Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My First Date and Other Worries

My expectations for my first date were quite low.

We didn't exchange detailed emails in advance nor did we speak on the phone.

If I had passed him on the street, I would never have given him a second look. He probably would have said the same about me.

But on OKCupid we expressed a mutual, modest interest in each other and that was enough to generate an email from him that suggested we meet for a casual hike. So we did.

The conversation flowed easily enough. But it was also strangely impersonal.

Am I crazy to think that almost every gay first date covers at least one of these topics: being gay, sex, dating or relationships? Well, ours didn't. I could have had the exact same conversation with any straight stranger on the street.

We made very little eye contact and there was absolutely no flirting. The best way to summarize the date is that we were two asexual robots walking through the trees together.

When we parted I knew it was unlikely that we would ever meet again. Still, I didn't feel bad about the "date". It was clear that we didn't click in a meaningful way.

Later in the day, to be polite, I sent him a message that said, "Thanks for the nice walk! I'd be happy to do it again sometime." I expected a short reply. Something like, "I enjoyed the walk too. It was good to meet you." Instead, nothing.

Actually, I interpreted 'nothing' as a decision NOT to reply.

Fine. I don't really care that the date went no where.

So....why do I care that he didn't bother to send a polite reply? Is it such an effort to send one or two sentences that say nothing?

I think I care because I have this feeling that he's pissed off. I ask myself, why should he be pissed?? Was it inconvenient to meet me? (He picked the day, time and location.) Does my profile "sell" me as someone I'm not? (I don't think so. What would be the point of that?) Did I say or do something that angered him? Was my email superficial or trite? Maybe I said something offensive to him and didn't realize it? Whatever. None of the second-guessing is important except for one reason - confidence. It's totally stupid but I feel like a dating failure. After ONE date???? Yes, I know. It's not rational, but that's how I feel.

Dating is FULL of rejection, I know that, so I'd better get a thicker skin.

I suppose that will develop in time.

What concerns me is that having my confidence so easily deflated plays into the many doubts I already have:

+ It's week two and I've already reached the point where I am not being pursued. To make any progress I must pursue others.

+ I am fully responsible for three kids (feeding them, homework, activities, etc).

+ I don't live or work in the City.

+ I live with my 'best friend' aka my wife. We sleep in the same bed. What single man wants to hear that?

+ I'm not interested in casual sex. Really. If sex is the gay handshake I'm never going to meet anyone.

+ Gay relationships tend to be short-lived. Why expend a lot of effort trying to find something that isn't going to last?

+ Meeting someone will require me to come out. I don't enjoy being the center of attention. I don't want to be the topic of anyone's conversations. I don't want to feel uncomfortable around people I've known for decades.

Look how negative I am!

My attitude sucks and it really worries me. Success does not come from pessimism. Success does not come from a shitty attitude.

If I want something, I should really hunger for it and be driven to make it happen. Instead I'm limping along. My confidence gets shot because of one marginal date????

I don't know what the answer to my attitude problem is. That bothers me too. Perhaps worst of all, there's a big part of me feels like giving up - so what if I never have an intimate and sexual bond with another person again? I still have other people in my life, like Gabbie and my kids.

I wish I knew how to clear my mind and be focused on a positive future.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dating - Week One

I entered the (always interesting) world of gay dating a week ago.

Although I would have preferred to make some real-world contacts, I decided that raising kids in the suburbs is unlikely to be conducive to starting a gay social life. At some point I'll focus on making real-world connections but for now I'm giving the Internet a try.

There are a plethora of options available for Internet homo dating, including Manhunt, Adam4Adam, Grindr, Jack'd, Gay.com, PlentyofFish, DudesNude, Match.com, Compatible Partners, Craigslist, Chemistry.com, Mypartner.com and OKCupid!

Because I'm looking for a relationship, not casual sex, I will be focusing my efforts on the more traditional sites first. My plan is to try one site at a time, stick with it for a while, and then move on when the activity level drops to nothing. I'm in no particular hurry to meet someone so I view my approach being as being a slow and steady journey.

The site I chose to start with is OKCupid! The name is kind of stupid but in just about every other way the site is awesome. I love that it's free, I love the way they match people, I love the way they casually prompt you to make connections and reveal more about yourself. The owners just sold the company to Match for $50 million. I think they made a big mistake. If they had held on, ala Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, the company would have been worth much more in 10 years' time. It's by far the best traditional dating site on the Internet.

