Friday, August 27, 2010

"Sorry about the divorce, maybe it's for the better."

I have received numerous, very kind public and private messages related to my perhaps-impending divorce. I cannot adequately express how wonderful it feels to have that support and to not be facing this turmoil completely alone. Truly, if it was not for blogging, I would not be sharing any of this with anyone.

It's always musical to hear others say, "you deserve better" and "you deserve to be happy." I can't emphasize my gratitude enough to those who have said that to me... BUT, I don't understand why everyone is so unanimous in celebrating the potential end to a 20 year marriage and a 24 year relationship.

Am I the only person who expects long relationships to have ups and downs that require the couple to work through them? Am I the only one who feels like when a person makes a commitment to another person that commitment should be honored until there is NO other option but to dishonor it? What's the point of making a commitment if it is honored only so long as it is not too difficult or too inconvenient?

I don't know...maybe I'm so involved in the situation that I only see what I want to see. But just giving up...I don't get it. And I certainly do not find it easy to do.

You'd think most people would applaud, or at least see the value of genuine loyalty, but everyone seems to feel the same way - "maybe it's best in the long run."

When everyone seems to disagree with me I have to seriously wonder if I'm the idiot. How could so many others be wrong?

***

I can't imagine that it is enjoyable for anyone to listen to me whine about myself for any length of time. I'd prefer to write about issues that affect all of us. Therefore, it is my intention to make the paragraphs below my last personal update for more than a month. In September I will write about gay and bisexual topics that I hope others will find interesting.

***

Gabbie loves to go on cruises; I'm happy to go anywhere.

Because it was our 20th anniversary this year Gabbie has long had it in her head that we'd take a cruise some where. At the time of our anniversary in April Gabbie made preliminary reservations for a week-long cruise that will be one of the most expensive vacations we've ever taken. She has been expecting me to figure out the flight schedule and to make the payments for both the cruise and the airplane tickets. I've been dragging my feet. Spending so much money unnerves me and there's also that small issue of her wanting to permanently run away from me and the kids...

The cruise is the last week of September. The payment for the cruise was due the first week in July. Last Wednesday Gabbie got after me again, insisting that I "hurry up and buy the tickets." I was kind of hoping we'd lose the reservation because the payment was so late, but, no. We're going.

On August 22, 1992 I told Gabbie I was gay and we separated. Just a week before that day I booked a trip for the two of us to Florida. A friend had offered us a great deal for a week in her timeshare. Even after my coming out and Gabbie's discovery of my young male friend, she and I agreed to take that already-booked-trip together to Florida.

That week alone with Gabbie was so good that I decided I wanted to be with her more than I wanted to be single and gay. A week after we returned, I broke up with my boyfriend and Gabbie and I got back together. A few months later she was pregnant with kid number one.

So here we are eighteen years later: a divorce requested and a romantic vacation together already booked.

I literally feel like anything could happen on this vacation. It could be a crucial week where she discovers that she can't live without me, or it could be an awkward week of walking on eggshells. Or it could just be casual fun. Regardless, until we return from the cruise neither of us is going to be making any permanent decisions about our future.

Gabbie's New Attitude

Apparently Gabbie needed a good drunken cry and some words of support from me.

Ever since the night she asked for a divorce she has morphed into her old self of about 10 years ago. Actually, she's gone further than that and suddenly taken on June Cleaver's enthusiasm for cooking, cleaning and looking after the kids. She's been home every night, she kissed me on the lips(!), she refused to let Charlie join us for dinner when he tried to invite himself (that was a big step for her), she's taken the kids for ice cream and she's baked cookies, all within the last several days. Without a doubt she is making a sincere effort to transition into the wife and mother her critics think she should be.

It's an open question as to whether she can truly find happiness in those roles.

Looking at her recent history, I have my doubts. However, one thing I will say about Gabbie is to never count her out. She can be fiercely determined, focused and motivated when she wants to accomplish something.

While I am on the subject of good things and Gabbie, I should explicitly state that Gabbie has many positive qualities. I've only written about them twice before so that probably makes me a self-righteous ass, but the fact is that anyone who knows Gabbie and I as a couple knows that I adore her. Her mother and sister, who know us best, have regularly chastised me for letting Gabbie do whatever she wants. I don't try to manipulate and control her the way they do simply because I love her. To me, love includes letting a person be free to be themselves. As an essentially closeted gay man, I know what it feels like to be caged all too well.

I should also explicitly state that I am deeply bonded to Gabbie. It really is love, not fear or laziness, that has made our odd marriage last as long as it has.

So that's it for the updates, barring any unexpected events, until early October.

A final note. By all appearances Gabbie is making her best effort in years to enjoy being a traditional wife and mother. If she again becomes resentful of those roles and finds that all she can think about is escaping, I will have no choice but to support her should she want to leave.

