Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Connecting with Bisexual Married Men

When your marriage is on the rocks, you're supposed to go to marriage counseling.  When you're depressed, you're supposed to go to a therapist.  When you're an alcoholic, you're supposed to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.

What are you supposed to do when you're a married man who has an attraction to other men?

Arrange down low hook-ups with them through Craigslist, Grindr, Manhunt and Adam4Adam, of course.

The thing about hook-ups - the thing we don't often realize or admit - is that having an orgasm isn't the primary reason we pursue them.   What matters most is connecting with another man without the usual societal barriers.

Hooking-up is like taking a much-needed tropical vacation after spending many months locked in a regular routine.  It's an escape from the confines of a "usual" life where you know you don't quite fit in; it's a way to authentically bond with men who accept you for who you are.

Although I've never had an interaction that provided the same intense thrill that a good hook-up can, I have recently experienced the next best thing.  There's no sex involved, but, there's no guilt or risk of STDs either.

Back in July a reader suggested that I attend a local support group for bisexual and gay men.  He raved about what a life saver it was for him when he was coming out and strongly encouraged me to go.   

Yuck, I thought.  I really don't want to spend two hours listening to a bunch of dysfunctional people talk about how depressed they are.  I've already got that covered, in spades.

Of course I didn't say that to him. Instead I said, "Group therapy isn't my thing."  His response was that it was a support group, not therapy.  He also said that I'd never understand what I was missing until I gave it a try.   

Bah, he's right.  Now I have to go, just so I can tell him it didn't work out.

I've never been a "therapy" person.  I don't think I've ever had a one-on-one session where I've talked about myself.  The closest I ever came was twenty years ago, when, after I came out the first time, Gabbie and I had two or three expensive and unuseful marriage counseling sessions.

Group "support" is even less appealing to me because, let's be honest, people who seek out such groups tend to be socially awkward.  If they weren't, they'd have friends to support them.  But because they don't, they seek out a captive audience - which is exactly what a support group is for them.

As you can see, I can be a little cynical.  That alone should make me an unsuitable participant in any support group.

Well...

It turns out that the suggested support group is not just any bi/gay support group.  It's only for married or formerly married men. For me, that's made all the difference.

My original intention was to go once.  Because I planned to come out to my kids at the end of July, I thought it might be useful to hear other married men share their stories before I took the plunge.  So I went.

I wouldn't say that the first meeting went spectacularly well.  It was ok.  I was a bit disappointed by the attendance - only seven men.  Even more disappointing was that I was the youngest guy there and I'm 45.  Also, my theory about the kind of people who seek out support groups was borne out.  A fellow first-timer, a man of about 70, spoke about his very sad life for far longer than was socially appropriate.

The reason I returned for a second visit was because they asked me to.  My "about-to-come-out" story was a cliff-hanger for them so naturally they wanted me to come back and tell them what happened, which I did.

I went sporadically a few more times, every third or fourth week, mostly because I wanted to see who else came; I learned at the second meeting that weekly attendance varied significantly.

I think it was at my fourth or fifth meeting that I realized that I wanted to go more often, regardless of who showed up.  The reason was because I started to feel a natural kinship with several of the regulars, even those who were more than 20 years older than me.

Feeling that kind of cross-generational bond was a big surprise for me.  I have father issues and do not naturally gravitate to friendship with older men.  What I've learned from the group is that, regardless of age, there's something different about men who are attracted to men who have been married.  They're not like straight men and they're not like gay men.  I've discovered that I feel a natural comfort with these men that I've never felt with any group of men before.  It's a remarkable feeling.

Another thing I've realized is that my desire to attend more meetings has increased ever since Dean and I broke up.  This is why I've made the connection between the social aspects of this support group and hook-ups.  Because I'm not having any quality one-on-one time with a my formerly married boyfriend, the group fills that void, and in a much deeper and more enduring way than a one-time hook-up could. 

It may be hard to believe that a support group could be more fulfilling than a hook-up, but it's true.  And I'm not the only one who feels that way.  Bi_Gentleman, a blogger who lives near Toronto, began a "beer night" for bi-married men about two years ago.  I don't believe he's ever called his beer night a support group meeting (because if he did, far fewer guys would attend), but I think the bonding and camaraderie he has experienced with that group is similar to what I have experienced.

I'm sure there are plenty of bi-married men out there who only want to meet other men if sex is involved, but if that's not you, I recommend that you check your local area and see what kind of support groups are available.   If you go, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you experience.

If you're curious about what a typical meeting is like, here's a summary of what my group does:

Our meetings are once a week and last for two hours.  We have a regular host who is also a member.  He explains the rules to newbies (confidentially is a must; advice is discouraged) and he makes sure that our discussions stay timely and productive.  What I most enjoy is that everyone is authentic and likeable .  There are no drama queens or egomaniacs.  The words "depressed" and "depression" do come up, but not that often.  The two hours go by quickly as each person shares a little about what's going on in their lives.  At the end, someone shares a randy joke, we each contribute $5 for the use of the meeting room, and those who can go out afterward for a beer at a local gay bar.

A support group is not a hook-up, there are no mind-shattering orgasm, but, in the long-run, the genuine friendship and camaraderie can make it more well worth the time invested.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Unhappily in love after coming out at 45

Dean, my boyfriend of four months, broke up with me two months ago.  This is the first time I've written about what happened.

In some ways, the break-up was not a surprise.  In early September I was having some serious doubts about his interest in me, and in fact, prophetically wrote:
A forgotten birthday and living in a work bubble, in my eyes, imply that Dean just isn't that into me.  But maybe I'm wrong to think that.  Maybe I'm being unfair and I expect him to be more thoughtful than he's capable of being.  I don't know.

I do know that either he needs to be trained to be more thoughtful, or I need to be less needy, or I need to make peace with the fact that I like him far more than he likes me.  One of those outcomes, or some combination thereof, is the solution, I'm just not sure what the right answer is yet.
Despite my doubts, when the break-up happened two weeks later I felt like I'd been sucker-punched - only days before Dean had done something that made me feel like we were destined to be together for a very long time.

One of my frustrations with Dean was that we couldn't spend much time together.  All he did was work and when he wasn't working, he was with his kids.  In September I floated a trial balloon with him and asked if it would be ok if I hung out with him and his kids one or two nights a month.  He shot down the idea forcefully and immediately:  "My kids would NEVER want to share me!"

His reaction was the first concrete proof I had that he wasn't very interested in me.  For all his talk about the two of us getting married someday, I knew he couldn't be serious if I was never going to be allowed to meet his kids.

Then, just three days later, he completely changed his attitude and invited me to meet his ex-wife and kids at a dance performance of hers.  Wow!  After keeping me and his family apart, he'd taken the first step toward integrating me into his 'real' life.  I was thrilled.  Really, really thrilled.

Meeting his ex-wife and kids went well.  The only hiccup was that he seemed a little detached the whole night.  Although I noticed this, I didn't read too much into it.  Looking back now, however, I believe he wanted to break-up with me as soon as I accepted his invitation to meet his kids.

The actual break-up happened a week later.  Dean began the conversation by saying, "Do you remember when we first met and you said I didn't have enough experience with men and I'd eventually want to date other people?"  As soon as he asked that question I knew I was fucked - and not in a good way.  Still, I decided not to make any assumptions.  If he wanted to break-up with me, he was going to have be a "good communicator" and say the magic words.  It turned out he couldn't get there in one conversation.  It took three.

Our final conversation was a really good one; the best we'd ever had.  I give myself a lot of credit for that because I'd already made peace with breaking-up and that gave us a lot of time to talk about him.  All I can say is that for an intelligent, hard-working, social, introspective and successful guy, he's got a lot of work to do.

Dean admitted that he's often paralyzed by fear.  However, I think his bigger problem is that, deep down, he's very ashamed of his sexuality.  That makes him an amazing contradiction because while he's very comfortable being "out" (much more than me), he's not at all comfortable dating a man.  The walls and insecurities of the closet continue to dominate him - to such a degree that I can't imagine him having a successful relationship with anyone for at least several more years.  That's really going to suck for him because by the time he gets his shit together he'll be 50...and we all know how ancient that is in gay years.

As I said, our last conversation was a really good one.  At the end, however, I had the feeling that he wanted to cut off all contact with me and run away as fast as he could, just as he had done with the two friends he had messed around with while in high school.  To see if my suspicions were correct, I said to him, "I have this feeling that I'm not going to hear from you anytime soon."

He replied, "Probably not."

That stung.

It took a second or two for me to recover but I think I handled it very well.  My parting words were, "Dean...you're a great guy and I like you a lot.  I agree that you need to see other people and I'm not angry or hurt that you want to do that.  On the other hand, I don't understand why you'd want to avoid me.  As far as I'm concerned, our friendship is rock-solid and I'd like it to continue.  With that said, it's up to you to decide when we speak again.  You're an awesome person and I wish you nothing but the best."

As I hung up the phone, I felt like I'd been as positive and reassuring as I could have been.  I knew he wouldn't call the next day, as usual, but I was pretty confident that I'd hear from him sooner rather than later.

The first week of not hearing from him wasn't so bad.  I definitely missed him but there was NO WAY I was going to contact him first.

By the middle of the second week, I was beginning to struggle: WTF?!  How could anyone go from having an important relationship where you talk every day, to no contact at all for weeks??  We split-up on very good terms!  Why can't he at least email a short hello?

