Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Hot Headless Torso vs. A Decent Face Pic

The most enduring sexual connection I've ever had with a guy lasted more than five years.  It was a friends-with-benefits situation that began when I was 31.  Marc was 40, and just like me, he was married and had a young son.

We met through Craigslist in 1997, which was just before CL turned into hook-up central.  In his ad Marc said he was married and bisexual but he hadn't been with a guy since he was 20.  He was concerned about safety so he was looking for another married guy for a regular thing.

When we met in person for the first time we instantly clicked as friends, which gave me hope that we'd click even better as lovers.  It turned out that he wasn't comfortable with that label or idea, so after about two weeks we settled into being "more than friends and less than lovers."

We saw each other frequently, especially the first few months after we met. As we got more comfortable with each other, our friendship naturally grew.  I came to enjoy our after-sex bag lunches, which always included a bottle of wine, almost as much as the sex itself.  Marc was a good guy and his friendship meant a lot to me.

Well into our fifth year together, I had every reason to expect that we'd continue to see each other for many years to come.  Then, one day, after we were done fooling around and having lunch, Marc excused himself to go to the bathroom and I was left alone in his home office.  Curious about how secure his computer was if his wife ever got suspicious, I did a little digging and quickly discovered that he'd been meeting other guys.  That was quite a shock - and very disappointing.  No, we hadn't explicitly agreed to be exclusive, but  I thought that was understood, if only for the sake of safety.

When I confronted him, I was pretty low-key about it.  I just wanted to know the facts so I could decide how I felt.  He told me he'd been hooking-up with others for several months and he had done so because he was curious.  I told him I understood - and I did - but because I had a wife and family to protect, I had to be able to trust him.  I was no longer sure that I could, nor was I sure if I wanted an open arrangement.

It turned out that I didn't.

With somewhat hurt feelings on my part, but no anger, I stopped seeing him for about nine months and started seeing someone else.  After that new FWB turned out to be very unsatisfying, I met up with Marc twice more.  Our friendship was still strong but I was unable to sexually connect with him the way I once did, so, that was that.

Because of my experience with Marc, I learned a few things.  One was that exclusivity was, and remains, important to me.  The other was that friends-with-benefits relationships weren't an adequate substitute for the full-time connection I really wanted.

After I stopped seeing Marc, I half-heartedly tried to find another FWB but quickly gave up.  I just wasn't motivated to maintain a sex-based relationship.  Why bother when the pleasure was so temporary and the guilt about cheating was so permanent?

About six months following my last meeting with Marc I realized I was done with men forever.  A good straight marriage was more satisfying to me than pursuing short-term, down low connections with men.
A Hot Headless Torso...

Of course it's turned out that I wasn't done with men.  I would have been, had my wife not fallen in love with someone else, but she did, so there was no reason for us to stay together.  That was two and a half years ago.

At this point you might be asking, what does all of this have to do with "a hot headless torso vs. a decent face pic?"

Let me explain...

When it became clear that Gabbie preferred her alcoholic, criminal, illiterate, asshole boyfriend to me, I started to seriously think about dating men again for the first time in many years.  Since Marc, really.
A Decent Face Pic

I was deeply, deeply hurt by her decision to dump me for such a complete loser, so, believe me, when I thought about dating again I thought about what I could do to be genuinely desired.  The first thing that came to mind was something Marc had said years before.  He said, "Have you ever thought about working out, like, at all?"  Clearly he would have found me more appealing if I had a better body.  Maybe that was a reason he fucked around with other guys?  Whether that was true or not didn't matter; I was not going to risk being rejected for that reason again.

Because a good body was something that appealed to Marc, I hoped it would appeal to Gabbie too.  It didn't.  Or at least the way I did it, it didn't.  Within a few months I lost nearly 20% of my total body weight and went from being 8 pounds shy of BMI-overweight to 2 pounds above BMI-underweight.  Gabbie's reaction was disappointing.  She said I had lost too much weight and the thinner I got, the less attractive I was to her.  Of course by that time we were separated, so I felt like she'd criticize anything I did.

Her words did cause me to reconsider my focus, however.  As much as I enjoyed the challenge of seeing how much weight I could lose, she was right that it made more sense to concentrate on appearances, not a number.  Because I was already so lean, I decided to go for defined abs.  Every homo likes those, right?