I've had a lurker profile on OKCupid for a few months so I could have begun with some prospects I've had my eye on. But, as part of my slow-and-steady approach, I decided not to pursue any of them until my own profile has aged a bit. I'm new, I'm fresh meat, I should see a burst of initial activity.

And I did.

Here is what happened in the first week:

More than 103 different guys viewed my profile. On OKCupid you can browse openly or anonymously; 103 browsed openly.

Of the 103, 25 were under the age of 40, 50 were 40-49 and 29 were 50-56. No one older than 56 browsed. I'm a bit surprised about the age distribution. Before I crunched the numbers my perception had been that mostly older guys were interested in me. Not true. The majority were very near my age. I didn't calculate the median but I'd guess it's 46 or 47. I'm 44.

Of the 103 who browsed openly, 15 of them returned to my profile at least once more later in the week. I know that I have a tendency to look at profiles I like multiple times. If others behave in the same way, a return-visitor rate of 14.5% is encouraging.

During the week I was contacted, in a variety of ways, by 11 different guys:

Two 'favorited' me. OKCupid lets users select favorites either with or without the person's knowledge. Anyone who picks you as a favorite, and lets you know, is basically saying, "I'm interested in you, are you interested in me?"

Five guys '4-starred' me through QuickMatch. QuickMatch is when you opt to go through random profiles and give them ratings of 1 to 5 stars. If you 4 or 5 star someone, they are notified. The thing is, the notification says, "One of these NINE guys gave you four or five stars." Sometimes you can check the visitor history and match up the time of the visit with the time of QuickMatch email. Then you can tell who 4-starred you. Otherwise they are browsing anonymously and you have no clue which guy actually 4-starred you.

Four guys sent actual messages. Well, really there were six, but I'm not counting two of them because they were from distant locations and they were....strange.

Eleven contacts. Did any of them interest me?

One.

One of the guys who 4-starred me was moderately interesting so I 4-starred him back. He's a real outdoorsy nut so he suggested a hike for our first meeting instead coffee. Weather-permitting we'll meet on Sunday.

My expectations are low. Maybe it's not fair but it really bothers me that he's 7 inches taller.

Regardless, it's a connection. A test first-date. A way to get my feet wet and gain some dating experience.

I'm neither disappointed nor especially pleased with my first week 'out'. Many guys spend year after year looking for a connection. I can see why.

Wish me well on my first interview...I mean...date.

Thanks for readin', writin' and commentin'.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What is going on

In my last post I wrote about not knowing if my wife really wanted to separate or not. I was getting mixed signals from her and she was so busy with work that I couldn't find a good time to talk with her about it.

One of the reasons I was confused was because she had planned a weekend of activities for just the two of us - more time together than we had spent in months. "This is separation??" I wondered.

Well, it turns out that the idea of so much togetherness was too much for Gabbie. Almost out of the blue she said, "You put a lot of pressure on me."

"What do you mean?"

"You expect me to spend every minute with you."

I laughed. "That's not true! You know I never make you do anything you don't want to do."

Seizing the opportunity, I continued, "Besides, I'm a big boy. I can entertain myself. I can have a social life. I just don't think you would like it."

Then the big finish: "And I really don't think you would like it if I had a friend."

"I wouldn't be like that. Go ahead and do whatever you want to do."

So, just like that, I got the green light to start dating men.

Two days ago I took the first steps toward doing that. I posted a profile and a picture on OKCupid. If you'd like to find me, I'll tell you how to do it. First, you have to a free account with OKCupid. Second, do a nationwide search using the keyword "INTJ". That's my Myers-Briggs personality type. You'll get about five pages of other INTJ geeks. Mostly, we're an unattractive group. It's up to you to narrow down the prospects to find me. It's not hard. To make it even easier, I will tell you that I list my orientation as gay, not bisexual. Once you find me, be sure to send me a message professing your undying love.

If someone actually does send me a message, that would be a first. Now that I have finally burst on to the gay dating scene I get to face the cold, hard reality that no one gives a shit. Undoubtedly ya'll can look forward to years of me whining about never having a date.

