Thursday, December 30, 2010

What My Wife Wants

On Sunday, December 26th, my wife Gabbie spent most of the day out, shopping and socializing. The kids had new gadgets to entertain them. And I had little to do...except to worry about the impending conversation with my wife; the one where I was going to ask her permission to date men. As my previous post explains, I was certain it was not going to go well.

Too much alone-time had made me very melancholy by the time Gabbie came home.

Most of the time I can mask my mood if I'm down, but on very rare occasions, I'm so preoccupied with my thoughts that I'm afraid to open my mouth. I worry that I'll say exactly what's on my mind!

Gabbie knows me too well, however. She knows that the less I say, the more distressed I am. When that happens, she turns into an attack dog. She knows something really big is bothering me.

I wanted to wait until January, but we had the conversation.

It didn't go well. It didn't go poorly either.

The best news is that she knows it's her actions that have pushed me to this point. The worst news is that I don't know what else the conversation accomplished.

When I told her my primary complaint, which is that the only reason she is staying is because of the kids, she agreed it's true. "Without the kids, the three of us could work it out like adults." The 'three of us' refers to her, myself and Charlie.

She also said that she can't give Charlie up. I already knew that.

As you can see, we did well when it came to agreeing that my complaints are legitimate. The problem was, we couldn't agree on a solution.

She gave me a long lecture about why she shouldn't move out. The lecture was unnecessary, I told her. I don't want her to move out.

I tried to explain that I feel like an end-date for our marriage has been set and that I don't want to be 51 (my age when our youngest graduates from high school) and single. Her reply was that I shouldn't make any assumptions. I should take things as they come, one day at a time.

She added, "Don't you like that I'm home all the time now? Don't we enjoy spending time together?"

"Yes."

"Well, what's the problem then?!"

"I don't feel like I have a future. The kids will leave, you will leave and where will I be then? Old and ugly, just like my parents." We both agree that my parents, who are 64 and 63, have aged VERY poorly.

Her answer: "I'm as committed to you as I can be. No one knows what will happen in the future!"

GAH! There is no logical retort to that argument. Either I accept that logic or I argue that the future IS clear and therefore I MUST take action now. That would be pretty aggressive for me. So naturally, I said nothing.

The bottom line is, Gabbie thinks I should be content with the present and worry about the future when it happens. In the meantime, she loves me as much as ever and sex was never a big part of our relationship anyway. "It's just sex," she said. I wanted to argue that it is NOT just sex but...what's the point?

As you might suspect, based on what I've said so far, I never blatantly told her, "I want to date men." It was implied. It took a while but she eventually said that she'd support me, whatever I want to do. That meant: she wouldn't pitch a fit if I date others. Then, a short time later she asked me, in a very anxious voice, if I had "met anyone on the Internet?" I haven't, at least in the romantic sense she meant, so I said, "No." Clearly, she does not want me to date.

What she wants is for everything to stay as it is. We live in the same house, we sleep in the same bed, we never have sex - and we never will again. We're married and committed to each other, but she has her friend Charlie too, who she is in love with. Her accommodation to me is to keep Charlie out of our house as much as possible, and to be a present parent and spouse.

Is that a bad life for me? No. It's a pretty good life. I can do that on a day-to-day basis. So why should I object if that's what she wants?

The reason is, for purposes other than passing time, I feel like it's a farce. If we did not have the kids we would not be making this arrangement. She said that, not me. This means that if nothing changes our marriage has an end date, in seven years.

***

Now that I've had a few days to consider all that she said, the biggest question I have for myself is, can I let go of my worries about the future and be content with a day-to-day life that is focused on the kids and on my wife, who is present and who does love me? Also: can I feel secure that I'd have the same happy future if I start to date men at 51 as I would at 44? Or is there really very little difference?

And, of course, there is the 800lb. gorilla to consider, the kids. How can I ever say it's better for them if I start dating now, even if I do so discreetly?

I must make a decision that gives me confidence that I'm doing the right thing. That's the only way I can move ahead and stop worrying. But right now my head is swimming and my heart is an anchor.

I have got to chart a course out of this mess. To sort through my conflicting thoughts I am making a list of all the possible alternatives. I hope that the process of making the list will clear my mind.

I intend to post the list. I think I need help crossing off some unrealistic options.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weighted and Down

About a month ago my wife told me that she had decided not to leave me and our three kids.

I was a little surprised by her announcement; for the prior two years she had frequently threatened to leave. She often complained that she wanted to 'simplify her life' and only be responsible for herself.

The decision to stay, she said, is because the kids still need her. Also, it wouldn't be fair to dump sole responsibility for raising them on me.

I'm glad Gabbie decided to stay. But her reasons for doing so have not made me happy. Isn't she supposed to want to be with me?

I had hopes for much better news...

When Gabbie and I got married 20 years ago I knew I was gay. If I had not been pressured by her to marry so quickly I would have taken the time necessary to work through my very mixed feelings. Yes, I was sexually attracted to men but I also felt a very strong emotional connection to her.

Because I felt very pressured by her to get married, I eventually became resentful that I wasn't able to make the decision on my own. Two years into the marriage my resentfulness and too much time alone caused me to became preoccupied with finding a romantic relationship with a man. I found one very quickly. Within only a few hours of first meeting him, I left Gabbie to be with him and assumed my marriage was over.

But it wasn't. My boyfriend Jim was a great guy, a perfect guy, but after two months with him I realized that my emotional connection to Gabbie was far stronger than I originally thought. Entirely of my own free will, I decided to go back to Gabbie. It was a pivotal decision; ever since then I have been 100% committed to staying with her.

And that has been quite a commitment because the last year has been hell.

The quiet battle for Gabbie's heart that has been going on between me and unemployed, alcoholic Charlie is not something that I ever expected to end with a draw. I was always confident that she would either reject him and thereby become more committed than ever to me, or, she would leave me for him.

But Gabbie's decision to stay has really fucked with my head. What I want is a partner who wants to be with me. Normally that would be a man but my love for Gabbie has remained strong and true. She is the person I most want to spend my life with. To be told by her, in essence, that she wants to 'play house' and have a celibate marriage AND keep Charlie, well, it sucks. It makes me feel trapped and used and stupid.

Meanwhile, Gabbie feels much better about herself than she has in years. She barely drinks any more - in support of Charlie who is has been in AA for the first time ever - and she seldom goes out. From her point of view, she is now the dedicated working mother everyone expects her to be.

It's ironic that her return to normalcy has caused great despair to me. She likes the current status quo and I am tortured by it.

Clearly, we need to come to an agreement that works for both of us. And just as clearly, the need to make that happen is mine because she is content and I am not.

I have decided to wait until the first days of January to talk to her and to get her to recognize WHY I'm not happy and WHY she has given me no choice but to look for a new relationship.

About my potential relationship with a man, I need to explain a few things, as Gabbie understands them.

Gabbie knows that I label myself as gay. However, it's a very, very sensitive topic.

Dumping her at 2:30AM on a Friday night two years into our marriage created permanent scars. When we got back together I assumed that I could be open and honest. But I quickly learned that talking about anything gay was like sticking a sharp knife in her back. So, I stopped doing it. When she repeatedly asked if Jim and I had 'done anything' I lied. I would have preferred to be honest but clearly she could not handle the truth.

What all this means is that Gabbie believes I'm gay in thought but not in action. She thinks that my attraction to men is so weak that I'm too afraid to actually do anything about it. Um, wrong. I've had plenty of sex with men.

What is true is that in recent years I have realized that I don't 'need' sex with men. It's been nearly eight years since I've done anything sexual with a guy; hook-ups became empty and unsatisfying, 'friends with benefits' became more trouble than they were worth. I DO crave sex with a man, but only as part of a long-term, romantic relationship.

I've been pretty down for the last two weeks, in part because of the whole situation, but also because I haven't felt like the 'big' January conversation will not go well.

I feel like she will perceive my request to date men as undercutting our entire marriage JUST as she has recommitted herself to being a proper parent and partner. And as hypocritical as it might seem, I don't think she's going to think that my sexual relationship with a man is the same thing as her 'friendship' with Charlie.

I do not relish starting a conversation that I expect will go poorly, but I also feel that it cannot be avoided. I can't dedicate myself to a relationship when I know I am not genuinely wanted.

What I find most difficult is knowing what I want to say when (if) she reacts poorly. Do I back track or back down? Do I stand my ground or give her a Charlie-ultimatum?

It's all a mess in my head that I can't stop thinking about. And it's really, really weighing on me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Dark Side of Imaginary Gay Dating

At a college reunion in June of 2009, a casual friend that I hadn't spoken to in years came out to me.

He had very recently divorced after twelve years of marriage. I felt tremendous sympathy for him because he has two young daughters, but his coming out left me speechless. I wanted to come out to him too but I just couldn't say the words.

The next twenty-four hours at the reunion were crazed. I never got the chance to pull him aside and share my news or ask him the questions I wanted to ask. What I most wanted to know was, how did coming out affect his relationship with his kids? And, how was he handling the transition into gay dating?

On the plane ride home I decided it could have been a mistake to come out to him. At the reunion he made a point of talking up gay pride at every opportunity. His zealousness made me nervous so I decided I would wait a month, then email him anonymously, and ask about his transition experience.

