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."
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?
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.
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?