At this time, that is the only scenario I can imagine where letting her go will feel like I might actually be doing the right thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Divorce, at 2AM

At 2AM this morning, Gabbie, my wife of 20 years, woke me up and asked me for a divorce.

She began by saying, "I can't live this lie any longer."

***

Yesterday, the kids started school and Gabbie had the day off from work. She spent much of the day at the bar and had a late dinner with some fellow alcoholics. She came home just before 11pm; she was drunk but functional.

Before passing out for the night, she got into yet another fight on the telephone with her mother.

Her mother has many fine qualities but those are often over-shadowed by her insanely bossy and controlling behavior. When her hourly phone calls to Gabbie go unanswered she starts to panic and convinces herself that something horrible has happened. This is a regular event and each time Gabbie gets ripped a new asshole if she is busy doing something her mother doesn't like - such as spending the day at the bar.

At every opportunity, her mother lectures Gabbie about how she's ruining her life and not taking proper care of the kids.

Her mother is right. However, no one over the age of 12 would want to be hounded by a parent the way Gabbie's mother hounds her.

Last night's fight was typical. "Leave me alone mother, I'm 43 years old."

"You're ruining your life and your kids need you." Blah, blah, blah. I barely listened. It's always a rehashed, pointless conversation.

After the inevitable hang-up and the "can you believe my mother?" occurred, I watched Gabbie quickly fall asleep. I soon followed, only to be startled awake by Gabbie sitting next to me, on my edge of the bed, at 2 am.

"I can't live this lie any longer."

I was so dazed by being awakened from a deep sleep that I could barely focus. I guessed that she meant the lie of our marriage, but I wasn't sure. I briefly wondered if she had somehow learned that I have been fantasizing more and more about dating men.

"I can't live this lie any longer," she repeated.

"What are you talking about?"

"Being married. I don't want to be married any more."

She explained how she felt like she was squished into a box and everyone, except me, was critical of her and all she wanted to do was run away. She went on and on about how she is a big loser, a drunk who is love with an even bigger loser, and she just can't help herself. She said she takes complete responsibility for everything she's done wrong but no matter how bad other people think her behavior is, she doesn't want to change.

Everything she said I already knew. Either she had said it before or I just knew . What took me by surprise was when she asked, point blank, for a divorce. "We both know things haven't been right for years...you've got to get your head out of the sand."

To say that I've had very conflicted feelings about the idea of divorcing is a huge understatement.

When Gabbie surprised me by asking for a divorce so directly, I was dumbstruck - utterly unable to speak. It was one of those rare moments in life when someone asks you a very deep, very personal question that you cannot easily answer. Your head swims and different ideas fly through your mind in milliseconds. I literally did not how I wanted to answer. It would be either, "You're right, I think it would be best if we split." Or, "I don't want to give up on you or our marriage."

In that long pause where she was waiting for me to respond, my very first inclination was to let go, to agree to a divorce. I kept thinking about Uncutplus and Bose. Both of them have consistently urged me to take a hard line with Gabbie, to walk away as soon as possible. Maybe they're right, I thought, maybe I should take this opportunity to get out while I can.

After thinking for a few seconds more, I opened my mouth, still not knowing what I was going to say.

Finally, I replied, "Running away is not the solution."

I explained to Gabbie that I thought her behavior has been intentionally self-destructive and that she is deeply depressed and wracked with guilt. "You want to run away from everyone and everything and live in the bar and be the total loser that you think you've become."

As I saw her face change and recognize that what I said was true, I found new resolve. "I can't let you do that. I can't let you give up on yourself."

Faced with the demons of her own self-loathing, she cried hard for a good twenty minutes while I held her.

I couldn't stop my own tears as they slowly slid down my face. For all that she has done, for the loser that she has indeed become, and despite the fact that I am gay, I love her from the very deepest part of my soul.

***

This morning it was the usual routine. Get the kids off to school, get to work.

Gabbie called at 11 to tell me that she stopped in to see her new private office at work. To get such a nice office at this time is crucial because it's the one tangible aspect of her life that proves Gabbie is not a total loser.

On the phone she was bright and cheery, like the old Gabbie of years past.

***

I have hope that Gabbie's self-hatred has peaked and now she can work her way out of this morass of self-loathing and deep depression.

Yet, it's impossible to know what tomorrow or the next week or the next month will bring. Will she relapse? Was this a moment of sun that will quickly fade?

I'm not sure exactly why, but I suddenly feel like our marriage has been irreparably damaged. I guess it is because I don't know how a couple could under go this much strain and not be forever changed by it. Today I feel a step closer to believing that divorce is inevitable.

Even as I wonder if divorce is certain, I am more convinced than ever that I cannot simply walk away.

