everyone else, he’s a metro, he’s not so sporty, he doesn’t watch football or top gear. He’s ambitious. He’s sick. He’s insecure. He’s overconfident. He’s a player. He’s a psycho. Ho-ho ha-ha! It’s funny for everyone watching. The only reason I am getting away with it obviously, and I should feel quite lucky about this, is because I am French, living in big cities, evolving in certain circles amongst challenging people. So I get a free pass because I am French and basically eurotrash. Which is fine by me.

Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. That boy is very sick.


So what should I do? It seems to me that life is so hard and like a marathon. Why would I want to run it handicapped? Yet there is something missing. Yet I know the minute I will allow people to label me (which is unfair because I can still fuck a girl, it’s just that living with her is so grotesque to me, let alone really loving her, while I know fulfilment would be so simple otherwise) I will lose half my life. Most of my guy friends have told me confidently in the eyes several times they could not be friends with a gay guy (yeah, there goes the Oscar) because they get uneasy around them, or might feel that something awkward is developing. That kind of convo happens when talking about some friend from school or wherever who has turned gay, and since then ‘transferred’ to the gay scene (exile?) and I am caught in a sort of in between. And there seems to be no space for me. I want to be successful and express my abilities. Yet I feel like I am gonna get pigeonholed and left aside of all the real business action and important social circles if I get labelled as gay. In the same vein I don’t want to lose the thrill that is going to a restaurant with a beautiful lady and getting approval from the waiter and the room and being all proud and stuff, or getting in a good club easily with your lady. Though you’re not that into her, really. It seems to me that I should rather live a double life. Because it really isn’t worth it. And it isn’t getting better. This is bullshit. I feel like it’s actually getting worse.

Any advice, my dear GB?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

PS: I realise this situation is in a way quite ordinary, laughable, and you may have yet answered similar ones many times, but the process of writing the above has already 'helped' me in a certain way so even if you don't answer, thank you for having such a cool blog!

I’m sure that there are quite a few young gay guys who go through the kind of thing that this reader is describing. However, I don’t think I’ve answered exactly this kind of email before, and this is certainly a good one to answer because I think the reader expresses his feelings about his situation very well.

The first thing to say is that I think the reader has a few misconceptions that are hampering his decision making process. Although I think he’s right that in some ways life is like running a marathon, I think he’s very wrong to say that you’re handicapped in that race if you’re known to be gay. Another misconception that he has relates to being "labelled" gay, because the reader clearly feels that the label "gay" is a valid insult. But the fact is that when one person tries to insult another person, the person who’s the target of the insult needs to accept that he’s been insulted, otherwise the insult hasn’t worked. In this respect, before I came out I felt much the same way about being called gay, but these days I regard the fact that I’m gay as just one my many characteristics that make me who I am. It’s certainly no handicap or insult :-). However, one thing that the reader is right about is that this situation will slowly get worse for him, so it’s a good thing that he’s thinking about it and emailing people like me as he starts to address the problem.

The most important aspect to address is the reader’s concern that as a gay man he’s going to be " ... left aside of all the real business action and important social circles". In term of business, there’s certainly no danger of that happening. Gay people are definitely valued in the banking world, which is why banks have encouraged internal networks for their gay employees, which has led to things like the London interbank GLBT forum which I blogged about recently. Outside the banking world, for example in the world of strategic management consulting, firms such as McKinsey have their GLAM network (GLAM = "Gays and Lesbians At McKinsey").

There’s a good reason why gay people are valued. A gay person has had to indulge in some creative thinking to realise that they’re not heterosexual, because we’re all brought up to expect that we’re straight, and creative thinking is vital in today’s competitive business environment. One of my previous bosses in the banking world used to call me an iconoclastic thinker because I was sometimes able to break established norms and find new approaches to problems. So at least in the Westernised business world these days, there’s really no valid concern that gay people are left out. Outside the business world, for example in the music industry, gay people are common as well. Because X-Factor is on TV in the UK at the moment, the example in my mind is the X-Factor creative director Brian Friedman. Each week one or two of the judges thank him during the live shows for his excellent work.

Much of the same thinking applies in terms of the reader’s social life. The easy part is that it’s common for gay guys to be friends with straight women. At the moment though, it seems likely to me that some of his female friends see him as a potential boyfriend, so the current situation isn’t fair on them because those women are clearly wasting their time. So he’ll have much more honest friendships with his female friends if they know that he’s gay, and hence potentially much deeper and better friendships with them. I’d be very surprised if he were to lose any of his female friends because he’s gay.

Regarding his straight male friends, perhaps some of them will keep their distance from this reader if they know that he’s gay. However, the good thing about this is that it will select the more important straight guys from the less important ones, and he’ll find that he’ll remain friends with the more important ones. What I mean by that is that young straight guys who worry about having gay friends have little imagination, and typically lack confidence in their own sexuality. Those are the guys that the reader describes as "much ‘simpler’" than he is, and they’re not likely to be important for the world economy. Most likely is that they’ll end up with dull jobs, get married, have kids, all without making much of a mark on the world.

However, the more important straight guys are much less likely to have those hang-ups, they’ll be ambitious, and will probably think it’s good to have connections in the gay world as they develop their careers. Putting it another way, why does the reader think that there’s any long term benefit from hanging out with dull, simple, unimportant straight guys? Similarly, why is being friends with normal ambitious competitive straight guys way more important to him than being friends with normal ambitious competitive gay guys? My guess is that it’s just because he feels safe with what he knows, so he hasn’t looked further than his existing narrow circle of friends and so he doesn’t know any of those kinds of gay guys. Here, perhaps the reader just needs to grow up a bit!

The reader says that he has a "straight guy mentality and vision, but not the same sexual drive or objectification of desire". But the fact is that lots of gay guys say the same thing, often summarised as simply "straight acting". So to answer the reader’s main question about what he should do, I think he should stop being afraid of what will happen if people find out that he is gay. Indeed, when eventually they do find out, it’s most likely to lead to lots of good things happening to him :-).

Do any other readers have any other thoughts for this guy?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Drinks and networking for gay financial service employees in London

In a handful of posts over the years, starting with this one in 2006, I've mentioned the fact that there's a regular drinks event for gay financial service employees in London. As a result of those posts, I've regularly been receiving emails from various people who want to know more about those events. The good news is that the people who organise those events now have their own web site, namely So going forward, if anyone wants to know more, instead of sending me an email it'll probably be more efficient to visit that web site!

GB xxx

Monday, October 01, 2012

Teenage wanking

A few weeks ago, I bump into an old friend at the party of another friend. Shortly afterwards, I get an email from the old friend inviting me and boyfriend T round to dinner with him and his boyfriend.

The day arrives, and when we get to his house, it turns out that the dinner guests are all gay men. Towards the end of the meal, and after quite a few glasses of wine, we start talking about my hometown which I'd visited recently with boyfriend T.

"While we were in GB's hometown," says boyfriend T mischievously, "I saw the house where GB had his first wank!"

Everyone bursts out laughing.

"Well yes," I say sounding slightly embarrassed, "I showed boyfriend T the house where me and my family used to live."

Now that the subject of wanking has been brought up, everyone ends up sharing a teenage memory or two, but the host had something quite unexpected to say.

"Actually, I started wanking when I was about 7 or 8 years old," he remarks.

"How is that possible?" I ask, sounding very surprised, "surely your prepubescent body wasn't ready?"

"Well, there wasn't any ejaculation at that age," he explains, "but it always felt very nice :-). A boy at school told me how to do it, and once I'd had a go, needless to say I was hooked!"

"For a few years," he continues, "every new year's day I'd make a resolution to stop playing with my willy, because I somehow knew it was a bit taboo. But the resolution never lasted more than a couple of days! Of course, eventually I reached puberty, so one day I was playing with it as usual when suddenly I got a huge shock!!"

Everyone laughs, and after a few more comments about our teenage years, the conversation gradually moves onto something else.