I followed that plan and we did exchange several emails. However he's a physician with a very demanding schedule because of his specialization. He kept promising he'd write something of substance but he never did. Eventually I gave up on him and instead did an Internet search for "married" and "coming out." That search brought me to blogging.

During the few months that I was waiting for his promised reply to my questions, I got bored and impatient. I started browsing gay dating sites like Gay.com and Match; I wondered if many men were divorced and looking.

Now, more than a year later, I think I have an addiction to browsing gay dating sites. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but given the fact that I don't want to meet or talk to anyone right now, why bother?

I'll tell you why: mostly, it makes me feel good about staying in the closet.

There are plenty of good looking guys out there. Many seem intelligent. And nearly everyone claims to have a diverse resume of interests and activities. The thing is, it's pretty rare that I read a profile that genuinely excites me - someone with whom I instinctively feel a strong, mutual connection is likely.

Within the last 15 months or so I've only read two profiles that have permanently etched themselves in my mind. With so few exciting possibilities it's easy for me to feel comfortable that I'm not missing much by staying in the closet.

I read the first guy's profile in July. Month after month I've checked his profile to see if it is still up and to see if he's made any changes. In October he changed all of his pictures and, I'm not sure exactly why, but I've convinced myself that he is now dating someone. Part of the reason might be because he never comes up automatically on OKCupid anymore.

I'm tempted to gush about him and explain why I find him so attractive. But I've decided not to do that because I'm embarrassed to act like Marcia Brady drooling over Davy Jones. (Too '70s for you?)

Last week OkCupid sent me three new matches. Now I have a new crush.

If I was a tennis racquet then this guy would be Andy Roddick; he could play me like a world class pro. The first time I read his profile I drooled so much I practically had to change my shirt.

Normally I avoid crushing on very good looking guys. I believe that relationships only work when both people are similarly intelligent and attractive. Dumb and smart don't work. Hot and ugly don't work.

Now, I don't think I'm ugly, but this guy is clearly out of my league. Normally I would dismiss him because he is too good looking. But practically every word of his profile made me swoon.

I read the profile four times before my fantasizing climaxed. It was a good fantasy, I assure you. But just like many real-life orgasms there's an emotional let down that follows the peak. This let down hit me hard.

The more I thought about it, the more depressed I got.

The least captivating part of his profile says, "I'm a professional fundraiser in the arts that spends a fair amount of time in the office and going to events, dinners, cocktail parties, and you name it. Put a glass of wine in my hand and I can talk to anyone about anything!"

Initially I thought, "Non-profit!!!!! Events!!!! And he has the same social talents that I admire so much in Gabbie!!!!" But later I realized...all I have to do is tell this guy I'm married and I have three kids and he'll never speak to me again.

In a stinging confirmation of my fears, I later discovered that he answered the survey question, "Would you consider connecting with someone whose relationship status is 'seeing someone' or 'married'?" with "No to both."

Ouch.

Over the next several days I got more and more down about my situation. Would any guy whose characteristics and values I admire EVER consider dating a quasi-married guy like me?

No.

What kind of guys would be interested in me?

Freaks. Freaks who can't get dates with single guys.

Thinking about this problem put a dark cloud over me for days. There is no easy solution.

Eventually I dug myself out and decided that I can't get my undies in a wad worrying about fantasy men and fantasy relationships. There are only two solutions: accept that my options will be extremely limited, or, get divorced.

For now, I don't see dating men as a reason to divorce my wife.

Say what????

Yes, it's true. If she wants to divorce me, I'm ok with it. But at this time, I think I'd rather be in a weird, sexless marriage than be single and flailing around trying to date men. There may come a day when I believe that the benefits of divorce outweigh the benefits of staying married, but right now, I don't feel that way.

Making peace with the idea that crushing on Guy #2 is pointless has not been easy. Ultimately, I decided that it is MY choice to remain married and I therefore need to accept the consequences.

Even if that means dating freaks no single guy would consider.

Or, more likely, remaining celibate.

Because I have not attempted any actual dating I don't know if my perceived problem with being sort-of-married will be realized. If it is...if I really do face a choice between marriage and finding a guy who can understand my relationship with Gabbie...it's going to be a very difficult decision.

Quite honestly, unless there are some real-life prospects out there who say they'd drool over me the way I drool over them, if only I was single, my gay dating career might be unexpectedly brief.

It's such a gamble to throw away a lifetime partnership based on the 'hope' you will meet someone great. When I was younger, I liked to gamble. But after losing way too often, I stopped gambling many years ago.

What are my odds for success in the world of gay dating?

Does anyone care to venture a guess?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Just Can't Do It

What I desire most is a happy marriage. A wife who wants to be with me, her gay husband, both romantically and sexually.

I drew the proverbial line in the sand recently when I said, "If sex is 'Never!' ... then I'll put myself on the queer market."

A few days ago I tried to initiate sex with my wife for the first time in two months.

Her response:

"What are you doing?"

A thirty minute conversation followed. Sex did not.

"I know you're taking this personally," she said. "You think I'm rejected you. But, really, I'm just not that interested. I get hit on all the time by guys at the bar and I'm never interested in any of them. There's hardly anyone who interests me."

Hardly anyone.

Not: "no one" - "hardly" anyone. I *so* wanted to push her for clarification about who would interest her...but then I wondered if I'd like any answer she gave. Probably not. I decided not to ask.

Whatever.

The bottom line is that by not being able to fuck, I'm fucked.

Over and over the words repeat in my head..."sexless marriage"..."40 years without intimacy."

I wish I could either be content to masturbate forever, or, be happy to find a friend with benefits to fill the gap. But neither will work in the long run.

At this point, I'd rather jerk off than deal with all the headaches of a FWB. That means the most appealing option is a life of celibacy. I just can't do that.

My other condition for a 'happy marriage' is that Gabbie be honestly satisfied with me and only me. She's not there yet, but she's making progress. She spends so much more time talking to me and making plans for our future than she has in years. I really should be thrilled because I feel like I've regained the wife I had for the majority of my 20 year marriage. Instead, I feel anxious. Obviously she's settling down and is ready to see our lives return to 'normal'. But the no sex thing...I just can't do it.

I have been extremely patient as Gabbie has worked through her issues but when it comes to resolving my own problems, I want clarity as soon as possible. Gabbie and I need to have one last "big" conversation. It's going to be extremely difficult for me to say the words but I have to do it. I have to tell her that the resolution she has chosen for her own crisis does not work for me. It fills me with guilt to say that. For the both of us to go through so much and then to have me throw it into chaos again...it just seems cruel. But I will do it.

If I can't have a traditional, happy marriage then I want a happy, open one. One that is 'open' to polyamory not just momentary sexual thrills. At this point, I have absolutely no idea how she will react when I tell her.

Thinking about this conversation has dominated my thoughts for days and it's really getting me down. Basically, there's only one response from her that will make me happy - "Go for it" and anything else will create a big problem...just when things have been going so much better.

It's torture to think about fucking everything up again.

But I'm still going to do it.

To solidify my resolve I've decided to have the conversation in the first week of January. That would be the soonest I would date any men and right now Gabbie is very stressed by family holiday pressures.

I also have this secret wish that Charlie will fall off the wagon soon and that Gabbie will be forced to decide if she wants to stay involved with him and his drama.

If she can't give him up should he start drinking again it would be so much easier for me to TELL her what I'm going to do, rather than to ask for her permission.

If any of ya'll have advice or fresh perspectives on any of this, I'd love to hear it. Feel free to post comments or email.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What I Want

Having sex with a woman goes against my natural inclinations. But when it happens I find pleasure and connection in it. Likewise, talking at length about 'what I want' goes against my natural inclinations. The difference is that, unlike sex with a woman, I DON'T find pleasure in writing about it.

What I'm saying is that I'd rather have a romp in the sack with my wife than write this post.

In several recent posts I have remarked that I'm tired of being on an emotional roller coaster when it comes to the fate of my marriage. A chorus of you have responded with the exactly same advice: the upheaval will not end until I decide what *I* want. This post is my response to your collective prodding.

Before I get into the substance of 'what I want', I should say that although I am posting this now I would have said exactly the same thing throughout the last eight years. None of this is new. The lack of novelty on the subject may be why I've never publicly outlined my wishes. I know what they are - do I need to tell everyone else? I guess I do!

***

What I'd like more than anything is for Gabbie to love me as a husband and for the two of us to remain happily married until one of us drops dead.

The 'happily married' part requires explanation. For me 'happily married' means that Gabbie feels fulfilled by me - no wanderlust and no need for an emotional or sexual relationship with Charlie, or any other man. 'Happily married' also requires sex. I'm gay. My hand and my dick are extremely well acquainted and have been for a very long time. It's a good match which I largely find to be fulfilling. The reason straight sex is so important to me has nothing to do with lust or with getting off, it's about the connection. When we lie in bed next to each other, that's nice, but there's still a separateness that eats at me. Only sex breaks the barriers and makes us one. To imagine many more decades of being together without sex - I can't do it. I can't take that kind of prolonged isolation.

A sexless marriage is hardly a novelty. "The solution is simple," you say, "Find a friend and have sex with him."

Been there, done that.

I've had three FWB arrangements and two were quite satisfying. All were with married men. You'd think the fact that I mostly enjoyed those relationships would mean that I'd be willing to consider another - but no, I don't want that.

A sexual friendship with a married man is a compromised relationship because wives are primary, as they should be. For me, sex and an emotional connection are now profoundly related. (Holy shit, I've turned into a woman.)

