Monday, December 19, 2016

"Joiner visitors"

[Although I'm now a retired blogger, I feel the need to post this … ]

I like to think that I'm a (gay) man of the world. I've had a few boyfriends, and more than a few encounters with a varied selection men from all over the world, with a reasonable selection of activities too. So I don't think that anyone could call me naïve. Nonetheless, when I checked into a hotel with boyfriend K today, I didn't immediately realise what the following notice meant at the hotel reception:

"You do understand it, don't you?" asks boyfriend K with a cheeky tone in his voice, "the English is a bit weird!"

"Well, I saw on the hotel's website that they charge extra for 3 people in a room," I reply after reading it very quickly.

"Hang on," I continue, "what is a joiner visitor? A friend who arrives late?"

"Don't forget that we're staying in Pattaya tonight," replies boyfriend K helpfully.

For readers who may not know, Pattaya became famous during the Vietnam war as a place American solders went for prostitutes. And even though the Vietnam war ended a long time ago, the business continued.

"Wow," I say feeling very stupid, "I've never seen that before in a hotel, a policy about bringing someone back for the night!"

And when we get to our room, there's something else that I've never seen before in a hotel. A packet of condoms for sale in the bedroom, prominently visible, and proudly displayed on the mini-bar price list.

"Actually I remember now that one of my friends warned me about this," I say to boyfriend K after the baggage porter has left, "he told me that he always feels a bit dirty after a visit to Pattaya!"

Monday, December 05, 2016

Christmas charity donations

Christmas treeThroughout the year I make small charity donations, for example in response to specific sponsorship requests from friends. However, it's in December in the run up to Christmas that I make the biggest donations. Since 2007 I've been asking readers for charity suggestions (see Christmas charity donation posting category), and just because I'm now a retired blogger, I don't see any reason not to do a post here asking for suggestions. So all suggestions still welcome. I won't get round to making the donations before Friday 16th December 2016, so any comments made before then will be taken into account :-).

Update 21-Dec-2016: charity donations.

In the end, I decided to support some of the charities that I supported last year. Coming from a medical family, I guess Médecins Sans Frontières (UK charity number 1026588) is my favourite charity, so this year I gave them £1k. Apart from that, I also gave £0.5k to each of GMFA (UK charity number 1076854), Food Cycle (UK charity number 1134423), Against Malaria Foundation (UK charity number 1105319) and Shelter (UK charity number 263710).

As I was making these donations, it occurred to me that much of the work that these charities do relates to addressing the symptoms of problems rather than their causes. For example, MSF works in war zones and with refugees, but who is working to prevent the wars and the refugees that accompany them? Addressing the causes of problems would be better than treating their symptoms, but I guess that's a much harder thing to do :-(.

Anyway, a very Happy Christmas to everyone :-). Big kisses, GB XXX

Monday, October 31, 2016

Retirement as a blogger

Dear Readers,

I started this blog in 2005, and writing here has been great fun over the years :-). However, at the moment I'm finding it difficult to make the time for this blog, even though I've only been posting once a month. So for now at least, I'm not going to be doing any more postings. However, I'm still going to keep my domain name, so for the foreseeable future I should still be contactable by email.

Hugs and kisses to everyone!

GB xxx

Monday, September 26, 2016

A polite conversation

"So when did you realise that you were gay?" asks F.

I'm at a birthday party, and I'm chatting to a guy called F who I've only just met, so the question seems a little forward. But I'd just told F that I'm with boyfriend K, so it's clear that I don't have anything to hide regarding my sexuality.

"Over twenty-five years ago," I reply.

"Did you have girlfriends before you came out?" asks F.

"No actually," I answer truthfully, "but it took me quite a while to accept that I was gay. Looking back it was pretty obvious, given that I never had girlfriends. Perhaps I was the last person to realise!"

"My ex-wife almost married a gay man when she was living in Asia," says F, "because she loves the company of gay men."

I'd been trying to work out whether F was gay or straight, and I'd been thinking that he was probably straight. Given that he's got an ex-wife, that's settles it.

"I suppose that's part of the reason why we got married," continues F, "because I had a boyfriend before."

I didn't expect that!

"Oh, so I guess you're bi?"

"Well, probably more gay than straight :-). I had a girlfriend when I was a student, but then I switched to guys. But I always wanted to have kids, and I got on very well with this female colleague who also wanted kids, so we ended up getting married. It worked well when the kids were young, but we're divorced now."

