Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Assbackwards On-line Dating

Posting a profile on a dating site is a tremendous act of optimism.  When you do it you're thinking about all the possibilities - all the good things that might happen because you've made it known that you're available and looking.  Few people post a profile with the expectation that it might turn into a bad experience.

I've been fortunate enough to have had nothing but good (or at least, respectable) experiences with on-line dating.  Yes, I've been ignored and rejected plenty - even by totally average guys who say they're looking for someone like me - but overall, I'm pleased with my dating experiences so far.  Hopefully this post won't mark the high point.

One of the big negatives of on-line dating is something that I never thought about when I first posted my profile: attracting the interest of guys who completely do not interest me.  I try really, really, really hard to be open-minded; I'm very aware of how it feels to be ignored and rejected.  However, it's still impossible to avoid rejecting others.  The good news is that I figured out a pretty solid way to deflect unwanted suitors: I tell them I'm still legally married.  It works like a charm!  Without fail they disappear, never to be heard from again.

I'm sure a few readers will berate me for lying on my profile by listing my marital status as single when I'm still legally married, but you know what?  Too bad.  Someday, probably sooner rather than later, I'll get around to getting legally divorced, but I'm not going to file those papers and start that expensive headache just so I can be 100% legit on a dating site.  Given the choice between getting a divorce when it suits me, or listing myself as single, I've decided to do the latter and I don't regret it. At a minimum it gives me an easy way to give the guys who don't interest me a polite send-off.

To be sure, my actual marital status has caused more than one interesting prospect to flee.  Lying is not all gravy.  But I haven't felt like I've lost a fantastic prospect yet.  And, as if I needed any more encouragement to lie, a surprising number of potential matches have been willing to meet for coffee even after I tell them both my marital status and my living situation.  Are they desperate or do I look that good when pixelated?   Probably neither.  I think I tend to attract open-minded guys.

I may sound sick and depraved but I really do like the fact that I can easily deter almost any unappealing Romeo without personally rejecting him.  On-line dating can be so cruel.  Is it wrong of me to appreciate a little assbackward kindness?  (Please don't answer that question.)

***

So there's this one guy who has me puzzled.  I first messaged him more than two months ago, not really because I thought we'd make a good match, but mostly because we're the same age, he has three kids near my kids' ages and he came out about three years ago.  Normally I'd consider those things to be very appealing but there were a few others aspects of his profile that didn't feel right to me.  Also (and I hate to admit this but it's true) his pictures were a turn-off.  Not so much because he looked unattractive but mostly because it seemed like he was trying to hide his body.  In one picture he was crouched down, perhaps trying to hide a big stomach.  In another picture he used some kind of special effect that blurred everything except his face, which had an odd expression.  Looking at his profile, I kept wondering "Why would he chose those particular pictures?  Are they the best he could find?"  But in the end I decided I wanted to hear about his post-hetero dating experiences more than I cared about his somewhat odd pictures and profile, so I messaged him.

He replied within 24 hours, which was nice, and we traded two inconsequential messages thereafter.  Then I asked him if he'd be interested in meeting, purely as friends, to talk about balancing the old hetero life with the new gay one.  He said, "That would be great but I've got a really crazy work schedule for the next few weeks.  I promise to get back to you when things slow down."  I told him no problem.  A month went by and I kind of forgot about him, assuming that he either wasn't interested, had met someone that preoccupied his time, or, was a work-a-holic who would never make time for a stranger.  Then he emailed me out of the blue and said, "Thanks for your patience. I do want to meet but I have more deadlines hanging over me.  Would it be ok if I got back to you in a couple more weeks?"  I said, "No problem," but I was thinking, "WTF!  Why are you stringing me along when all I want to do is meet for an hour and BS about being a gay single parent?"

Here's where it gets interesting (well to me, probably not to you) after about a week the guy sends me a short but chatty email.  I reply.  A few days later, he replies.  And so on and so on. It's so weird but literally, the gap between each of his emails got shorter and shorter.  I took that to mean that he was sincere and he really did want to meet, but the whole way he handled it seemed odd.  Why let seven weeks go by with almost no contact and then start an e-friendship?