Perhaps I should no longer label myself as gay but as an 'emotasexual'. Share a deep emotional bond with me and you'll be the only person I want to fuck. And we'll fuck like bunnies.

FWB relationships have it all backwards. Sex dominates and emotions may - or may not - follow. Yes, a sexual friend could become someone who rocks my world, but honestly...how often does that happen? And more realistically - should I seek a FWB with the expectation that he will rock my world? Never. I'd have a better chance of winning the lottery.

Given the fact that I'm an emotasexual and all my emotions are wrapped up in Gabbie, I will not and cannot take any actions that might cloud my mind. As a couple we are clearly stressed and the answer is to figure that out, not to add to the mess.

The emotional roller coaster was really making me nuts in November because, at long last, the end of her crisis appeared to be in sight. Finally, I hoped, I would know if she shared my desire to be happily married or not.

The answer? Still vague. She's not moving out so that's good but what most concerns me are my 'happily married' requirements. So far, Gabbie's reasons for staying have not been about me. And although she has talked about saving for retirement together she also said, "we'll see how it goes" when the last kid leaves in 7 years. Also, Charlie's importance to her continues even though she seldom sees him.

Some readers have told me that my relationship with Gabbie is dysfunctional; Gabbie is emotionally abusive to me and I should get out. Other readers have said that because I'm gay, the relationship will never work; the best solution is to end it sooner rather than later. I have considered those opinions carefully and there is some element of truth in both statements. The thing is, I love Gabbie and nothing she has done has felt like a betrayal. Her whole relationship with Charlie was something that happened, not something she sought, and she's told me all of the essential truths about it, as they happened.

I don't feel any need to emotionally end my commitment to Gabbie and unless or until I do, leaving her is not something I would ever consider. I don't feel trapped or powerless. The reason I have been extremely passive is because this is Gabbie's crisis and if I try to impose my will on her that will not address her central problems. She needs to work things out for herself and the best thing I can do is to minimize the distractions so that she can figure her shit out.

Because 'happily married' is in doubt I have thought about 'what I want' depending on what happens. She's decided she wants to stay, so that is no longer in doubt. What I still don't know is, is she emotionally committed to ME and if so, will we ever have sex again?

The sex question is a lot easier to answer. As I said above, sex is essential for me. Within the next month I plan to push for an answer about this. If she's content to have sex even a half dozen times a year, I could probably live with that. Is that so much for a homosexual - I mean - an emotasexual to ask?

If sex is "Never!" that implies an answer to the emotional commitment question. Should that be her answer (and I hope it won't be) then I'll put myself on the queer market. I'll be in big demand:

Married guy, 44, lives with his (sorta) ex-wife and three kids in the suburbs - would like to meet a man for a full-time emotasexual relationship.

What a joke I'll be.

If sex is a yes but Gabbie's emotional commitment remains vague because she can't dump Charlie...well, that would suck. By choice, I will remain in limbo as I ever-so-patiently wait for her to kick that asshole to the curb - or do the same to me.

So there you have it. The very exciting summary of 'what Cameron wants.'

I'm sure it was a scintillating read. Now, go find yourself some porn.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your concerns and comments!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Decision

A month ago my wife Gabbie told me that she was going to move out and leave our three kids with me to raise.

In the two weeks that followed, she changed her mind on a near-daily basis. Some days she was going to move, some days she was not. By the third week I was getting impatient with her indecisiveness. I felt stuck in no-man's land with no idea what might happen next. If she was going to leave, I wanted to begin preparing for that. If she was going to stay, I wanted to be clear about my expectations. Unable to wait any longer, I decided to push her for a 'final' answer by the end of that week. Then, a few days later, I changed my mind because I'm not ready to start dating men yet.

I've been hoping that she would come to a decision without any pressure from me, and this past Saturday, that is exactly what happened.

She began the conversation by saying, "I don't think it would be fair to you if you had to raise the kids yourself."

Then she added, "I really think that Rose [our youngest and only daughter, 11] needs me now. She needs a lot of attention. And she'll be hitting puberty soon. I'm sure you don't want to go through that alone."

No, it wouldn't be fair for me to raise the kids alone.

Yes, my daughter would probably prefer that her mother coach her through her first period.

"So I've decided that I'm not going to move out." She paused a few seconds and waited for me to respond. When I didn't, she said, "That's it.... OK?"

"OK. Yes. That's good." I answered, somewhat dazed.

Gabbie still had a lot to say. She told me how we'll "see how things go" as the kids get older; how she would never want to be married to anyone else - because she doesn't see any point in being married; how, even if we did separate, she'd keep me as the beneficiary on her life insurance and 401K (Gee, thanks.); how, if she moved out, Charlie - the alcoholic she's been having an emotional affair with - would assume they would be moving in together, yet, she didn't want that because it would be a one-sided arrangement.

About Charlie she said, "I could never live with him. Every day I would go off to work and what would he be doing? Maybe working, maybe not? He can't keep an apartment or a car now so what would be different if we lived together? All I would do is work to support him and that is never going to happen."

She spoke almost continuously for about twenty minutes. She paused sometimes, to see if I agreed with what she was saying, and mostly I did.

I was thrilled to finally hear conviction in her voice. At last, an answer!

And I knew it was a final answer because, well, I know her.

She delivered the news in her 'happy voice' which is always music to my ears. There's a certain lift in her voice when she's happy and unstressed. Good news always comes when she's using the happy voice.

And yet, her words did not fill me with much happiness.

Can you guess why?

She gave me two reasons for staying, both had to do with the kids. Not once did she say that she wanted to be with ME.

Also, in addition to the reasons to stay, she gave me a reason not to leave: Charlie would expect them to live together and that would not work for her, because he is so unreliable.

The more I thought about what she said, the more a certain phrase came seemed to accurately describe what she said.

A shit-filled Twinkie.

Have you ever heard of that?

A Twinkie is a sponge cake that comes with a tasty cream-filled center. Kids love them.

A shit-filled Twinkie is a euphemistic term that describes something that is delicious looking and sweet on the outside, but once you bite into it, you realize you've been fed a load of shit.

I took a deep breath. I wanted to keep my cool. And, regardless of how unsatisfying I found her reasons for staying to be, there was one crucial issue she had not addressed that I wanted an answer about, Charlie.

So I asked her, "What about Charlie? ... You know, I'd be perfectly happy to never see him again."

I had said exactly the same thing a month before when I began The Conversation about whether we should split up or not.

Of course, I've never liked him and I sometimes burn with an intense hatred for him. But dealing with him and the way Gabbie feels about him - there is no easy solution.

Some, including Gabbie's sister, say that the answer is clear: give Gabbie an ultimatum and obviously she'll pick me. But it's not that simple. First, Charlie can be a dangerous man. He's served time for a variety of offenses but the worst one was for involuntary manslaughter. He has never once backed away from a bar fight. He's physically very strong. And, Gabbie is the most important person in his life. Without her, he has nothing to lose. Is that the sort of man I want to anger? No. Restraining orders are wonderful things - if the cops get to the scene before the violence has been committed.

The second, bigger problem is that Gabbie loves him. Some people don't understand that telling someone not to love is not like waving a magic wand. Powerful emotions like love are not ruled by the logical mind. It's completely ridiculous that Gabbie should love a homeless, jobless alcoholic. She knows that. But she can't stay away from him, even when he says and does terrible things to her. The situation reminds me of Brokeback Mountain, when Jack says to Ennis, "I wish I knew how to quit you." When love hits you hard, quitting a bad situation can seem impossible.

Third, I see an ultimatum as a losing proposition. Because I will be imposing my will on both Charlie and Gabbie, I can expect to be challenged by one or both of them. I will win an initial challenge but that won't be the end of it. Keeping them separated is likely to require the police and is almost certainly going to create some nasty arguments. To this point, the kids have remained clueless about what's been going on. In a confrontation, I don't see how they could remain that way. So yes, ultimately she may cave and he might disappear but the kids will know what she has done. And then they will have no respect for her. When teenagers don't respect you, what do they do? Fight with you at every opportunity. Basically, the house would fall into total chaos with the kids on one side, Gabbie on the other and me trying to keep the peace. Some have said that my situation is dysfunctional. I don't believe it is, at least so far as the kids are concerned. But if they learn the truth, that will change. In the short run I might "win" but in the long run, I think we are all likely to suffer. Gabbie would not be able to handle the kids' hostility and she would leave.

Basically, I see an ultimatum as a way to blow the whole situation up and make everyone miserable. The only alternative, therefore, is for me to be patient. Charlie is a loser and a mess. It's only a matter of time before Gabbie gets sick of him and kicks him to the curb. At least that's what I think.

Back to my question to Gabbie: "What about Charlie?"

"Well, uh, what about him? We're friends and that's it. That's all he will ever be, I've told him that."

"Uh huh."

"He's doing really well you know." She was referring to his pledge to stop drinking. Charlie is 50 years old. His father was an abusive alcoholic who gave him his first drink at 9. Charlie has been drinking ever since. The only times he has quit drinking have been involuntary - he's been in jail. By coincidence (or not) Charlie went to his first AA meeting ever right before Gabbie and I had our breaking-up conversation a month ago. He's been on the wagon ever since, which is quite an amazing feat for a man would drink at least 20 pints a day, every day. I'm not sure exactly where his motivation to stop drinking suddenly came from, whether another alcoholic encouraged him to go, or whether being evicted from his apartment at the end of October had an impact, or maybe it's an attempt to win Gabbie over. Whatever the reason, Charlie has been 100% sober for a month.