"So have you got a boyfriend again now?" I ask.

"No, I had an operation a few years ago and now I can't get fully hard. Penetrative sex isn't possible for me anymore, whether with a man or a woman."

Talking about sexuality and sex with someone who you've only just met isn't what one expects in polite English society! But he's seems like a very genuine guy, so I'm more than happy to have this kind of conversation.

"I've never thought that having a boyfriend was only about the sex," I say, "I think companionship is important too, and indeed, probably more important as one gets older."

"I'm very happy with my own company," answers F, "Perhaps I'll end up as a lonely old man, but for now I'm not looking for a partner of either gender. Don't you get bored, waking up next to the same body every morning?"

"Not at all," I reply, "I hope that I'll be able to wake up with boyfriend K every day for the rest of my life :-)."

"That sounds like a strong commitment," says F, sceptically.

"Well, I ended up splitting up with my first boyfriend because I couldn't keep my trousers up!" I admit, "So I feel I've done the sleeping around thing. These days, I feel very lucky that I've found boyfriend K, because we get on very well together most of the time."

"Anyway," I say, changing the subject, "how many kids do you have?"

"Just two, a boy and a girl, but they're grown up now. Actually my daughter is a lesbian, and she's got a lovely girlfriend :-)."

Another comment that I didn't expect!

"One day, she comes into the room to talk to me," continues F, "She looks at me nervously and says 'Dad, what would you do if I told you I'm going to get a tattoo and that I am gay?'. So I just asked her what kind of tattoo!"

"But why was she nervous coming out to you, given that you've had a boyfriend before? Didn't she know about your former boyfriend?"

"When the kids were growing up my ex-boyfriend used to visit us," says F, "The kids loved him, and treated him like their favourite uncle. They probably guessed that we used to be together."

"But that means 'No', you never told your kids that you're not completely straight," I remark in disbelief. I feel astounded that F has been so open about everything with me in such a short space of time, but that he's never told his grown-up children about his true sexuality.

"What about your son?" I ask, wondering whether there more surprises in store.

"My son's also got a girlfriend, so he's probably straight!"

"Well, you said that you had a girlfriend too when you were young," I say, "and obviously a wife at one point, so you never know!"

"Good point," replies F, "you never know :-)."

Indeed, you never know. I like to think that as a gay man, I'm good at working out whether people are gay or not. But I had no idea what this guy's story was. It just goes to show how dangerous it can be to make assumptions about people's background, and especially about their sexuality!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Human penis size worldwide

If the success of a blog post is judged by the number of comments that it receives, then my most successful post ever is one that I did back in 2005, titled Erect penis length of men from different ethnic groups. It continues to receive comments even now, more than ten years after I first wrote it. My guess is that this is something to do with the way Google works. is owned by, so if a blog post gets a comment, presumably that keeps it fresh and eligible to be included in search results.

Since then, my views haven't changed significantly. But in connection with this, someone recently drew my attention to a web site which has a a map of penis size across the world:

If any readers have any thoughts on how accurate this is, then please leave a comment :-).

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bi-fidelity: email from a guy who's hiding something from his wife

At the end of last month, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

I enjoy your writing and powers of analysis and thought it would be therapeutic to write for your comments and comments from your readers.

I've been happily married to my wife for over 30 years. We have children. We have enjoyable sex, although I now need the help of Viagra. Only in the last few years, I've come to enjoy gay male internet porn. I have indulged in mild activities, as you call them, in the sauna at my gym. I've even made a few forays to a bathhouse, where I've topped a few men with gusto. Terrified of STDs, I've never given or received oral sex, because it seems this just isn't done with condoms. Nor have I bottomed for anyone. But I find myself craving these experiences, toying with hookups but always canceling them, and posing on some gay social chat sites as quite the virtual rake.

I don't have the nerve to confess these bi cravings and escapades to my wife. The last thing I want is to lose my marriage and hurt my family by letting this side of me further out of the closet. I just wish I could have it both ways, like an old fashioned Parisian gent, married, but with tacit permission to see (not mistresses or prostitutes) but hunky studs for a good time now and then. Do I just forbear until my sex drive wanes altogether? Indulge in down low forays? Gamble on total honesty? What's a bi guy to do?

It was a couple of days before I saw the email, but as soon as I saw it I sent him a quick reply to say that I thought there were quite a few guys like him around. I also asked him if there was anything that he wanted to add, and within a day he'd sent me a two line email in which he simply said:

I do find the diet of monogamous sex hard to adhere to. But is loosening my self restraint wise, when, all things considered, I have so much to lose?