I've stopped trying to understand what this guy's game is.  Everything he says appears to be very sincere and on his profile he specifically says he doesn't play games, but when I just consider his actions and not his words, I feel like I'm being played somehow.

And yet, the more he emails, the more I'd like to meet him.  I still doubt that we'd make a good romantic match but perhaps we could be friends.  I just wish I knew why the hell he can't spare an hour after more than two months.  Any thoughts about how I should read this guy?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sex/Relationships/Asexuality/Dating/Coincidence

Huge numbers of married men fantasize about sex with other men.  No one knows how many, but it's at least 1 in 10 and probably closer to 1 in 7.  If you go to a shopping mall, a baseball game or an amusement park, look at "the masses" and do the math - the numbers are amazing.  You can literally walk by another "curious" guy every 15 seconds.

The thing about man-on-man sex is, not many of the participants are interested in an actual relationship.  Sex is one thing but wanting a relationship would be "totally gay."

One of the reasons I've always felt that gay is the appropriate label for me is because after I cum all over a guy's face, I want to snuggle with him, then shower with him, then get dressed and do something totally mundane with him, like go grocery shopping together.  Clearly, I'm a total fag because we all know that a genuinely bisexual man would cum, cuddle, shower and then LEAVE, probably never to return.

Here's the weird thing...now that I'm going on dates with other domestically-minded homosexuals, why is that I have yet to feel any sexual attraction to one of them?  They're gay, I'm gay, we like to cuddle...let the flirting begin!  Right?  That's what I expected, but that's not what has happened.

I'm beginning to wonder if there's something queer about my lack of attraction to other gay men.  What kind of homosexual has no sexual or romantic interest in other homosexuals?

One guy I've met is Nick.  He's older than me, 53.  He looks good for his age.  He's in shape.  He's intelligent.  We have interesting conversations.  He frequently tells me how cute he thinks I am.  And yet...I don't want to even accidentally touch him.  On our first date in January he tried to kiss me.  My instinctive reaction was to turn away, which is what I did.  But I also went a step further and (unintentionally) flashed him a severe look of distaste.  I didn't mean to be rude but I couldn't help myself.  There was no way I was going to kiss him.

Nick is the only guy who has recently tried to kiss me.  All of my other dates have known better than to try.  I think the fact that I exude the physical warmth of Frosty the Snowman has given them a clue.

Maybe because Nick was a glutton for punishment, he became my biggest fan.  He emailed me all the time and kept asking for a second date.  I always said "that would be great" and then I left it up to him to make it happen.  Hey, I'm a busy parent with an inflexible schedule!  Well, after dodging him for three months he finally suggested a day and time that worked - for my very first second date, a night at the symphony.

About three weeks prior to that second date with Nick, I had a first date with a guy named Erik.   I liked Erik.  In fact he's been the only guy who has caused some slight tingling in my nether regions.

Erik was the one who initiated first contact.  I probably wouldn't have ever messaged him because his pictures made him look odd.  In person he was kind of cute.  What I found most attractive about him was his somewhat goofy, chatty personality.  As I've mentioned before, I was convinced that I was destined to be matched with an introvert, but it was during my date with Erik that I realized, no, opposites do attract.  My friend Chet is a chatty extrovert and I get a huge kick out of him.  The same was true for Erik.

When Erik and I set-up the date I misunderstood the timing.  He expected us to go on a long walk through the park and then have dinner. Somehow I missed the dinner part and when the our walk was over I apologized because I had to get home.  It was a Sunday and that's family dinner night.

As I drove home I thought about whether Erik was a good match and whether I wanted to see him again.  I definitely did.  The next day we exchanged emails in which we agreed to another meeting, but we didn't pick a date because he was going to be traveling for work for two weeks.  I never heard back from him and didn't think anything about it.  I liked him well enough but I wasn't dying to seem him either.