Although his sobriety and friends-only status should make him less objectionable to me, a Charlie I never see again is the best kind of Charlie I can imagine. Gabbie knows this and so, in the last month, she's gone to great lengths to minimize his presence in her life, at least so far as I am aware. She seldom talks about him. I used to hear the two of them on the phone multiple times each day, now I might catch one brief conversation every other day. And best of all, I hardly have to see him. I think I've seen him four times in the last month, which is a huge improvement because I sometimes would have to see him four times a day.

What do all these details about Charlie mean?

They mean that Gabbie has told me she is not going to done with him any time soon.

Gah!!!!

In fact, what Gabbie's decision to stay actually means is that absolutely nothing has fundamentally changed in our situation. She staying for the kids, not me. Our future after the kids is uncertain. And, she's not giving up Charlie.

Give me a fucking break! You mean I'm supposed to be happy she's staying so that everything will stay exactly the same as it has been????

Clearly, I am not happy with her decision. But to what should I object? That she's not going to dump the kids on me? Or that she has a friendship with a recovering alcoholic?

***

Now that it's been two days since Gabbie told me her decision, I've calmed down - somewhat.

I feel like we've entered a trial reconciliation phase. Gabbie stopped leaving me at home every night a month ago and she's been trying to adjust to being a 'normal' mom ever since. It feels like she's trying too hard to make it work so it remains to be seen if she can stay domestic in the long-run.

Charlie's commitment to stop drinking seems destined to fail. He's not someone with a lot of self-discipline. I wonder: if he stays sober, does he become more appealing to Gabbie and therefore harder to get rid of? I tend to think, yes. But I don't worry much that he'll stay sober. Gabbie told me that she's not going to have another year like the last one; if Charlie starts drinking again she says she's done with him. I'll believe that when it happens.

Another big issue for me that Gabbie and I haven't discussed, at all, is sex. If I'm going to be married, sex on a regular basis must be part of it. The fact that I'm gay means my straight-sex expectations are low so it shouldn't be a huge issue for her. However, if she tells me that she's not interested in sex or not excited by me because I'm a fag, I will bluntly tell her that I'll be looking for someone else who is interested.


I don't think this trial phase is going to last too long. A few months at most. Within that time I think we'll both know if our destiny is to be a romantic couple - or a platonic one. In the meantime, I will continue to make myself more aesthetically pleasing to the gay world.

You might notice that what I want is conspicuously absent from this post. Actually, it's not. Here and in other posts from the last several months you can deduce what I want if you look at what I choose to talk about.


For those of you who are prefer a less cryptic answer, I will be explicitly stating what I want in the next post.

Thanks for reading.


Comments are both welcome and greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grindr

Three weeks ago my wife Gabbie decided she wanted to move out and leave me to raise our three kids.

For the two weeks following that decision she flip-flopped, on a daily basis, about whether to leave or not. Some days she appeared to be planning a future alone and some days she talked about our future together.

I became emotionally exhausted from that roller coaster ride so one week ago I resolved to press her for a final answer. I decided that I would initiate a conversation on Sunday night, at the very end of Thanksgiving weekend.

By Wednesday, I had changed my mind.

I did NOT chicken out.

Well, I did a little.

In anticipation that I might soon be dating men I have been exploring various dating sites. I've had empty profiles on a few sites for a while but a friend recently urged me to check out Grindr. For those who may not know, it's a free smart-phone app for "gay, bi and curious men." It uses GPS information to provide profile info and a picture for all the men on-the-make near you. It's gaydar using real technology.

My impression of Grindr has been that it is used to arrange hook-ups. (Goodbye Craigslist flakes, now there's an easier way to get laid.) My friend told me, yes, it is mostly about hook-ups but like other sites there are a variety of men on Grindr and some may be interested in more than an anonymous fuck. He encouraged me to check it out for myself.

Before I even downloaded the app and installed it I decided I'd better take a shirtless torso photo. I'm 5'8 and 155lbs. I'm not overweight but I'm not much of an athlete either. When I look in the mirror I think: I'd be about perfect if I was somewhat more toned and lost about 10 pounds. For the purpose of browsing Grindr, I assumed a decent photo would suffice.

I took several pictures using a low-end camera with a timer. The first few pictures were not very flattering so I tried to change things up - change the camera height, my position, etc. The second set of pictures were not any more flattering.

More changes. More unflattering pictures.

Do you notice a trend?

As much as I would love to blame the camera and the lighting, the truth is that a dozen pictures don't lie.

I decided right then that I'm not going to put myself on the market until I'm happy with how I look. I'm hoping that after 4-6 weeks of consistent work outs I will have a respectable, toned look. Is that a reasonable expectation?

Once I postponed all thoughts of dating until next year I asked myself whether it would be better to push Gabbie for a decision on Sunday, as planned, or wait until January.

I've decided to wait.

There's no reason to push her to make a decision soon if I'm not going to try to date for a while. Also, I have this idea that it would be best if she makes up her mind without any outside pressure. The very last thing I want is for her to make a hasty decision that she later wants to change. I want to be done with the emotional roller coaster.

Not long after I made peace with my less than perfect body, I turned my attention back to Grindr. It turns out that you can use it without entering any information, much less a picture. If I had known that I wouldn't have bothered with shirtless torso pictures.

Because I'm not looking to meet anyone now all I have done with Grindr is see who pops up. I haven't chatted with anyone but I'd say the prospects are at least as promising as anything I've seen on any other dating site. And yes, there are quite a few guys who say they are looking for more than a hook-up.

Because the app is free and can be used anonymously, every guy looking to date (or hook-up) should probably use it. But beware: it only works in 162 different countries.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mommy says, "No!"

"How is your marriage today, Cameron?"

Thanks for asking. And how prescient of you to ask about today's status, as it does seem to change on a daily basis.

The most 'interesting' thing that has happened in recent days is that Gabbie told her mother, Cindy, that she was going to move out.

Cindy has huge leverage over Gabbie, and in fact, a lot of Gabbie's rebellious behavior stems from her desire to be free of her mother's controlling ways. Their relationship has a weird dynamic. Her mother is bossy and controlling, Gabbie resents her for it, and they fight constantly. Yet, Gabbie never stands her ground for long and Cindy never backs off. They're the best of friends who never stop fighting.

When Gabbie told Cindy she wanted to move out, among the many choice words her mother said to her were, "Drunken whore." There were plenty of other insults but those are the words that Gabbie said hurt the most.

Slander and fighting aside, the conversation can be summarized very simply: Gabbie's mother told her she couldn't move out and Gabbie gave in.

After Gabbie explained the conversation to me, all I could say was, "You're 44 years old and you're going to let your mother tell you where you can live?"

To which Gabbie replied, "I guess so."

So there you are. Gabbie is not going any where and, presumably, we'll be married until one of us drops dead.

You might think I'd be happy with that result, especially after my whining in the last post. But no. Apparently, nothing makes me happy right now.

Gabbie's decision to stay because Mommy commanded it doesn't exactly make me feel that our relationship is secure. If she doesn't want to be married, why would forcing her to stay make either of us happy? It won't.

On the other hand, maybe Gabbie gave in so easily because she needed an excuse not to move. Maybe she's entertained the fantasy of living alone for so long that she never imagined the reality of making that happen, until now. Maybe a taste of reality killed the fantasy.

Although I am not happy with my mother-in-law's meddling, the idea of taking care of three kids alone is not appealing. So...if Gabbie wants to stay, I'm thrilled. But I want her to stay because that's what SHE wants. OR, I want her to stay if we agree that our romantic partnership is over. That would permit her to have Charlie and me to start dating men - both without the knowledge of the kids. (I wonder...do we need to ask mommy for permission to do that??)

As usual, when Gabbie tells me which way the wind is blowing that day, I respond only to what she says and make no comments that reveal my own feelings. I've found this to be a wise tactic, because, why make a big deal about something if she's going to change her mind the next day anyway?

The flip-side of keeping my opinions to myself is that I have no idea whether Gabbie would agree that we are finished romantically or not. I'd think so...but I'm not sure.

A lot of the reason I'm confused is that Gabbie's behavior has been very different ever since we had The Conversation. Prior to The Conversation she spent as much time out of the house as possible. In a typical week she was home for maybe two dinners out of seven and was out until 10pm or later four nights a week. Also, she'd see or talk to Charlie multiple times every day. Now, she's ALWAYS home and I've seen Charlie only once in two weeks. Does she have a new love of life at home? Is she in a mourning stage where she's savoring family time while she has it? Or, is she simply trying to please me because I complained so bitterly about Charlie?

I don't know the answer. But I do know that I hate all the ambiguity in our situation and I'd like to have a stable, mutual agreement as soon as possible.

I feel unusually motivated to get some answers. Therefore, I have decided that if there are no new revelations by next Sunday, I will speak up and get our status clarified.

The resolution that would make me happiest is to have an open marriage. If that is the outcome then I hope to soon begin dating. Should I dare to imagine what drama that might bring?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I lost because I am gay

In my last post I wrote about my wife's decision to move out in a few month's time and how I am not happy about it.

Thank you to everyone who has left a kind comment here or sent a comforting email. Honestly, without e-friends, I'd have no support at all.

