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!