The symphony date with Nick was on May 5th, the same night as the "super moon."  During the symphony's intermission, Nick wanted to go to the highest outside balcony of the symphony hall to see the biggest and brightest full moon of 2012.  Unfortunately, a very large office building completely blocked the view.  However, as we turned to go back inside, there stood Erik, dressed quite handsomely in a perfectly fitting suit.

Seeing Erik caused a rush of adrenaline to shoot through me.  In an instant I was full of nervous energy and that caused me to jump right in front of him and say a rather loud, "Hello!"  My enthusiasm was tempered a bit when, a moment later, a youngish, full-bodied guy strode to Erik's side.

Erik's response to my hello was to apologize for not contacting me.  I thought it was odd to say that in front of our dates so I brushed his apology off with a very casual, "No problem at all!"  Erik then introduced me to Kyle.  I could tell by the way they were standing that they didn't know each other very well. Then I remembered my manners and introduced Nick to them both.  The four of us had a quick conversation about the super moon and how we couldn't see it.  Erik then asked if I'd take a picture of him and Kyle against the background of the City, which I did.

As we parted company I realized that I would have much preferred to listen to the rest of the symphony with Erik and not Nick.  That realization sealed Nick's fate.  From that moment on I knew I could never be romantically attracted to him.

Nick and I made our way back to our seats and waited for the second half of the concert to begin.  As we were sitting there Nick said, "I just realized that I've met Erik before.  We both went on the same hiking trip last summer.  I remember that we talked about the best way to get good prices on symphony seats. Wow, what a small gay world we live in!"

The next day I emailed Erik, just to say how funny it was to bump into him.  I also said that I hoped things work out well with Kyle and I told him that he had met Nick last summer.  Erik replied right away.  "We should all go on a hike together," he suggested.  I said, "Great idea!"  but I didn't mean it.  Nick is a perfectly nice guy but he's not the right match for me.

***

I have two more dating-related stories to tell, but I'll have to save them for the next post. This one is already long enough.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Big Gamble

My life began to fall apart five years ago when my wife of 17 years fell in love with an unemployed, homeless, alcoholic criminal.  For more than three years I patiently waited for her to realize that tossing me aside in favor of such a loser was a major mistake, but that realization never happened.  No matter what awful thing Charlie did to her, Gabbie only had eyes for him.

I thought I'd be able to get rid of Charlie when he was arrested for unpaid court fees in July of 2010; I made it known to Immigration that he was in the country illegally and had big hopes that he'd be deported.  That didn't happen.  When he was released from jail more than two months later, Gabbie was there to greet him.

Because being patient with Gabbie hadn't worked, and scheming to get rid of Charlie hadn't worked, I changed tactics.  In the Fall of 2010 I told Gabbie that I wanted to separate.  At a minimum, a separation would give me a chance to clear my head.  I also hoped it would give Gabbie a taste of reality - I wanted her to be fully aware of the dramatic impact that choosing him would have on her life.  But instead of being sad about the separation, she was relieved that I asked for it.  It turned out that I was the one who got the reality check.

A few months later, in January of 2011, we told our kids about our separation.  They took the news well, but in their eyes, it wasn't much of a split.  Nothing about their lives changed as Gabbie and I continued to live together, and in fact, continued to sleep in the same bed.

In the Spring of 2011 I tried one last time to salvage my marriage and begged Gabbie to go to marriage counseling.  She eventually said yes, but then changed her mind about five minutes later.  So much for that.

As the rest of 2011 ticked by, I gradually came to accept that my marriage was over.  In August I stopped wearing my wedding ring.  In October I moved to my own bedroom.  Both of those changes helped me turn the corner toward feeling better about my status as a single man.

It should have been obvious to our kids that their mother and Charlie had been dating for years but they never figured it out.  They thought he was a family friend, our "worker man."  I went along with the 'friend' charade, first with the hope that he would soon disappear, then later to protect Gabbie from being hated by the kids for taking up with such a loser.  It wasn't until nearly a year after we announced our separation that I realized it was time to stop hiding Gabbie and Charlie's relationship from the kids.