One friend said, "Haven't you both known this for years? Is this a surprise? To either of you?"

No, I'm not surprised. But I am stunned.

I don't think I can adequately express the depth of my love for Gabbie. Yes, she's been an anchor around my neck for 24 years and she's been a royal pain-in-the ass for most of 2010, but truly, the reason I have been so patient is because I love her so much. And despite her behavior this year, I know that she loves me just as much as I love her.

My rational brain keeps telling me that splitting up is probably for the best; perhaps it is inevitable.

My rational brain also tells me that the best way to handle the break up is to focus on the future, not the past.

But my emotional brain keeps putting on the brakes. You need time. You cannot look for a new relationship until you've made peace with this one. So, for as much as a part of me would like to move ahead, I find that I can't. Yet. Perhaps in a week or a month or in six months I will be excited about dating men and starting my second life, but for now, I'm just not ready.

The same friend I quoted above asked me, "why all of a sudden now it's over? Was there a straw that broke the camel's back?" Others may have wondered the same thing. Yes, there was a straw.

After a very frustrating two weeks of having Charlie present in my house and in my life way too often, I finally asked Gabbie when he would be permanently gone.

"I don't know," she said.

"But you do know how much I hate him, right? Sure, he's crazy about you and that counts for something, but you must also know that I can't stand seeing him in our house, five and six times a day."

"Fine. I'll tell him he can't come here any more."

"That's not the point. The point is, when are YOU not going to want him here? How long do I have to wait?"

"I, uh...I don't know."

"Then what are we doing?"

She paused for a minute and said, "I love you, we're best friends. But I can't give him up."

That's a change from July and August when Gabbie told me that she wanted Charlie to be deported and I did everything I could to make it happen. I asked her why she changed her mind.

"I didn't. I just...uh...It wouldn't matter. If Charlie wasn't around...there are a lot of other guys who seem to really like me."

"What about me? I LOVE you. You know I love you."

"Yes, I know. But...I think you've always wanted a different life and you were afraid."

"You're wrong." I explained that I didn't choose a life, a chose a person - her. And when I chose her I wasn't running away from something, I was choosing to spend my life with her.

"We're best friends, and we love each other, but that's not enough," she replied.

So, the immediate issue that prompted our conversation was that I was sick of Charlie hanging around. But what was most significant was Gabbie's confession that if Charlie disappeared, she still would not be content to stay with me.

That has been my worst fear and now it's been realized.

Eighteen years ago when I met a great guy and eventually dumped him because I decided I wanted to be with Gabbie more, it never occurred to me that I might be incapable of loving Gabbie the 'right' way. I don't think it occurred to her either.

Perhaps we never would have gotten together if she had had any previous experience with men. Maybe she would have known that I didn't desire her the way other men could.

Regardless of how we got here, the reality is that Gabbie now feels that my love is not the right kind of love.

That realization really kills me. I've always been so good to Gabbie, and she tells me so, but yet I'm still lacking? And worst of all, my love is so unsatisfying that she'd rather be with a complete loser? Can someone stomp on my ego a bit more please? I haven't quite reached the level of Complete Humiliation.

The bottom line is that, in the battle for Gabbie's heart, I lost because I am gay.

It may be wrong to generalize about the implications of losing but I can't help doing it.

There are a lot of 'mixed orientation' marriages out there. If 20 years of doting on a woman is not enough for a gay man to prove that he is a good partner for a straight woman, does any mixed orientation marriage have any hope?

I have a new cynicism on the subject and so my answer is, yes, mixed orientation marriages can work. All you have to do is keep your wife away from other men. As long as no other man ever desires her then she will continue to be happy with you.

It really pains me to be so negative. I'm an optimist and I've always believed that genuine love is enough to conquer all. It really sucks to find out that it doesn't.

------------

I wrote the above entry earlier this week. I've been meaning to post it for days but every single day Gabbie makes a new comment that leaves me confused.

Two days after she decided she was going to move out she told me she couldn't do it. I was elated. Then, the following day she told me that maybe she should get a secret place and not tell the kids. I was depressed again; apparently her decision to stay had nothing to do with me.

For the last two days she's told me that she doesn't know what to do.

Today she asked me what I thought she should do. I told her not to ask me, she needs to decide for herself.

The one good aspect of this emotional roller coaster ride is that I now feel more impatient than I do depressed or rejected. Please woman, make up your mind!

The 'Inevitability Factor' weighs heavily on me. I want to be permanently wanted. If that's not possible, let's endure the ugly stuff now so that we can move ahead that much sooner.

As you can see, I'm still in a bad mood and I still have a bad attitude. Neither are typical and I'm really disappointed that I can no longer imagine a positive outcome.

With no answers of my own and an indecisive Gabbie, I am now looking forward to many more weeks of instability.

One thing this week that made me happy was watching "The A List" on Logo for the first time. I was so horrified by the show that I started thinking that a celibate life with a wife who fucks around seems like a way better option than being out, single and gay.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We had "The" conversation last night

Gabbie and I had The Conversation last night.

She'll be getting her own place in a few months, but not yet.

I acknowledged that I'm gay so that's out in the open again. I will start dating men, probably after she seems happy and settled.

A big part of me wants this separation to be temporary, like the one from 18 years ago, so I'm willing to wait and hope.

I'm sure you're all happy for me, but I'm not happy at all. Yes, it's probably best in the long run but I'm really depressed right now. I'd rather not be offered any congratulations or best wishes or condolences or anything else right now.

At this point, I don't know what anyone could say to me to make me feel better.

I need time to adjust and mourn.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Come Out as Gay or Bisexual?

I'm having a modest ethical dilemma and would like your opinion on the matter.

I accepted myself as gay at 12 but I struggled with self-hatred until I was 15. That year I hit rock bottom and very seriously considered hanging myself in the central courtyard of my high school. Faced with the choice of death or self-acceptance, I chose the latter and have been permanently at peace with my sexuality ever since.

However, the fact that I've been married to a woman for 20 years has occasionally caused me to question my label. Maybe I'm bi?

I think a lot of bisexual guys would call me bi. Although my first seven sex partners were all men and I hooked up with men for more than decade after I got married, I've still had slightly more straight sex than gay sex. I enjoy straight sex, mostly. I've had a few straight sex dreams that were turn-ons. I've fantasized about fucking women. All that stuff proves I'm bisexual, right?

No...I don't think so. I don't feel comfortable with that label. I don't feel that's who I am.

The way I think about it is: if I could have any life I'd like, sex with a woman would not be part of it.

The only reason I've had so much straight sex is because I've been too much of a pussy to come out of the closet. Oh the irony!

Now, here I am, maybe, possibly, on the cusp of splitting from my wife and starting a new gay life.

The possibility of coming out has forced me to think about how I would explain myself to others. Given how comfortable I feel with my gay identity, it would be logical that I would tell people I'm gay.

But the more I think about it, the more I find that's NOT what I want to say. I want to tell people I'm bi.

Am I a coward?

Maybe...but I don't think so.

If Gabbie and I do split, the reason will be because she wants to be free of responsibility to me and the kids. My sexuality may be a contributing factor for our split (maybe I don't desire her the way she wants to be desired) but I hope the subject won't even come up when we have The Conversation.

If we do split up, I will be anxious to start dating. At first, I'd like to keep the dating low-key. I won't be bringing any men home and if I ever do have a date, I will tell the kids that I'm going out with friends.

Some day I hope to have a meaningful relationship with a great guy. Should that ever happen, out of respect for him and our relationship, I will need to be more open. My hope is that the guy would be comfortable as my 'friend' for a while, at least so far as the kids are concerned. How long that status might last is a big mystery. Gabbie's gaydar is better than mine so it would take her about four seconds to deduce the truth. She might get pissed and tell the kids.

If Gabbie doesn't tell the kids they'll eventually figure it out on their own and they'll ask me about it. When they do ask, I'd like to simply say, "Yes, I am" and leave it at that. BUT I find the idea of admitting to being gay after spending 24 years with Gabbie as insulting to her and to our very long, mostly positive relationship.

'Gay' says, "I never loved my wife and I never desired her. Our marriage was a joke and a lie."

I don't feel that way, at all.

I suppose I could try to explain that yes, I am gay but I still loved her. But that sounds like patronizing bullshit; the kind of thing no one openly questions, yet, no one believes.

So, out of respect for my wife and our many years together, I would like to come out as bisexual.

Calling myself a bisexual creates two problems. First, isn't one of the big reasons to come out to live an honest life? I wouldn't be doing that if I chose a label that I don't feel fits me. How ugly and contradictory of me.

Second, if I'm going to call myself a bisexual to my wife, kids and anyone who knows them, at least for a while, don't I have to also label myself as bisexual when I start dating? If not, then do I tell different people different things? If I do go with bisexual, then wouldn't I be starting a relationship with a lie?

Is 'bi' a turn on or a turn off for most gay guys?

Clearly I am in a no-win situation. Either I speak the truth and by implication denigrate someone I have loved as a spouse for more than 20 years, or, I honor her and our relationship but I tell a half-truth to everyone around me.

Maybe I'll label myself as gay when I date on the down low and if things ever progress with a particular guy, I'll ask his permission to use the bi label when we go public?

I do have a preference, bi. But I'd like someone to make some good arguments about why that would be a stupid decision.

Gay or bi: which should it be and why?