The body I've wanted...
The body I have
It's now been more than two years since I lost the weight and more than 18 months since I starting working on my abs. 

I haven't exactly reached my goal of having well-defined abs.  My results aren't terrible but they're far short of what they should be, especially given how much time and effort I've expended.

As I hope the picture on the right shows, I think I can present myself reasonably well from the neck down, especially on a site like Grindr.

It turns out that Grindr is evolving, at least in my area.  More and more often, I see guys who say, "No face pic, no chat."  I've also noticed that the guys who do post face pics (even so-so attractive ones) are the same guys who are looking for real dates, like I am, as opposed to hook-ups.  While on the other hand, many of the guys who are looking for hook-ups post headless torso pics.  I've noticed this same phenomenon on Adam4Adam too, so it's not just a Grindr thing.  Apparently online m4m 'social networking' has evolved to the point where posting a face pic says, "I'm looking to date," and posting a body pic says, "I'm looking for a hook-up."

Multiple dates that turn into something meaningful, or, a hook-up?
Either way, it's the same guy.

So here's the order to have defined abs, you have to have low body fat, roughly 10%.  And when you lose body fat, it comes from everywhere. You can do a billion stomach crunches but that doesn't mean you'll burn mostly stomach fat.  You'll actually burn fat from all over your body, including your face.

Me in a few short years.
Check out the faces of thin guys over the age 40.  Do they look good?  Or do they look old, weathered and tired? 

Well, that's me now.  I *had* a relatively youthful face three years ago.  Now I get daily affirmations from my daughter about how old I look.

This means that my hard-fought battle to be desirable has completely back-fired.  I traded some miniscule ab definition for an older face.  Smart move!!

Average body, relationship material

I've seen a number of guys say things like, "I know I don't have six-pack abs, but I still think I'm a good catch."  They're responding to the widely-held assumption that a great body is what makes a guy highly desirable, and while it certainly doesn't hurt to be fit, a guy with a decent face pic and an average body is going to attract more long-term attention than an older looking guy with a hot body, especially if he's looking for something more than a hook-up.  In other words, a decent face pic is far more important than a hot, headless torso shot.

Because I've lost too much fat in my face, the logical solution is to try to regain some weight.  Unfortunately I can't do that.  Not because of some physical reason, but because I'm seriously fucked in the head.  After being endlessly rejected, by Marc, by Gabbie, by Dean, by every first date I go on, I've put the shredded scraps of what's left of my self-esteem into controlling how much I exercise, how much I eat and how much I weigh.  I literally can't stop working out, I can't eat more, and I can't gain too much weight..  Even taking small steps is difficult.  I'm afraid to lose the minimal abdominal definition I have; I think it's naive to expect that adding weight will return the fat to the right parts of my face.  It seems far more likely, especially with my luck, that extra weight will make both my body and face look like a pear - thin at the top and fat on the bottom.  That's something I just can't chance.  I can't throw away three years of hard work, much less what's left of my self-confidence, just because I hope more weight will go where I want it to.

The alternatives are to do nothing, to use "fillers" like Restylane or Sculptra, or to have plastic surgery. 
Sculptra Before and After
Love those choices! 

I'm actually going to try facial yoga.  It's supposed to strengthen and firm facial muscles to create a more youthful look.  If that doesn't work, then I'll consider injections.  They can be expensive, but since the classic mid-life crisis purchase is a Porsche 911, and that has a suggested retail price of $96,200, spending a few thousand dollars for a temporary look wouldn't be going totally overboard....or would it?


  1. Fat is first-on-last-off, and for most guys, first-on is at the waistline. So, no, you're not likely to be able to regain in your face without significantly impacting the changes to your torso.

    I'm not a doctor by any means, but what I would assume you're lacking in the face isn't fat but elasticity - that factor in skin that helps it tighten up. This usually breaks down as people age (and is where most wrinkles come from IIRC). I don't know of many scientifically-proven (in the "peer-reviewed" sense) treatments, but I think cocoa butter is one of the most-likely-to-be-proven ones I've heard of.

    The face yoga (never heard of it) might help with musculature, but I'd bet you're going to need some kind of actual change to the skin itself and not just the underlying muscles to see what you want to see. Talking to a dermatologist wouldn't be unreasonable, or even just a GP.