Initially this reader's story reminded me about the married guy with some gay characteristics who emailed me three years ago. However, although this reader and that guy have both had happy marriages, the reader is going in the opposite direction to the guy from three years ago. So perhaps they don't have much in common after all.

I've been thinking about this guy's situation for a while now, and the thing that I find hard to gauge is the relative strength of his heterosexuality vs his homosexuality. It seems to be that his homosexual side must be at least as strong as his heterosexual side, otherwise I doubt that he'd have felt the need to email me. If his heterosexuality:homosexuality ratio is 50%:50% then he can probably just indulge in occasional clandestine activities with other guys on the side. But if it's more like 5%:95%, or moving to be that way over time, then I'm not sure that strategy would work.

One thing that might tell the guy about the relative strength of his heterosexuality versus his homosexuality is the Viagra that he uses. Does he need Viagra to get an erection when he's watching gay porn or when actually meeting another guy? If the excitement of gay encounters is significantly greater than the excitement of sex with his wife, then perhaps he doesn't need Viagra for gay activities, which would suggest that this homosexuality is a lot stronger than his heterosexuality at the moment. Even it that's true it might still just be a phase that he's going through, like it was for the married guy who emailed me three years ago.

Depending on how much time he spends pursuing his hidden gay life, it's possible that his wife already suspects that something isn't quite right. Over time if he continues to have a lot of secret gay encounters, it way well have a corrosive effect on his relationship anyway, because it's almost impossible to hide absolutely all aspects of this kind of thing. So it could be a mistake to think that the current situation can continue forever.

In this situation a big concern is the reader's wife. A terrible outcome would be if the reader were to contract an STD and pass it on to her. Nonetheless it sounds like his fear of STDs is overdone, because condoms should protect against the worst ones, in particular HIV. Also, I've never heard of anyone catching anything nasty from receiving oral sex.

The only guy that I have activities with at the moment is my boyfriend, but when I used to meet other guys, I always used to ask them if they had any STDs as well as taking all possible precautions such as using condoms. Of course it's true that guys can lie, but a lot of people are honest so asking the question does reduce risk. I never proceeded to do anything with someone when I didn't get a convincing answer about STDs, and I would encourage the reader to pursue a similar strategy.

In all walks of life, new experiences are more exciting than well known ones. Perhaps the most important question for the reader is whether he still enjoys repeating the gay activities that he's already had, or whether it's just the possibility of new experiences that excite him. If it's mostly the new experiences then once he's done everything once, perhaps his need for gay activities will subside. Another thought is the fact that these activites are conducted in secret also makes them more exciting.

In any case, the reader's email suggests an irresitible urge to try the things that he hasn't done yet. It seems to me that he should at least find a way to try bottoming with a condom, and to receive oral sex, before making any decision about being more honest with his family.

It's impossible to give the reader any firm advice because there are so many things to consider, and so many things that are unknown. Nonetheless, I've tried to say some useful things, which will hopefully give the reader some things to think about. Do any other readers have anything to add?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Racism on the rise :-(

Like a lot of other people around the world, I am astounded and deeply upset that the UK voted to leave the European Union last week. As a result, a huge number of things are now going on in British politics, and one can only hope that something happens that somehow keeps us in the EU. Apparently Scotland, where the vote was strongly remain, may have some kind of veto. Also the petition to run another referendum now has well over 3 million signatures.

However, the thing that disturbs me most about the situation is the rise of right wing nationalism and intolerance. The British EU referendum where the leave campaign had the slogan "Take back control" is just one example of this, because it seems to be happening all over the Western world. Donald Trump becoming the Republican nominee for US president is another example, as is the fact that Austria almost elected a far right wing president last month.

In the UK, even though the Leave side only won a by slim margin, a side effect of their success is that all the nasty people now feel that their views have some validity. In this context "nasty" means all the racists and fascists, and all the members of the far right wing groups such as the British National Party, Britain First, the English Defence League and so on. The result is a significant rise in incidents of racism :-(.

I even witnessed a very minor incident of racism myself. Travelling back to London from Gatwick airport last Friday, after a trip to France with boyfriend K, all the trains are a bit delayed and taking much longer than usual to reach their destinations. When we get near the London terminus, we stand up to wait near the door so that we can be one of the first off the train, and I get chatting to a man in his mid 30's who's also waiting near the door.