Over the years, I've been to loads of dinner parties where the only diners are gay men. These days, I can't help thinking that it's inevitable that when it's only gay men together, after a few drinks they're bound to start talking about men's willies or sex!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Email hacked :-(

Apologies to everyone who ever sent me an email. It looks like a spam email has somehow been sent from my yahoo email address to anyone who's ever sent me an email :-(. No idea how it happened, but please ignore. GB xxx

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Email from a young guy with boyfriend problems

Early last month, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I’ve been following your blog for a while and your insight has been very helpful for me at various stages in my life. Recently I’ve been feeling a little confused about various aspects of my relationship and I was hoping to ask you for advice.

I’m 21 years old and I’ve been with my boyfriend for about five months. This is my first real relationship and certainly my first sexual one. As such, I get a little confused sometimes when we come across obstacles in our relationship. My boyfriend is a little older than me at 26 and more experienced in both relationships and sex. Honestly, I was a little bothered when I found out just how sexually experienced he was. I guess I was both disappointed that he had been so active and a little insecure that I wouldn’t be able to perform as well.

Since then I’ve become more confident and the first few months of the relationship were amazing. We’re now at the point where we spend a lot of time together and stay together every night of the week. I do enjoy being with him and whenever I offer to give him space he is adamant that he stay with me. The problem is I’m still a little insecure and I’m having a difficult time maintaining a high level of trust in the relationship. My boyfriend thinks I’m paranoid or self-destructive and honestly I do agree to a certain degree.

Firstly, he has asked me on a few occasions if I would be interested in a threesome and on one occasion even went so far as to find a willing participant. He’s also told me that he doesn’t mind if I have sexual encounters with other guys, although I’ve never asked or even hinted that I wanted such a thing. At first I thought he was joking but after a while I explained that I wanted a closed relationship at this stage and that I thought it was too early in the relationship to start including other people in our sex lives. I know you talked about not having a platform to talk about such things with your ex-boyfriend so I thought it was a good idea to let him know that he could discuss it with me in the future if he wanted and he agreed. To be honest, I don’t think that I’m great at sex and it is still relatively new for me. His suggestions made me feel a little insecure and I felt that I wasn’t pleasing him. Anyway, we’ve discussed my lack of experience and I’ve explained that I’d like to ‘practise’ with him. ;)

He told me that he used gay social networking sites like Grindr and ManHunt to meet guys when he was single. I thought he might still use the site to email friends so I didn’t mind him using them at first. After a while I did start to get a little jealous and I asked if he would stop using those sites. He understood completely and deleted his account straight away. A few weeks later I noticed he was using one of those sites again. I did some snooping and found out he had been messaging a guy, exchanging nude pictures and doing some flirting. They had discussed sex and talked about possibly meeting up but nothing actually happened. I honestly do still believe that he wouldn’t have met the guy. I’m sure that it was just a bit of naughty fun. I still feel bad for looking into his personal things but I just had to know. Anyway, I confronted him about it and he explained his intentions were simply of a jocular/playful nature. I asked him to delete his account and I’m fairly sure that he hasn’t used any of those sites since then.

My main problem now is that I find it hard to trust him sometimes. Even when we’re walking in the street and he looks at guys I get jealous. He thinks I’m paranoid and overly-jealous and I do feel myself getting jealous uncontrollably. I don’t really think he’s done anything wrong and he is generally a very sweet guy and a great boyfriend.

I’m also concerned about the lack of frequency of our sexual encounters. We used to engage in activities almost every day but now he very rarely comes when he’s with me. I always initiate any activity and usually he just ‘helps’ me then goes back to whatever he was doing. If I try to involve him more he just says he’s tired or not in the mood yet he’s very often looking at porn. Looking through his browsing history, I’ve noticed him looking at porn a few times a day. I feel myself turning into a crazy person having to look at his browsing history! I can’t believe I’m so petty. But my main concern is that he would prefer to watch porn than participate in sexual activities with me. Very often he’ll tell me that he’s tired then when I wake up from a nap or come back from uni he’ll tell me that he came while watching porn when I was away. I am a guy as well so I understand the appeal of porn and of course I watch it myself. I have no problem with him watching porn; I just wish he would want to get intimate with me as well! I talked to him about it and I explained that I wanted us to be more intimate. I don’t need sex every day but I just wish he would get involved even once or twice a week. I explained that I felt he was more turned on by porn than me sometimes. I also suggested that we watch together (although I know it’s probably a private thing for most guys). Anyway, he told me that he understood and reassured me that he loves me and is still attracted to me. Buuuuuut, literally 10 minutes later while I was eating he took the opportunity and rushed into his room to watch porn! Then when we were laying in bed together a little while later I noticed he was hard and while he was cuddling me I suggested we ‘help’ each other but he was ‘too tired’ again. We do have different schedules and I think that sometimes he is genuinely tired and we’re usually horny at different times.

I’m finding it very hard to look at the situation objectively because I feel that I’ve become paranoid and it’s impossible to know whether I’m overreacting or if something is actually wrong. I’m sorry this is so long but I’d really appreciate any advice you have for me!

Cheers :-)

I thought that it was a very well written email, because I felt that it contained all the relevant details so that I didn't need to ask him any important questions about his situation. However, the fact that the reader's boyfriend was so uninterested in sex with him seemed rather ominous, so I sent him a reply which included the following paragraph:

My quick thoughts are that the situation sounds quite bad :-(. Guys your age are usually quite horny, and the information that your boyfriend has suggested threesomes in the past suggests that he has a strong sex drive. So the fact that you have so little sex together isn't at all good, and it might even be that your relationship is getting near the end. However, with luck it can be saved :-). My best guess is that just talking to your boyfriend about what's going on is unlikely to help much, unless you can change your attitude. Your email exhibits a lot of insecurities, and my best guess is that it's the corresponding kind of insecure behaviour that is turning off your boyfriend. However, I don't want to put the blame on you because a relationship is between two people, and perhaps if your boyfriend had given you more of what you need then this situation wouldn't have arisen. Does any of that make any sense?

That was about six weeks ago, and unfortunately the reader never sent me a reply. Reading that paragraph again, perhaps it was a bit too brutal, however I still think that the broad sentiments are correct. So, assuming that the reader is still in a relationship with his boyfriend, what can they do to save their relationship?

As I said in the paragraph that I sent the reader by email, my guess is that his lack of confidence has been affecting the relationship. I always say that confidence is important when trying to find a boyfriend, but it's equally important in maintaining a relationship as well. A needy boyfriend who lacks confidence is quite an unattractive proposition. Unfortunately, it's not possible to tell someone to become more confident, because that can only happen over time as experience grows. But faced with the likelihood of the relationship ending anyway, it puts the reader in a "nothing to lose" situation, because whatever he does I can't see the situation regarding their sex lives getting any worse. Thinking about it like that, maybe the reader will be able to relax a bit, and be a bit less paranoid.

One important point is that the reader shouldn't fear the end of this relationship. He's only 21, so he's got almost his whole adult life ahead of him to find a life partner. He's already learned a lot from this relationship, so if it does come to an end, he can use that experience to help him in any subsequent relationship that he ends up in. Bearing this in mind should also help him relax, and knowing that he would eventually be able to find another boyfriend should also give him confidence in his current relationship.

The reader seems worried by his lack of sexual experience compared to his partner, but he shouldn't be. For me, someone is bad at sex if they have no or little empathy with the sexual needs of their partner. However, it's clear from his email that the reader does try and satisfy his boyfriend, so it's inconceivable to me that he's bad at sex. It's also completely natural for his older boyfriend to be more experienced, so there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

In my relationships, I've never found it much of a turn on if a boyfriend says "let's have sex", and it sounds like that's what the reader has been doing. Instead, it's much hornier to initiate sex starting with e.g. a kiss, a cuddle, fondling him, etc. As I said in my email to the reader, sex is a vital part of any relationship, so perhaps he can think about better ways of initiating it. For example, he used to have a lot of sex with his boyfriend, so he knows how it used to be initiated and he should know what makes his boyfriend horny.