    As far as the rest - if I see any profile that is just a headless torso, I skip it. I don't care how in shape the dude is. And I'm certainly not someone who is in a position to be picky.

    1. Are you effing kidding Austin. You're very handsome. You can be as picky as you like!

    2. First-on, last off fat makes sense. I know getting an 8-pack is extremely difficult because you have to lose that last bit of stomach fat.

      I couldn't find a good picture of a man with hollow cheeks so the pictures above are not totally representative. My cheeks are not sunken (yet), but thanks to losing so much fat, I have these uncommon lines that cut across my cheeks, starting from the inside corners of my eyes. Fun! As an extra bonus, I have the usual nose and mouth lines, which are caused by reduced skin elasticity. Although the reduced elasticity is not a major concern at the moment, I probably should take action now.

      Face Yoga has been gaining popularity over the past few years. There are a number of books about it on Amazon, many with high reader ratings, including this one:

      I figure there's no harm in giving it a try.

  2. Try the fillers. They work. Nothing worse looking than skinny and scrawny (not that YOU are) but you see it way to often in middle aged women, older gay men and endurance athletes.

    I'm a str8 woman. We're not quite as obsessed with perfect bodies, at least in our men. Healthy is a MUCH better looking and can be achieved without emaciation. Unless you're a genetic marvel you will not be able to achieve the look you want in the gym alone.

    And as we age, we DO lose fat in places like our faces, lips and even the balls of our feet. Ask any middle aged woman how comfortable those 4" spiked heels she used to run around in all day in her 20's feels in her late 40's or 50's. Like walking on rocks!

    The fillers are relatively inexpensive and you can see how they look without a major commitment. If you don't like it, they reabsorb in just a few months

    Good luck. You deserve to feel GOOD about yourself.

    1. Thanks for the information. It's good to hear that someone likes fillers.

      I hadn't heard about women losing fat in the balls of their feet, but it makes sense. I'm glad I don't have that to complain about.

      Talking about my looks and thinking about fillers seems vain and superficial but the real issue IS feeling good about myself. It's about feeling confident, not looking better than others or pretending to be younger than I am. So hit the nail on the head. I'm glad someone understands.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. I think the cosmetic issues is a distraction from the deeper issue of self acceptance. You clearly have plenty of self loathing going on, try a smart therapist, support group, or even educate yourself about a faith that interests you. To me it is a matter of by degrees to say that the rabbit trail you are on is ok because it is cheaper than the other guy's. At the end of the day, you are still diverting yourself away from that which will bring you the most enduring happiness. Learn to love who you are and what you look like in the present tense. Doing things to change your appearance will not give you what you are looking for. I am not saying do it or don't do it. Just be clear that the temporary fix will only satisfy until you have had another long look in the mirror or suffered the next perceived rejection and then you will be right back to finding something to hate about yourself. Just be clear on what the cosmetic shift will actually provide you with. None of your pain will go away until you create some emotional stability for yourself by learning to take an honest look at yourself inside and out and choose to love what you see. If you can not insulate yourself from the harshness of life through the self care and self acceptance that you use to sustain yourself, then you will never have an enduring peace in your life.

    As a side note, you have on a few occasions put down that your wife rejected you. I would invite you to see the world through here eyes. You in a fundamental way rejected her female-ness, rather early in in your life together. I am not saying she is a good woman r that she chose wisely, but she is probably still deeply wounded from her relationship with you, one in which she experienced her own inadequacy and an ongoing rejection.

    By your own statement, you continued to stay not because she was the very thing you always wanted but because you were not finding the very thing you wanted from your gay endeavors. You may never have said this, but the stark reality is that you were willing to settle for her because you didn't know how to acquire the life you wanted being a gay many of your age and circumstance.

    I think your tendency towards the self loathing has skewed your perception with regards to you wife. She did not reject you. She stopped being willing to stay as a person and a life you were settling for. Your infidelities were an ongoing rejection of her sufficiency as your partner.

    The fact that she chose to move on to a looser probably has a lot to do with her own lack of self love and her ego being mangled from her marriage to you. She is responsible for those poor choices. I just think that you are not in a position to either her judge her or personalize her blunders as she tries to cope with the fall out from her marriage to you.