"Another day, another train delay!" he says to me, with a slightly fed up look on his face. He speaks perfect English, but I can tell from his accent that he's European rather than British.

"Any idea what the excuse is this time?" I ask, "perhaps the recent flooding is the problem?"

"I'm not sure," he replies, "but I do this journey every day and there always seems to be one problem or another :-(".

We chat a bit more about the sad state of the train service south of London, but then an older English guy who'd been listening to our conversation decides to join in.

"You must come from a country where the train services are always perfect," he says with a sneer in his voice. The guy that I was talking to looks mildly uncomfortable, but I find a way to continue the conversation in a way that supports him, and luckily the older guy doesn't say anything else.

I've always subscribed to the view that although democracy isn't a perfect political system, it's the least worst. However, being imperfect it delivers results like this that run contrary to common sense, given that all the major British political parties as well as countless other organisations have argued that Brexit is stupid! The electorate seem to think that our current prosperity and freedoms are guaranteed, that the fascist regimes that we saw in Europe in the 1930's are ancient history, that war in Europe is not possible anymore. I disagree profoundly with such short-sighted complacency, and for me the original reason for starting European integration in the 1950's is still completely valid, namely to make war in Europe not merely unthinkable but materially impossible. In my opinion, the economic and security advantages of being in the EU are just the icing on the cake.

It wasn't just ethnic minorities that suffered in Europe during the Second World War, because gay people were also persecuted. I hope that the current move towards right wing politics doesn't get that far, and hopefully goes into reverse soon before anything really bad happens.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Email from a reader about sexually transmitted diseases

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

Dear GB,

I've accidentally found your blog and really like the way your mind works. Thank you for the effort you put to blogging and the juicy stories you shared. It becomes my habit to read several posts of your blog every morning :)

Recently I bumped into a problem and would be great if you can give me some advice.

I had a cruising life like you used to, but unfortunately one month ago I got some genital warts in anal. During the treatment, I've been thinking how to avoid this in the future. Perhaps no more top btm thing in sex, but only kissing, hand-job? (Even BJ is risky)

In one of the posts you said you only do anal with "boyfriends", which indicates that you probably avoid this with a random cruising partner.

Can you suggest what kind activities you usually do with the guys met on apps or internet?

Thanks for the help and looking forward to your reply

Have a lovely day,
Your loyal reader

Reading the email made me wonder about anal warts and how they're passed on. In particular, I was wondering whether condoms provide any protection from the infection. Searching the internet, I found a page on the UK's Family Planning Association web site which says that although the virus that causes the warts will not pass through a condom, it can be passed on by skin to skin contact. That means that it is possible get the infection even if a condom is worn, because condoms only cover the shaft of a guy's penis so there's still a lot of other skin that will come into contact with his sex partner.

But of course, the problem isn't just anal warts. There are a large number of sexually transmitted diseases, and ideally one wants to avoid all of them. Unfortunately the only way to do that is to stick with a partner who's clean and who you trust not to shag around!

The reader is right that I almost always avoided anal sex with random guys that I'd only met recently. In my opinion, that reduces the risk of catching anything serious like HIV, although it certainly doesn't eliminate the risk entirely. Regarding anal sex, it's interesting to note that although a lot of people think that gay sex means anal sex, studies such as this paper in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggest otherwise. According to that article which collected data from over 24000 men who have sex with men, only 37% of the guys surveyed participated in anal sex.

Apart from the activities that the reader mentions, there's also frottage. But whatever one does, for me the most important thing is to establish some kind of intimate connection with the other guy. Establishing a connection is to do with the chemistry between the two guys rather than what the activities are. If one doesn't connect with the other guy in some meaningful way, then one may as well just stay at home and have a wank!

Do any other readers have any thoughts on this subject?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The enigmatic bolster pillow

"So are you going to come out to your mother on this trip?" I ask boyfriend K last month.

We're about to embark on a month long holiday to Asia :-). The plan is to visit several countries, including a couple of weeks in boyfriend K's home country. And as part of the itinerary in boyfriend K's home country, we'll be spending some time with his family.

"Of course not!" answers boyfriend K, with a very defensive tone in his voice.

"Each time I meet your mother, and each time she sees us spending time together, I get even more convinced that she knows anyway," I say, trying to make it seem like less of a hurdle for him.

"Well she doesn't know," replies boyfriend K with a firm tone in his voice. "As you know, I've told my sister, but that's as far as I need to go."