Gabbie has become a sad, deeply damaged person. I don't know how that happened on my watch or what I could have done differently, but I absolutely know that I cannot permit her to drink herself to death in a studio apartment, tortured by thoughts of her coke-snorting asshole boyfriend, her unrelenting bitch of a mother, her cold and unforgiving sister, and her three, snotty, critical, selfish children.

I know that I cannot save Gabbie from her demons and I'm not sure if Gabbie can save herself either. But I do know that I cannot simply walk away and allow her to be consumed by them.

Our marriage may be broken and even beaten but I cannot abandon her now, during this period of her greatest need.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gay Dating with Baggage

On Sunday August 8, my mother-in-law, my wife, our three kids and I went out for Chinese dinner.

While we were waiting for the food to arrive, which was not long, a fight erupted at the table between our middle kid John (12) and his mother. Until recently (i.e. puberty) John had been a parent's dream. Now he never has anything positive to say and complains constantly. The fight began because my wife Gabbie told John she was fed up with his bad attitude.

In mere minutes, the fight turned into the three kids against their mother. "She's too critical, she complains all the time, she's too stressed."

In an effort to encourage the kids (10, 12 & 16) to be respectful to their mother, especially while in a crowded restaurant, I said, "You all need to think about how you're talking to your mother. You're being very disrespectful and that's not acceptable. And think about this: what if one day she's not here? What if she gets run over by a bus tomorrow? OR," and now I was thinking about a threat Gabbie had several times made to me, "what if she decides to move out of the house because she doesn't want to be treated this way by you three?"

Before the kids could reply, Gabbie jumped in. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to do! As soon as I get home, I am packing up my suitcase and I am moving out. I will not be treated this way."

Most kids, especially younger kids, would have fallen to pieces had their mother threatened to move out. Not mine. They said nothing. The dinner progressed with a very subdued, awkward tone.

True to her word, the minute we got home Gabbie pulled out a very large suitcase and started filling it.

It was an odd feeling for me, watching her pack. Just days before I had fantasized about almost exactly the scenario that was unfolding. At that time I wondered if I had a serious talk with Gabbie and gave her the option to leave, if she would take it. Apparently, I had my answer.

Once she was packed I drove her to her mother's house, less than a mile away.

The first 48 hours Gabbie was gone were very typical. She is often out of the house so her absence didn't seem odd. The main difference for me was that after the dinner clean-up at home, I went to Gabbie's mother's house to spend two hours with Gabbie - and her mother.

When I arrived Gabbie asked me about the kids, "Do they miss me?"

I didn't want to lie so I said, "They don't think you're serious. John predicted you'd be back in two days." That challenge seemed to double Gabbie's resolve to stay away as long as possible.

By day three reality began to set-in. At least for me.

In my "Gabbie-packs-her-bags-and-leaves" fantasy, I imagined that her departure would enable me to start dating men. But as I faced the reality of working and taking care of the kids and the house alone, I realized that it would be almost impossible to see anyone during the week. I had maybe an hour between finishing the dinner dishes and getting the kids to bed.

So I started to think about the weekends, how would they work?

Gabbie wants to be free of her parenting responsibilities so it isn't likely that she would be taking the kids every other weekend like most divorced couples do. And although I could leave the kids alone for an extended time for part of a weekend, I certainly couldn't be absent an entire weekend.

The reality, I realized, is that the most I could expect to regularly see a guy is twice a week. Maybe a Friday night and part of a Saturday or a Sunday. The rest of the weekend I would need to be with the kids.

Part of two days a week is not exactly an ideal dating schedule for a single gay man.

By the fourth night of Gabbie's absence, more reality crept in.

Although I can run all aspects of the house and the kids' lives for an extended period of time, this was the first time that I felt the full weight of unending sole responsibility. Every detail fell to me and only me. The burden wasn't overwhelming but it was draining. And more than anything, it made me feel isolated and lonely.

As the days passed, it was clear that I was the only one having second thoughts about Gabbie's departure. The kids didn't seem to care. Every day I'd ask them if they thought mom was going to come home or not and they'd individually give unemotional answers. Even my daughter, the ten year old, surprised me when she said, "I'm glad mom's gone. I get to spend more time with daddy!" Huh? All we do is spend time together!

Gabbie wasn't complaining either. I went to visit her every night for an hour or two and she'd say, "I'm sleeping better than I have in a long time!" or "I feel so relaxed!" The only thing about the arrangement that made Gabbie unhappy was that the kids didn't seem to care that she was gone. On the fifth day she said, "At least I know how they really feel. If I did move out, they really wouldn't care."

Other than me, the person most upset about Gabbie's departure was her mother. "I don't why she's here, this is a stupid idea."