A few months ago, I posted an email from a reader who's boyfriend was intending to go and work in another country. As I said in that post, in fact that reader did split up with his boyfriend, but it turns out that the story has a happier ending. A post on that reader's blog tells us that in the end, the two of them got back together. So even if this reader does split up from his boyfriend, if they still love each other it doesn't necessarily have to be a permanent split!

Anyway, do any other readers have any thoughts about this reader's situation?

Update 21-Sep-2012: Posting this reader's email yesterday has prompted him to send me an update, which I've pasted below. All comments welcome.


Thanks for your reply. Firstly, thanks so much for your advice. I really appreciate it! I’m sorry that I didn’t get around to replying to your email. Actually, I did intend to work on the relationship and then get back to you once things had stabilised a bit. But unfortunately, not much has changed.

Anyway, I’ll do my best to update you on the situation. My boyfriend and I are still together and we’re actually living together now. I’m not so sure that was a good idea given the circumstances, but we had already started the ball rolling when I sent you the last email. Living together hasn’t resulted in any other problems and I still enjoy his company and I still love him so everything is fine in that respect. However, it has put a little more pressure on me in terms of deciding whether or not to end the relationship.

To sum it up, we’re pretty much in the same situation as before. Not much has changed. I think my boyfriend can sense I’m not totally happy and he’s tried to talk to me a few times but I feel that he just doesn’t listen or doesn’t act to work on the issues. He doesn’t think we have any problems. Things have been pretty turbulent in the past month and I’ve been very close to leaving at least once or twice but he always does the right things at the right time to comfort me and convince me to stay. At this point, I think we’re still together because we both love each other and we don’t want to lose that bond.

I absolutely agree with you that lack of confidence is unattractive. I think this is my worst problem. This is also the reason I think I should stay and work on the relationship. I know that I can find another boyfriend, but I’ll probably just have the same issues so there’s no point in breaking apart a loving relationship to start anew and have nothing change.

The reason I’m worried about my lack of sexual experience is because my boyfriend has directly told me that he’s turned off by my lack of experience. This is very frustrating because it’s impossible for me to gain experience unless we have sex! It’s a cyclical problem. This is very awkward to write, but I didn’t mention in my last email that I don’t actually know if he wants to top or bottom. He’s told me that he’s versatile and personally, I don’t really have a preference for either. In the beginning, he always tried to top but I wasn’t ready so I generally topped. I should point out that we haven’t had anal sex many times (or at least successfully!). Anyway, he thinks I’m too inexperienced to top well so we swapped. But I was always very cautious because of the pain and I stopped him a few times while we were trying. Anyway, 1e got there eventually but now he seems to think that I’m not willing to bottom and he doesn’t want me to top so we do nothing. I find it very embarrassing to talk about this stuff. To be clear, I don’t care so much about anal sex, I’d be happy with any activities.

In regards to initiating sex, when we connected sexually in the beginning of the relationship, it was very often initiated by him. Now I always initiate but I don’t usually ask directly. Actually, I don’t have any problem getting him horny. I usually give a massage, kiss, cuddle or fondle and I can feel him getting hard, but he stops me there. I’ve thought about taking a break but I don’t know if that would be helpful. I’ve also thought about trying some more interesting stuff, like allowing the threesome he asked about. I thought that might allow him to see me in a more sexual light but I’m still not totally comfortable with it. Anyway, I’m sorry for the long email again and I’d appreciate any advice.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Email about the Asian gay community in London

Yesterday I received a short email from a reader which was asked a very simple question:

Dear GB,

I just moved to London a month ago and l would like to know if you know any clubs catering to Asian guys (from E or SE Asia). I am not sure if you are still a self-professed rice queen, but I was hoping you could help. I am Asian from Canada, and while I am open to all races for friendships, you sometimes long for people who share the same mindset and culture. I am aware of LYC but they no longer hold any social gatherings.

Thanks GB!

I suppose that I am a bit of a rice queen, because my boyfriend T is from Asia. However, even so, I'm not sure what the answer is to this reader's question! There used to be a bar near Charing Cross railway station called Kudos which had a large Asian clientele, however the company that owned Kudos went bust and so it closed a year or two ago. So can any other readers give any good answers to this question?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An epilogue from the gay guy who didn't believe in love at first sight

This morning I heard from the reader who was behind "Email from a gay guy who didn't believe in love at first sight", which I posted in the 'Dear GB' category a few months ago. Today's email is a kind of epilogue to the story that he sent me, so I've tacked it on at the bottom of the original posting. Basically, the reader has come into contact again with the guy that he fell in love with. Even though it seems that the story is at an end, nonetheless I'm sure that the reader would still appreciate people's further thoughts, if anyone wants to leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Should I support Tom Daley or Matthew Mitcham for Olympic diving gold?

Matthew MitchamTom Daley
Next Friday, the Men's 10 metre platform diving event begins at the London 2012 Olympic games. The defending champion is an Australian diver called Matthew Mitcham. But one of the guys who'll be hoping to steal Matthew's crown is a talented young British diver called Tom Daley.
Who should I support? I'm a mildly patriotic kind of chap so Tom Daley should be the natural choice. However, it's a little more complicated than that.

A couple of days ago, I was genuinely shocked when I looked into how many openly gay male athletes were competing at London 2012. As far as I can tell from Google, just three! There's
Wikipedia suggest that there are over 10,700 athletes (of both genders) at London 2012. If half of those are men and if just 1% are gay, then there should we well over 50 gay men competing, if not a lot more.

I can think of a lot of reasons why there aren't more openly gay athletes at the Olympics. Of course, there are all the usual reasons why people don't come out, namely
  • Fear of the reaction of friends and family.
  • Wondering whether it's really true that one is gay, or whether an attraction to the same sex is just a phase, etc.
However, on top of that, for Olympic athletes there's also:
  • Fear of the reaction of fans, sponsors and governments. It's worth remembering that the home countries of a lot of the athletes are much more hostile to homosexuality than the liberal West. And even after Matthew Mitcham had won his Olympic gold medal in 2008, it took him a long time to find sponsorship.
  • Training is the focus, rather than relationships with people of either gender. Given that a lot of athletes are relatively young, it seems quite likely to me that a lot of the guys who'll come out in the future haven't yet worked out that they're gay. Olympic training schedules leave little time for anything else!
Regarding Matthew Mitcham, it's interesting to note that his success at the 2008 Olympics was just a few months after he came out as gay. So perhaps there are benefits for gay athletes to come out. My own experience was that I became much more confident once I'd worked out who I was and wasn't trying to hide it any more. When competing in something like the Olympics, confidence is a valuable commodity.

Becoming a successful Olympic athlete is an expensive business, in terms of both the time that one needs to dedicate, and also the cost of coaching, equipment, travel etc. For gay athletes who need corporate sponsors to help with all that, one idea is to focus on companies who value diversity. I've blogged before that diversity is highly valued in the investment banking world these days. In the UK, there's also the Stonewall equality index, and some companies try hard to ensure that they get a good score.

The world needs more openly gay athletes. They're important role models for anyone who thinks that they might be gay. For teenagers, it's impossible to know how many suicides are related to the gay issue, so the value of seeing openly gay people on TV making a success of their lives can't be underestimated. So it's obvious who I have to support in the Olympic diving on Friday.

Good luck Matthew! I sincerely hope that you manage to win another gold medal :-).

Sunday, August 05, 2012

GB's twitter account

Back in 2010, I blogged that I wasn't going to be able to spend much time blogging any more due to pressure at work. Since then, I've still been able to find time to post something around once a month, but it's obviously much less than the two or three times a week that I used to manage. Unfortunately, it's still true that in general, I don't have much time for blogging.