By the end of the fourth week, I couldn't take his silence any longer.  My original plan was to wait two months before contacting him, but as my misery grew I knew I couldn't hold out that long.  I finally caved on Halloween night.  I knew what his Halloween plans were so that served as my excuse to contact him.  I carefully crafted a short, happy and carefree message.  Then, as I hit "send" I thought to myself, "That fucker had better answer me."

Thankfully, he did, and relatively quickly too.  He even gushed in the first sentence, "As always, I love hearing from you."  Ah, the same old Dean....nice words but no action to back them up.

Hearing from him was a huge relief.  Honestly, I would have been far, far, far more hurt if he continued to avoid me than I was by the break-up itself.

What a weird thought.  Why would I feel that way?

As a rule, I am not a needy person.  I love and care about many people in my life, even business clients that I've never met in person, but there are only a small number of people whose complete absence from my life would be devastatingly painful.   In fact, there may only be three: my kids.  Gabbie might be in that group, but I wouldn't know for certain unless we didn't speak for a month.  Her mother might be up there as well;  my own parents would not.  What's dumbfounding is that Dean might make the list.  Why the fuck should a guy I dated for only four months be one of the most important people in my life?

The answer is a four-letter word.

Trust me on this...when you realize for the first time that you're in love with someone, and they've already broken up with you, it's not a good thing.

Since the first Halloween contact, Dean and I have continued to periodically exchange emails.  Mostly we've talked about dating.  As expected, he's made no effort to date anyone.  Recently he deleted his dating profile entirely.  He says he's going to start again in January but knowing him, he'll "get busy with work!" and suddenly it will be May.    Also, his version of 'trying to date' consists of posting a profile (with bad pictures) on one dating site and waiting for Mr. Perfect to contact him.  "It's so discouraging," he says, "when no one I'm attracted to ever messages me."

/facepalm

Deep, very deep, in my gut, I feel something for Dean that I've never felt before, something I never thought I would feel.  He's hurt and disappointed me.  His fear of intimacy ended our relationship.  And yet...I can't escape the conviction that he's The One.

Trust me, I don't want to feel this way.

Because of my affection for Dean, I have very little enthusiasm for dating anyone else.  I have big doubts that I'll ever find someone who is better match for me than him.

I know that's a terrible attitude to have, so I have some work to do to overcome it.  Fortunately, just writing this post has helped a little.

I also plan to start dating again in January.  I hope to either meet someone who makes Dean a pleasant memory, or, I hope to eliminate every potential prospect and be finished with dating forever.

Either way, wish me luck.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why sex with men is very different than sex with women

In my last post I wrote about a bisexual woman who is questioning her bisexual boyfriend's hook-up habit.  He likes to spend hours at a local park giving blow jobs to strangers.

Although she believes it's important to give him the freedom to explore and enjoy his sexuality, she can't help but notice that the intensity and frequency of sex he has with men is much greater than what they have together.  That's left her wondering, "Why is sex with men so much better than sex with me?"

After telling her story, she asked seven questions that she hoped would help her understand why her boyfriend loves hooking-up with men so much.  Those questions were:

How is sex with men different than sex with women?
How is sex with men more exciting than sex with me?
Why can't he cum that many times with me? We have sex a max of 2x a day.
Can anyone explain more about the 'mindset'?
Is he addicted to this behavior?
Will he ever stop?
How should I feel about it? I want to be accepting, but emotionally it hurts.


I thought she'd get some great answers from readers, and she did, but they weren't the kind of answers she was expecting.  Nearly every comment focused on the dangers of her boyfriend's behavior and not on his motivation for taking such big risks.  She knows unprotected sex, even oral sex, is dangerous.  What she can't understand is why he seems to desire hook-up sex with men much more intently than he desires meaningful sex with her.  The dangers make his behavior all the more baffling.  As a couple they have regular, terrific sex.  Why does he need to seek-out anonymous sex in a park??

I'm sure others can provide better answers than I can, but here's my two cents:

How is sex with men different than sex with women?

Sex with men is primal.  It's a very physical experience where getting hot and sweaty bathes both your body and your psyche in a hyper-masculine aura.  As you absorb your partner's male energy from the outside in, it enhances your masculinity in a way that sex with a woman can't.

Connecting with a woman is very different.  It's much more an emotional experience than a primal one.  Great sex with a woman is sensual and, unlike sex with a man, warms from the inside out.  It feels right to be open and vulnerable with a woman whereas sex with a man is about strength and power.

How is sex with men more exciting than sex with me?

For a truly bisexual man, exciting sex is not dictated by gender, but by the partner and the circumstances.

Sex with someone new has the potential to be much more exciting than sex with someone you've been with for a while.  The element of the unknown makes every move, counter-move, reaction and counter-reaction invigorating and exciting.  Sex with someone you've been with for a while tends to follow a more predictable pattern and therefore is less exciting.

Hooking up in a public park adds an adrenaline boost to sex because of the possibility of getting caught.  That danger makes the encounters fast, furious and all the more primal.  Also, there's a predatory thrill that comes from nailing a complete stranger.  You see him, you want him, you seduce him, and you bring him to an earth-shattering orgasm.  It's quick, edgy and very exciting.
 
Why can't he cum that many times with me? We have sex a max of 2x a day.


A man's ability to cum multiple times is mostly a factor of two things.  One is age.  When we're young, the blood flows quickly and the refractory time (the recovery period after orgasm) is very short.  An 18 year old can easily cum 5 or 6 times in a matter of minutes, if so inspired.  Most 25 year olds might be able to cum 3 or 4 times in less than an hour.   As we age, we generally take longer and have fewer orgasms per session.

The other factor that affects a man's ability to cum multiple times is how excited we are.  Give us a parade of new and different partners to fuck and we can easily cum several more times in an hour than we normally could with one person.  Even someone we really like.

Can anyone explain more about the 'mindset'?

The mindset is a man's primal need to feed his masculinity, strength and power through sex with men.  Sex with women does not satisfy the same primal need.

Is he addicted to this behavior?

It's hard to know without talking to him.  Many men love hook-ups and focus on making them happen their entire lives.  Most men, however, eventually get bored with the same kind of hook-ups.  The length of time it takes for a man to get bored varies.  Some might get bored by the third time, others might not get bored for decades.


Given the intensity with which your boyfriend is pursuing these hook-ups, it doesn't seem likely that he'll change his behavior anytime soon.  However, an arrest or catching a sexually transmitted disease might change his attitude very quickly.

Will he ever stop?

Some day, maybe.  Based on what you've said, it seems unlikely to be soon.

How should I feel about it? I want to be accepting, but emotionally it hurts.


Your boyfriend wants the freedom to hook-up as much as he likes and he wants you to be understanding of that habit.  What you can't forget is that your relationship is one of equals.  His happiness is no more important than yours.

It appears that you haven't been entirely honest with him about your feelings.  While it's relationship-appropriate to be open-minded and supportive, it's also possible to be too accommodating.  There's a fine line between being supportive and being a doormat and it's not always obvious where that line is.  In my opinion, you've crossed it.

My advice is to have a heart-to-heart conversation with him.  Tell him how you feel and see how he reacts.  If he makes little or no effort to address your concerns that's proof that the hook-ups are more important to him than you are.  Alternatively, if he's willing to stop the hook-ups, that's proof that he really does care about you.

There are a lot of great men out there who would love to have a fun, open-minded bisexual girlfriend.  You should be with someone who genuinely values you as a person and not as a doormat.  Both you and your boyfriend need to remember that "actions count more than words."

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

Those are my answers to the girlfriend's questions.  I think most people would agree with most of what I've said. 

The interesting part, and the part that I've never really discussed with anyone, is what it feels like to have good sex with an anonymous man versus having good sex with the woman you love.  I'd be grateful if ya'll could add your own explanation of the difference in the comment box below.  Maybe I'm way off on the primal-thing or on outside-in vs. inside-out?  Basically, I'd like to know whether I'm a freak or not.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"How is sex with men more exciting than sex with me?"

A few days ago a woman asked for my opinion about her bisexual boyfriend's desire to hook-up with other men.  Because I'm definitely more attracted to men than women, I thought she (and other women) would benefit by hearing responses from a variety of men.  Please read what she said and then take a minute to answer her questions in the comment box below.  Thank you!
I am a very open-minded bisexual woman. Sexually I am very experienced and really enjoy swinging with my boyfriend and couples. 
My boyfriend is also bisexual.  He often goes to a nearby park to have sex with other men. They meet each other in the bushes and play. I encourage him to be himself, because I believe that is the only way to have a true, loving relationship with another person. My boyfriend tells me about it and says that it's just an urge he has sometimes and it has nothing to do with our relationship.

He is usually a bottom with men in these situations and he tells me that he is usually just sucking cock and jerking off. He says is is always safe and can be there for 3 or 4 hours and cum multiple times.

I've done a lot of searching on the web to find some advice on how to handle my feelings about this. On one hand I am so glad that he shares this with me and feels free to talk to me about anything.
On the other hand, I feel like he is going out to get something he can get at home. I also don't understand what is so exciting about going to a park and sucking many guys' cocks. Also, I can't compete with them, I don't have a cock, so I feel like there is some way I can't satisfy him. He tells me that I am the best and most exciting sex partner he's ever had, but still insists on going to the cruising spot.

I understand that men and women think differently about sex. I found something today, written by a bisexual man, that came closer to explaining it better than I've ever heard before: "I still remember what was in my head as I made dates to meet men. I remember what it's like to enjoy raw masculine sex. I know the mindset. I know how to handle the guilt. And most importantly, when the connection was good I felt like a much more complete man."