It was her mother who brought an end to Gabbie's escape. On Friday she told Gabbie she couldn't stay with her any longer. I brought Gabbie and her very large suitcase home on Friday night.

The kids greeted her happily enough - as if they had least seen her an hour before - even though it had been five full days.

Gabbie's return was somewhat tenuous. Several times she said she wished she could afford a hotel room, or, that she could find an apartment. Her wishes made me wonder if my off-the-cuff remark at a family dinner could become the opening that Gabbie had long been wanting - an opening that would ultimately result in the unraveling of my 20 year marriage.

Now, two weeks later, I can't help but wonder if this incident will fore-shadow the future. Both Gabbie and I now think we know that the kids will be ok if she left. Because she wants to leave and I want the chance to date men, in some respects it looks like a win-win-win for everyone.

The thing is, now that I've had a small taste of my potential future, I'm not so anxious for more. The reality is that I'm 44. I live and work in a suburb - there aren't many (any?) datable men nearby. I'd be a full-time single parent raising three kids, with limited ability to date. Add in the fact that I'm not interested in casual sexual relationships and there can be little doubt that in the gay world, I'm about as desirable as a turnip.

Immediately after I first had the revelation that I might be better off NOT getting what I wanted, I told myself to get a grip. Surely there have been plenty of divorced men with kids who have been able to date and eventually meet someone.

I started to think about all the divorced guys I know, both straight and gay. I thought about quite a few bloggers. But the thing is, I only know one man who is a single parent, raising kids alone. That's Rob at Below the Radar.

If you read his blog, you can see what his dating experiences have been like. He's been single for roughly eight years and he's a nice, intelligent, good looking guy - very eligible and desirable. Yet, after all this time he's still single.

Why?!

Until two weeks ago I couldn't understand why. But now that I've had a taste of full-time single parenthood I have begun to realize just how difficult it must be to meet someone and keep a relationship going.

I wouldn't trade my kids for anything, but the fact is, when it comes to dating, they represent a whole lot of baggage.

It's unsettling to realize, but at this point I can't see much advantage to being a single, full-time parent.

Now that my best fantasy has lost its luster, the future I see ahead of me is more of the same, treading water, going no where; a wife who doesn't want sex and who would rather be out socializing, avoiding all responsibilities; three kids who only think about themselves; and me, a gay man sitting at home, watching the weeks, months and years tick past.

Damn, I haven't been depressed in years but the future seems so unappealing, I just can't help but to be discouraged. If anyone can offer a few encouraging words, I'd sure be happy to hear them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do you feel like 'one of the guys?'

In a post a while back, Rob at Below the Radar talked about how he had never 'felt like one of the guys' - even as an adult.

Rob's confession struck a strong chord with me because I have felt the same way, for just as long.

I know that a lot of gays say they've always felt different but that's not exactly the way I have felt. I have felt like an outsider - whether by my own actions and attitudes or by the actions and attitudes of others.

My earliest recollection of not feeling comfortable in a group of boys was fifth grade. I was forced to play Little League baseball, probably because my father thought it would be good for me. Years later he told me that he and his neighborhood friends played baseball at the local park, all day, all summer long, just for fun. He probably thought I would enjoy and benefit from the experience. Wrong!

I was a bad player. I had no innate skill, no great athletic ability and worst of all, I was afraid of the ball. One bad season in the outfield was not enough. I was forced to play a second season, and because of my age, I had to try out. Every kid in the league had to show up on the same day for try outs and every one of them was watching as a coach hit a fly ball to me and I reached up with my glove to catch it, only to have the ball hit me squarely on the head. I flopped dramatically to the ground. I'm sure it was a funny sight to witness, but for me it was humiliating. The embarrassment of being a bad player, and everyone knowing it, stayed with me for a very long time.

In grade school PE, I wasn't the last boy picked, but I was definitely near the bottom. Being picked almost last didn't just feel like a judgment of my athletic skills, it felt like a social rating. It weighed heavily on my self-confidence and did nothing to endear my more athletic male peers to me.

At the end of 6th grade I hit puberty and within the first month of seventh grade I had the first of a long string of continuous close friendships with girls and women. I still had friends who were boys - none of whom have turned out to be queer - but my very best friends from 7th through 12th grade were all women.

When I went away to college I really hoped to make a fresh start. No one knew me, so really, I had the opportunity to make myself anyone I wanted to be. I had hoped I would bond with my freshman year roommate. I didn't have a brother so it was the first time I was going to spend a lot of time with another guy, in close quarters.

I think we both made a sincere effort to like each other but the truth is, we just didn't click. My roommate and a (male) next door neighbor ended up being much better friends. By the end of that year, my six best college friends were all women. It was really embarrassing because when it came time to pick roommates for the following year, I wasn't good enough friends with any men to ask them to room with me. I ended up getting placed with a stranger.