Please comment below!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Staying together for the Kids' sake

If you do an Internet search on "Kids and Divorce" or "Staying Together for the Kids" or any other combination of 'kids and divorce' you'll get about 96,000 results.

Each of those 96,000 web pages undoubtedly contain more expertise on the subject than anything I can muster; I don't have much personal experience with the subject since I am neither divorced myself nor are my parents.

Yet, I feel compelled to write about kids and divorce because more than one gay married man has told me that the reason he remains married is for his kids' sake.

I can relate to that inclination!

As I read through a number of web pages on the topic, it's clear that there is no professional agreement on what is best. Some psychiatrists say research proves that two-parent families consistently raise happier, more successful kids. Others say that divorce can be a very good thing because it spares the children from being stuck in the middle of a dysfunctional or poisonous relationship.

Forgetting the experts, what do children of divorced parents say?

They are also divided on the question. However, those who think their parents' divorce was for the better seem to significantly out-number those who do not.

Because there is no clear consensus among the experts or the children, I think it's safe to say that there is no universal 'best' answer.

Should you or I stay in our marriages for the sake of our kids? It all depends...

--------

My marriage turned rocky when my wife decided that taking care of the kids was unfulfilling. In her search for fun and excitement she started going out to bars with girlfriends.

That was four years ago and a lot has happened since then.

The situation has evolved to a point where I think my wife would have left me to be single and free by now, but she stays because of the children. Knowing that she has decided to compromise her desires and keep the family together, how do you think I feel?

Pretty shitty.

I feel like I'm the after thought. Kids first, her desires second, Cameron...who's Cameron??

That's a great way to live your life, don't you think? A compromise. An after thought.

Fuck that.

You will all be thrilled to read that I have no intention of remaining a doormat for much longer. I have a plan. A plan that I will share with you all in the not-so-distant future.

For now, I want to write about how it feels to be the compromise.

---------

Most of the time, my wife Gabbie is nice to me. I get occasional compliments and sometimes she even tells me that she loves me! I enjoy spending time with her so the biggest unhappiness I face on a day-to-day basis is feeling lonely when she's out, which is very often. Still, I don't feel like I have a bad life. Having the kids to provide for and to keep me company makes a big difference.

Because daily life is tolerable, it's taken me a long time to realize that Gabbie's motivation to stay with me for the kids' sake is cruel.

It's cruel because it gives me hope for 'us' when there probably is no hope. It's cruel because every day I get older and less attractive. It's cruel because, if Gabbie truly loved me, she'd be honest with me and let me determine my own future. Instead, I'm stuck in a relationship with a clock that's slowly ticking off time. My youngest will graduate from high school in June of 2018. That's a lot of years to waste, hoping that Gabbie will change her attitude.

Because of my situation, I have come to believe that staying in a marriage for the sake of the kids is mostly a cruel way to torture the rejected spouse. It's the wrong thing to do if you have every intention of leaving at some point in the future.

For a lot of guys, I think 'staying for the sake of the kids' is nothing more than an excuse to have their cake and eat it too. Wanting to have that luxury is understandable; why blow up everyone's life if you can have sex with men on the side and still stay married?

The reason to do so is out of love and respect for your wife. Maybe she'd prefer to be 39 when she's single, not 55. Or older. Maybe she'd like to have the chance to find someone who really wants to be with her, but because of your selfishness, she will never have the opportunity to meet the right guy.

Think about it. If the situation was reversed, what would you want?

There are plenty of married guys out there who stay married because they honestly believe doing so is best for the kids. They believe staying is a sacrifice; they're putting their kids' happiness ahead of their own.

I imagine there are many situations where staying together for the kids really is the best option. But, in my view, a generic fear that the kids will suffer is not justification enough. The reason is, there are ways to split up a family without creating a lot of turmoil.

A terrific example of how a gay man can respect his wife, not scar his kids, and still start a new life is Jim at Conflicting Clarity. Jim and his wife have been breaking up in slow motion for more than two years.

It hasn't always been easy but overall it appears that Jim, his wife and every one of his four kids are doing very well. Jim has his boyfriend, his wife has her boyfriend, the kids know their parents are divorcing and yet no one seems to be particularly stressed or unhappy.

Not every man and woman can have the patience necessary to break up over a period of years. You have to have a good relationship in the first place because there will certainly be times when it's awkward, or worse.

The good thing about a gay man/straight woman break up is that the incompatibility is not personal. Once the woman understands and accepts that the marriage inherently cannot work, then she may be able to move forward without anger. It might take some convincing, but she should eventually realize that having the freedom to make her own future is so much better than living many years as an afterthought or a compromise.

A corollary to the 'staying for the kids' sake' is 'staying because I fear (or know) that my wife will keep the kids from me.' I'm no expert on custody agreements and divorce law, but it seems to me that there's no jurisdiction, even in rural Alabama or Mississippi, where at least a minimum visitation right isn't awarded. So legally, I don't think it's permitted that a woman keep her children away from her ex, only because he is gay. As a practical matter, I'm sure it happens. If that is a real possibility for you, then by all means stay. Leaving sooner is mostly a kindness for your wife. If she doesn't see it that way, then stay as long as you like.

There are a multitude of other circumstances where staying for the kids' sake may be the best decision. What if your wife or child is ill or has special needs? What if you cannot financially support two households and she would never agree to a slow-split-up arrangement? What if your wife is so old or unattractive that she has no chance of finding someone else?

The list of 'good' reasons to stay may be lengthy. The difficult part is to honestly assess whether your good reason is legitimate or whether it's just an excuse. That's only something you can do.

If you can't dispute the fact that you'd be happier if you were single, and you think your wife would have a better chance of finding a partner who wants to be with her sooner rather than later, then you need to face your fears and take the plunge. Almost every guy who has done so, as Jim has, feels that they made the best decision because everyone is happier in the long run.

I realize that for many guys this is a difficult, emotional subject. I expect that some of you may vehemently disagree that sooner is better than later. Regardless of how you feel, please post your story or comments. Sharing our experiences and opinions is what makes blogging worth the time and effort.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sports, Scrabble and "Oh Shit!"

My oldest kid, Conrad, is a few months away from turning 17. He's never been a great student and he's often hyper and annoying, which until high school, made it difficult for him to keep friends.

He's always been the same kind of kid, from pre-school onward; the teachers have always had the same frustrations and complaints.

When Kindergarten wasn't going well for him I began to worry that all the negative feedback was going to permanently put his self-image at risk. I worried that he'd become the bad kid everyone told him he was. To keep that from happening, I felt that I had to find him something he was good at, something that he would have a passion for, that would keep him from falling into an unending vicious-cycle of negativity and problems.

I was an unathletic kid, for which I blame my parents. It seems to me that not-so athletic kids are more likely to become athletic if they are exposed to sports at a young age. The longer you wait to start, the harder it is for the kid to feel competent. Therefore for Conrad, sports were a must.

In pre-school I tried soccer. That was a bust - he could never follow directions. In first grade I tried Little League. That went ok. The coaches were patient and most of the kids were new to the game.

In second grade I signed him up for Little League again but the head coach for that team was an ass. Gabbie and I decided to pull Conrad off the team during the second week of the season, after we found out that he'd spent most of a practice hiding from everyone. Why was he hiding? He didn't want everyone to yell at him.

Around this same time he played football at school during recess and lunch. Because I took him to school and picked him up, we'd always talk about his day. Some football days were good, most were not.

Eventually I realized that Conrad needed to play an individual sport, nothing with teams. Tennis required too much patience. I thought about swimming but then someone told me that karate is good for kids with ADHD. I decided to give that a shot. I knew there were many different styles. Which one would be best for Conrad?

I spent a week visiting six different karate schools. Some were nearby, the furthest was 20 minutes away. The school I eventually picked was run by a woman who looked as butch as any woman ever could, however, the amount of attention she paid to each student was extremely impressive.

Enrolling Conrad in that karate school is, unquestionably, the very best decision I've ever made as a parent. The woman who runs it has a real gift for motivating all kids, but difficult ones in particular. She specializes in instructing kids with Downs Syndrome and ADHD.

One of the many great things about the school is that each belt must be earned. There's no such thing as social promotion. If you don't come to class, if tons of other kids pass you up because you don't try, no one feels sorry for you and hands you a new belt.

Conrad has been at the school for more than eight years. During that time he has mostly attended five or six days a week. In his ninth year he'll finally earn his black belt and that will be the first black belt anyone under the age of 18 has earned at that school in nine or ten years.

Believe it or not, the pride and sense of achievement Conrad will feel when he earns his black belt will be secondary to his love for the school and his fellow students. The positive atmosphere created and maintained by the instructor has helped turn Conrad, a kid who felt like he could never do anything right, into a happy, confident, positive teenager. The karate school mostly caters to kids but even between the kids and the few adults, there is an extremely strong "family" bond. Lots of the kids have literally grown up together and when two of the oldest kids left for college this past September it was a very sad day for all of them.

As fantastic as this karate school has been for Conrad, it's been a nightmare for me. It was the furthest school away when I did my original due diligence. Conrad's schedule has changed over the years but for a long time I had to leave work at 3pm four days a week just to take him to karate. The travel time is so much that it was not worth driving him to karate and then driving back to home or work. So in his first year, I used to sit in on most classes. That was good to do. I learned a lot about karate and I got to know all of the kids. This has proved invaluable in later years because when I pick him up now all he does is yammer about one kid or another and sometimes the adults. I know all of the long-term students and a few of the newer, young students.