I would have loved if this guy had said more about this, but he didn't, so now I have unanswered questions for you:


How is sex with men different than sex with women?
How is sex with men more exciting than sex with me?
Why can't he cum that many times with me? We have sex a max of 2x a day.
Can anyone explain more about the 'mindset'?
Is he addicted to this behavior?
Will he ever stop?
How should I feel about it? I want to be accepting, but emotionally it hurts.

I'd appreciate any real advice especially from straight men that do this sort of thing. I don't judge and would love to get your input.
 

Thanks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Open Marriage or Divorce: "It's better to be divorced."

Helen and I exchanged a few emails about our lives and circumstances.  She's the young woman I quoted in my last post, the one who wrote about her parents' open marriage.

At the time of our conversation I was thinking about coming out to my kids, so we talked about that.  We also talked about the reasons why many married men "on the down-low" have no desire to come out.  On that subject, Helen realized something new:
You made me realize that my mother and my father's family wanted him in the closet at least as badly as he wanted to be there too.  In fact, he might have felt he was doing the right thing by not living openly.  He probably felt like he was protecting them.  
This is a revelation to me, and I don't know why I didn't see it before.
 On the subject of hiding same-sex attractions from one's children, Helen had this to say:
I glanced at "[Another blog]," and couldn't help but compare the two of you.  
The author of that blog wrote something to the effect that he hopes his kids never find out that he's a liar and a cheat.  
He's kidding himself.  The thing these guys don't understand is that it's better to be divorced and to have an open, genuine relationship with your children than it is to be married but lie to your kids every day for the rest of your life.  
I'm not unsympathetic.  I know how it happens.  People have been brought up to believe that their marriage and family are their real relationships, while their relationships with their lovers are secret and disposable.  They're not real and therefore not important.  That's how you end up with men who believe that "women are for romance and men are for sex."  They've never seen a romantic relationship between two men really work.  But they can and do work, and every gay person today (in most parts of this country) can pursue a genuine, loving, and public relationship with the person they love, if they really want to.  

Also, I think that all parents are guilty of forgetting that they're meant to be raising functional, independent adults.  I only have a toddler, but even I have to remind myself that these days of high dependence won't last forever and that someday she'll be a grown woman.  If I want to have a close relationship with her then, it's important to be as honest and compassionate as I can be now. 
Helen has conflicted feelings about her father.  She loves him but she also feels betrayed by his lies and cheating.  Actually, when you think about it, she feels exactly the same way many straight spouses do, just less vehemently.

She makes the assumption that every kid will eventually learn the truth about his or her cheating parent.  Yet, ironically, no man on the down-low ever expects to be caught.

I suppose that's the nature of the beast.  If you expect to be caught, why bother hiding?

How many cheating spouses are eventually caught?  No one knows.  Many of them, certainly.  Especially these days when it's easy to get tripped up in your own digital handiwork.

I've seen a number of teenagers post stories about how they discovered their father's cheating because they found some form of electronic evidence.  Before the Internet, I remember when guys would talk about finding their dad's porn stash.  Now that porn stashes are kept on computers and phones, I wonder how many teenagers go looking for their dad's porn and are shocked by what they find.  I've never read a story about that happening, at least as far as I can remember, but I'm sure it happens.

Anyway, my point is that electronic secrets are not as secret as we think they are.  Those very popular Apple products, for example, keep track of the apps you download.  If someone in your family innocently syncs a new device to your existing Apple account....whoops, there's Grindr!

My advice to spouses with secrets is to expect that the truth will some day be revealed, and when it is, expect that your spouse won't be the only important person in your life who feels angry and betrayed.  Yes, some secrets do make it to the grave, but mostly, they don't.  For that reason, it's best to prepare for the worst.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"My Parents' Open Marriage"

A few months ago I had a fascinating email exchange with a 30-something woman, Helen, about her parents' mixed orientation open marriage.  It was an amazing conversation; no one writes about this stuff!

Helen is now old enough, and experienced enough, to understand her parents as real and imperfect individuals.  And, as a wife and mother herself, she's sympathetic to the stresses and responsibilities her parents faced.  Yet she's still able to be balanced and critical about her parents.  I've never read a story like hers before.

I feel honored that she shared it with me and I couldn't be more pleased that she has given me permission to share it with you.  Here is that story, in her own words: 
My father was gay or bisexual (depending on who you asked).  He and my mother were very close, best friends even.  And my mother says the sex was good (I suspect though that she doesn't have the highest sex drive).  My dad knew he was gay from an early age, and actually confessed to my mother that he was bisexual prior to their getting married at age 23 in the late 60s.  She was shocked, but he assured her that he'd never cheat on her and that he loved her, and so they went ahead with the wedding.  Fast-forwarding to just before my birth in the late 70s, my dad became very ill while my mother was pregnant with me, and while in the hospital was diagnosed with Hepatitis B (which I still carry in my liver cells, via my mom).  It became clear that he had been cheating on her for some time, but despite a lot of fighting, neither of them wanted a divorce.  My mother instead agreed to have a secretly open relationship, where my father could sleep with other men as long as he was discreet and did not endanger the family in any way.  I know this sounds like a pie-in-the-sky sane solution, so let me add that my mother tears up when talking about her agreeing to my father's extramarital affairs to this day.  She was not really okay with the situation, but with a newborn and a partner who was a good husband and father, she felt that it was a deal with the devil that she had to make.

Throughout my childhood I was surrounded by wonderful gay men, but I had no idea about their sexual orientation.  I was given Disney collectible items, taken to musicals, and was just in general very well treated and loved.  Then just before my brother was born, the HIV test was invented, and my father discovered he was infected.  Miraculously, neither my mother nor brother were infected.  My mother was very upset, since her agreement on extramarital affairs was contingent on safe sex, and while it's possible that my father had become infected long before, it seems unlikely given my mother's negative status.  My father became quite sick, then received a liver transplant when I was 12 (they didn't know whether HIV would re-infect the liver at that time), then slowly became sick again.  While I obviously knew he was ill, I knew nothing of the cause while I was a child.  When I was 15 I studied abroad for a school-year, and prior to my leaving, my dad sat me down and told me he was infected with HIV; he and I were close and he was afraid that he would die while I was gone and would find out from another source.  I was shocked.  When I asked my mother how it could have happened, she yelled at me, telling me that I was being purposefully stupid and that I shouldn't need it spelled out for me that my father was gay.  I had been raised to believe, through church, that being gay was wrong and that was a very difficult year for me, grappling with these issues in a foreign country.  I decided at the end of it that if my beloved dad was gay, it couldn't be so bad and I "forgave" him for his orientation.  But to this day I haven't been able to forgive him for the callous way he treated my mother, his willful ignorance of the pain he caused her.  He died when I was 20.  We attended one queer event together, a documentary on how to approach families with same-sex parents in the school system.  I always wonder how our relationship and my feelings toward my father would have been different had we had time to really be honest about this part if his life.

There are three main points I'd like to convey.  #1 is that a closeted parent puts the whole family in the closet.  To this day I can't speak openly, because my grandparents and father's sisters are deeply hurt and offended if I do.  We are so closed off that my poor brother didn't learn my father was gay until he was 21, seven years after my father's death.  This is not a fair burden to require your children to carry.  #2 is that open-marriages can work, but only in the true absence of any kind of coercion.  If your children are grown and you and your wife are in good health, then yes, perhaps she could give you her honest opinion about what would be acceptable to her.  Otherwise you have to assume that she will feel undue pressure to keep her family together and might agree to something that she's not genuinely okay with.  #3 This one is harder to describe, but I'll try.  I feel that by not having an example in my parents, I was cheated of a model of a healthy sexual love and instead I inherited negative views about sex that I've worked hard to overcome.  I remember as a child watching my uncle affectionately pat my aunt on her bottom and feeling completely confused by it.  I now strongly believe that it is optimal for parents to have a healthy sexual relationship with each other.  It gives the children a sense of security and greatly helps when it's time for the children to navigate their own dating lives.  I'm happily married, but as a teenager I was a mess - I had no clue how men felt about women, or what to do with my feelings for men.  The underlying message of my parents' relationship was that sex isn't important between people who love each other, but is very important to have fun amongst strangers.  I hope my children see sex as something that can bind two loving people together.

Therefore I strongly support same-sex marriage and romantic relationships for gay and lesbian people.  It is healthier for them, and it is healthier for their kids.  I understand how my parents came to the place that they did - my father would have been disowned had he come out as a young man, if not worse - and I think they both did their best in a difficult situation.  But I have much less sympathy for couples embarking on mixed-orientation unions now.  I have yet to see one that was loving, honest, fulfilling for both parties, and instilled a healthy sense of sexual worth in their kids. 
For those of you who are in an open marriage (whether your spouse knows it or not) I wonder how you would respond to Helen if she was your grown daughter?  Specifically, how would your reply to her three main points?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bad Decisions

The other day my 14 year old son told his mother that she didn't deserve any alimony.

He wasn't angry when he said it, he just felt like spontaneously sharing his opinion.

To say that Gabbie was hurt is a monstrous understatement.  Of all our kids, he's been the most supportive of her.  Yet now he doesn't think she deserves any money??  His words literally caused her to double over.

As a rule, Gabbie does not fold under pressure.  She fights back.  She's quick witted with a razor-sharp tongue.  Anyone who thinks they're going to get the best of her is in for a surprise, because once you take a swing, you'd better be prepared to get verbally stomped into the ground.  For her to show any weakness was unprecedented.

Still, it didn't take long for her to recover and deliver a blistering reply.  Normally she attacks the attacker.  This time she attacked me.