Getting placed was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My sophomore year floor was fantastic and I ended up making a ton of friends that year, including my best friends Todd and Donny. Since that time, my friendships have been more balanced between men and women, although, in truth I now only have one close real life friend and that is Gabbie.

As an adult, I thought my awkward-with-groups-of-hetero-men days were long past. But I've seen old patterns emerge at children's birthday parties, other social gatherings, and, most painfully, as a father of kids who played Little League.

At many social gatherings, including kids' birthday parties, the men gather into one group and the women gather into another. In some cases, the men are low-key and I feel ok joining them. In other cases, particularly when I don't know anyone, I stick to Gabbie like glue. This often makes me the only guy sitting among the women. In that stressful situation of not really knowing anyone, I feel far, far more secure sitting with the women. If I were to join the men (and I have occasionally tried) I often feel self-conscious and awkward.

Little League is a rite of passage for most boys and both of mine played for several years. My older boy, Conrad, now 16, is straight and is pretty ripped from doing 9 years of karate. Yet, his Little League career was as horrible as mine was. The difference was that I was inept, while he was unfocused and undisciplined. He stopped playing when he was 8. My middle kid, John, is now 12. He stopped playing at 11, but he played for four years and the last three were really, really awkward for me. Almost to a person, the coaches were, in my eyes, macho egotistical asses. They were all card-carrying members of the unofficial Heterosexual He-Man club. To make matters worse for me, they invariably expected every father on their teams to help them coach during practices and games. I was so afraid of being asked to help that I had as little contact with them as possible. One head coach and I never said a word to each other for the entire four month season, which is very unusual. Even more so because I was present at every practice and every game.

Type-A egotistical macho men are exactly the kind of men I fear interacting with the most. They're the ones who lead the groups of men who stand in circles, each man clutching a beer, at picnics and birthday parties. It seems like every question they ask or statement they make is intended to prove their dominance and your inferiority. In my mind, the more athletic they are, the more they expect others to bow to their ego. I find that I want to be as far away from those guys as I possible can be.

I have three brothers-in-law. One I've known since he was 16 and now he's 40. I get along with them fine but I sure don't feel very close to them. It's always a little awkward talking one-to-one with them. I don't know why. It just is.

From my negative attitude about macho men, you might conclude that I'm a feminine guy. I don't think so. I feel like I'm average, not particularly noteworthy on the fem-macho continuum.

I want to try to take a step back from myself and look at my thoughts and behavior in a larger context, particularly when it comes to sexuality.

I personally don't think it's a universal fact that men who struggle with same-sex attraction feel that they are separate from the top social strata of men. I think there are gay men who are just as Alpha and egotistical as any straight man can be and they fit in perfectly amongst their peers. Similarly, just because a guy avoids socializing with macho Alpha males, that does not make him gay or bisexual.

I also have to wonder how much blame aggressive, egotistical men should get because wimpier men like me are intimidated by them. While it's true that macho guys don't usually start a conversation with me, the outsider, I do nothing to make myself more open or approachable to them. Quite the opposite, actually.

So really, I have to wonder if a lot of the "I don't feel like I belong" angst has anything to do with anyone else besides myself. Perhaps it all comes down to self-confidence, attitude and introversion.

Another issue I wonder about is whether my inherent awkwardness with men has a basis in my homosexuality. Truly, can I 'just be friends with' a macho man? Or am I certain to be sexually attracted to him and am I therefore always at risk of revealing my desires and embarrassing myself? Perhaps that fear of discovery is at the root of my, and others', discomfort around certain men.

And finally, how does my complete lack of confidence around Alpha males affect the kind of men I find most attractive? It seems that fantasy and real life are very different in that regard. I'm just as turned on as anyone when I see the image of a super-hot masculine guy. Yet, I would never approach such a man in real life.

In real life, I'd most like to meet a guy who is so easy to talk to and does not threaten my masculinity by being too macho or too feminine. A guy like actor Paul Rudd. In real life I'd take a guy like him over Jean-Claude Van Damme any day.

I don't know what it all means: sexuality, masculinity and feeling like an outsider among most groups of men. Mostly, I don't worry about it. But I still find the topic fascinating and I certainly would love to hear what your thoughts are and experiences have been on the subject. Please feel free to share your opinions in the comment box below.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Observations of an On-line Gay Dating Voyeur

When most guys get bored at work, they play an on-line game or check out porn. I read gay personal ads.

Sometimes I get so bored that I read ads for all the major cities on Craigslist.

I've been reading ads for years, and I have to say, much of the time I feel like I'm rubber-necking at a bad car accident. There are exceptions, but generally the people who post face pictures on Craigslist romance ads are not doing themselves any favors.

