Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happiness!!

The happiest I've been since I came out nearly three years ago was when I was seeing Dean last summer.

After dealing with the antics of my former wife and her idiot boyfriend for several years, it was so nice to be in a positive, happy relationship.

What's ironic is that I wasn't romantically interested in Dean when I first contacted him.  He lived more than an hour away, his picture was uninspiring, and in his online profile, he talked a lot about God and spirituality, neither of which are my favorite subjects. What I liked was that he was exactly my age, that he also had three kids (two very near my kids' ages), and that he'd only been out of the closet for two years.  The reason I wanted to talk to him was to hear about his experiences - especially coming out to his kids and dating men after being married to a woman for twenty years.

When I contacted him, he said he was extremely busy with work.  He said he couldn't meet for a few weeks, but in the meantime, we should stay in touch.  So we did.  Over a period of about nine weeks we developed a long-distance connection, at first through email then later by phone.  By the time we finally met, I knew we'd hit it off, and we did.  During our first date he even made a few jokes about us getting married some day.  Who does that on a first date??!

The more I got to know Dean, the more I realized what a great complementary match we were.  Our core values were very much aligned, although we were yin and yang in other ways.  Our differences made us fit together, both in bed and out of it.  For example, he was chatty, out-going and a little flighty, whereas I'm a good listener, introspective and stable.  Being with him was easy and effortless.  I've read that good connections don't require work, they just happen naturally, and that's the way it was with Dean.

Although Dean had been out of the closet for more than two years, he had almost no sexual or relationship experience with men.  He'd never hooked-up and he'd only dated one guy - for a month.  That relationship didn't work because the other guy lost his fight to stay sober and ended up homeless.

Because of Dean's lack of experience, I felt it was important that we take our relationship slowly.  I wanted to build something enduring, not something that began hot-and-heavy only to quickly crash and burn.  After discussing this, we agreed to a guiding principle for our relationship: to take it one day at a time.  That was his idea, and it was something I ended up really loving, because every day I mentally renewed my desire and commitment to be with him.  I felt like that kept me from taking him for granted - and I certainly hoped it did the same for him.

My one disappointment in the relationship came after three and a half months.  Because he often traveled for work and then (understandably) wanted to be with his kids when he was home, the amount of time he had for me was limited.  I therefore asked him if, maybe, possibly, for one night a month, could we hang out together with his kids?   I explained that there would be absolutely no PDA between us.  The purpose was to spend more time together and to work toward building a comfortable connection between all of us.  Well, after hearing that suggestion, Dean flipped out in a way I'd never seen before.  He very forcefully said, "My kids will never share me!!"

Obviously I'd hit a nerve so I replied, "No problem...I understand...It was just an idea that I wanted to ask you about."  And needless to say, I decided to never ask about meeting his kids again.

Imagine my great surprise when just a few days later Dean took the initiative and arranged for me to meet his kids AND his ex-wife.  I was amazed - and very pumped!  Taking that step was obviously a big deal for him so it proved that he really cared about me and our relationship.

Meeting his kids and ex-wife went well.  The kids were a little shy at first but warmed up quickly.  His ex-wife was polite and gracious, which was all I could hope for, especially after Dean suddenly walked away from us just as we were about to say hello.

The only wrinkle in the evening was that Dean seemed a little stressed, or possibly distracted, the whole night.  When it came time to say goodbye, for example, he only gave me a hug instead of a kiss.  I thought that was odd, but maybe he was worried his kids might see us, even though they were waiting in the car two floors above us?

It turned out that Dean had good reason to be withdrawn.  Just three days later he dropped a bombshell on me.  He said, "The first time we met, do you remember saying that I needed to date more people before settling down?  Well, I've been thinking...and...you were right."

And that was that.

I was (and am) very proud of how I handled our sudden break-up.  Although I was profoundly hurt and disappointed, I never let any of that show.  Instead I told him that I completely understood, that I wanted nothing but the best for him, and that I would be available to him anytime he wanted to talk.

The four weeks following the break-up were extremely difficult.  We'd been talking every day and meeting a minimum of once a week for months, so to have all that contact drop to nothing was painful.  By the third week I realized that I had fallen in love with him...which was something I thought our "one day at a time" agreement would avoid.  Let me tell you, it really sucks to realize that you're in love with someone three weeks after they've broken up with you.

I finally started to heal about a month later, following an exchange of emails between us that I initiated.  I felt even better when we traded emails again in February of this year.