"How can you be so sure that your mother doesn't know?" I ask, as usual feeling slightly perplexed by his certainty on this subject, "she's a smart woman."

"Oh just leave me alone!"

I decide to leave him alone.

I know that coming out as gay to one's family is a very difficult topic for Asian guys. Often it boils down to the fact that they don't want to disappoint their families. However, two of boyfriend K's gay male friends from his home country have managed to come out to their mothers. And in various conversations, they've both told me and boyfriend K that their families accepted the news, and that their lives have been much easier since they came out.

A week later, just after the start of the holiday, and there are eight of us having dinner in a smart Asian-European fusion restaurant in the city where we're staying for a few days. However, the only women at the table are boyfriend K's mother and his sister. In addition to me and boyfriend K, there's boyfriend K's brother, another gay male couple called M and D, and also a single gay man. To my eyes, M and D are quite obviously gay and a quite obviously a couple.

"So how long have you and boyfriend K been together now?" asks M during the meal, oblivious to the fact that boyfriend K's family aren't meant to know that he's gay.

"It'll soon be two and a half years :-)," I answer, glancing sideways at boyfriend K to see whether he's worried about his family overhearing this conversation. But he seems unperturbed. I know why. He's just as convinced that his mother and brother speak no English as he is that they have no idea about his sexuality!

After dinner, I end up chatting a bit to M, out of earshot of the others.

"Did you know that boyfriend K doesn't want his mother or brother to know that he's gay?" I ask.

"What??" replies M, sounding completely amazed, "Of course she knows."

"Mothers always know!" he adds, nodding his head knowingly.

"Well, I tend to agree. Boyfriend K has been in denial about this ever since I've known him."

"Actually, you're very lucky," says M, changing the subject slightly, "because she's warm towards you :-). As you know, I've had various Asian boyfriends. Sometimes I've not even been allowed to meet their mothers."

"I know the feeling," I say, "because I was never allowed to meet ex-boyfriend T's family. In fact, I wasn't even allowed to meet any of his friends :-(".

"Well with one of my ex boyfriends, I sometimes used to meet his mother, and she was always quite cold towards me. But I can see that things are fine for you, with boyfriend K's mother :-)."

A few days later and me and boyfriend K are spending a night in his mother's house, before flying off in the morning to the next country in our itinerary. We're always given the same bedroom whenever we stay in his mother's house, and when I walk into the room, the usual scene greets me. There's a double bed, and dividing the bed into two halves is a bolster pillow:

But this time, I start to wonder what the enigmatic bed bolster signifies. After all, would boyfriend K's mother leave a bolster down the middle of the bed if we were a straight couple? After mulling the situation over in my mind for a while, I decide that there are three interesting possibilities:
  1. I'm wrong and boyfriend K's mother doesn't know that we're a gay couple, or at least she's not sure. So the bolster is to prevent two straight guys from being embarrassed when they share a bed together.
  2. I'm right and boyfriend K's mother does know that we're a gay couple, but she wants to send us a message that she doesn't like the idea of amorous gay activities taking place in her house.
  3. I'm right and boyfriend K's mother does know that we're a gay couple, but she knows that her son thinks that she doesn't know, and she wants to go along with the charade to avoid any difficult moments.
There is of course a fourth possibility, namely that the bed has that bolster on it just because it always does, in which case there's no enigma after all :-(. However, I prefer to think that my third possibility is the truth :-). Boyfriend K's mother was a business woman when she was younger, so there's no doubt that she's very smart.

Looking to the future, it's possible that boyfriend K's mother will make a trip to visit us in London this summer. If so, she'll see that there's no bolster pillow on our bed. I'll also suggest that boyfriend K's mother meets some of my family while she's in the UK. Although I'd much prefer boyfriend K to come out to his family, I'm also mildly curious to see how absurd the situation can become!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

London 2016 Gay Film Festival

Every spring for about two weeks, the British Film Institute puts on a film festival where all the films have a gay, or more precisely a LGBT theme. For some reason they've started calling this film festival Flare, but the nature of the films they show hasn't changed. My blogger friend Close Encounters often invites me to go with him to see a few of the films, and this year I went with him on three occasions and saw:*** plot spoilers follow! ***

Without doubt I enjoyed the full length film Beautiful Something :-). It was a bit dull to start with, with a broke guy going to a quiet gay bar, picking up a guy, going back to his place for activities, nothing special. But one once gets past the first 20 mintues or so and one gets to know the characters, it becomes a great film :-). At the film festival, the director was there to answer some questions after the screening that we saw, and it turns out that a lot of it is based on his own experiences.