When I see the same person posting repeatedly over a long period of time, I feel really awful for them. It's hard not to feel empathetic when they are so desperate. Little do they realize that their desperation drives potential suitors away.

There's this one guy, early 30s, who's been posting in Minneapolis continuously for at least two years. Objectively, he's not a bad looking guy. But for a long time, the picture he posted made him look like he was in the middle of a hyper fit, jumping around the room. He's got a better picture now, but his message still reeks of desperation. I have a feeling he's a really nice guy, but sorry, no, I wouldn't want to date him either.

Craigslist is the best place to find revolting pictures of potential dates.

I guess I'm a bad fag because I practically want to heave when I flip to an ad and the picture is a full-screen shot of a puckered asshole. Like, a literal asshole. It's not that I am opposed to fucking assholes, however, I really don't want to look at them. Of all the body parts someone could photograph and post, I can't think of one less sexy than an asshole. Even nostrils are way sexier.

Ug. I need to move on. I'm making myself nauseous flashing back to those pictures.

One thing I've noticed more often on Craigslist than other places is an emphasis on age. How to handle age on Craigslist is a puzzle. Isn't there a Craigslist posting rule that requires you to deduct one year per decade off of your real age for every decade after your teens? Well, until your 40. Then you stay 39 until you turn 50, when you become 42. And so on.

Since so many guys lie about their age, I've often wondered what the proper etiquette is to handle age limitations in a Craigslist ad. If I say I'm 39, but I'm really 43, and an ad says 21-40, should I reply? My Craigslist age is 39, after all, so I probably should...

Craig needs to do something to clear up this confusion. He needs to make people specify whether they mean solar years or Craigslist years when they post anything age-related.

The other thing about age on Craigslist is that no one wants to date a guy their own age. "VGL 18yo seeks 15-17 ONLY!!!!!!" Ok, I'm exaggerating. Slightly. There are guys who will date someone their own age, but often, that's the limit. Many a 29 year old will not date anyone 30 or over. "My age or younger!" Maybe the reason so many gay guys are single is because they're all chasing someone younger. The 30 year old is too old for the 29 year old who is too old for the 28 year old, etc.

The most unintentionally hysterical ads to me are the (invariably) old and unattractive guys who want someone young, hot and hung. Dudes...you're taking your porn too seriously. The hot young guy on the screen is not going to be visiting your bedroom any time soon. Trust me.

In recent months, as I have fantasized more about being single and dating, I have spent some time checking out Manhunt and Adam4Adam. Again, these sites are like rubber-necking as you drive past a bad accident.

As near as I can tell, the sites are essentially the same. But for some reason, Adam4Adam consistently has twice as many guys on-line at any time of day compared to Manhunt.

I too have a slight preference for Adam4Adam, but for a silly reason. I like that I can flip from page to page without scrolling; Adam4Adam shows 12 guys on a page whereas Manhunt shows 20. I guess I need a bigger monitor to look for sex on Manhunt.

I find both sites to be more sad than hot or unintentionally funny. These sites represent what gay life is all about??? 20 different pictures of dicks, torsos and asses to pick from? The whole purpose of conversing is to negotiate terms for one fuck?

In fairness, there does appear to be a small percentage of guys on both sites who say they are looking for more than a NSA hook-up. One blogger friend told me that has found a few 'diamonds' on Adam4Adam. I wanted to ask him, "If that's true, why are you still single?" I don't think he would have liked my smart-ass question.

When I contemplate these hook-up sites I have to wonder if I'd be wise or stupid to avoid them if was looking for a relationship. As near as I can tell, Adam4Adam is the most popular gay destination on the web. But then I ask myself, do I really want to hang out with the 'most popular' crowd?

Perhaps it's unfair, but I put Match.com and Gay.com in the same category. To me, they are equally generic dating sites. Posting a profile on either one is akin to posting a flier for a lost dog on the crowded bulletin board at the local laundry mat.

As with Adam4Adam and Manhunt, these sites strike me as a little sad too. The reason is that every time I visit them, which is not often, I see EXACTLY the same guys. For that to happen on Gay.com is not so unexpected, but for Match, the implication is not good. "Sign-up here and you're certain to never find a boyfriend!"

For the better on-line dating options, I'm aware of two sites that are geared toward finding relationships. One is eHarmony's Compatible Partners and the other is MyPartner.com. It's hard not to like MyPartner because they have a special at the moment, $8, full access, for a year. How can you complain about spending $8? Cripes, one trip across the 1.7 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge costs $6!

The downside of MyPartner is that it is not well known and the traffic on the site seems low. Or maybe there aren't many homos looking for love?