I wasn't home at the time so I don't know exactly what she said but it must have been very, very ugly.  I know that she bashed my sexuality and did so in a way that was so offensive to my son that he still refuses to tell me what she said.  I also know that he defended me by asking if Gabbie felt the same way about our oldest son.  That question was a brutal blindside - she had no idea that our oldest identifies as bisexual.  She was so shocked by the news, and responded so poorly, that my middle son ended the argument by screaming at her, "No mother of mine would talk that way about her own son!  If that's what you think, then YOU ARE NOT MY MOTHER!"

I heard him screaming those words as I walked into the house.

"WHAT is going on?!!"  Neither of them would tell me.

Without speaking, Gabbie walked out of the room and began to sob so loudly and so forcefully that the entire house shook.  The darkest day of her life was when her dad died.  She cried long and hard then.  But this time she cried longer and harder.

***

Now that her most loyal kid has "turned" on her, Gabbie has decided to move completely out of the house.  She had been spending half her time with us and half with Charlie. 

She says she's never coming back.  I believe her.

Many men would say "good riddance" but that's not how I feel.  Her horrible, house-shaking grief has touched me deeply.  Not because I feel especially sorry for her, but because hearing her cry made me realize how much grief we've both kept locked inside since our break-up.  In that respect, her pain is my pain.

There's no question that Gabbie is flawed.  There's no question that she's made bad decisions.  There's no doubt that she's very selfish and controlling.  And yet...it honestly breaks my heart that we're not going to spend the rest of our lives together.

We're rapidly approaching the end of our days together.  Soon, I'll have a new place, a place for just me and the kids.  Soon, our finances will be completely separate.  Soon, she'll be stuck with a shitty life with an asshole boyfriend, while I hope to achieve the opposite.  The end of "us" is coming and I have to say... 

...this ending feels all wrong. 

This wasn't what was supposed to happen. 

I feel like I'm a time-travel movie, with an alternate reality where what "really happened" has been changed and now everything feels wrong.

I've been trying to shake this feeling for more than a year but I haven't been able to do so.  I don't know why.

As much as I empathize with Gabbie's pain, when I think about only myself, I don't regret splitting up.  She's held me back in many ways, and hollowed me out, and now that I have some distance from her I know that I don't want to go back to our old relationship, even though  I love her dearly.

I expect a lot of people would tell me to stop worrying about her, but that's not the way love works for me.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Gay Mike Brady

My (ex) wife Gabbie says I tricked her into getting married.   She says I didn't want her or her vagina, I only wanted her uterus, and that's why I proposed.

She's wrong, but not entirely so.  I wanted kids but I also wanted more than that.  My dream was to have a big, happy, supportive Brady Bunch-like family, anchored by a loving partnership between Gabbie and me.

I've realized that I want the same thing with Dean.  Gender and sex really aren't make-or-break factors for me.  Love, stability and happiness are.

On our first date Dean joked about waiting to have sex until we were married.  I played along and said, "No problem.  I can stay celibate before marriage for as long as you can."

"In that case, we might be in trouble!"

I've never been on a first date where someone dared to mention marriage, even as a joke.  The fact that he brought it up so soon made me like him even more.  Commitment is very sexy to me, even better than six-pack abs.

Dean has made several more jokes about getting married in the months since we first met.  Usually he says something like, "Too bad we can't get legally married in California - yet.  Not that it matters, of course, since you're already married and plan to stay that way."

Clearly, the fact that I'm still married bothers him.  And just as clearly, when he needles me about possibly staying married, he wants me to contradict him, which I do.

I like the marriage jokes, even when they come at my expense, because they suggest that our long-term goal  remains the same.  I really do believe that we are on the path to marriage, although getting there is likely to take years.

What's been frustrating is that Dean's actions do not always match his words.  If he really is open to spending the rest of his life with me then shouldn't I feel like a priority in his life right now?  For example: four days without a phone call.  Really??

Well, a decision Dean made last week gave my 'happily-ever-after' dreams a big boost.

Early in the week he asked if I had any plans for Friday night.  That was a surprising question because he always has his kids then, which means we can't meet.  "What do you have in mind?"  I excitedly asked.

"I have an extra ticket to my ex's performance.  I'm taking the kids and I was wondering if you might like to come too?"  His ex-wife used to be a professional dancer and still performs in local productions whenever she can.

His invitation really floored me because a week before I asked if he, his kids and I could all hang out together sometime.  He immediately rejected the idea: "No, that won't work.  I know my kids won't want to share me."

The invitation to his ex's performance was also a big deal because if I went, I'd meet his kids and his ex-wife for the first time.  Huge.

I said I'd love to go.

On-and-off for the next several days I was nervous about meeting his ex.  All I could think about was how awkward it would be (will be) if Dean ever meets Gabbie.  I'm sure she'd be polite but I just know she'd be thinking negative thoughts about him.  She never likes any of my friends.

As Friday approached, I asked Dean to check with each of his kids and his ex and make sure they felt ok about meeting me.  He did and everyone said they were looking forward to meeting me.  That information was so reassuring that I wasn't nervous again until the moment I walked into the theater.

His kids (9, 11 and 14) are all young for their ages.  His oldest will turn fifteen in a few months and he still hasn't hit puberty yet.  As I said hi to each of them I was struck by how child-like they are compared to my kids.  No wonder he talks about how sweet they are all the time - none of them has crossed the bridge to teenage attitude.

After saying hello, I decided to be as low-key as possible and not force them to talk to me.  They all sat on or around Dean, while he and I talked, or he talked to them.  They seemed comfortable with me and I was comfortable with them.

My biggest interaction with them happened during intermission.  All three of the kids begged Dean to buy them something to drink but he kept saying no.  I had brought flowers to give to his ex (three cheers for bribery) but I forgot them in the car so I went back to get them.  On my way back, I stopped at a convenience store and bought the kids a large bottle of water.  I didn't want to annoy Dean by countermanding his decision not to buy them anything, but I thought one bottle of water was pretty innocuous.  When I came back with the water he didn't seem to mind and the kids were genuinely grateful.  They drained the bottle in just a few minutes.  The next day the oldest told Dean to tell me that bringing the water saved their lives - they would have all died of dehydration without it.

As the show ended I got really nervous again because I knew I'd be meeting his ex-wife in just a few minutes.  We ended up waiting for her for at least 10 minutes, which made for a lot of anxious anticipation for me.

When she finally appeared, the kids and Dean mobbed her with hugs, as did several other people.  I stood back a little; the post-performance greetings were supposed to be about her, not about the two of us meeting.  I expected Dean to break the ice and introduce us, and just as I thought he was going to do so, he saw some friend across the room and cluelessly announced that he was going to go say hi to him.  That left his ex-wife and I somewhat awkwardly smiling at each other from about six feet away.  I said hello, complimented her performance, and gave her the flowers.  Just as we were about to exchange a few sentences of polite chit-chat,  a woman launched herself between us, and raved to Dean's ex about the show.  Several more people followed her and did the same.  I tried to stand and smile as casually as possible, but that's not easy to do when a bunch of people you don't know are enthusiastically hugging and chatting all around you.  As the minutes ticked by, I started looking around for Dean.  He was no where to be seen.  Finally, I heard him call to his kids and tell them it was time to go because it was late.  They ran to him and all four of them turned to go.

Of course I don't want to be rude to his ex and run off without really talking to her, so I turned back and said, "Thanks for giving your permission for me to come.  That was very nice of you.  I really enjoyed the show.  I've never seen it performed before."  Honestly, I don't remember how she replied.  I do know that she was polite and friendly, but also shy and nervous.  For some reason I expected her to be more bold, the way Gabbie would be.  With our three sentences exchanged, we said goodbye and that was that.

In what I consider to be the most bizarre aspect of the night, Dean never asked how it went between me and his ex.  Actually, it's now been six days and he still hasn't asked.  I have to say that I find his cluelessness/thoughtlessness on the matter to be frustrating.  What bothers me most (more than anything else he's done or said since we've met), was that he walked away to say hi to someone else when he should have been introducing me to his wife.  For him not to not know that our meeting was worthy of his attention leaves me speechless - and a little hurt.

Well here I am again, bitching about small slights that don't mean anything in the long run.  Maybe I'm more petty than I realize.  Whatever.  His insensitivity is not a big deal, except that it brings me back to the subject of the contradictions between what he says and what he does.  The obvious lesson for me is that I need to deal with my insecurities myself and not expect anything from him.

Overall, I'd say that meeting his ex and kids went well.  I'm glad to have broken the ice with them and I really hope that I'll be accepted enough that Dean and I will be able to spend more time together, with his kids.  The way I look at this is, we've taken an important step toward becoming the big, happy family I always hoped to have.

The next big step is for me to tell Gabbie and my kids that I have a friend named Dean.  I hope to be able to do that within the next 60 days.

Ultimately, I'd like to bring our two families together, although not necessarily to live in one house.  It's a fun idea to imagine us as the Brady Bunch with two gay dads; between us we have three boys and three girls.  All we'd need is Ann B. Davis to help cook and clean.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Happiness by Force

Dean and I have been dating for about three and a half months.  It's going well.  We've had one minor scuffle, but other than that, he seems to be happy with me and I know I'm happy with him.  Still, there are times when I have struggled.  This week is one of them.

In his on-line dating profile Dean wrote about being self-employed, being busy with work, and taking  projects while he could get them.  Because he does short-term contract work, I understand how he feels.