A thought that also helped me feel better was that Dean was so obsessed with work and his kids that he didn't have time to date.  This was confirmed when we emailed in February and he said he'd only been out on one date in four months, and that was with a guy he wasn't attracted to but couldn't avoid any longer.  "Poor Dean," I thought, "He'll be old, ugly and unwanted by the time he wakes up and realizes that age matters a lot when you're gay.  It's bad enough to be 46.  Just wait until he's over 50."

Another reason I felt better about our break-up was because I had just started dating again and was pretty optimistic about my prospects.

In early June we communicated again, when Dean emailed me out of the blue.  Wow, was I ever thrilled to see his name in big bold letters in my inbox!  I literally held my breath as I opened the email.

It turned out that his message was very friendly but he didn't say anything of substance.  That was both weird and alluring.  Why had he suddenly decided to email ?  Did he miss me???  Was he testing the waters with me and my situation because he wanted to date again?  Was he just being polite?

I'm still not sure what prompted him to reach out.  My best guess is that it was business related.  I say this because exactly a year earlier I had arranged a contract for him and it was time to renew or change that contract.  Although he never mentioned business in the email, I suspect that he wanted to know "if we were good" before he decided what to do about it.  Whatever.  The actual reason he emailed isn't important, what matters is how he responded when I asked him what he'd been up to...
He told me that he'd been seeing someone "for a while."

He said that the guy was "much younger."

And, "Can you believe it?  He says he's in love, wants to get married and have kids." 

At that point, I had to stop reading because my eyes were starting to water.  Crying because that fuck-wad had an awesome, in-love-with-him boyfriend was just not going to happen.

While fighting back the tears, I continued reading...

"I've told him that I'm not ready for any of that.  In fact, I know he's not the one.  I keep telling him not to get too attached but he doesn't seem to listen.  I will say that hanging out with him is a lot of fun!"

Whew!!!!!!!

Sort of.

The more I read and reread what he wrote, the more I realized how shocking his update was.  Here I'd been soothing myself by making fun of his dating naivete - and the fucker found someone before I did!  How did that happen?? And a younger guy?  And in love with him?  WTF?!!!!!  I just couldn't believe it...especially since I'd been putting a lot of time and energy into meeting new guys and was getting absolutely nowhere.

I really wanted to be chill about his news, so when I replied, I very casually asked how they met, how long they'd been dating, and...(what I wanted to know most of all)...had he introduced this guy to his wife and kids???

His answers were: they met through Gay AA (not a surprise - Dean's entire social life revolved around that group), they'd be going out for "a few months" (dammit, I wanted an exact number - it had better be less than the four months we went out), and, yes, his boyfriend had met his ex and his kids.  They really like him!

FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, and: FUUUUUUCK!

After reading that, I had to take a few minutes and collect myself.

***

It turned out that I needed many days to collect myself.  And even now, the hurt still burns deep inside.

Please remember how I started this post: "The happiest I've been since I came out nearly three years ago was when I was seeing Dean last summer." 

All that happiness has now been permanently shot to hell.  Here's why:

Dean KNOWS that this guy isn't the one and he KNOWS that this guy is going to get hurt, especially the longer they're together AND YET...they're having great fun hanging out together.  Worse than that, he had no problem introducing this guy to his wife and kids, and quickly too.  And I'm certain the kids see him all the time, unlike the one-time meeting I had.

In comparison to how he treats this new boyfriend, I was just a piece of dog shit on Dean's shoe that he couldn't wait to scrape off.

Seriously - every fundamental rule that Dean had for dating someone has been thrown out the window for this guy even though he knows the whole relationship is destined to crash and burn!  Compare that to what I got: two minutes with his wife and an hour with his kids, which, it turned out, was all it took for him to cut me loose just days later.

Dean's email might as well have said, "Not to be too mean about it or anything, but our relationship was worse than dog shit for me.  The instant it started to smell I had to throw it away."

To which my reply is: "Oh, in that case, I'm never going to tell you that those four months were the happiest I've been in years.  And I'm certainly never going to tell you how good it felt to be genuinely liked AND WANTED by someone, especially after getting dumped for an illiterate, criminal, drunk, violent, fucking asshole after spending 25 years together.  Thanks for sharing the truth, Dean!  Now I know that I'm less desirable than an old turd rotting in a gutter because both the people I'm in love with had no problem discarding me. And best of all, I've been dumped by someone from each gender so there's no doubt where I fit in among humans - I'm the shit you step on and can't wait to shake off."

***

So, um...yeah. 

My self-loathing hit a new post-puberty high in June and I've spent the last ten weeks or so slowly recovering.  To help with that I took down my online dating profile.  I'm way too thin-skinned right now to deal with any more rejection, even the meaningless stuff.