When I told Gabbie that the kids should know the truth about Charlie, she thought about it for two minutes, agreed, and immediately called the kids together to tell them.  They took the news in stride, probably because they already knew him.  Very soon afterward I realized that asking Gabbie to tell the kids about her and Charlie was THE very best decision I'd made in more than five years.  It marked a major turning point for all of us as we learned to accept that our lives had forever changed.  It also gave me a huge incentive to get serious about dating men.  Gabbie was happier too because sharing the truth allowed her to be more open about spending time with Charlie.

Now we're close to the present day and that brings me to the purpose of this post:  In January I took a major gamble, an insane risk that I couldn't believe I'd ever contemplate.  I knew that at least a few readers would skewer me if I shared what I was considering, so for that reason, I haven't said anything about my big gamble, until now.

"Outing" Gabbie and Charlie's relationship turned out to be such a positive step for me that when Charlie was facing his fourth eviction in three years, I thought long and hard about allowing him to move into our house.  What would happen, I wondered, if I agreed to let him move in?  He'd have his own room and he'd pay rent...but how would having him in the house affect the kids?  How would it affect Gabbie's relationship with him?  Could I stand being in the same house with him?  What if he was drunk all the time?  What if I couldn't get rid of him?  What if, what if, what if...

It took me about a week to make a decision.  Asking Charlie to move in was like playing Russian Roulette.  Chances were, he'd be a disaster and that might be just what was needed for Gabbie to want to get rid of him.  But there was also a chance that he'd make my life a living hell and it would be nearly impossible for me to escape.

Ultimately, the thought that convinced me to take the chance came from writing the "win-win solution for struggling bi-married men."  As I said in that post, it's human nature to avoid painful situations.  In our efforts to avoid pain we lie and hide, but those actions don't solve the problem and frequently make it worse.  Really, the best solution is to embrace our fears and make peace with them.  The outcomes might not be what we expect, but whatever happens, we get resolution and that allows us to move forward with our lives in a positive way.

In my desire to keep Gabbie and Charlie apart, I lied to the kids about who he was.  When I stopped lying, the situation significantly improved.  Similarly, because it helped to keep Charlie away from Gabbie, I was happy to let him sleep on a park bench if he was homeless.  But what if I faced my fears and embraced their relationship?  What he lived with us?  Could bringing them together ultimately push them apart?

Charlie moved in to his own room in late January.  In addition to rent, I had two other expectations for him.  The first was that he was not a guest.  Under no circumstances was I going to clean up after him.  The second was that he'd have to take over most of my responsibilities as house chef.  Charlie thought of himself as a great cook, and because cooking for complaining children brought me no joy, I handed that unrewarding task over to him.  I figured that if I had to live with him, the least he could do was something to make my daily life a little easier.

Now that it's been more than five months since Charlie moved in, has my gamble paid off?

Mostly, but not entirely.  On the negative side, Gabbie has not kicked Charlie to the curb and there have been two incidents that have caused me considerable regret.  I'm not going to write about them in detail but I will say that I have no tolerance for drunken fights.  I don't care if Gabbie and Charlie are best friends again the next morning - if they fight, the police will be called and Charlie can go directly to jail, where he will hopefully be deported soon afterward.

On the positive side,  I'm pleased to report that the kids have come to know Charlie quite well - and they hate him.  They are also disgusted with Gabbie.  Not so much because of Charlie but because they see that I have accommodated her in nearly every way possible and yet she's still not happy.  The stress of having Charlie around has caused her to be extremely impatient, especially with the kids.  They universally criticize her for always being in a bad mood and for being selfish.  In comparison, my sulking, self-pitying ways make me look like a saint.

I have sometimes questioned my decision to allow Charlie to move in.  Having him around has seriously damaged Gabbie's relationship with the kids and there are times when tensions are so high in the house that it feels overwhelming and oppressive.  That is not a healthy home environment for three teenagers.

Having said that, I should also say that some of the tension is not Charlie's fault.  My 12 year old daughter is at that stage of adolescence, and even if we had the most comforting home situation ever, I think she'd still be extremely snotty on a daily basis.  What's most problematic is that she and Charlie continually antagonize each other.  Eating dinner as a family is often turns in to a battle of wills.