Is my romantic marriage over? Honestly, I haven't completely come to terms with that. I'm still very skeptical about Gabbie's reaction if I ever do meet someone. There's a part of me that has this hope that some day soon she'll realize that she can't live without me. Even today she tangentially said something that put our marriage in the present tense, not the past. Ah! There is hope! My little brain thought. So we'll see. Saying that she doesn't care if I have a friend when there are no prospects is one thing. Dealing with a real homo husband who is actively dating men is another.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What's Going On?

My wife and I agreed to split on January 4th; she moved out on January 16th.

Our split was very amicable. In December she told me she wanted a best-friends marriage and after I considered that option for a month I decided we were too young to accept that. When I told her how I felt she seemed relieved.

Quite a number of times over the past two years she told me she wished she lived alone or she wished she had never gotten married. The 'never gotten married' was not directed at me. She just thought that marriage in general was too confining.

Two days after we agreed to split she was all over Craigslist, anxiously looking for a place she liked. It didn't take her long to find one and after she did she decided to alternate nights between there and home. That way her absence would be less of an issue for the kids.

Sunday, January 16th was her first night in her new place. Five days later she called me to say that she was very lonely and she wanted to move back home.

That's right. After years of wishing for a place of her own she lasted less than five days. Actually it was three nights because of the every-other-night thing.

I was thrilled. That Friday was one of the happiest days I've had in a long time. But my happiness faded a bit over the following days because work and social commitments kept her very busy. She ended up staying three more nights at her place for a total of six. We moved all her stuff back home on Friday, January 28th.

During the busy week when I was waiting for her to move back, I wondered what was going on with us. Are we together? Are we not? Does she still want a BFF marriage? She was so hurried and stressed that week that there was never a good time when I could ask her. The following week was very busy also; we never had a good opportunity to talk. She didn't even tell the kids she had moved back until Sunday, January 30th. They were all happy.

The oldest one asked the question I wanted to ask, "Does this mean you and Dad are back together?"

Finally an answer!

"No, we're still just best friends."

As the days since then have ticked by Gabbie has shown no sign of wanting to be independent from me. That has made me wonder, again, what is going on. When she originally told me she was moving back she said, "Maybe we could make some changes with the house so we each have a separate area." But she's never mentioned it again.

Just as interesting is her lack of interest in spending time with her sort-of boyfriend Charlie. He's on the wagon, has no money and lives on his ex-wife's couch. The days of drunken bliss are gone, I guess.

It appears that Charlie is no longer a threat and Gabbie's wanderlust has been sated. That means, from my perspective, the only issue keeping us apart is sex. If she could honestly enjoy having sex with me every once in a while, like less than 10 times a year, I'd be perfectly content. That's a bizarre thing for a homosexual to say but it's true. I've even been wondering if celibacy might be survivable, if I took it one day at a time. So I admit it. I've been thinking about capitulating.

Giving in.

Giving up.

But wait a minute...she told the kids we're still split up. And we haven't really talked since she moved back in. Maybe she really hasn't changed her mind at all?

Two nights ago I started a conversation. I asked her, "How are you enjoying single life?"

"What life? All I do is work."

"Well, are you happy being single?"

"What are you talking about?!!! It was YOUR idea to separate!"

It took me a minute to decide how to respond to that. I don't see it that way. But I decided not to contradict her. Instead I said, "Yes..but, I was reacting to what you told me."

One of the kids walked in and distracted us for a few minutes, then left. After that my wife started talking about something else entirely, leaving me wondering...what the fuck is going on?

This weekend Gabbie has made various social plans for us on Friday and Saturday night as well as for the game on Sunday. We haven't spent that much time together in four months. She's also got Valentine's Day all booked for us. Yet we're separated?

Oh, and of course we sleep in the same bed.

Well, all this ambiguity is driving me fucking nuts. I DO want to be with her but I want more than a BFF marriage. If she just wants to play house together, well, that puts me in an awkward position. That would put the public focus of our split on me. You know, the whole gay thing. I really don't want to be in the spotlight. I'm really hoping Gabbie's return home isn't a sign that she's given up her desire for independence.

I don't have an explicit plan or a particular deadline but some time very soon I'm going to get this resolved. I might have to wait until after Valentine's Day, unless an opportunity presents itself before then.

It's so frustrating to be going no where again after we finally had some direction.