The first collection of short films was pretty good too :-). Although I didn't care at all for the first film which was called The love archive, the next one called Dinner with Jeffrey was mildly amusing. In Dinner with Jeffrey a young gay guy has dinner with his gay uncle, ends up in bed with a young male friend of the uncle, with an amusing catch at the end! More interesting was Discretion, where a university professor (aged about 40, married to another man) ends up indulging in activities with one of his young male students. He feels terribly guilty about it afterwards, but should he confess to his husband?

However the collection of six short films that we saw were, on average, much lower quality. They're probably more the sort of thing that one expects to see at a film festival, namely films of relatively little merit that would never see the light of day if it wasn't for film festivals! This was the last thing that I saw with Close Encounters, and afterwards we end up discussing some of them.

"I didn't see the point of some of some of those films," I say, trying to convey my overall view that on average these six short films weren't very good.

"I didn't think they were that bad!" replies Close Encounters, sounding genuinely upbeat about what he'd just seen.

"How would you rate them," he continues, "using a scale of 1 to 10 like does?"

"Perhaps 3/10 for the first film Mother knows best," I start …

"Oh come on," interrupts Close Encounters, "it was better than that :-). I thought that it raised some interesting issues. The parents of the young gay guy were presumably divorced. Gay men are often closer to their mothers than their fathers, so why did the gay guy in the film get on so much better with his father?"

"Well perhaps it was an interesting situation," I answer, "but we didn't really get to see any of it because the whole film is just a single conversation with the mother."

"And honestly," I continue, "The guy from work, that gets 1/10 and I'm being generous!"

"No way, it wasn't that bad!" protests Close Encounters, "I'd probably give it a 3 or a 4".

"So what's the lowest rating that you'd ever give?" I ask, wondering whether film ratings are a bit like ratings that get given for fine wines. Wine review web sites like give scores out of 100, and it's absurd to me that the scale seems to start around 50/100 instead of 0/100 or 1/100!

"Sometimes I do actually log into and give ratings," he answers, "and I think I've given just 3/10 on a few occasions."

"But haven't you've been to a lot of film festivals over the years? Haven't you seen 100's if not 1000's of films? On a scale of 1 to 10, an average film should be rated 5, and the worst films that you've seen should get just 1. Otherwise you're not using a scale of 1 to 10 :-)."

"I'd probably give The orchid an 8/10," continues Close Encounters, ignoring my complaints about his rating scale.

"But it was only 3 minutes long!"

"Yes exactly," he replies, "and it was memorable, even though it was such a short film!"

"What about Sauna the dead," I ask, "Obviously a joke name because it sounds like Shaun of the Dead. Perhaps that gets 3 or 4/10 from me. I hate horror films :-(. It's the kind of film that must have been great fun making, but not so much fun to watch!"

"I'm not a fan of horror either, but short horror like that is fine :-)," responds Close Encounters.

"But how can you have a film that's set in a gay sauna, and not even show a single raunchy buttock of any of the cute actors!"

We continue discussing the films for another ten or fifteen minutes, but with other things to do, eventually we have to go our separate ways.

If any other readers saw any of the films in the gay film festival this year, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought. And if you didn't see any of the films, perhaps you should put a note in your diary to visit London during the gay film festival next year :-). Although some of the films seem worthless to me, every year that I've been I've always seen at least one great film!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

29th February

It's 7pm on a Friday evening, and I'm doing a bit of work at home in my study when boyfriend K comes in to ask me a question:

"We don't have any plans this evening, do we?" he queries.

"Not yet," I reply, "but it's only 36 hours until we leave for the skiing trip, so perhaps we should start packing!"

"Well, we've just been invited round to B and C's for dinner :-)".

C is a friend of boyfriend K who lives in a smart apartment quite close to us. He lives there with his boyfriend who's called B, and they've tried inviting us round to dinner twice this year, but so far we've always been busy.

"OK," I reply, smiling at boyfriend K, "we can do that :-). But let's try and avoid getting back too late, because we've also got that party tomorrow afternoon with those old friends of mine."

Boyfriend K has got a great set of friends, and whenever I join any of them and their partners it's always good fun. They always live very much for the moment, but a consequence of that is that occasionally one wakes up the following afternoon with a horrendous hangover wondering what happened!