The biggest payoff from having Charlie in the house was unexpected.  In March my daughter got it in her head that California was a "boring" place.  She decided that she and I should move out of state.  Well, once Gabbie's bossy mother got wind of that idea, she went berserk.  Through the grapevine she made it known that she'd spend ANY amount of money to make sure that I'd never get custody of the kids.  Now, three months later, I'm feeling pretty confident than she'd go bankrupt and I'd still win custody.  Not because I'm such a great parent but because the kids now know what life with mom and her boyfriend would be like - and they don't want any part of it.  In a worst case scenario where Gabbie got custody, they'd make her life so miserable that she'd quickly give in and let me have them.  If I hadn't allow Charlie to move in I wouldn't have that confidence.  So for that reason alone, I'm glad I took the gamble that I did.

Because living with Charlie has most likely played out as "well" for me as it ever will, it's time for me to pull the plug.  The whole situation is not working, nor will it ever work, and it needs to be changed.  In my typical analytical, over-thinking way, I am working on a plan that I hope will make everyone much happier, on a permanent basis.  I haven't made all of my final decisions yet but I'm getting close.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that most people have a lot more common sense than me.  Or at least, they're smart enough to be concerned about posting a lot of intimate family details on a public blog.  I can't think of another blogger who writes as many details about his life's drama as I do.  Maybe I should show my family some respect and omit 95% of the details.  I don't know why I do it....I guess I'm tired of the closet and of lying and hiding.  I haven't repressed my sexuality but I have kept a lot bottled up for many years and my way of finding freedom is to spill my guts here.  I'd also like to think that, somehow, my fucked-up story might help others.  If there's been a consistent theme in my life it's that I hate conflict and I've tolerated a lot of bullshit in an attempt to avoid some very difficult conversations.  But now I'm learning that avoiding conflict often means avoiding resolution.  I hope others can learn that same lesson by reading about my experiences.

Getting out of this awkward living situation is now a priority.  I'll write more about that in the very near future.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

e-shopping for Mr. Right

Without a doubt the Internet is an essential tool in my search for Mr. Right.

What's appealing about Internet dating is that it's easy to zero-in on qualities that matter most.  For example, if I was a size queen, I could go to Adam4Adam and see pictures of all the guys in my area who have at least nine inches.  Or, what's more likely, is that I could go to Match.com and search for guys who are willing to date someone with kids.

The ability to be specific and selective when it comes to Internet dating is both a positive and a negative.  The negative aspect is that it's very easy for a few "must haves" to morph into an unexpectedly long checklist.  When that happens, Internet dating turns into Internet shopping.  Age, height, weight and dozens of other criteria become 'features' that you can use to comparison shop for guys, just as you would for a new TV.  Dating-as-shopping is not an approach that appeals to me but it's nearly impossible to avoid when using the Internet.  Too many choices require us to be specific and selective.

In an effort to be as open-minded as possible, I tried to think backwards.  My pie-in-the-sky goal has been to find a life-partner that I'm absolutely crazy about and who is sexy, fun in bed and better looking than Matt Bomer.  (If that seems ambitious, then just for the record, I'll settle for someone who is equally good-looking as Matt Bomer.)

Because a life partner has been the goal, what matters most to me is long-term compatibility.  In my backward engineering approach, that has meant being honest about who I am and then figuring out what kind of personality and values would make the best match.  This is different than saying I like guys with dark hair and green eyes who are no taller than 6 foot.  It's also different from saying that I like the outdoors, intellectual discussions and traveling.  My idea of compatibility is not physical attractiveness or shared interests, it's about communicating well and sharing the same values.

Over and over and over and over we hear about how communication is essential for a successful relationship.  So, as hot as already-gay-married Matt Bomer is, if I am perpetually struck speechless by his stunning looks, we wouldn't make a good match.  (I'm sorry about that, Matt.  I really am.)

Because things aren't likely to work out between Matt and me, I've been wondering...when reading on-line dating profiles, how do you find a someone who you think you'll communicate with well?