Before we met in person we spent about four months trading emails and talking on the phone.  During that time Dean frequently used the excuse of numerous deadlines to postpone meeting me.  His obsession with work was a major red flag, but of course, I still wanted to meet him.  When we did finally meet, he confessed that the reason he dragged his feet so long was because he wanted to lose a little weight.  When he told me that, I assumed his work schedule wasn't as insane as he made it seem.  That assumption was borne out over the month that followed, which was June.  We met two or three times a week that month, which was as often as my schedule would allow.  Then, everything changed in July.  He was gone on various trips for nearly the entire month.  Instead of seeing him three times in a week, I saw him three times in a month.  "Don't worry," he said, "this month is especially bad.  I won't have to travel again until October."

He didn't travel at all in August and yet he still seemed obsessed with work.  He kept accepting more projects and I began to wonder if his goal was to work himself to death.  When I asked him about it, he said he could never turn down a job.  "If I say no, they'll find someone else and they'll never ask me again."  Fair enough. I get it.

Well...it turns out there's more to his madness than just the fear of losing a client.  His wife and kids live in a decent home, something typical for the area, and he lives in a one bedroom apartment, yet his monthly nut is huge.  He's been embarrassed to tell me, but he finally admitted that he's never kept a budget and neither has his ex-wife.  From what I can tell, Dean must maintain a gigantic workload just to stay afloat.  I don't begrudge him that, it's the American Way.  What does bother me is that between his obvious priorities of work, kids and other obligations, I feel like he doesn't have much time for me.  When he was home in August we met once a week, for just a few hours each time. We talked on the phone daily and that did a lot to keep us connected, but the truth is, I'm frustrated by how little time we're able to spend together.

As much as I could fault Dean for putting himself in a situation where he's forced to work far more than he says he wants to, I realize that's his cross to bear.  My problem is that I'm needy.

This week has been especially difficult because he's away on a job again.  When he's away he seems to fall into a bubble where all he thinks about is work.  It's Thursday and he hasn't called me once all week.  Yes, we've exchanged a few three-sentence emails, but those don't fill the void.

The bubble that Dean enters when he's working really bugs me.  Why is it so difficult to remember to call me when he gets a 15 minute break?

The more time that passes between our phone conversations, the more insecure I get.  And the more insecure I get, the more I start to question Dean's interest in me.

I think the fundamental flaw between Gabbie and me was that she pushed me to behave in ways that weren't genuine.  I can think of no fewer than six specific instances where I passively tried to break up with her but she steamrolled right over me.  That dynamic has been a major life-lesson for me: people have a trajectory in life and they are who they are.  Anyone can be manipulated in the short-term (by themselves or by others), but ultimately, the "truth" of who they are and what's important to them does not change.  This means that any kind of manipulation, like guilt and complaining, is self-deceptive.  I could bitch at Dean and force him to remember to call me, and his more regular calls would make me happy, but in time he'd become resentful of my bossy, needy attitude and that could kill our whole relationship.

Mostly I'm writing this post to vent my frustrations so that I don't take them out on Dean, but I also have a serious question for any readers who care to respond: could my hypothesis be wrong?  Can you force people to behave in ways you want them to and still live happily ever after, til death you do part?

Before you answer that question,  I have to tell you about the one scuffle Dean and I did have:

During the first week that we met, we got on the subject of birthdays.  As soon as I knew his date of birth, I immediately burned it into my permanent memory.  Why?  Because I knew he would be very important to me so of course I'd want to always remember his birthday.  Dean repeated mine back to me twice, I assume so that he wouldn't forget it.

Because my birthday was less than three months away, the burden of setting a precedent for how we'd handle our birthdays was on him.  As my birthday approached, I thought about reminding him.  Then I thought, no, that implies I expect something from him.  It would be better to let him do whatever comes naturally, because that will truly and honestly reflect who he is and how he feels about me.

My birthday came and went and Dean made no mention of it.  Forty-six is not a birthday worth celebrating (unless you're 47 or older), so I wasn't particularly sad.  What bothered me was the idea that, if I was at all important to him, he would have made the effort to remember it; entering a date on his electronic calendar would not have been a major commitment.  But, whatever.  I saw him two days later, we had a great time, and I got to entertain myself with the fantasy that I was still 45, so far as he knew.

About two weeks after my birthday was Dean's ex-wife's birthday.  Naturally, after knowing her for 20 years, that's a date he has memorized.  Late in the afternoon of the day before he called me to say hello while he did some shopping for her.  He ended up buying her some books and cds from Target.  I don't happen to think that last minute gifts from Target are very personal or thoughtful, but hey, it's his ex.  He knows the protocol.

The day after his ex's birthday, we were talking about what he and the kids did to celebrate.  It was during that conversation that he realized he had forgotten my birthday.  He said, "I know your birthday is about two weeks before or after my ex's, but I'm not sure of the date.   When is it??"  My answer was, "We already talked about this.  I'm in denial about getting older so I don't celebrate birthdays.  Besides, you knew the date at one time.  I'm sure you memorized it, like I did yours."  (Oops.  Guess I can be a little passive aggressive sometimes...)

"I meant to write it down, really I did!"  He begged me to give him the date and apologized if he had missed it.  That, of course, annoyed me even more because it proved that he didn't even know what month it was in.

We ended the conversation with him asking for the date and me saying it's not a big deal.  A short time later he sent me a visibly angry email where he said that I'd broken our agreement to be good communicators.  He also said that it was hurtful of me NOT to remind him because look how awkward and awful our  conversation had been.

We both ended up quickly apologizing for disappointing the other and that was pretty much that, except, I made one very important point to him.  I said, "I believe actions are more telling than words.  If remembering my birthday was as important to you as you say it is, then you would have made an effort to remember it."

He reluctantly agreed that my point was valid, but defended himself by saying his work is so detail -rientated that once he finishes a project he forgets 99% of what he did.  That's just the way his memory works.

I didn't buy that excuse, but, not being a needy, whiny boyfriend required me to shut up and move on, so I did.   I will say that he's going to KNOW his birthday is important to me.  I can't wait until it's my turn to perform.

A forgotten birthday and living in a work bubble, in my eyes, imply that Dean just isn't that into me.  But maybe I'm wrong to think that.  Maybe I'm being unfair and I expect him to be more thoughtful than he's capable of being.  I don't know.

I do know that either he needs to be trained to be more thoughtful, or I need to be less needy, or I need to make peace with the fact that I like him far more than he likes me.  One of those outcomes, or some combination thereof, is the solution, I'm just not sure what the right answer is yet.  If anyone has any constructive feedback, I'd be glad to hear it.

Epilogue

I held back from calling him as long as I could, hoping the jerk would think of me and want to say hello.  But then decided I needed to stop being a baby and act like a mature adult, so I called him.

He was glad I did, he'd been wanting to call me.

We had a great conversation, etc, etc.   He seems to be genuinely interested in me, etc, etc.

I feel much better now.  I really do.

I have a strong desire to delete this post and assume that I wrote it in a moment of weakness and unwarranted insecurity.  But the truth is, I know the issue of my neediness and his thoughtlessness remains.  At this point, it's a very long way from being a relationship-killer, yet I'd like to find some peace with it before it turns into something significant.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Closeted Man and his Secrets

I first became aware that I was attracted to boys at the age of twelve.  Naturally I wanted to be normal and like girls, so for about nine months I ignored my feelings.  Well, I tried to ignore my feelings but puberty made that impossible.

My inability to control myself made me feel like a failure.  Months of struggling turned me into an emotional basket case.  Finally, on one especially miserable day, I realized that I had no choice but to accept the obvious.  I forced myself to look in the mirror and say in a very matter-of-fact voice, "You're gay." 

As I said those words, I expected to be overwhelmed with relief.  That didn't happen.  Instead I cried myself a new ocean of self-pitying tears.  Eventually I just couldn't cry any more.  Not knowing what else to do, I decided to quarantine my problem.  I literally said, "Just because I'm gay, that doesn't mean I have to tell anyone.  It's my secret to keep and no one will ever know unless I tell them."  With those words, I happily entered the closet at the age of thirteen.

This was back in the early 1980s when the threat of nuclear war was very real.  At the time it was easy to correlate the finality of Reagan or Brezhnev launching a nuclear attack with the finality of me sharing my secret.  Just as they faced a doomsday scenario, so did I.  One wrong move and KABOOM, the whole world would blow up.

It's ridiculous and melodramatic now to compare coming out to nuclear war, but at the time, keeping my secret was deadly serious.  The fear that revealing my true self would be a catastrophic event was a constant, powerful and self-perpetuating incentive to stay in the closet.

Because I grew into adulthood with this deeply-ingrained, self-protective mindset, I never had a reason to question it.  Even as I began to explore sex and relationships with guys, and was therefore forced to take chances with my secret, I was always very cautious.

About eighteen months ago, a very wise straight wife told me about a pattern she'd seen among closeted married men.  She said that their need to keep their attraction to men a secret, at all costs, profoundly affects their personalities.  Instinctively and habitually, she said, they lie about the simplest and most inconsequential things.  Worst of all, lying about everything is such a part of their everyday existence that they become desensitized to it, to the point where truth and lies are so completely interchangeable that some lies become the truth and some truths become lies.

At first, I was very skeptical.  How can someone tell a lie and not know they're doing so?  How can a person be so delusional as to confuse lies with reality?  Why would keeping one big secret cause you to lie about a million little things that have absolutely nothing to do with the secret?  None of that made any sense.

Then I started paying close attention to my own behavior.  Wow, what an eye-opener!