Over the last year, various people have asked me why GB doesn't have a Twitter account. My response has always been that because I don't have enough time for blogging, then I'm unlikely to have much time for Twitter either. However, I've now accepted that it doesn't hurt to have an account, so I've set one up :-). Please feel free to follow me on Twitter. I may even manage more than one Tweet a month!

GB xxx

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Email from a guy who lives in Kampala

A few weeks ago, I received a query from a reader in Africa:

Dear GB,

I do hope that this e-mail finds you in good health. I have been following your blog since 2009 and I do like it. Your blog first caught my attention because I once lived in the UK and had dreams of becoming an Investment Banker but I failed to go through the tough recruitment process.

Anyway, reason for my e-mail is to seek for some kind of advice (I have and am still seeking for advice from elsewhere too) on avenues of finding a right partner. In brief, I will be 32 this September, my academic background is in Economics and I have just over 8 years' combined work experience in investment analysis and management, agri-business and freelance business consultancy. I am also a part time entrepreneur and one of the few CFAs you will find here in Kampala, Uganda.

I have had a string of 'boy friends' here in Kampala but most of these have been straight boys who I seduce into relationships and kind of look after them. I am officially tired of this arrangement and I am now looking for friendships that could possibly lead to a long term affair. I am interested in 30+ and I think I can do up to 65 years.

What I have discovered here in Kampala since I came back in 2005 from my studies in the UK is that the gay scene does not really have the kind of people I am looking for. I can date any person of any background but personally I think I am sort of bent to relating with professional whites. I think this is so because I came out while I was in the UK as a student and was introduced to lots of white professionals out there by friends, lots of whose contacts I long lost when I came back to Kampala. Life here is slow and it irritates me for such.

Do you have any idea of how I can make friends with professionals out there in the UK? Of course, I am now busy browsing the different internet gay sites and there are some interesting leads here and there.


When I first read this reader's email, it seemed surprising to me that someone could be looking for a partner from so far away. So I sent him a quick reply as follows:

Hi, thanks for reading my blog :-).

Kampala is a long way from London, as I'm sure you now. But it sounds like you're looking for contact with gay white professionals who live in the UK, so I'm just wondering how you think that kind of relationship would work?

Best wishes, GB xxx

I didn't have to wait long for his reply:

Hi GB.

Many thanks for the quick reply. Thought I would wait for days given your somewhat busy schedule. Anyways, yes I am looking for contacts with gay white professionals who live in the UK and yes I know it is quite a long distance from Kampala to the UK. However, I am very open to communication over the phone and or e-mail with someone up there who is interested in meeting a person like myself. I mean, if all seems well then I have no problem organising a a short visit to the UK to meet up with the person - I can pay for all my expenses and have no strings attached initially.

I have friends here who have been introduced and or met people from over there while they are here and the affairs have grown into life partnerships.

As earlier communicated, I once lived in the UK while completing my studies and I have lots and lots of relatives (well, most of them don't want to associate with me because of my sexuality).

Thing is, I am tired of the relationships here coz they all seem to be 'commercial based' and at 32 I think I now need a lifelong partner who fits my criteria.

Unfortunately, apart from all the usual dating web sites of which this reader is already aware, I have no idea how he might find a life partner from the UK to go and join him in Uganda. Do any other readers have any suggestions for him?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Boys or Men?

When I was growing up, I always thought that it would be cool to be able to do somersaults in the air. Sadly I never learned, and at this point in my life, I think it's best to focus on my aerobic fitness rather than that kind of high impact activity! Nonetheless, when I was applying for London 2012 Olympic tickets with boyfriend T, a trip to see the artistic gymnastics was a must.

We were lucky to get tickets for the men's gymnastic team finals, although when we applied, we had no idea that Team GB would be competing. Better than that, an outstanding performance by Team GB resulted in them winning the bronze medal :-), something that hadn't been achieved for 100 years.

While watching the performances, a couple of thoughts ran through my mind. I couldn't help thinking that the bulging muscular arms of some of the athletes looked quite unnatural. Indeed, when looking for fun with other guys, I agree with Janet because in general "I don't like men with too many muscles"!

My other thought was that some of the competitors, particularly some of the young Asian athletes, looked more like boys than men. However, whether they're strong and agile men or simply boys with too many muscles, what they do is still mightily impressive :-).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Olympic Games come to London :-)

I hadn't been planning to go to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games last Friday. However, when I heard that there were some last minute tickets available I just couldn't resist! Boyfriend T had told me that he always watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics on TV, so I thought that it would be a nice treat for him to actually be there for once.

It was an fabulous event, although while I was watching it all, I couldn't help wondering what the rest of the world would think about some of the more eccentric parts of the show. For example, what would the world make of the Queen arriving at the ceremony by apparently parachuting out of a helicopter with James Bond? As a Brit, I thought that part was hilarious :-). But perhaps the most spectacular bit for me was having five huge Olympic rings forged in red hot metal in the middle of the stadium:

Presumably some readers saw the opening ceremony? I'm particularly interested to hear what you thought if you're not British, although British readers are welcome to leave comments too :-).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Emails from a gay student with confidence issues

A few months ago, a British student sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I stumbled across your blog in the early hours of the morning and have literally been reading it non-stop! I was wondering if you could give me some advice.

I'm 19 years old and I have just started University, I've been out since I was 15 and since I came out I started to going to clubs in London like Heaven and Ku Bar. When I first came out I was pretty chubby but now most of that weight has gone and I would say I have an average body figure, but I still look in the mirror and see my 15 year old self. Whenever I go out I never really talk to any guys because I'm shy, I feel ugly compared to all guys I find attractive and I've never been complimented by another guy in my life! Girls are always telling me that I'm gorgeous/attractive/"If you were straight, I would ..." but even then I feel like these comments are only being said to make me feel better, I know I am not ugly but I can't see anything about myself that is attractive. I have no gay friends who are guys, and I think I am intimidated by gay men. I'm also very inexperienced around guys, I have never been in a relationship or had any flings or anything like that, I just get really self-conscious around gay guys. I really want to find someone special but I feel too awkward to ever initiate anything and guys never approach me first! Recently I spotted a guy in a straight club who I thought was cute and got speaking to one of his female friends. I told her I thought he was cute and she told me that he had just come out to her a couple of days before but wanted to keep it a secret and now she wants me to go for a night out with her and her friends including him, I'm really worried that I won't even talk to him and create all these reasons in my head why I'm not good enough for him.

Also being around your typical tanned, toned and waxed gay men in clubs has really taken its toll on my own perception of my body. As I said before I am average build, I am slim but I have no muscle showing and on my part I'm doing exercise regularly to get my body looking nice but I have a lot of body hair. I have tried everything to get rid of it, shaving/waxing/creams but it never goes away and it really runs me down because I see all these hairless gods walking around and I feel like a werewolf!

I was wondering if you could give me any advice in regards to this message?


At the time there were several other emails ahead of him in my "Dear GB" queue in this blog's right-hand side-bar. So instead of making him wait a few months for a posting, I sent him a quick reply in which I included the following tentative pieces of advice:

Almost certainly, you're just a young guy who's a bit shy, especially now that you've (presumably) moved away from home and are studying at university. It takes a lot of people a while to develop their confidence to make their own way in the world. So probably the best thing to do is to keep on doing exercise, because that will build confidence, and build up your experiences slowly. Sounds like you haven't had many (or even any) *intimate* experiences with other guys but honestly, so what, everyone has to start somewhere! At university there are bound to be some guys who are just coming out, so in some sense you're 4 years ahead of them :-).

If it's not just a case of shyness, I suppose it's possible that you may have a version of Body Dysmorphic Order ("BDD"). There are many versions, including things like anorexia nervosa where people won't eat because they think they look fat, etc etc. For that, things like Cognitive behavioural therapy ("CBT") may work well. However, I'm not an expert with this stuff (after all I am a banker!), so to follow that up you'd need to go to a doctor.