Some of you may think this is an impossible task.  You can't know how well you communicate until you meet.  I agree.  But I do think it's possible to make some general assumptions and those can be helpful.  For example, do two extroverts communicate well, or do they constantly talk over each other and/or only talk and seldom listen?  How about two introverts?  Are they constantly waiting for the other guy to say something, which means there is no communication?  And finally, in an introvert-extrovert match, can the introvert ever be flashy enough to keep the attention of the extrovert?  Or, do introvert-extrovert matches tend to be problematic because the introvert is a doormat and the extrovert is too bossy?

Having spent my entire adult life in one relationship, I am naturally inclined to compare potentially matching personalities to my ex's.  She's a life-of-the-party extrovert.  I'm an overly analytical introvert.  In a lot of ways, we compensate for each other's weaknesses.  Or at least we balance each other out so that she's not out of control and I'm not a hermit.  On the other hand, she IS bossy and I AM a doormat and I'm tired, tired, oh-so-very tired of that dynamic.

For that reason, when it comes to dating men, all the guys I've been messaging have been introverts.  After putting up with hyperbolic Gabbie for so long I want someone who is cool, calm and controlled.  I want someone who is happy with the small things in life and who doesn't need to draw attention to himself.

As I mentioned in my last post, all the dates I've been on have been pleasant but completely asexual.  That's disappointing, but with each new guy I learn more about how easy or difficult it is for me to communicate with different personality types.  What I've learned is a surprise.  As much as I would like to get away from Gabbie's overbearing ways, I've discovered that I relish interacting with chatty extroverts like her.  Apparently, opposites do attract.  Or least, introverted me is consistently more attracted to extroverted men.

I'm glad that I've been open to meeting nearly any guy who contacts me.  If I had been stubborn and closed-minded about sticking to a checklist I would have avoided the chatty extroverts.  Now, every new date is much more exciting because I'm learning to let go of my preconceptions and I'm ready to be surprised.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dating Update

I can't make it an iron-clad promise, but I have a feeling this blog is going to become much more interesting in the coming weeks.

In January I started trying to date men.  Since that time I've posted one update on my progress, Sex? Yes! Coffee? No!!!, and that was on February 11th.  If you read that entry you'll see that I had a 90% strike out rate when I contacted potential dates on a relationship-oriented dating site.  Now, three and a half months later, I can report better progress; I've had nine first dates and one second date.

For some unknown reason, since shortly after mid-February, I've been attracting a steady stream of attention.  Because I know how it feels to message someone and be ignored, I have responded to nearly everyone.  In fact, six of the nine dates I've had were with guys who contacted me first. 

I'm very happy to say that I haven't had a bad date yet, just one somewhat uncomfortable one.  Every other guy has been fun, intelligent, interesting and easy to talk to.

The one uncomfortable date was a total surprise.  Based on our profiles we should have been an excellent match.  What made me uncomfortable was the way he questioned me.  I can't pinpoint if it was his phrasing, his intonation, his attitude, or something else, but the more questions he asked, the worse I felt about myself.  I left the cafe feeling about two feet tall.  It was very strange because he was never rude or overtly demeaning.  Whatever.  If that's the worst date I ever have, I'll consider myself very lucky.

The sad news is that I only had one date where I felt a twinge of sexual attraction.  Even he got a "well, maybe..."  With everyone else I was happy to talk to them, and I found them interesting, but that was it.  Hence the lack of second dates.

After so many asexual dates I've begun to wonder if I'm one of those people who is destined to be single.  I know that being an introvert can be a challenge when trying to connect with new people, but I give myself high marks when it comes to using nervousness to my advantage.  I've been able to direct nervous energy into asking lots of questions and to being less passive than I typically would be.  With the exception of the uncomfortable date, none of the conversations have been awkward, tedious or boring.

I just don't know what to make of all these platonic dates.  Is it me?  Is it them?  Is it us?  Is it normal?  I guess if I go on enough first dates I'll eventually feel a spark and then suddenly I'll understand.

Until that happens I'll always have this nagging worry that my marriage was the best relationship I'll ever have.