One somewhat surprising facet of MyPartner is that they have an option to label yourself as "married or partnered and looking". Compatible Partners definitely does not allow that. I think they force you to certify that you are single when you sign up. They want to prove to guys looking for love that they mean business!

Compatible Partners takes you through several long questionaires when you sign up. It gets a bit tedious. In my opinion, they make a mistake when they don't give you an option to indicate the importance of a particular question. For example, if I had big thing for redheads (which I don't; but they are distinctive) I'd like to be able to say hair color matters WAY more than "I 'mostly like' to travel" vs. "I 'somewhat' like to travel."

I actually think that Compatible Partners doesn't want guys to be too specific. They need to keep as many people as possible in the same buckets so they can continually feed them new leads.

I don't have an informed opinion about the quality of the matches on either MyPartner or Compatible Partners. I'd have to actually meet a few guys for that. I do remember my very first match on Compatible Partners, however. He was a cute 38yo teacher who wrote something intelligent about helping people and enjoying his work with children. BOING! Those words gave me a proverbial hard on. The majority of the matches, however, look to be lame. After the first few, they mostly seem no different than picking a random guy on Match.

All in all, I'd have to say that I don't see much that is appealing about the on-line gay dating world. Yet, as I say that, I have to wonder why I find it so fascinating. Maybe it's the thrill of the (pretend) hunt.

As I imagine what it would be like to be single and dating, the excitement of the possibilities is definitely lessened by the reality of what I see on these dating sites. What's especially depressing is that I hear on-line dating sites are THE best way to meet a gay partner. In that case, I am so fucked - and not in a good way.

Does anyone out there have any first-hand experience with on-line gay dating? Can you dispel some or all of my negative impressions??

I sure hope so.

If the fun of the imaginary chase fades I might be left with little else to do at work, besides...play games and watch porn.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Cheating Married Man

Another married man who self-identifies as bisexual has been encouraging me to find another friend with benefits situation. I had three in the past and I felt surprisingly fulfilled by two of them.

However, it's been more than seven years since I last cheated on my wife. The idea of cheating again, well, it's not as easy to consider as it once was.

That long streak of good behavior is something of an achievement. After all, I am a homo who first had sex with a man at 15 and, until seven years ago, I had been with quite a few men for the first 17 years I was with my wife. Now, it's like I've become an angel and I don't want to lose my wings by going back to cheating again.

Another significant factor is my wife's affair. In my heart I know that her desire to have sex with that total fucking loser asshole Charlie had very little to do with me. This is why when she asked for permission I did not visibly object. At no time did I feel that I was personally being betrayed. And yet...every night that she skipped off to be with him I quietly seethed with anger and resentment.

I know that a lot of wives do not enjoy sex and therefore they explicitly permit or otherwise allow their husbands to cheat. I know some wives of bisexual men allow their husbands to cheat; they understand that they cannot fulfill the need and they want their husbands to be happy. And I know that most of the time I have a thick skin - that I'm not easily bothered by things. Yet, in spite of all those facts, and although I'm certain I don't speak for every loyal spouse, I think I can safely say that it almost always hurts when your spouse cheats. Even when you intellectually understand why, even when the cheating is in no way personal, it still hurts.

Now that I have experienced what it feels like to be cheated on, not only by my wife but also by my favorite FWB Marc, I find the idea of cheating again less appealing than I ever had in the past. I know what it feels like to be cheated on, even when the cheating is not personal. Trust me, it's not a good feeling.

Emotional commitment is another factor to consider when cheating. I've done hook-ups and I've had fuck buddies, but sex for the sake of sex is vanilla to me. Worse, actually. I now find the idea utterly unappealing.

If I ever have sex with a man again, it will happen because I will feel an emotional connection to him. This means that if I am going to have an affair, it will be a friends with benefits situation. Or better.

So here's the thing: isn't an emotional affair the very worst kind of affair to have? When a man chooses to have that kind of affair, isn't he saying that the emotional foundation of his marriage is unsatisfying? Isn't he saying that the heart of his marriage is dead?

And how about this: if an emotional affair is the biggest betrayal, then isn't a purely sexual affair "better"? Maybe I should find a fuck buddy?

Another thought. When I had two consecutive, good FWB relationships over a period of seven years, I felt good about myself. For the first time ever I felt whole and fulfilled. I felt able to focus on my wife, my family, my work, and my friend because I was no longer edgy and hungry. I was more patient and more kind. I felt no need to feel sorry for myself or complain about anything - I had it all.

So if I were to find another FWB, wouldn't it be the same? All good for everyone involved? And if it is all good, then it's not the worst kind of affair, is it? It's the best kind of affair because I would have nothing but happiness to share with everyone around me?

I can't answer that question. It could happen again. Or, it could be the relationship that breaks through all my resistances and I decide that what I want comes before everyone else - consequences be damned. Or, maybe I'll just feel like a rotten, lying cheater.