Conrad's damn karate schedule could put a serious cramp in any future dating life I might have. By the time we get home from karate, make and clean up dinner, it's 8pm. And God forbid that Gabbie should take him or pick him up. She's way too busy!

Someday, either when he graduates from high school or when he gets a 3.0 for a semester, I will let Conrad start driver's training. Eventually there will come a day when the kid can drive himself to karate. Then, and only then, will Conrad's karate schedule not be a major part of my life.

Knowing that that day is coming sooner rather later gives me hope.

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A few blogger friends have advised me to find some local gay friends. They say that if I end up single, it would really help to have some local support as I begin a new life. I think that's sound advice but I do have some reservations. First, how can I build new friendships when my time is limited and I have to do it on the sly? Second, finding gay friends means that I have to come out of the closet, at least a little.

I've been wracking my brain to try to think of ways to find gay friends. Yes, I live near San Francisco so that means there are plenty of queers around. But why, I ask myself, would any of them want to bother with a closeted married guy who may remain married to a woman for the next 40 years?

A month ago I thought I hit pay dirt when a guy near my age posted an ad in the Strictly Platonic section of Craigslist. He was looking to get a group of gay men together for a casual game of Scrabble. Perfect! I loved the idea of an activity combined with a social event, in a small group setting.

The guy set up a game the following week, but I couldn't attend. That damn karate schedule was only one of several reasons.

The guy tried to get a Monopoly game going two weeks later but I guess that fizzled.

Finally, I saw that the guy posted for Scrabble again early last week. No matter what, I decided, I'd find a way to go. Luckily, he picked Friday night for the game, which is normally ideal. Gabbie is usually out on Friday nights and I'm just hanging out with the kids.

There were some last-minute hiccups that made me think I was going to have to cancel, but they worked themselves out. The biggest problem was that, even though I had checked with Gabbie earlier in the week and she said otherwise, it turned out that she expected us to go out together that Friday. So it was an "oh fuck" moment when I told my wife I couldn't go. Gay Scrabble > Night Out with Wife = Not Good for Marriage.

I'm repeating a chunk of my last post, so I apologize, but I'm setting the scene.

As the hour for the game approached, I was getting increasingly nervous. Yet I also felt dumb. It's not like I was doing anything naughty. Scrabble? With fags? That's probably many guys' idea of Hell. But whatever - it was a social event, a way to meet non-partier types.

By the time I rang the bell to the host's apartment, I was relatively calm. The place was located just two short blocks past the heart of the seminal gay neighborhood in San Francisco, the Castro. I expected parking to be a bitch, but it wasn't. Most of the neighborhood consists of 1910ish Victorians but this building was 1960s modern.

Frank, the host, greeted me as I made it to his apartment. We had traded pictures a month before. He looked pleasant and normal enough in the picture but now that I saw him in person the photo was clearly old. Old photos on Craigslist? What a shock. It didn't matter much, however; I wasn't there to fuck him.

I was the first to arrive. Frank told me to expect three more people, a couple and a single guy. Fifteen minutes later, the couple arrived. Max and Travis. I later learned that Max is 50 and Travis is 43. I also learned that they had been together for 17 years, and that they had moved from my part of the Bay Area three years before. After waiting another fifteen minutes for the last guy to arrive, Frank checked his email and found out that the guy had flaked. Ok. My big gay social night out: a couple and a somewhat odd host.

We chatted both one-to-one and as a group for a while and that was interesting. Max is an RN who works at a clinic for low income children. Travis is an expert on learning and behavioral disorders in children. He works for one of the outlying Bay Area counties. I found both of them to be very likable and unpretentious. Travis was slightly feminine, but not irritatingly so.

Travis and I introduced ourselves to each other and talked for about five minutes, then he began the "you look familiar" game.

One of my biggest fears about 'outing' myself at a dorky event like a gay Scrabble game was that I would run into someone who already knew me and Gabbie. Specifically, Gabbie has two gay friends from college, both partnered, who are part of our main social group. They've thrown a few parties where they invite all their friends so we've met quite a few of their gay friends. When Travis began the "you look familiar" game I freaked out a little. But as I looked at him, I was certain he was not one of our friends' friends. In fact, I was certain I had never met him before. He went through a few questions, trying to place me, but nothing clicked, so he dropped the subject. Thankfully.

The one subject that was most on my mind was my situation. In my original email to Frank a month before I had told him about my situation. I wanted to be sure that I'd be welcome, as a closeted married guy. Because Frank had not brought the subject up when we first met and were alone, I knew he had forgotten. This meant that I had to bring the subject up myself, or, wait until I was asked a question that would require me to out myself as living a straight, married life.

After three enjoyable hours I realized that none of my Scrabble partners had any clue that I was married with three kids at home. Finally, the subject of children came up so I took the opportunity to disclose that I had some.

Frank practically injured himself when he jumped in surprise. "What?! You have a child? How old??"

"Actually, I have three. Almost 17, almost 13 and 11."

"And you've been divorced how long?"

"I'm not divorced. I'm in the closet."

Gasps from all three men.

I felt like I was an interrogation room, with bright lights shining in my eyes as Frank, mostly, fired question after question at me. I answered each one truthfully and matter of factly. When Frank ended his parade of questions I said, "This night is actually a big deal for me. I haven't done anything that was 'out' for 18 years."

Max jumped at that and asked, "Did you not know how you felt when you were married?"

"No, I knew." I then told them how when Gabbie first asked me if I was gay, I lied to her because I thought we'd never get serious and because her two previous boyfriends had also been gay.

Finally, Travis spoke up, "I know that I know you from somewhere...." He was concentrating, hard, trying to place me. I don't know why he was so insistent. I know I didn't recognize him.

"Did you ever work at any of the stores on Fourth Street? You know, down at the end near Five Tigers Karate?"

As soon as he said the name of the karate school, I had my "oh shit!" moment. It turned out he was right, he did recognize me. Travis went to the same karate school as Conrad. They had classes together, kick boxed against each other, and were "friends" the same way everyone who goes there becomes friends over time.

It was only a fraction of a second after I made the connection, that Travis did too. I think he was as shocked and embarrassed as I was.

My very first instinct was to run. But what would that do? Prove I'm an ass. He knows my secret, he knows my kid, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Except to thank the-God-I-don't-believe-in that he had stopped going to that karate school when he moved to San Francisco three years ago.

The next 30 minutes were weird. Max and Frank weren't as shocked as Travis and I, but they sensed our mutual embarrassment. Somewhat at a loss for what to say next, Travis started to talk about how much he liked the school and in particular the head instructor, the lesbian I wrote about above. Soon he was asking about every person he remembered and telling me what a pain-in-the-ass my kid could be.

Actually, he was very kind. By asking about different people and taking the focus off of me, he showed me that he wasn't one of those gays who despise closeted men. Max and Frank were supportive too, although I think they were annoyed that Travis and I spent a long time talking about people they didn't know.

By this time it was 11pm and I wanted to be home no later than 11:30. I told them I had to go but Frank suddenly got distracted by his own thoughts of fatherhood and offered up an emotional ode to his recently passed father. After letting him vent for a good fifteen minutes, I apologized again and said I had to go. Max and Travis said they needed to go also.

I was panicked about being so late; I knew the kids would be home alone. I didn't want to be rude and run out of the apartment but I definitely was anxious to go. As I said my goodbyes and my sincere "this was fun, let's do it agains" I saw that Travis was writing on a small piece of paper. As I said goodbye to him, he handed me the paper which had his email address on it. "Email us if we can be of any help." More than anything, that gesture made me feel good about my decision to attend.

I got home at 12:05am and all three kids were wide awake; there was no mention or sign of Gabbie, which is usual. I got the kids to bed, then crashed myself.

I woke up around 2, no Gabbie. Around 3:30 again, no Gabbie.

For her to be out that late was not unusual. She stays out late to sober up before coming home.

At 4:30am, which is late for her, she came home. "How was your thing, sweetie?" she asked.

"Fine, good." I had earlier told her that I was meeting friends related to volunteer work I do.

She crawled into bed and laid there for a little while. Then she said a few random, unimportant things that I don't remember. Although she had been drinking she seemed relatively sober to me. Finally she said, "No matter how many times he asks me to marry him, I'm never going to do it." The 'he' she was talking about was Charlie, the drunk she she hangs out with.

I don't know why she says things like that to me. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Or worse? Or was she really just talking to herself?

Later that morning she got up around 9am. She asked me again how my night was and I gave her the same answer, "Fine, good."

"I'm glad."

Then before she wandered away to do something she said, "No one could ever be better to me than you."

And as proof that I'm now very cynical, I thought, It's like she knows I was out looking for a new life.

Somehow she knows what to say and when to say it, just so she can fuck with my head and reel me back in.


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I emailed Frank and Travis the next day to say thanks, I was glad to meet them, I had fun.

Travis replied, in part, "you're a fun guy to hang out with, chat with, and play games with -- did we ever finish that game of Scrabble?!? So yes, we'd love to see you again and do something. Dinner, movie, drinks, whatever."

In general, Gabbie has been noticeably more attentive and affectionate recently. Now I have new gay friends, a first step in what could be the process of coming out.