I never kept an actual tally of how many "innocent" and "unimportant" lies I told in a day, but as soon as I started paying attention, I was shocked.  I'm addicted to lying - and I didn't even know it.

One of the many fascinating things about Dean, my boyfriend of three months, is his regard for the truth.  For example, less than a month after coming out to himself, he came out to his wife and his three kids.  Why did he do that so quickly, I asked him.  "Because it was important to me to tell them the truth."  What?!!  The truth is more important than the welfare and happiness of your family???  Not once had I ever considered that possibility.  Yet, when I hear about his happy kids and compare them to my grumpy ones, I have to wonder.

In situation after situation, Dean often comes back to the theme of honesty.   It's so important to him that if I wasn't trying to change my  tendency to be dishonest, I'd be sick of talking about it.  But I'm not.  If anything, I'm more captivated than ever.

In a very low-key way, Dean has become my spiritual adviser for honesty.  I tell him about situations where I either want to lie, or I actually do lie, and we discuss my motives and thinking.  He's not judgmental but he constantly and patiently redirects me to his belief that honesty really is the best policy.

One thing I've learned about the habit of lying is that it's very difficult to give up.  More and more, I'm inclined to believe that the wise old straight wife was right.  Perhaps the decades I spent in the closet have permanently affected my personality.  Still, I'm relishing the struggle.  It feels great to be much more aware of what I'm saying and why I say it.  I'm working on internalizing Dean's love of honesty.  That's been a fun and engaging challenge.

Here's an interesting example:

In my opinion, the biggest lie in my life right now is hiding my relationship with Dean, especially from my ex-wife and kids.  They're important to me, Dean is important to me, I hate sneaking around and I'm sick of making up lame excuses to disappear for long periods of time in order to see him.  These statements beg the question: if I don't want to hide Dean, why do I?

Because I don't think Gabbie can cope.  Why do I care if she can cope?  Because we still live in the same house four days of the week and I don't want to fight with her.  This is a pattern for me.  Given the choice, I prefer lying to fighting.

The key words in the above paragraph are that "I don't think" Gabbie can cope.  What if I'm wrong?  Then I'm making up all these lies and enduring all this anxiety by hiding Dean for no reason.  That would be totally stupid.  Perhaps this is exactly the kind of scenario where I need to let go of my old, closeted behavior of playing it safe, and instead I should just be direct and honest.

Perhaps.  Luckily (or unluckily, as the case might be), I recently had a chance to see if being honest and direct is better in the long run than lying in order to avoid conflict...

Last week, I spent a few hours with Dean on a weekday when I would normally be at work.  Because of my new determination to be honest as often as possible, I didn't lie to anyone about what I was doing, I just didn't volunteer the information.  That's an acceptable decision in Dean's book.  As I was getting dressed that morning, I put on a pair of tennis shoes, which is not what I would normally wear to work.  It just so happened that Gabbie was talking to me as I was putting the tennis shoes on.  Normally any "unusual" behavior on my part, like wearing the wrong kind of shoes, would spark some pointed questions from her.  That didn't happen, but believe me, I was very worried that she was going to ask.

My plan was to beat her home that night so she wouldn't ask me any questions about why I was late.  The usual drive from Dean's place is long, at least 75 minutes.  That night it took nearly two hours.  As the minutes ticked away I became more and more panicked.  Yes, someday, I will tell her about Dean, but I'm not ready to do that yet.  I was hoping, really, really hoping that I would get home before her, just so I could avoid being interrogated and not have to choose between telling a difficult truth or yet another lie.

Amazingly, as late as I was, I beat her home.  Barely.  Less than five minutes later she arrived.  And the instant she saw me she asked, in her very pointed way, "Why are you wearing those shoes?"

As someone who prefers lying to conflict, my usual answer would have been something like, "I twisted my ankle and my work shoes were killing me."  But now that I'm trying - really trying - not to lie, I simply said, "Because I wanted to."

I hoped that would be a good enough answer to satisfy her curiosity, but, of course, it wasn't.  She asked three more questions in rapid fire and grew increasingly suspicious as my answers continued to be vague and evasive.  Each of her questions narrowed down what I could have been doing that day, and more importantly, who I might be doing it with.  By the time I gave her my third non-answer, she knew I'd been out on a date with a guy.  She knew it, not because I said so, but because she knows me so well and because she eliminated all the other "sneaky" possibilities.

As I expected, she did not handle the news well.  She was extremely agitated, but did her best to control her anger, just so she could try to pry as much information out of me as possible.  "How do you know him?"  I didn't answer.  "Where did you meet?"  I remained silent.  "What are you hiding?!"

"I'm not hiding anything.  I just don't want to talk about it.  It's not a big deal." (Lies!)

I continued, "Besides, why are you asking?  Do I demand that you tell me everything that you're doing every minute of the day?"

"Well, some of us don't have the luxury of skipping out on work whenever we like!"  She went on a mini-rampage on that subject for a few minutes, and when I wouldn't engage her, she turned and left the room, then ignored me for the rest of the night.

Her illogical, angry reaction was exactly what I wanted to avoid.  In spite of all the crazy and bad things that have happened with us over the past few years, we've stayed on good terms.  I want that to continue and I'm willing to pay a high price to make sure it does.  If being honest with her about dating is going to make the next few months a constant nightmare, then I should have lied.  Dean and his love for honesty can go suck it.  That might work for him, but it certainly doesn't work for me.  If Gabbie really can't cope with the thought of me dating, then lying definitely would have been the better choice.

The next morning I had to eat those words.  It turned out that, for as pissed off as Gabbie was, her discovery that I am dating did not ruin our relationship.  She doesn't like it.  She even seems jealous about it, but, I feel like I've taken a big and necessary step with her. 

All she knows so far is that I've been out on one date, and I'm not ready to volunteer any more information than that - yet - but the subject has been broached, and now she can  mentally prepare herself for the inevitable.  And perhaps even more importantly, I can be a lot more confident about being more honest with her in the future.  Whether she likes it or not.

So, honesty pulled out a surprise win.  Who would have guessed?  Certainly not the old, closeted me.

***

Although this post is about my struggle with honesty, I don't think I'm the only one who'd rather tell a lie than start a fight, ruin a relationship, or be embarrassed by my own devious behavior. 

Yes, lying is a part of being human, but, the more I've observed the behavior of closeted bisexual and gay men, the more I've come to agree with what the wise straight wife said: many of us are uncontrollably unable to divulge the truth, even when it comes to very minor confessions. 

Protecting ourselves requires constant lying and hiding, often on a minute-to-minute basis.  We're forced to do it so frequently that we internalize the behavior and, without realizing it, it becomes part of our nature.

It's hard to say how our compulsion to lie affects our lives.  That's something each of us has to assess on our own.  However, I think the first step is an important one, and that's to be self-aware.  How often do you lie?  Why do you do it?  Do you lie only about extremely important things?  Or do you lie because it's easy to do?  I encourage you to think about it - and to spend a few days cataloging the lies you tell.  You might be very surprised by what you learn.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Came Out to My Kids: The Aftermath

When I came out to my kids, I expected them to be accepting and supportive - and they were.

What I didn't expect was my 18 year old son to respond by coming out as bisexual.  His announcement blew me away and ever since then I've been trying to figure out why I'm so surprised.

The only clue I've had that he might not be straight is his aggressive support for gay marriage.  But I chalked that up to the fact that he's a very loyal guy and he has a number of gay, lesbian and bisexual friends.  Other than that, his heterosexuality has seemed obvious.  He's only downloaded straight porn (so far as I know) and he's had at least a dozen different "serious" girlfriends since 6th grade. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've never seen him display the slightest affection for any of his male friends, including the gay ones.  It's weird to me that he's bisexual.  It really is.

Although my son's coming out was my big surprise that day, I got another surprise two days later.

That was a Sunday and it began with my twelve year old daughter pleading with me to take her to an all-day "fan" event an hour away.  She found out about it at 9:50AM and the event started at 10.  Although I had other plans for the day, I reluctantly agreed to take her.  My ex, Gabbie, was not pleased.  It turned out that she wanted to spend a few hours with me having lunch and running errands.

My daughter's event dragged on much longer than I expected.  It was supposed to end by 5, but my daughter insisted on waiting in line for autographs until 6:20.  When I got home an hour later, I expected a peaceful Sunday night family dinner.  That's not what I got.

It had been a quiet day, apparently, until my oldest son decided he was hungry and proceeded to eat half of the food that was intended for a six person dinner that night.  Gabbie yelled at him and he yelled back.  What he chose to say was stupid and dramatically escalated the fight.  He said, "You can't tell me what to do, you don't live here anymore!"   What he said is not true.  She's only partly moved out.  But even if she was completely out, he shouldn't have said what he did.

Charlie then poured gasoline on the fire by interjecting himself into their fight.  He pulled my son aside and said to him, "You need to better appreciate your mum.  You have no idea what she's been going through!  Did you know that your dad is..."

It's at that point that Charlie's story and my son's story diverge.  They each swear that it was the other guy who first announced that I was gay.  Both of them are frequent liars so it's really hard to guess which story is true.  As much as I'd like to blame Charlie, it makes more sense to me that my son would bring the topic up than it does for Charlie to do so.  And, actually, it wouldn't matter who said it first, except if it was Charlie -  holy shit!  What would have happened if he outed me to my kids before I could do it myself??

The argument between my kid, Gabbie and Charlie was the opening act for the night.  The Big Event began when Gabbie privately asked me if it was true that I had come out to the kids.  I told her I had.  She immediately burst into tears, then violently cried for a solid 20 minutes.  Her reaction completely stunned me.  I had to ask her, "Why are you crying??"