Anyway, the most likely thing is that you just need to try and relax, be cool about everything, and things will sort itself out in time. Does that help?

I didn't hear anything for ages, but then last month, he sent me another email:

Dear GB,

First of all, thank you for your reply, and sorry that I was a little lax in replying to it. I thought I'd give you a little update on myself now and maybe you could help me some more. I wouldn't call myself a shy person, I believe I am quite outgoing around people I know and even people I have just met - unless they are gay men. For some reason that I cannot attest to, I just can't bring myself to be comfortable around gay men and it bothers me, because I want to have gay friends. I'm working on it though, and slowly I am integrating myself into the gay scene where I am at Uni but even so, it seems so superficial to me that I wonder if I even want to be a part of it.

In terms of my own body image, there hasn't been any real improvement there although I have started to have blond hair and a tan - a bit stereotypical, I know - and it is making me feel a lot more content with the way I look and I am starting to get over thinking that I am more chubby than I am. My biggest problem is that I don't find anything about me attractive, so I don't know why anyone else would and I guess this is why I prefer girls' company because I am not seeking their attention in that way. The compliments from my friends never help and I have come to the point of just ignoring them, I feel like they are lying to me because they have to. My recent mentality, and one that I stick by now, is that I am perfectly content to spend the rest of my life alone, a little melodramatic but realistic to me and I don't think there is anything wrong with that, that doesn't necessarily mean I would want my life to go like that but its more preparing myself for the worst. Coincidentally, following an assessment from one of my lecturers, I was told that I was 'heavily critical' something which I think extends from my work into my persona. I guess again, if I am critical of myself then what others think of me isn't so bad.

I know I just sound like a ball of confusion at the moment, and I'm a complicated person to work out, even to myself but I am kind of resting on the fact that later on in life I might finally be in a place where I am happy with my body and overall I am happier person than when I last wrote to you. I am blessed with amazing friends and a family that strives to give me opportunity in every way possible so my life isn't full of self-pity - just thinking of myself like that makes me feel pathetic as well - so I don't want to paint the impression that I am depressed or anything like that, I'd like to think I'm quite similar to a lot of gay guys who are entering the gay community, even if I have been waiting at the door for 4 years.

I'm not really sure if asked any direct questions here, but it did help for me to write out how I am feeling and maybe you can help steer me towards the right path. :-)

It's an old cliché, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, every person's perception of what is beautiful and who is handsome (or anything like that) is particular to the person who has the view. Other people may have a different view, and sometimes very different views, about whatever it is that's being observed. So the fact that this reader doesn't think that there's anything attractive about him means absolutely nothing in terms of whether other people might find him attractive.

As an aside, I'm a bit of a science fiction fan, and thinking about this reminded me of an old Red Dwarf episode called Me². In that episode, the character Rimmer creates a copy of himself, and the two of them move in to live together in the same cabin on the Red Dwarf spaceship. However, although Rimmer did this because initially he found himself attractive, it all ends in tears because the two Rimmers drive each other crazy. So I think it's a very good thing that the reader doesn't find himself attractive!

Although the gay media is often full of images of young and fit men, and gay clubs like Heaven contain their share of other stereotypes too, the reality is that there are very many different types of gay men. So if the reader isn't comfortable in the company of the types of gay men that he's currently meeting, then it just means that he's meeting the wrong types, because there will be other types of gay men that he will be comfortable with. Also, although some types of gay guys thrive on the gay scene, some guys like the reader find it quite superficial. Again, that simply means that he needs to look elsewhere for a boyfriend.

In fact, there may be a bit of an inconsistency in some of the reader's views. On one hand he says that the gay scene seems so superficial, but he also gives me the impression that in terms of measuring attractiveness he just focuses on what someone's body looks like, which is also very superficial. For me there are many other attractive features that guys can have such as confidence, intelligence, wit, charisma, etc. And in terms of finding a boyfriend, there are plenty of other important aspects too, such as having some common interests.

However, although it's important to have some common interests with one's boyfriend, it's also important to have different strengths and different areas of interest. In straight relationships the complementarity is provided naturally by the gender difference, but in gay relationships it needs to come from elsewhere. So I've seen several situations where there's a classically good looking guy of average intelligence who's the boyfriend of an average looking guy who's smart and witty. This just emphasises what I said above, namely that you can't work out what people are going to find attractive about you.

It's good that the reader is gradually building his confidence, and getting over the fact that he didn't like the body image he had when he was 15. But let's be clear, if he's started to have "blond hair and a tan", the important thing isn't what superficial features he's acquiring it's the fact that they give him more confidence. As it says in the title of this posting, I reckon this is just about a reader who's just got a few confidence issues as he works out where he fits into the world. He'll have no problem finding a nice boyfriend for himself once he realises that :-).

Do any other readers have any thoughts that might help this guy?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Email about subtle homophobia in everyday life

A few months ago, a reader sent me an email which highlights a very interesting issue. The email was as follows:

Dear GB,

I am sending you this email at one o’clock in the morning, as I just got home quite early from a party. I love your blog and with all the different stories it has really enlightened me in the past few months, considering we all have to go through the same problems more or less. The thing I want to tell you about is either a subtle form of homophobia, or me being too sensitive.

I am 22 years old and am studying Psychology at a University in Germany. I had my coming out when I was 16, always having lived with it quite happily. There are things to it which I wish could be easier like getting children or the fact that finding a partner doesn’t exactly work like it does for straight people, though those are not really hard issues for me.

The thing is that I am quite a masculine guy and though I have my fair share of female friends and a few gay friends who I feel really comfortable around, I am also friends with quite a lot of straight guys, because they're something I wouldn’t want to miss in my life. The thing that really bugs me every now and then is the phases in which they just keep going on about my sexuality through like quite stupid and obvious jokes. And believe me, I’m actually a really fun person and make jokes about myself and others all the time and I don’t mind others making jokes about me, but there is this certain kind of gay jokes that I sometimes think are more than just jokes.

My problem is that I get really pissed off sometimes like I did at the party I was at earlier this night, because I was the only gay guy and after hearing the tenth gay joke I just can't find it funny anymore. Am I being too sensitive or is this something you came across in life yourself? I’m sure everybody does at some point. If it was some random person that didn't matter to me making those jokes I really wouldn’t care. Or if it's like a gay friend of mine, I wouldn’t care, because they obviously know what it's like, but with my friends it really bugs me sometimes, I just don’t want to be reminded that I’m gay all the fucking time, it just shouldn’t be that important to mention it all the time.

It’s kind of hard to put all the thoughts I have right now to words. But I hope you get what I mean and I would be really happy to hear back from you!


Of course, I know exactly what this reader means. To my mind, a good example of the subtle homophobia that the reader is referring to is the word 'gay' itself. Wikipedia has an excellent article about how the use of the word 'gay' has changed over time, and that these days the word 'gay' can be used in an abusive context, for example the phrase "that's gay" can mean "that's rubbish".

However, the reader was writing from Germany, and when I first read the email I wondered whether he was referring to the German rather than the English language. So I sent a quick reply to ask that question, and also to ask whether he could provide some examples of the subtle homophobia that he's thinking of. It didn't take him long to respond:

Hi GB,

The thing is with my friends that I just don’t want to be friends with other gay guys or just girls. And with straight guys one often finds himself confronted with this constant ‘making-fun-of-the-gay-guy’. Obviously this is something that only happens amongst others, when I’m alone with my friends it’s not ever a problem. So for example we were talking about heteroscedasticity and homoscedasticity, so one of my friends found the ‘homo’ part really funny. And he made the same joke two days later, so at that point I was quite pissed off already, because this isn’t a joke that’s like funny at all. I sent you my previous email after I'd been to a guy's birthday party, and we all congratulated him and gave him a hug, and when I walked up he was like "I’ll get an extra warm hug from you" (though I must say he doesn’t matter that much to me and in a different context I wouldn’t consider this as a ‘bad making fun of’). And then there were two of my really close friends, who are actually the reason for me contacting you, because they are my closest male friends at Uni and all the other males I have like a good friendship with too, but I’m not as close with any of them as I am with those two. Let’s call the N and J for now. So N was talking to J about nicknames and he was like "I could just call you wiener" (and yes, we have the same meaning for wiener) and then I came in and was like ‘yea’ and then N said ‘yea, I know you like wiener’ – I suck dick, thanks for reminding me.