We arrive at B and C's about 45 minutes later and it turns out to be quite a select gathering. Apart from boyfriend K, me, B, C, there's just one other person, a female friend of both boyfriend K and C who's called Z. I've met Z on a couple of occasions before, but in the past I've never had much of a conversation with her.

"Where's your boyfriend tonight," I ask Z a little later in the evening, after we've had a few glasses of wine.

"He's with some of his friends tonight, at a Jazz club," she answers, "and if you like we could all go and join them later."

"Maybe," I answer cautiously, "but I've got quite a lot to do tomorrow so I may skip it this time."

"I'll come :-)," chips in boyfriend K, "you don’t mind do you, GB?"

"Of course I don't mind," I reply, but we're only half way through the meal so no one is thinking of leaving just yet.

A little later in the evening, Z starts talking to me about her boyfriend.

"You're British, aren't you GB," she starts.

"Uh, yes indeed :-)," I answer, "why do you ask?"

"I've heard that it's a tradition that women can ask men to marry them on 29th February, the one day in the calendar when it's acceptable", she replies, "Is that right?"

"I think I've heard that before, but I don't think it's a very big tradition. Perhaps it's an idea that comes from America, I'm not sure."

"So can I assume that your boyfriend is British and you want to get married to him?" I ask.

"Yes, I feel it's time," she replies, "but I'm scared of what his answer will be."

"How long have you been together?"

"Around 8 years! We're both in our mid-thirties now, so if we don't do it soon, I don't know when we'll get round to it."

Like boyfriend K, Z isn't a native European, so there's one question that I feel I have to ask.

"You don't have a visa problem staying in the UK do you? That can be one reason to get married."

"No, that's not a problem, and neither of us want children at the moment either. But I love him, and I see some of my friend having their big wedding day, and I think why can't I have a wedding too. I just want my day in a nice white dress and a big party :-)."

Z is a lovely looking girl, with a great bubbly personality too, so as far as I can tell any straight guy would be very lucky to have her.

"Well you should just talk to him," I suggest, "I'm not sure that something as artificial as any 29th February tradition is relevant."

"But don't ask directly," I say, "British people are a bit like the Japanese. Indirect is always much better!"

"How do you mean?" she asks.

"OK, how about this. Say to him something like 'Have you ever thought that one day, I *might* like to get married to you?'"

"That doesn't say you want to get married or you don't want to get married. It just asks him whether he's thinking about it, and whether he's thinking about what you *might* want, at some point in the future!"

"In fact," I continue, "he can't really answer 'yes' or 'no' to that question. 'No' would be a terrible answer because it means that he doesn't think about what you want. And 'Yes' is a ridiculous answer, because from what you've said, he doesn't ever talk about it! But of course, he's not going to give a direct answer to an indirect question anyway :-)."

"All that might be a bit too clever for me, GB," she replies eventually, "but I do see what you mean."

The conversation gradually moves onto other topics, and by the time that boyfriend K, Z and C start to think about moving to the jazz club, it turns out that Z's boyfriend has already left. So a little later, we thank our hosts for all their hospitality and make our way home. Around 1am I climb into bed with boyfriend K, and with our naked bodies touching each other, we fall asleep.

The next day, a bit of research on google suggests that it's an Irish tradition that women can propose to men on 29th February. I don't know what Z is going to do about trying to get a wedding out of her boyfriend, and whether she'll try talking to him on 29th February, but I hope she succeeds in the end. Any excuse for another party sounds good to me :-).

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Email from a guy with an impolite boyfriend

Just before the end of November last year, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost three years.

My boyfriend was, for a year and a half, amazing, wonderful, and essentially the most loving person I have ever met. He was extremely kind, not only to me, but to others, was very positive and charming, and was very open minded. I love this man deeply, and I truly feel honoured to be with him. I know for a fact that he loves me the same, and we would go to extreme lengths to make each other happy.

But for the last year and a half, he has become quite the opposite. He is extremely rude to others (not me, luckily). He purposely walks in the way of others in public to assert his self-defined superiority, causing one older woman to ask him "Are you okay?", with him responding snarkily, "Don't get in my way." He stares at himself in the mirror for very long periods of time, brushes his hair obsessively, and often mentions how beautiful he is. He regularly mentions how he is so financially successful at such a young age, which is true, but then makes it a competition between him and his similarly successful friends. He thinks all of my friends are a waste of resources, since they are mostly following a traditional career path in their respective fields. He buys $2,000+ articles of clothing and apparel not to look good, but to make others who can't afford it feel inadequate. He is cunning, and uses his people skills and good looks to manipulate others to do things for him. He purposely treats people in the service industry poorly so they feel as if they must overcompensate to earn a tip or good rating. He ignores people when spoken to while staring at his finger nails, and often responds to complex questions with overly simplified and off-topic answers to turn the tide of the discussion in his favour. I have spoken to him about all of this.