It's strange. It was easier for me to cheat when my marriage was stronger. Now that it's weaker I am very reluctant to consider that option. Maybe the strength of a marriage is the key to it all?

If that's true, and cheating men feel secure in their marriages, then don't the women feel secure too? Mostly, I would think so. And if so, doesn't that prompt the biggest question of all: why should a cheating married man who is secure in his marriage fuck the whole thing up by being honest with his wife? Isn't that a lose-lose situation? Doesn't a lose-lose situation justify being a liar and a cheater?

"DON'T CHEAT!" "BE HONEST!" I understand and agree with those sentiments. In fact, I have lived those sentiments. It was years ago, but I was honest with my wife and we split up for a while. And more recently, I decided to stop cheating and I have been loyal for years. Yet, there's still a part of me that feels like the lose-lose situation can justify being a liar and a cheater.

As you can see, this potentially cheating married man can talk himself into just about anything. But the question always remains: what's the right thing?

What do you think? When is cheating justified, if ever?

---
A quick I-hate-Charlie-more-each-day update. He was out of prison Monday night. He was served with a 3 day eviction notice by his landlord on Tuesday. He's been "talking" to that landlord every day since then, getting everything "smoothed out." Friday night, he came home to find the locks changed and a Writ of Possession on the door. Boom, he's evicted and the landlord won't take his calls. The police will not let him in. He has no belongings, no clothes, no bed, no shower, no money. Guess where he slept that night? In my house. But first he dominated the conversation between the whole family for four hours. That was after he cheerily cooked dinner for everyone. Pasta, with a little meat and zucchini thrown in. He left the kitchen a disaster. It took me 45 minutes to clean it. It wasn't until 10:45 that I had two seconds to say to Gabbie, "I told you I didn't EVER want him to sleep here. EVER. You know that." Her answer: "If I was ever homeless, I know he wouldn't make me sleep on the street. How can I do that to him?"

That's the kind of logic that has incrementally turned me into a big pussy.

It would have caused a monumental fight to stand my ground so I took the best victory I could, "NEVER AGAIN!" I told her.

There was one highlight. My ten year old daughter said to Charlie, "You smell just like Las Vegas!"

Yes, Charlie does smell exactly like Las Vegas, like cigarettes and booze.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Charming Charlie

My wife has been involved with an asshole Englishman, Charlie, for the last four years. They were having sex for a while, but after he cheated on her and gave her genital warts, she stopped having sex with him. Now she says she's not interested in sex with anyone, including me.

Charlie is a drunk, a druggie, a liar, a rapist and a criminal but he's got one skill that has kept him afloat for 50 years: his charm.

Gabbie has had a love-hate relationship with him which means she simultaneously can't stay away from him but every time they spend more than two hours together (which is often) they get into a fight. There's been a whole lot of drama this year, the relevant details of which I have explained in four consecutive posts beginning with May I Have an Affair Now Please.

I have been waiting for Gabbie to smarten up and realize that Charlie is a disaster that must avoided at all costs.

Finally, at the end of June, Gabbie convinced me that she was through with him. I immediately made a plan to get him arrested, and then deported, because he is in the US illegally.

It turned out that Charlie didn't need any help from me; he got himself arrested on July 2nd. My plan was to get him picked up for a DUI, and although he blew an .085 at 10am and the legal limit in California is .08, he was not charged with a DUI. Instead he was charged with four misdemeanors and one immigration felony. I believe my phone calls to ICE led to the felony charge.

Charlie has been in prison for a month and yesterday he had his final hearing regarding his illegal status in the US. Both Gabbie and I have been expecting that Charlie would be immediately deported after the hearing - never to be seen again.

So...here's what happened: Charlie was released from prison and there was no hearing. Charlie is now free to take the necessary steps to be in the US legally - a process that is easy and expedited for UK citizens.

Gabbie went to see him at the local bar last night. This morning, he was knocking on our door at 7:30am.

I fucking hate Charlie more than ever.

Gabbie is no happier than I am that Charlie has been released. Quite frankly, we are both in complete shock. The guy has done nothing right. He doesn't even have a driver's license and certainly hasn't paid a nickel in taxes. He has no money and a long criminal record and yet...he's just the kind of illegal alien we want to keep in this country?? WTF!

I am still in such a state of disbelief that I can't think about what comes next.

Quite honestly, both of us are eager to remain on his good side. In England he served time for manslaughter. And just two weeks ago, while in the county jail, he threw a single punch at a guy that shattered his jaw. Fourteen days later that guy is STILL in intensive care at the hospital.

I am more determined than ever to get Charlie deported, as soon as possible.

Now I just need to figure out how to do it.