And you know, there are things like that quite often. It follows a certain pattern. At first when you come out to others they don’t talk about it at all and then they start making fun of it. But they probably wouldn’t talk to me about emotional things like if there’s a guy that I am dating or whatever, or if, it wouldn’t be quite as natural.

The real problem is that the difference between good and bad 'making fun of' is marginal. I make fun of myself all the time and I wouldn’t want them to stop being funny, I make fun of them too. But with sexuality it’s just quite difficult. Either way I think I can either talk to them and tell them what I think, or just leave it. However I’m not somebody that likes to stick to situations that are unpleasant, or in this situation disappointing.

Also I think it's quite unfair for them to make jokes about a subject like this, because they seriously don’t know what life as an openly gay guy is like.

I have gone through this situation many times before, because I seriously feel the need for male friends in my life and it just happens that they’re not always gay. Here in Germany people are also just a bit behind on the subject of homosexuality compared to England, where I used to live for three years.

And yea, we have the word 'schwul' in German, though it only describes the sexuality of two males loving each other. But it's just as misused as the word gay is in English.

Take care,

There's little doubt in my mind that the general subtle homophobia in everyday language, such as 'gay' meaning 'rubbish', relates to people (particularly teenagers) who want to be seen to be *normal* (as they see it). Hence they use language to distance themselves from being gay, and similarly might poke fun at gay people. I have no idea how to deal with this issue, but it's an important problem because it had a bad effect on gay people who haven't yet come out. Luckily the reader doesn't have a problem being gay, so for him the subtle homophobia is just extremely irritating.

When I was younger, I can also recall some *friends* sniggering when talking to me and words arose in conversation that contained 'homo'. Although that kind of behaviour can be annoying, it's also very childish. If that happened to me now, I'd probably just discontinue the conversation and walk away, because it's pointless trying to have adult conversations with children.

One thought is that the kind of behaviour that the reader describes can simply be from people who're not used to handling social situations with openly gay people. Although the jokes aren't funny to gay people because we've heard it all before, people who haven't met many gay people may need to get it out of their system. So I think that as friendships develop, that kind of behaviour will gradually stop because the novelty will wear off.

However I do have one constructive idea that people like the reader might be able to use to tackle the problem, namely to join in their game and poke fun back at their friends. For example,
"Yeah, I know you like wiener," says N.

"That makes sense, " replies the reader, "and perhaps I should call you pussy for the same reason!"
Or perhaps a put down, for example
"I’ll get an extra warm hug from you " says the birthday boy.

"Don't count on it mate," replies the reader, "but if I get desperate I'll let you know!"
Of course, to make a success of this approach it's necessary to be quick witted. Most people can think of the perfect response to something after the event when it's too late! But it might just work for someone like the reader, who may be able to channel his anger into finding the right response at the right time.

Anyway, have any other readers encountered similar things, or does anyone else have any thoughts on how to tackle this problem?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Email from a gay guy who didn't believe in love at first sight

Last December I exchanged emails with a reader that who had developed a crush on a guy who he'd seen at his gym. Although that's quite a long time ago, as I said last month, by then I had started sending readers immediate responses to any such requests for advice.

The emails leave you in no doubt that the reader really does have an intense crush on the guy in question. The first email was as follows:

Dear GB,

Apologies in advance for the novel I'm about to write. I've been following your blog for some time now and I would like to know your opinion/advice.

I'm a 33 year old professional guy working in the City, down to earth, not entirely bad looking with a reasonably successful career. I can certainly hold a conversation and most people find me quite funny with a good sense of humour. However, I came out very late and am still not 100% confident approaching other guys and asking them out for drinks, etc. which is especially true for guys that I find attractive. I'm also not sure if I understand the signals correctly that other guys may be sending my way. I have no problem whatsoever arranging a personal meet/drinks/date with guys through online dating sites such gaydar, etc. but in real life I find it incredibly difficult to make the first move.

I'm a member of a gym in the City, and there is a guy in my gym that I've had an incredibly strong and completely irrational crush on. Don't take me wrong. This is not just another crush. This is a major crush that consumes me entirely. When I first noticed him in the locker room in mid-September I completely froze for 2-3 seconds - my body was simply not able to move. If I believed in Cupid I'd say I was struck by his arrow right that very second! It was that sharp and intense - like a slap in the face. The next few times I ran into him I got the impression that he was checking me out. He would start working out on a machine right in front of me, giving me a peek every now and then, etc.

The thing is I've been unable to approach him and strike up even the simplest of conversations. I'm normally an outspoken and articulate guy, but for some reason I go completely dumb when he is around (dumb as in both silent and stupid LOL). It's driving me mad. Every time I see him my heart gets stuck in my throat, my hands begin to sweat and I rather pretend I'm super involved with my workout. I know, very pathetic. After the first few days of staring at him and not doing anything I got the impression that he started to avoid me - he would walk away when he saw me approaching, or he would turn his back on me in the locker room or look in another direction, etc. This prompted me to action - I couldn't stand him ignoring me any longer. I approached him and asked him if we had met before, outside of the gym, as I had a feeling that I recognised him from somewhere. This was, of course, not true. I knew very well that I had never seen him outside of the gym, but that was the best ice breaker I could come up with - and it took me a few days of practice in front of the mirror to get the right tone of voice and a relaxed expression on my face! He said he didn't recognise me from anywhere and that was it. End of discussion. But at least I'd broken ice.

After that I didn't see him for 1-2 weeks. Then he showed up one day about 40-50 mintues before the closing time so there were only a few other people in the gym. He greeted me with a smile and started his cardio exercise only 2 treadmills away from me! What a fantastic chance to strike up a conversation! Dozens of questions I could ask him. Does he live/work in the area, how he likes the gym, what is his workout routine, etc.

So what did I do? NOTHING. I completely blew it. My eyes firmly fixed on the control panel, watching my heart rate rise beyond 190 beats per minute, my cold sweaty hands clutched onto the bar in front of me while I try to look relaxed and generally uninterested. He left after about 10 minutes.

I got so angry and frustrated with myself. I finished my cardio exercise soon after he left and I lay down on the floor to calm down. I decided that my silly behaviour must end right there and then. Otherwise I will never be able to approach guys that I really like. I prepared a few sentences in my head and set off to find him in the gym so I could ask him out for a drink or a coffee. After all, what's the worst thing that could happen? He would say No. The sun would still rise in the morning! And at least I would know for sure that he is not into me. But I couldn't find him anywhere in the gym. I checked every machine I had ever seen him working on before, the treadmill area, the stretching area, everywhere. He was GONE.

This was about 4 weeks ago and I haven't seen him since. My life has been hell. I've been going to the gym almost every single day since I last saw him, hoping that I would run into him again, just that I get one more chance to ask him out for a coffee.
I've never worked out so much in my entire life - I'm exhausted, my whole body hurts and I'm down to 165 lbs which was my weight when I was 21 LOL, but I can't help it. I need to go there. He is the first thing on my mind when I wake up, I feel this sharp pain in my chest every time I enter the gym floor, I burst out to tears when I'm alone in the steam room or sauna, etc.

I can't quite believe this is happening to me. This whole situation is just so absurd. I don't even know his name LOL. There are many other guys in my gym that I find hot and attractive, and I get a feeling that some of them are checking me out every now and then, but none of them has had an effect on me even remotely close to what I'm going through right now. Plus I'm also out there meeting other guys for drinks, dinner, theatre, etc. - some of them very nice and hot - but I just haven't met anyone yet that would make me feel that extra little something and make me go weak in my knees.