I know everything I've stated above seems like he is the worst person to ever walk the face of this planet, but he wasn't always this way. He *tells me* that he has always been this way, but from the first year and a half of dating, that is completely untrue. I have confronted him about this by stating that I believe, when he is acting terribly, that I am staring at someone else, and I cannot recognize him. He is very stubborn, and at first, refused to believe me and tried to make it seem like I'm imaging things, but I was so overwhelmed by his idiocy that burst out in tears, and he finally listened. He told me he will try to be more nice, more focused on how to be a better person. He is extremely romantic and tender in these situations, and really kills it as a boyfriend when it comes to caring for me. He loves who I am on the inside and out, and finds me very attractive. He loves my family, and I love his, and we get along wonderfully as best friends. I've seen some improvement in the recent months, but it's more of a 15% improvement than anything else.

Overall, I'm not happy with the current state of relationship, directly due to his bad attitude. Things could be infinitely worse, as in, he could be treating me badly or not love me, or he could be cheating, etc, but he is not, and I shouldn't take anything for granted. However, I still find myself unhappy with him. His bad attitude makes me want to disappear sometimes, or fall asleep and wake up to a time when he was still acting normal. Even his own mother has noticed a severe change in attitude, and told him that she did not raise him to act this way to others.

Finally, he is not going through any trauma or severe change in his life. We talk about his work life, family, friends, and personal well-being all of the time, and he is very comfortable and happy. He is not stressed out, nor is he worried about the future. He is not self-conscious, more so like overly self-confident. I am more of a quiet person, and much more observant and self-aware. We are both very young, as I've already alluded to, and I believe that we both have much to learn. He believes that he knows all that he needs. Despite all of these changes, I still love him deeply.

Thus, I am unsure of how to act on this. I like to address a problem, and solve it. He is having difficulty understanding the problem, or seeing that it exists, making this a particularly difficult situation for me. Do you have any advice? Is there advice?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, I really appreciate it.

I sent him a reply within a day, in which I said that it was very strange for his behaviour to change like that, and that it was obviously real given that his mother had also noticed the change.

It seems to me that the boyfriend has some kind of physiological or even psychiatric problem. I'm not trained in either of those professions, so perhaps the best advice would be to seek the help of someone who is. However, like a lot of people, I find it interesting to think about these kinds of issues.

Based on my own experiences, the amateur psychologist in me would say that this kind of behaviour might be rooted in some feeling of inadequacy that the reader's boyfriend has. Were there any events that occurred a year and a half ago which might have made him feel that he was a failure in some way? Or what event from his distant past might suddenly have resurfaced in his consciousness to give him an inferiority complex?

There's an analogy here with situations where someone feels that they might be gay, but wants hide their feelings, especially from other people. When that happens, the person often becomes become homophobic and anti-gay. Some of the best examples of this can be seen in politicians who support anti-gay policies in an attempt to *prove* their heterosexuality, which makes it all the more embarrassing for them when their gay experiences are discovered. So with the reader's boyfriend, his constant assertion of superiority could be because inside he's feeling inadequate and inferior in some way.

Maslow's pyramidHowever, I'm not sure what the best course of action is for the reader to solve the problem. Perhaps one place to start would be for the reader to discuss this amateur psychological analysis with the boyfriend. And as part of that discussion, it would be good to point out that genuinely successful people always treat people with respect. I'm thinking here of "self-actualized" people at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Also, if the reader's boyfriend is at all religious and in particular if he follows the Catholic faith, it might be worth pointing out to him what an excellent example Pope Francis is setting at the moment. I was brought up as a Christian (protestant not Catholic), and although I don't follow it anymore, I am hugely impressed by what Pope Francis has to say about most issues. His famous line "Who am I to judge?" and now his new book "The name of God is mercy" are a breath of fresh air. However, the reader's boyfriend is taking the opposite approach, because he is judging people and failing to treat them with them with dignity and respect.

I think this is quite a difficult problem to solve, so if any other readers have any insights that might help, I'm sure the reader who sent me the email would appreciate it :-).