"Because you're a selfish, selfish bastard!  All you do is think about yourself!  Why did you do that?!!!"  More violent crying followed.  Then she sneered, "I was just your BEARD!  That's what I was, your BEARD!"

I hope my wife's reaction seems bizarre to others, because it certainly was to me.

What I haven't said is that she and Charlie spent the afternoon at the bar.  They were both well-lubricated when I came home at 7:30.  I'd like to think that her drunken state had a lot to do with her reaction, and it probably did, but I also think it caused her to share more of her thoughts than she otherwise would have.

Her violent anger - her rage, actually - completely baffled me.  Yes, she did ask me if I was gay twice before we got married and I lied both times.  She has every right to be pissed off that we got married in the first place.  But I came out to her two and a half years later.  She was 25 and we had no kids.  She moved out to her own apartment for two months.  During that time she knew I had a gay "friend" that I was spending time with.  She even walked in on us once while we were watching a gay-themed movie together.  There was also a period of time, right after we got back together, where I tried to be open with her about guys I thought were good looking.  With all that in mind, I can't understand why she feels so deceived. When we got back together, 19 years ago, she knew exactly who I was and what she was doing.  At least that's what I've always believed.

Her story is totally different.  She says I took it all back.  I told her I wasn't gay, never had been gay, and didn't want to be gay.  I honestly don't remember saying any of  that, nor do I feel I would have.  Coming out to her relieved me of a huge burden, why would I want to retract it all??  I didn't.  That's why her version baffles me; she swears I told her things I would never have wanted to say.   On the other hand, what I do remember is repeatedly telling her that I was never going to leave her for someone else.  That was totally true, and it would still be true today, if she hadn't dumped me.

Usually Gabbie's memory is fantastic.  It's far better than mine, especially when it comes to details.  For that reason I'm willing to accept her story.  But I still don't understand how she can honestly believe she was tricked, especially because whenever she got angry, she would say, "I just know you're going to leave me for someone else some day."  She was always pointedly gender neutral.  If I had really convinced her that I was straight after point-blank telling her I was gay, why would she do that?  Only because she believed I was gay.  I know for a fact that I never tried to convince her I was straight.  I just stopped being open about my sexuality, because when I was, it made her extremely agitated.  I would have much preferred honesty but I went back into the closet because that's clearly what she wanted.

Whatever.  It's all water under the bridge now and I have digressed.  Back to the present day...

After Gabbie calmed down somewhat following her crying fit, we had a short conversation about our history.  We recapped everything in a few sentences: she said I tricked her, I said I came out to her 19 years ago, she said I took it all back, I said I didn't.  At that point it was obvious that we'd never agree and it was also obvious that it didn't matter very much.  Her next question was, "Why did you tell the kids?"

The primary reason I came out is because it's time for me to be honest about my developing relationship with Dean and I can't do that if I stay in the closet forever.  I didn't tell Gabbie that.  She already skewered me for being selfish; I didn't need to give her any additional ammunition.  But I did tell her a secondary reason, one that I thought she should be happy about.  I said, "I did it because the kids have been so hard on you.  I think they're upset because they know you're moving, especially now that half the furniture is gone.  I want them to stop blaming you.  Isn't it better for you that they know the truth?"

"I think it was a terrible thing to do.  I just know they're going to be very traumatized by this!"

We talked for a little while longer, and I reassured her that the kids seemed to be fine, then I left her to fall asleep.  I knew that would happen quickly because she was very tired - and still somewhat drunk.

Her reaction to my coming out to the kids really surprised me.  Yes, I knew she'd be mad that I hadn't asked her permission to do so, but I never expected that she'd be enraged.

She was so angry that I spent that night restlessly second-guessing my decision to come out to the kids without telling her first.  I purposefully didn't want her there because I wanted to do the talking, and not be verbally dominated by her.  But if cutting her out of the conversation meant permanently pissing her off, that would be a decision I'd deeply regret.  As I tossed and turned I kept wondering if I'd made a huge mistake; she was so incredibly angry and upset about it. 

I finally feel asleep for a few hours, then I woke for good at 4:40.  I was nervous about seeing her that morning.  Would she continue with her angry tirade?  Or would she pretend it never happened?

It turned out that all my worry was for nothing.  When she said hello for the day, she was as giddy as I've seen her in quite some time, especially when sober.  We didn't really talk about the night before or my coming out very much.  She asked me again how the kids responded and I gave her a play-by-play, although I omitted my son's announcement.  The kids' nonchalant attitudes seemed to satisfy her and that was the end of the conversation.

It's now been two weeks since my coming out and her overall mood has noticeably improved.  I'm not sure if that's because she hopes the kids will blame me for all the drama in their lives, or, if she's just relieved that they know about me and they aren't damaged for life.  Probably it's some of both.  I don't know why she never listens to me.  I wanted to come out nearly a year ago but she specifically forbade me from doing so, all because (she said) she was concerned for their welfare.  I'd like to think this is another lesson for both of us - that hiding the truth is not the better choice.

There's been one other weird after-effect I've noticed since coming out.  My oldest, the bisexual, suddenly wants to talk to me about hot girls much more often than he has in the past.  Just the other day he said, "Aren't those girls hot, dad?  Check them out!" - and he expected me to reply.  Even if I was pretending I was straight I wouldn't have leered at a couple of 17 year olds, but now that I have come out, I'm totally confused by his behavior.  Maybe he's hoping I'm bisexual, and not gay, that way we'd be more alike??  I really can't explain it and I can usually read his mind as if it was my own.

My daughter also surprised me with a recent comment .  Once again she prattled on and on about me getting married again and having more children.  Even before coming out, whenever she got on that soap box, I told her repeatedly  that I was done having kids.  But now that I have come out, I find her persistence on the issue astounding.

Each time my kids have said these things I've pretty much ignored what they've said.  I'm not sure what else I should do.  Dean says they're testing me, and maybe they are.  He says that I'll know when the time is right to forcefully correct them and, until then, I shouldn't worry about it.  I have to appreciate Dean.  He's definitely the yin to my yang.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Came Out to My Kids

Just a quick update: I came out to my three kids (18, 14 and 12) about an hour ago.

After having a mini-meltdown this afternoon where I felt totally unprepared to take the plunge, Dean helped me pull myself together.  Even with his support, I was still incredibly nervous as I prepared to drop the bomb.

It went very well. Actually, it couldn't have gone better.

One of my goals was to make sure the kids understood how much I love Gabbie.  I left no doubts about that in their minds, yet I still got their full support to find happiness with anyone I want.

I've dreaded this coming out moment for years.  I'm so happy it's over.  But I'm even more happy that it went as well as it did.  There might be ripple effects later, who knows, but I feel very confident about the future.

I got a big surprise too.  My oldest son came out as bisexual.  Now I wonder if he's going to want to gossip with me about hot men.  He already told me that I should "go out to some clubs and start meeting men."  Really??? Wow...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Over the Edge

I was completely infatuated with Dean during our first few weeks together.   No matter what I was doing or who I was with, I was always thinking about him.  It was hard not to!

The thing is, infatuation is a dangerous state of mind.  It's like an entry drug to obsession.  So, as fantastic as it was to constantly daydream about Dean, I hoped my irrational fixation on him would quickly mature into something more meaningful.

I don't know when infatuation began to change to something deeper.  Probably by our fourth or fifth date.  That's when we both began to question whether we were spending too much time in bed.  Neither of us wanted a sex-based relationship and we were both beginning to wonder if that was the direction we were headed.  We decided to change things up a little and made plans to do other things, as well as spend quality time between the sheets.

As our relationship evolved, my conviction that Dean was my One did not. I remained firmly convinced that he was my perfect match, and in fact, I'm still convinced to this day.  I suppose I could decide later that I've been delusional this whole time, but I don't think that will happen.  We've spent enough time together that if I was going to have serious doubts, I'd be aware of them by now.  Instead, I strongly feel that he's as close to perfect as he could be and still be human.

There are a few obstacles that stand in the way of a "happily ever after" life for Dean and me.  A small one is that he continues to be more work-obsessed than I'd like.  He's been really good about trying to balance work, his kids and me, but the jury is still out on whether he can permanently change his workaholic ways.

A bigger potential obstacle is Dean's lack of sexual and relationship experience.  As this blog documents, I have a fair amount of experience with men.  All that history makes it easy for me to KNOW, without any doubt or uncertainty, that Dean is the right guy for me.  Dean, on the other hand, can't possibly have that same conviction about me.  He's sown no wild oats and he's had almost no other lovers.  Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I'm pretty sure there will come a day when he'll wonder if I'm the best he can do.  For him to feel that way would be totally understandable and, for that reason, I have no anxiety about it.  I am who I am, I'm totally committed to him and to our relationship, and if that's not enough to withstand whatever curiosity he might have in the future, then there's nothing more I can do.  One thing I'm adamant about is to never take him for granted.  Gabbie accused me of not appreciating her enough, so believe me, I'm determined not to let Dean feel that way.  He gets total dedication and commitment from me until he throws me out.

If Dean can continue to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and if he decides to keep me around for a while, then there are three immediate obstacles to a "happily ever after" life for us:
  • Gabbie and I need to live apart
  • I need to come out to my kids
  • I need to tell Gabbie, my kids and others that Dean and I are together
As some of you will remember from My Big Gamble, my living situation was been...unconventional.  Not only have Gabbie and I continued to live in the same house for 18 months after separating, but a few months ago her loser boyfriend moved into his own room in the house.  It's been extremely cozy.