I have a feeling that I will never see him again. I guess I am just hoping for some kind of a closure. Any closure. Perhaps he's not gay at all and I got all his eye contact wrong, or perhaps he is gay but I'm not his type, or perhaps I AM his type but he just got annoyed by all my stupid behaviour, etc. I guess I will never know. What gets me most is this feeling of a lost opportunity, the feeling of what could have been if only I found enough courage some 15 minutes earlier that day. Fifteen. Minutes. I spend more time in the bathroom every morning LOL. But now I'm only left with this regret and all the words I had left unspoken in my heart. It's killing me.

I caught myself thinking the other day that he may well have turned out to be a complete jerk, pretentious, arrogant dumb-ass with a ridiculously small dick LOL, or something similar that would help me get him out of my mind, but deep inside I know that I was only making excuses to help me feel better about how I fucked it up.

Please don't get this wrong. I am not a wreck or a crazy psycho. I know I will get over it eventually. I can be deadly rational and analytical; once I was even accused of being emotionless. Until a few months ago I would be the first person to joke about people who believe in love at first sight. And here I am now - hopelessly dreaming about a complete stranger. I don't quite understand why it's so hard for me to let it go. I guess I just don't want to give up on this feeling once I've found it. Perhaps this is exactly what I'd been hoping to find all along while being busy making other plans re: my career, job, etc. This feeling of longing, cold sweaty hands, heart stuck in throat, this incredible, all-consuming desire to see someone, touch them and feel them, or just simply watch them in silence and awe.

I've already considered a couple of options of what I could do now, ranging from "do nothing and just suck it up" through "join another gym" to "come up with some story for the gym staff that would get me his phone number" - something like I'm worried about an old friend whom I haven't seen for a few weeks, etc. What would be your advice?


Within a couple of days I'd sent him an email, which contained the following section:

I think it's important to realise that when people get strong crushes like the one you describe, then those people can't be objective. The way you describe the events, then he could certainly be gay and have been interested in you. However, they're the events seen through your un-objective eyes and through his eyes things might look very different, for example he could well be straight!

Apart from the passage of time, I think the best cure to your obsession will be to find another guy who can be the focus of your passion. You may well never see this guy again, so I think that should be your working assumption given that you haven't seen him now for several weeks.

However, if you do see him again, then be careful. Since you're not used to approaching guys face to face, it seems quite likely to me that you might end up making a fool of yourself when you talk to him, given what you feel inside! The way you started talking to him, asking him if you'd met before, was a brilliant idea :-). If he is gay, my guess is that you probably executed it in an awkward way that put him off you, so the same thing could happen again. As in all dating situations, the key is to be open, relaxed, confident, i.e. cool :-). Start very very slowly - and don't ask him out until you've got a much better idea whether he's gay. Working out the right kind of behaviour is a skill, so I'd suggest that you spend a bit of time looking for guys in gay bars and clubs to help you practice.

Within a few days the reader had sent me another email, a much longer email this time, which again leaves no doubt that the reader has become completely obsessed with this guy:

Hey GB,

Many thanks for your response and for your quick thoughts, much appreciated, especially as you don't have much time for blogging at the moment.

Anyways, I've got huge news - I ran into the guy again about three days ago - THE DAY I SENT YOU MY FIRST EMAIL!!! It was not in the gym though, but in the tube station on my way home from the gym. It was about 10:15pm and I'd just touched in with my Oyster, approaching the stairs on to the platform level, when he passed by me walking in the opposite direction - on his way out of the station! I am not sure if he saw me or not. He'd let his hair grow a bit longer, about half-inch or so, and he looked like he'd lost some weight too - his cheeks were a bit less full than I remembered. By the time I composed myself he had touched out and was well on his way to the street level.

I stood still for a moment, unable to move, and then just followed my instinct without really thinking about what I was doing. I made a U-turn, quickly ran upstairs taking 2-3 steps at a time hoping I would catch a glimpse of his back walking away from the station. I felt incredibly silly, verging on creepy. What was I thinking of doing? Follow him all the way to his house LOL? I don't know, I guess I wasn't thinking. Anyways, I couldn't see him at first, but was lucky to spot him just a few seconds before he disappeared in the Tesco Express near the tube station. I had a plan in an instant - I would walk in, pretend to do my shopping and then bump into him as if by a complete chance, looking surprised.

So off I went. I walked in, noticed him on the right hand side in my peripheral view (I didn't turn my head to look at him), and chose the fruit aisle right opposite the main entrance as my base where I'd wait for the right moment. I knew he was in the next aisle. I walked up and down for about 30 seconds, my mind frantically trying to come up with something smart and funny to say. I grabbed a pack of grapes so I don't look like a complete idiot. He got to the end of his aisle, I knew he could see me any moment now. I approached him when he was reaching for something on the shelf in front of him. I think he noticed me shortly before I greeted him. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Oh, HEY! (wide smile on my face, looking excited) You're the guy from the gym!
Him: (No response. He didn't even look at me when I talked to him. He reached for something on the shelf.)
Me (still smiling): How have you been? Haven't seen you for ages!
Him: Sorry? (He looked at me as if he just noticed me)
Me: Uhm, I'm sorry. Are you a member at the gym just across the road?
Him: No, I'm not.
Me: (Gasp)
Him: I go to a gym near work (He looked back on the shelf).
Me: Oh, uhm. I'm really sorry. I must have confused you with someone else.
Him: That's alright (reached for something on the shelf again, as if I was not there).

I quickly walked away to one of the self-checkout stations. It took me about 5 minutes to pay for the stupid pack of grapes. I kept selecting "pay by cash" on the screen while sticking my card in and out of the payment terminal and entering my PIN code multiple times. It took three failed payment attempts for my mind to realise that I was doing something wrong! I got out of the store as fast as I could, ran to the tube station and stared in front of me the whole journey back home, my mind completely blank.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well. It wasn't until the following morning that I was able to think clearly about what happened. I think I was ready for anything but this. I expected he would say something like "Oh hey, I've been out of town for work" or "I've been sick" or something similar, but not that he would pretend we had never met. I am 99.99% sure it WAS him. Yes, he'd lost some weight and let his hair grow a bit, but his eyes were the same, his chin, nose, forehead, his body posture or the way he moved when I saw him walking away from the station - I would recognise him from among 100 people just by the way he walks.

I came up with a number of explanations of what could have happened:
  1. It was him. He is gay and was interested in me, perhaps even had a crush on me too. He joined another gym because he wanted to get over me after all my stupid behaviour. (I know. Talk about gay fantasising and wishful thinking LOL).
  2. It was him. He is straight (or gay but was never really interested in me) and he joined another gym because he found me annoying.
  3. It was him. He joined another gym for other reasons. Nothing to do with me, his sexual orientation irrelevant.
  4. It wasn't him. I talked to a complete stranger who had never been a member of Virgin Active and I made a complete fool of myself.
I fully understand that the way I've been experiencing everything is purely subjective, seen through my own lenses, biased and likely influenced by my wishful thinking. However, I am way too rational to jump into quick conclusions, especially in matters that are important to me, and I had analysed all my encounters with this guy in great detail to make sure that I'm being as objective as possible. I'm 99.99% convinced that he is gay. We weren't checking each other out on the gym floor only. We also exchanged a few peeks in the sauna, the locker room and the shower area. Sometimes he wouldn't wrap his towel around his waist; he would only hold it in front of his private areas with one hand, leaving his hips and backside exposed while walking around. On one occasion he even walked in to one of the disabled-access showers and he kept looking at me while he was pulling the curtain (with the other disabled shower right next to the one he was getting into, separated only by an internal curtain that can be easily pulled off to create one open space). It wasn't until a few weeks later when I realised that many guys use the disabled showers for all different purposes but taking shower LOL.