***

About two weeks after that email exchange with Dean, I remembered something he said during our third month together: "To be honest, you're not really my type."

At the time, I blew that comment off because I thought he was saying that he was surprised to like someone outside of his usual type.  Now I realize I should have taken his words much more seriously.

When you meet someone new and they ask you out but you're not interested, what's the easiest way to reject them?  You say, "Sorry, but you're not really my type."  It's a "nothing personal" rejection.

Well, bullshit it's not personal.

When a good friend points someone out to you and you respond, "He's not my type," the only thing to base that judgment on is the person's looks.  And that, actually, is what "not my type" is almost always about - looks.

Dean and I spent four months together and had a lot of sex - really good sex, for me at least.  But now I get it.  Dean didn't dump me because he was afraid of commitment.  He dumped me because he was never really attracted to me.  I was just an experiment.  He had so little experience with men that I happened to be a useful warm body.  Once he learned enough, there was really no other reason to keep me around.

Yep, I get it.

***

As an epilogue to this very painful post, I have to say that another thing I "get" is that self-loathing, self-pitying types are universally unattractive.

I need to get my shit together. 

Which is what I'm doing.

Thanks for reading.

17 comments:

  1. Hmm... I see things differently. I think with both you and the kid, he was into the sex and he's going to sabotage and not fully commit to any relationship. Seems like you lucked out in not getting strung along for an even longer time. I get why you're down but man you took big leaps in conclusion... But I'm glad to know you're objective enough to hear how it's coming off. Yes, chicks dig confidence! :-)
    Love the insights though. A modern Jamesian "one where nothing is lost".

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Bruce!

      "I think with both you and the kid, he was into the sex and he's going to sabotage and not fully commit to any relationship."

      I agree with this, to an extent. I think that Dean, like so many others, is looking for magic: for lightning to strike and the seas to part. He's looking for a mythical man to sweep him off his feet. If ever meets such a man, he'll commit. Until then, he's keeping his options open.

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  2. I agree with Bruce, Dean was using you as an "experience," just as he is currently is using the poor guy who is probably in love with him. Dean has issues that transcend being gay and coming out. His alcohol dependency is evidence for that. He is still harming others by his erratic behavior even though the alcohol has stopped.

    Be grateful that your relationship with him was brief. He is too unstable right now for any relationship. Who e-mails an ex to tell him how much happier he is without him? Who then mentions that he is still going to dump the younger guy eventually? You got out of that relationship with only a flesh wound compared to what Dean is going to do that younger guy.

    As for yourself, your low self-esteem is leaving you vulnerable to men like Dean. When I read you referring to yourself as "shit" and a "turd" it felt painful. Because many gay men of an older generation went through fear and self-loathing growing up, we often have low self-esteem. We say things about ourselves that are terrible. Who needs the bully on the playground calling you a "faggot?" He is now in your head. You can now bully yourself quite well.

    Finally, don't dismiss being older in the gay world. I know, my looks are not what they once were but one of the advantages of growing older is that the men who are attracted to you are finding something inside that is more important than the fact that you have grey hairs or crow's feet. The guys who are alone at my age are the ones whose self-esteem was tied to their looks. I am so much happier with myself at fifty years than I was at twenty or thirty.

    You will find someone else. They are not all Deans. Keep looking but be realistic. Thanks for letting us into your head. It will get better.

    Still think that you need therapy to find yourself and like yourself. Yeah, I'm that guy.

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    1. Now that I understand that I was an experiment for Dean, I am glad that our relationship didn't progress. Nothing good could ever come from being a "pity" bf.

      It's nice to hear that being older has some advantages. I haven't seen or experienced that yet, so I'm somewhat skeptical, but your words give me hope that being over 50 isn't as awful as I fear.

      With respect to therapy, either now or in the foreseeable future, my Magic 8-Ball says, "Don't count on it."

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. Cameron - I have to agree too. Those old tapes play quite loudly at times telling me I am worthless. I've learned to listen to others I trust whose opinion of me is more based in the reality of today than what I felt when I was 10-12 and hid in the closet.

    Dean is using people. That's not healthy for anyone around him including you and this new guy.

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    1. Dean doesn't feel like he's using his new bf. He says he's been as clear as possible about his intentions. The guy just doesn't believe him.

      That's Dean's version of the situation. Who knows what the bf would say.

      Whatever his flaws are, I like Dean, and I think I always will.

      Thanks for reading and commenting Jim!

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  4. "Cameron":

    It sounds like you invested more of yourself emotionally in "Dean" than he was worth. Could it be that the fact that he was your first real boyfriend rather than someone you saw just for sex has blinded you to his manifest shortcomings?