Allowing Charlie to move in has greatly benefited me.  For one thing, the kids have gotten to intimately know him and now they either dislike or despise him.  Even my oldest, who has been the most patient with him, doesn't like him.  The two younger kids have been far less charitable.  They frequently voice their dislike for him and that has created a huge wedge between them and Gabbie.  The problem isn't so much that they attack him and she defends him, it's that they attack her and she retaliates.  It's a very sad dynamic, one that I continually push both sides to change.

A few weeks ago, when the situation with Dean began to show genuine promise, I realized that I couldn't expect him to commit to me while I was still living with Gabbie.  So, I set a deadline for myself to tell her that we needed to move apart.  Then, quite unexpectedly and just five days before my deadline, Gabbie announced that living together wasn't working so she was going to move out and give me full custody of the kids.  I think she was hoping they'd beg to her to stay, but none of them did.

Her plan to move out is already happening.  Two weeks ago she and Charlie signed a lease together (puke) to rent a nearby studio apartment.  Last week he moved into it.  Gabbie plans to spend the next several weeks slowly moving her things over.  I don't know when her "last" day with us will be.  Originally she said mid-September but I wouldn't be surprised if it's sooner.  I don't think we'll mark that day in any significant way, but it will be very bittersweet for me.  Losing her is not something I ever wanted to happen, however, I've come to accept that it has and we all need to move on with our lives.

Anyway, thanks to Gabbie, I easily accomplished the first item on my 'list for Dean.'  The next one is: coming out to the kids.

I've been trying to spend as much time with Dean as possible, and because it's a 60 mile drive each way to see him, when I go, I'm gone for a minimum of five hours but I prefer eight or nine.  Different circumstances have helped me camouflage the fact that I'm dating him, but now that it's been two months since we met, I'm running out of plausible excuses to disappear for large blocks of time.  So, for as much as I'd like to say that my confidence and pride in my relationship with Dean has made me want to come out to my kids, the main reason is that I can't keep making up new lies every weekend.

I would've run out of excuses a few weeks ago but Dean's been traveling a lot this month and that's given me a reprieve.  I made my last excuse this past weekend, and now I have a period of three weeks in which to get my sh*t together, because during that time Dean will be out of town.  My plan is to come out to the kids within the next week.  I don't want Gabbie to be there, but I do want to tell all three kids at once, so making my big announcement is mostly a scheduling challenge.  At least that's my excuse if I get delayed.

The truth is, I don't really want to come out.  I don't feel ready and I probably never will.  It's not easy to flip a switch and change everything.  And although I'm confident it's going to go well, I view coming out as my greatest failure as a parent.  I'm sure lots of you will think that statement is ridiculous, and I hope to agree with you in the future, but for now, that's how I feel.

Anyway, for as much as I'd love to drag my feet and ignore my deadline, I also realize that I just need to take the plunge.  I need to go over the edge and accept that my life will never be the same again.

Assuming that I survive the jump, my plan is to lie low for a few weeks and give the kids time to adjust.  Then, when Dean is done traveling, I'll tell the kids and Gabbie that I'm starting to date.  Those 'dates' will partially explain my long absences on the weekends. At some point thereafter, whenever Dean is comfortable, I'll start talking to the kids about him.  I really can't wait for that day to arrive, because when it does, the hardest parts of my journey will be over.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Date with Dean

My first date with Dean was a coffee date.  It lasted three hours and would have continued much longer but I had to pick up my kids.

It was a perfect first date: fun, relaxed and friendly.  The conversation flowed easily, without any awkward pauses, and the more Dean talked, the more I wanted him to say.

Some of you might remember that I was beginning to wonder if I might be asexual.  I'd been on a dozen decent dates but never felt attracted to any of them.  With Dean, there was an instant attraction that grew more intense the longer we talked.  In fact, when it was time to say goodbye, the sexual heat between us could not be contained; before we parted we had a short, hot make-out session in my car.

It was amazing to want Dean so badly and to feel like he wanted me too.  It was an awesome first date.

The thing about first dates, though, is they can be deceptive.  When you're "in the moment" you can do, say or think things that you later question.  Second dates tend to be "more real" just because you're more relaxed with each other.  If Dean really is my One, I thought, then our second date would be a good indication of whether we were destined to be together - or not.

One of my concerns about a future with Dean was his ridiculous work schedule.  If it took him more than three months to schedule a first date, how long it would take him to schedule a second one?!!  The answer: three days.

Our second date began the same way our first date ended - with a hot make-out session.  I came to his apartment and he greeted me with an eager kiss.  That kiss lead to another and in an instant we were going at it hot and heavy on his living room futon.  After about five minutes, he said in frustration, "Argh!  This futon is too uncomfortable.  Would it be ok if we moved to the bed?"

I haven't given Dean a proper introduction, and now that he's suggested that we move to the bedroom, this is probably a good time to do so...

Like me, he's 45 and he has three kids.  Two of our three kids are only a few months apart in age.  He's been divorced for three years and was married for about fourteen.  He fooled around with a number of guys in high school but never thought he was gay because of his religious upbringing.  He was a good church boy, who sang in the choir, which is how he met his wife, a good church girl.  Of course his attraction to men never went away and after struggling with it for many years, he eventually accepted himself as gay.  A short time later he told his wife, then his kids, and filed for divorce.  Interestingly, his wife was very supportive of him.  She knew their marriage wasn't right and was thankful to know the truth.

Since coming out, Dean only briefly dated one guy.  He fell for him right away but soon discovered that the guy had lied about several important things. To have the relationship crash and burn so fast was a major disappointment to Dean.  However, instead of moving on to the next guy, he buried himself with work.

When he told me that story, I was somewhat surprised by his decision to come out.  Why turn your kids' lives upside if you're not going to actively date?  "It was important to me to be honest and to live an honest life."  Interesting.  I certainly never felt that way!

When it comes to sex and relationships, I've had a lot more experience than Dean but a lot less than the typical 45yo gay man.  My longest 'real' relationship with a guy has been nine weeks, but if you count a friend with benefits situation it was seven years.  I fooled around with a lot of guys in my 20s and early 30s but the last time I was regularly having sex with a guy was more than nine years ago. It's been so long that one of the dating rules I set for myself was to wait until the fourth or fifth meeting for sex.  I really didn't want to get in the habit of turning dates into hook-ups AND it had been so long, I knew I'd be all thumbs.   If I attempted sex on the first or second date no guy would ever call me again.  If I waited until the fourth or fifth date, I might get a second chance.

During our three month email courtship, Dean and I talked about whether sex-on-the-first-date was something we'd do.  Neither one of us would, we said, and we agreed that waiting until the fourth date would be best.  Which brings me back to Dean pulling me into the bedroom only five minutes into our second date: based on our earlier conversations, I totally expected that we'd stay clothed and enjoy some good old fashioned making out.  And that's what we did...for about 10 minutes.  Then our shoes came off.  Then our shirts.  Then our pants.  Socks.  Underwear.

It was so crazy to want someone so badly but to simultaneously wish we weren't naked.  It was fantastic to be in delirious rapture but also frustrating to be thinking, "it's too soon, it's too soon."

Whether it was too soon or not, it didn't matter.  Dean was hot and being with him made me giddy with joy.  There was no way I could resist him.

Because we were quasi-virgins, I expected our sexual repertoire would be pretty simple.  Lots of body contact, some frot, definitely some oral and probably some mutual stimulation to finish.

We did all that, and more.

It turned out that Dean, the guy who said he'd only bottomed once in his life (and that was 25 years ago when he was a drunk teenager), wanted to go all the way on our second date.  I couldn't believe it.  No sex until the fourth date and now that???

As shocked as I was, a short time later that was exactly what we were doing.

And wow, were we doing it well!  I think there's a straight sex cliche' about "sliding into home plate."  Well, that's how it felt to be with Dean.  I'm far from being a very experienced homo, but within my limited experience, I've never seen someone take to bottoming so effortlessly.  And to say that he "rocked my world" is a huge understatement.

Our date was seven hours long.  Five of those were spent in bed.  It was a remarkable day, and not just because the sex was so awesome.  We spent a lot of time talking and cuddling and getting to know each other better.  Being with him was so easy and natural that the conversation flowed through a whole variety of subjects.  Probably the most interesting thing we talked about was marriage.  Not just to our wives, but about, maybe, someday, possibly, getting married to each other.

Seriously??!  Who is stupid enough to talk about marriage on a second date?  Apparently we were.

Our third date was three days after the second one.  It was a five hour date, three of which were spent in bed.  But before going there, I proposed that we go together to be tested for HIV.  This was something my boyfriend from a very long time ago had wanted to do, and the idea always stuck with me.  Call me strange but there's something incredibly romantic about going together to be tested.  It turned out that Dean, without any prompting from me, thought the idea was extremely romantic too.

Once we got our negative results, we went back to his place and reached new sexual highs together with no barrier between us.

As I drove home from that date, it hit me that Dean was one of several men.  Either he was stupid, reckless and a player, or, he was stupid, reckless and naive, or, he genuinely liked and trusted me.  Yes, I had tested negative for HIV but the antibodies don't show if you've recently been infected.  And, wearing a condom doesn't just protect against HIV, it helps prevent many other horrible diseases like Hepatitis and genital warts.  Dean literally put his life at risk when he chose to bareback with me.  What kind of man makes a decision like that on the second date?

A man who sent me over the edge.

I'll tell you what happened in my next post.