Again, I can only give my account of our brief conversation in the locker room some 2 months ago (when I asked him if we'd met before), but I don't think that I executed it in an awkward way that would make him feel uncomfortable. I'd just got to the gym from work and was changing to my workout clothes when he suddenly appeared about 3-4 lockers to my right, just out of the showers after his workout. As far as I can recall our conversation went something like this:

Me: Excuse me, can I ask you something? (wide smile on my face, trying to sound relaxed, my whole body facing him)
Him: Sure. (turning only his head in my direction with the rest of his body facing the locker, with a subtle, almost unnoticeable, smile on his face)
Me: Have we met before? I mean, outside of the gym?
Him: I don't think so. Why?
Me: I have this feeling that I recognise you from somewhere but I can't quite put my finger on it. I don't want to keep staring at you like a complete twat so I thought I'd just ask.
Him (smiling): I'm sorry, I don't recognise you.
Me: Oh well, never mind.
This was followed by about 2 minutes of silence while we were changing. And then, as I was leaving:
Him: See you later. (note that HE was the first one to break the silence)
Me: See you.

I then didn't see him until about 1-2 weeks later, when he showed up 40-50 minutes before the closing time. I was already on a treadmill doing my cardio exercise when, for some reason, I turned my head to the right and saw him about 4 treadmills away, just about to get started. He looked at me, stepped down from his treadmill, walked in my direction saying something like "Hey mate you alright?" while stumbling on one of the treadmills along the way, walked behind me and started his cardio exercise only 2 treadmills to my left! Note that there are two rows of 12-15 treadmills each, all of which were free at the time, except about 1-2 other people on the opposite end of the row behind me.

That's when I completely blew it. My mind went blank and I had no idea what to say. My hands sweating, my heart rate on the control panel rising above 190 beats per minute, etc. I remember that shortly before he left he looked at me for 3-4 seconds, as if he expected me to do/say something, then he walked away. This was about 4-5 weeks ago and I hadn't seen him since then until our encounter in the tube station and the Tesco fiasco that followed.

Am I wrong thinking that he is gay and was interested in me? Even if I discount all evidence, I don't think that my body would be reacting so strongly to someone who is straight. If you've ever had a "gut feeling" about anything in life you know what I'm talking about. You know it in your guts.

I've already considered a couple of options of what I could do now:
  1. Join the gym that I think he joined and hope to run into him again.
  2. Set up a tent in front of the Tesco Express and start my own "Occupy Groceries" campaign until he shows up again LOL. He did his grocery shopping there before, he will do it again.
  3. Do nothing. I've already fucked this up on so many fronts. Put it behind me and move on with life.
What would you do in my case? Sometimes I catch myself thinking that it was all meant to happen just the way it did, e.g. the day when I ran into him in the tube station - had I spent less time drying my hair in the locker room or had I not paused for a little to fill in my bottle at the water tank shortly before I left, I would have got to the station 30 seconds earlier and would have never ran into him. Guess these are my Benjamin Button moments! But then I immediately scorn myself for being ridiculously pathetic - all this thinking about fate and "meant-to-be" stuff. Feels like a constant battle between my reason and heart. Crap I can't believe the mess this whole thing got me into. Any opinion/advice would be much appreciated.

I think you may be right about finding another guy who can be the focus of my passion. But the thing is, you can't really plan this ahead, can you? It's not like I can make a DECISION now to focus my passion on a particular guy. The passion is either there or is not. I can't fake sweaty hands or my heart stuck in throat. I have profiles on about 8-10 dating/social networking sites and I am out there meeting other guys for drinks, coffee, dinner, theatre, etc. including social events organised by Jake and Village Drinks. But as I said before, none of the guys I've met through online dating/networking sites so far has had an effect on me anywhere close to what I'm experiencing now. And it's certainly not their fault. They can be smart, good looking professionals around my age, lawyers, doctors, bankers, charity guys, TV/radio presenters, civil servants, etc., and I can talk to them for hours about work, life, politics, culture, gay scene, etc. but if the spark is not there it's just NOT THERE. So should I simply pick a guy that I'm reasonably comfortable with? I certainly know that I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a similar choice made by someone else.

Ok, I guess I better cut it now before I completely scare you off LOL.

Thanks for reading!

Hopefully the reader has now got over this crush, but nonetheless, I thought it was worth posting this email because it may be instructive to other people in similar situations.

The reader said that he came out very late, so my guess is that like me, he didn't learn the fundamentals of dating and relationships during his teenage years when our straight brothers are busy doing all that stuff. So this whole experience is just part of a delayed gay adolescence.

Re-reading the emails again, my guesses are that
  • The guy may well have been gay, but was put off the reader by his failure to act consistently in the right way, e.g. when they were both on nearby treadmills.
  • The reader didn't see the guy in the gym again for reasons that are completely unrelated to the reader. I think it would have to be quite an extreme situation for one gym member to change gym because of another gym member (e.g. failed long term relationship). Perhaps the guy just moved away, or changed jobs and hence his workout schedule, or something.
  • The guy in Tescos wasn't the guy. But at that point the reader was so obsessed that, in spite of his assertions that he can be rational, the crush had overwhelmed his rationality!
Regarding the three courses of action that the reader suggested towards the end of his second email, the "do nothing" option seems like the right one to me. Hopefully that's what he did. In my last email to him, I said

... I still think you need to find another guy to find another guy who can be your focus. But it sounds as though the guys that you're currently meeting aren't the right ones, so perhaps you need to find new sources of men to meet, to make it more likely that you'll find the right kind of guy?

Although it's an old story, in the future some people may read this who're in a similar situation. So do any other readers have any thoughts?

Epilogue, 15th August 2012: This morning there was an email from this reader in my inbox, which was as follows:

Hey GB,

I know it's been some time since we were last in touch but I just wanted to give you a quick update on recent developments.

The guy is back at my gym. I've run into him about 4-5 times in the past month or so. I tried to have a quick chat with him every time I saw him, but for some reason it didn't work out. Not sure how to explain it. I just felt that I needed to talk to him, but it didn't come naturally and I had to force it. Last time I talked to him I asked him if he'd like to grab a drink or coffee sometime. He said no. It was a bit awkward and I got the impression that he found me annoying so I killed it, told him to take care of himself and walked away. Now I only give him a nod and a smile when I see him, even try to avoid him as the feeling of embarrassment hasn't fully sunk in yet.

Not sure what to make out of this. I thought I was completely over him, but for some reason I am still not being myself when he's around. My hands still sweat a little and my heart begins to beat faster, but once he is out of sight I get back to normal relatively fast and pretty much forget about him. Guess I somehow managed to neutralise his effect on me in the last half a year when I didn't see him. I never got rid of the feeling completely, but it doesn't mess me up any more. It's like one of those situations when you really want something very bad, but you learn to let it go because you realise that you can never have it. So why torture yourself.

I've also been through the comments that other readers left on your website about my emails and I agree with most of them. I fully agree that I'm going through delayed adolescence now due to my late coming out and I need to improve my social skills with other gay guys in the real world rather than behind a computer screen. However I disagree that my affection for this guy was just a misdirected lust. Most of the time when I fantasized about him it was entirely non-sexual. I often found myself wishing that we could spend more time together so we get a chance to get to know each other better. Not necessarily in bed lol - could be dinner, drinks, cinema, weekend getaways etc.

Luckily I won't have to bear the embarrassment for much longer. The work project that's been keeping me in that area for almost 3 years now will soon come to an end and I will most likely transfer my gym membership to another branch closer to home. Guess that's the only way how I can bring this whole thing to a closure lol. It's certainly been a rollercoaster for me, but I don't regret a single day. I am grateful to have experienced such a powerful and amazing feeling, plus I've learned that I'm not as cynical as I thought and am still capable of dreaming, longing and hoping. What a lesson!

All the best,

I did a post about this epilogue in August 2012, just to let readers know that I'd updated this original posting. So a few further comments about all this can be found here :-).