    Best,

    Your friend from across the bridge

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    1. Dean wasn't my first real boyfriend. Does that make a difference?

      Because our agreement was to take things one day at a time, I didn't realize the full extent of how much I liked him until we broke up. Accordingly, I never thought about my investment vs. his worth.

      I should also say that I don't regret a minute we spent together. What saddens me is that the best four months I had in years were not important to him. Now my perceptions of our connection have been totally undercut and a very positive experience has turned into something painful.

      I don't know whether I was blind to Dean's shortcomings or just indifferent. Everyone has shortcomings; I don't expect perfection.

      As always, thanks for sharing your insights!

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    2. I remembered after I posted that that he wasn't your *first* real boyfriend ever, but I think the point still holds. He was your first real boyfriend since your marriage broke up (again), and you seem to have invested more of yourself in him emotionally than he is worth.

      It's good that you don't expect perfection, but you should expect a degree of caring about *you* that "Dean" obviously doesn't have and never did.

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  5. This was obviously a really heartfelt post.....so thanks for that.

    I agree with the above comments.....move on. Contact with Dean is not positive for you.....so stop having contact with him. He knows you were hurt by the breakup, and now he waves this new younger bf in front of your face? That's bs. He must know this is painful for you. It seems he has no respect for your feelings. You had some hope for a rekindle -- that was dashed, so now move on. The AA thing would ring alarm bells for me anyway.

    What are the positives from this? You know having a bf made you happy.....so look for someone else. You learn something from every relationship that will help you in the next.

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    1. Dean has no clue how hurt I was.

      Also, because the pretense for breaking up was so he could date others, it was fitting and natural for us to talk about his bf. He didn't talk him to hurt me, he was just sharing the details of his life the way a friend would.

      You're right that there are positives to this experience. So as not to dwell on the negatives, I'll try to focus on what I learned and the feelings I had when we were together. (Even if Dean didn't share them.)

      How are you? I miss your blog.

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  6. Dean sounds like 100 miles of bad bad road, consider yourself lucky that you slipped the noose sooner than later.

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    1. Everyone is cutting up on Dean, which feels wrong to me. For the most part, his behavior was logical. He had almost no relationship experience and we connected very well by email and phone, why shouldn't he experiment with a "one day at a time" relationship? Sure, he could be faulted for a few things, like not telling me I was an experiment, and by being more honest in general, but those weren't such catastrophic sins.

      I don't think my post was as clear as it should have been. Most of the hurt I suffered was self-inflicted. I thought our relationship ended because he was unable to be more serious. In truth, our relationship was an experiment for him. I should have been aware of that.

      My biggest disappointment was that my time with Dean was the highlight of three (now four) very difficult years. It sucks that I have nothing good to say about life after coming out. More than anything, that's what I'm upset about.

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  7. you deserve to go through the ups and downs of the emotions you have for dean. give yourself those moments of self-loathing and pity. just not for too long. :) in the past year i think i have been on both sides of your dean relationship. it was not easy being left by a guy who i think made me the happiest i've ever been in my entire life (for very vague reasons btw), but i feel like a vicious monster for potentially doing the same thing to a guy who cares very much for me. that's just how chemistry goes. don't be afraid to keep searching.

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    1. I can't wait to hear about the crazy roller coaster you've been on.

      I whole-heartedly agree that indulging in moments of self-pity and self-loathing can be cathartic, provided such episodes are short and sweet. Writing posts like this are very helpful for me, for just that reason. I'm able to say everything I want to say, and once I do that, I'm usually able to put the past in the past. Maybe you'll have that same experience when you write about your guy.

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  8. Are you a first or a second child? Because you remember the older one complaining "Uh..he/she is allowed to do this or that so much earlier than I was."
    What's that got to do with your situation? You came before the young and new BF, Dean probably got laxer with his rules. I'm not writing this to defend him but to show you that you probably weren't "dog-shit" to him, at least not in the harsh way you see it. What you can see in his whole behaviour to the new BF is that he is obviously not considering the feelings of the other person he is involved with, so be glad that you are rid of him.

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    1. I totally get what you're saying and I think it explains Dean's behavior, in part.

      At this point, what's done with Dean is done. I just wish I had something positive to say about the last four years. He really was the one and only highlight, but now that I've realized the truth, it's really fed into the negative spiral of rejection that I've been in. It's sort of like getting all Ds on your report card, except for a B+ in the one class you really liked, and then later learning that the grade was a typo; it should have been a D+.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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