I'm being pulled in opposite directions at the same time. How long can that go on before something snaps?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Data Mining Info from OkCupid

Are ya'll familiar with the free on-line dating site OkCupid?

The site was launched in March of 2004 by a group of Harvard grads and now claims 3.5 million active users. Match.com is 10 years older and has 20 million users in 37 countries; I believe that Match is the largest on-line dating site that exists.

The style of the two sites is very different. Match is very traditional, very Microsoft if you will. OkCupid has a much more youthful, humorous attitude, more like Google. Ten years ago I don't think many people would have expected Google to be as dominant in the computing world as it has become. It's possible that the same will be said about OkCupid and on-line dating, 10 years from now.

OkCupid has a number unique features, but two are especially noteworthy. First, instead of focusing on identifying your personality, OkCupid's matching questions are more often based on real life choices and opinions. Yes, many of the questions are dumb or irrelevant, and those are annoying to answer, but the best questions can be unusually revealing.

Here's a random example, "Which is worse: abused animals or starving children?"

I like animals just as much as the next person but I would hope that most people would choose starving children. If a guy chooses abused animals over children it doesn't mean I would never date him, but, it is a flag that the guy and I might think very differently, even if our personalities are compatible.

I might be giving you the impression that individual questions are extremely important on OkCupid. Actually, the opposite is true. There are so many potential questions that one or two odd answers become irrelevant. The results, therefore, represent a match's general attitude, opinions and priorities. If you have a high match percentage with someone, it is very likely that your approaches to the important things in life are aligned.

OkCupid's second unique feature is its multitude of tests. Many are not intended to find you match, they're just fun to try - tests like "Are you a good kisser?" or "The Ultimate Broadway Lyrics Test" or "The Gaydar Test" (beat my score! 85%). Other tests are more revealing - tests like "The Dating Persona Test" or "The What Kind of Man Turns You on Test?" (Buff Sweetie, aka Brad Pitt at 35).

The tests help make the site interesting and you can certainly burn through a lot of time just by searching through all 43,440 of them. But both the test results and the tests a potential match chooses to take can be extremely revealing. For example on one profile I looked at, the guy had 9 tests related to show tunes, musicals and theater. I like all of those things. In moderation. Because those kinds of tests overwhelmed the other tests, it's obvious that he's a huge theater geek. Knowing that, I'm not sure we'd make a good match.

The primary reason I'm writing about OkCupid is not to give them a nice plug. Instead, I'd like to direct you to a recent blog entry on their "OkTrends" page.

OkTrends is a corporate blog that focuses on dating reality and perceptions. They use data from all those questions and tests that OkCupid users complete to show that common perceptions are either right on, or, surprisingly wrong.

The specific entry I think you'd all enjoy is "Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex."

This title is a bit of a misnomer because one of the most interesting parts of the article, to me at least, is a chart that shows personality traits by orientation. The data comes from 669 million (!) questions.

Probably the most unexpected thing the data show is the single biggest way gay men and straight men differ...their interest in watching sports. Straights like to watch, gays, not so much.

The biggest similarity between straight men and gay men? They are equally likely to be into drugs.

Overall, gay men tend to be more ambitious, artsy, compassionate, political, literary, spontaneous and introverted than straight men. While straight men are significantly more violent, aggressive and horny.

Kind of a fun article, don't you think?

Bisexuals are not left out. Some parts of the article compare data from gays, bisexuals, and straights. Also, there is one key section that shows that 28% of their users have either had sex with someone of the same sex and enjoyed it, or, they'd like to have sex with someone of the same sex. Apparently there are more people who are willing to experiment that we might guess.

It's all interesting stuff, backed up with mountains of hard data. Check it out!

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A quick update on my life.

Gabbie has been noticeably, consistently sweeter to me since we returned from our trip 10 days ago. It's making me feel guilty. I feel like I should give her the benefit of my doubts but I remain skeptical that we will be together much longer. I don't know why I'm not happier now that she's been so well behaved.

We're going to be moving within the next six months, perhaps as soon as early February. In an attempt to end all of this ambiguity, my plan is to put her on the spot as soon as we have a moving date set. Moving is an easy, logical time for us to split up. So, if that's what she wants to do, I will agree to let it happen.

Ironically, I think Gabbie is happier right now than she's been in several years and she may not want to leave. That is the answer I fear the most. I really wonder if I have mentally traveled so far down the gay-and-single road that I can't go back to where I was before. I just don't know.

Here's something new. Blogger friends have urged me to get some real-life fag friends. I think this may be a wise idea in case I should suddenly find myself single. About a month ago I answered a Craigslist Strictly Platonic ad from a gay guy who was organizing a relaxed game of Scrabble for homos. It turned out that I couldn't make any of the game nights until tonight.

I have no idea why, but I'm nervous as hell. I don't really know what I'm so worried about. Hopefully I will calm down quickly. I guess I fear walking into the house and seeing one of Gabbie's gay friends there. That would be a big "Oh shit" moment.

Also, I'm wracked with guilt about going. When I committed, I thought Gabbie was going to be out and the kids would all be at home, beating each other up like usual. But suddenly, my daughter got invited to a birthday party and Gabbie tells me she thought the two of us were going out.

Now I'm ditching my wife and kid to play scrabble with a few other geeky queers.

I was seriously thinking of flaking but Gabbie made other plans and my daughter got a ride to the party.

Now I have no choice but to walk to some gay guy's house in the Castro, shaking like a leaf for no good reason. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Option Four: Start a New Life

If you accept yourself as bisexual or gay and you're committed to a woman, how do you handle your attraction to men and the commitment to your woman?

Believe it or not, you only have four choices.

I have written about three of the choices in recent posts and now I continue with the fourth and final option: starting a new life.

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If you've decided to start a new life that means you've decided to end your romantic relationship with your woman. If you're bi, why would you want to do that?

I'm sure some bisexual men have divorced their wives in order to more freely pursue sex with men, but that has to be an uncommon event. If you're bi, you want both men and women, so saying goodbye to your wife doesn't make much sense.

This means that the option to "start a new life" does not often pertain to bi men. It's pretty much something only a gay man would decide to do when he feels ready to come out of the closet.

The reasons TO end your marriage and come out of the closet are pretty obvious. I suppose more than anything it's about being honest with those around you. But it could also be purely selfish; having a wife can really be a drag on your gay sex life. In most cases, elements of both probably play a role.

What's interesting is that, in the abstract, few will condemn a gay man for choosing to begin an honest life. Gay men, straight women and even the Catholic Church all agree that gay men and straight women should not be married. Of course the Catholic Church doesn't think gay men should marry anyone...

I could easily be wrong about this, but I believe that only the Mormon Church disapproves of ending "mixed orientation" marriages. The reason is that Mormon marriages extend into the afterlife so splitting up on Earth is only delaying the inevitable, eternal reunion. The Mormon Church's answer is to stay together - and they'll help the man get over his same sex attractions.

This uniquely Mormon attitude may explain why there are so many married Moho bloggers.

If almost everyone can agree, in theory, that gay men should not remain married to straight women, why do so many gay men and their straight wives resist separating? Is resistance simply part of the grieving process, nothing more than a delay of the inevitable? Or, are there legitimate, sustainable reasons why a gay man and a straight woman should remain married?

There may be other 'legitimate' reasons, but I can only think of two that seem to be common. One is children. The other is age.

I really do feel like something of a freak. When I came out to my wife at age 26 we had been married two and a half years and we didn't have kids. Gabbie often stayed late after work socializing while I was home alone, wondering when I should start dinner. (Some things don't change, even with kids...) I was lonely and so I spent more and more time daydreaming about meeting men, especially the right man.

When I did meet a terrific guy I assumed that my marriage was over. And for about 11 weeks it was. Then Gabbie and I got back together, not because we had kids and not because we were old or sick. It was love!

It wasn't a crazy I-can't-live-another-day-without-you kind of love. It was something more subdued than that; she missed me and I missed her. What convinced me that I was making the right decision was that I wanted to be with her more than I wanted to be with my very perfect boyfriend of ten weeks.

Eighteen years and three kids later, here we are, still fully partnered. What percentage of marriages between two straight people last that long?

So yes, I am not a total cynic, I do believe love can be factor. But mostly I think practical reasons come into play. If you get along well, why risk fucking up the kids by splitting up? If you get along well, why risk starting over at age 60, 65, 70 or 75? Gay culture is so youth-oriented it's not hard to see the logic that staying together for another 20 years might not be so bad considering you've already been married for 40.

There are some who would refute the idea that kids or age are acceptable reasons why a gay man and a straight woman should remain married. I plan a future post about the staying-because-of-the-kids issue.

Because I am so extremely young (I like to tell my kids I'm 26. They get such delight from rolling their eyes and showing me some attitude as they say, "Dad, we know you're not 26! You're 44. Why don't you just admit it?!!!") I don't feel properly informed of all the issues as to why a 70 year old gay man should, or should not, remain married to his wife of 40+ years. But I will say this: I've had a number of gay men comment that they've found love and happiness well after they began receiving Social Security checks. One of the best was very recent. Wharton wrote about how he was pursued (!) by a 27 year old man when he was 65, and how they're still together 7 years later. Wow! That story can give us all hope.

And if not hope, it gives those of us who are seriously considering starting a new life a reason to procrastinate for another year. Or twenty.

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What are your thoughts about gay men who decide to remain married to straight women? Feel free to share them below, or, to disagree with anything that I've written above.