    I mean you had hurt feeling when a man you were cheating with chose to see others. Wither she at some point in time gave consent or not to your indiscretions, wither she knew of them or just that you had a yearning to be doing them, her marriage to you was intensely painful. To this day, I bet that part of her life causes her to doubt her own worth her sexual self and her relations self. Perhaps she is making poor choices instead of leveraging her pain into a fulcrum point for growth.

    Whatever the case you have plenty of your own actually bullshit, don't personalize her bullshit. She couldn't stand to be the woman you live with but didn't cherish this is not a rejection of you but of the situation. Her choice in shitty alternative partnering may make little sense to you but I bet it is because he is as damaged as she feels, and he needs and wants her is some fundamental ways that you never did. Sure there is a layer of codependent messed up cycle of relational/substance abuse. Still she is needed and longed for. It is sad but totally understandable.

    1. You've touched on a number of interesting issues here. I certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness. I don't feel like I can appropriately respond in a comment, so please pardon this inadequate reply. I'll address self-loathing here and being rejected by wife below.

      One of my best/worst traits is my loyalty/persistence/stubbornness. If I carefully read someone's dating profile and I feel like there's a reasonable chance we might click, I want to see that possibility through. To be rejected without meeting or to be rejected on first sight really frustrates me. I don't want to be liked for my looks, that's not the point. I just want my looks not to be a negative factor.

      Also, while I don't say this in the post, I am aware that being rejected by Marc, Dean and Gabbie has relatively little to do with looks. There were many factors involved, some that personally pertained to me and some that didn't.

      Overall, I don't think I'm self-loathing. More the opposite actually. I think I have a lot of great qualities, but now that I'm alone I've been forced to ask: why doesn't anyone else??? [My answer: I sure hope it's looks, because at 47, changing a bad or mediocre personality is far, far harder than working toward a 6-pack.]

      Because my goal with my appearance is to negate the negative, I don't perceive that any self-loathing tendencies I have are any more (or less) than average. The same goes for self-love and acceptance.

      Finally, this post was meant to be slightly humorous, in a dry, ironic way. Isn't it just a little amusing that what I did to feel better about myself has backfired? I'm not quite Narcissus drowning in my own reflection but the irony is certainly parallel.

  4. Dude, you need therapy. And don't lay that "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before. The problem is I have to *want* to change, and for now I don't" crap on me again, because it*'s clear that you *do* want to change.

    1. "it*'s clear that you *do* want to change."

      You're right, I do want to change. I want to have cost-free, risk-free, flaw-free, pain-free cosmetic surgery that will make me look as good as Ryan Kwanten or Matt Bomer.

      I don't think that's going to happen. Similarly, therapy isn't going to happen either.

      Given your keen observational skills, I'm surprised that you haven't noticed how many "issues" I've worked through over the past four years. Blogging is quite therapeutic. Writing a post can be the final step in the process of packaging up an issue and sending it on its way.

      Comments are extremely helpful too, especially if they're heart-felt or well-argued. They're often my best gauge of whether I've moved past something. If I feel a critical comment is true, then I know I have work to do. On the other hand, if I feel ambivalent, then I know I'm good. Whenever therapy is mentioned, I feel nothing.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. I agree with Laughing Creation.

    1. She's smart, insightful and eloquently speaks her mind.

      We'd all be wise to pay close attention to what she has to say, myself included.

  6. While I agree with almost everyone, to deny that practically every human being isn't insecure about their attractiveness is to deny reality. To what else can we attribute the billions and billions spent on lotions and potions and gym memberships and spas and designer duds?

    Add that to being a single middle aged guy looking for love in the gayborhood and is it any wonder a guy would want whatever edge he could get in the attractiveness (or attractiveness as defined by gay men) department?

    Knowing you look good to your preferred audience increases confidence. It can put a pep in ones step. That by itself can increase attractiveness. Whether you gain the confidence by reading a library full of self help books or invest in a mid-winter beach vacation for a tan or try the trendy new stylist at your salon, everyone, or most everyone feels, a boost when they look good. That is almost always visible to the people around you

    As long as it doesn't become an obsession...the eternal quest for younger and hotter and is tempered by realistic expectations, there's nothing wrong with it...or at least nothing TOO pathological or too harmful

    1. Someone understands!!! Thank you!!!

      "Knowing you look good to your preferred audience increases confidence. It can put a pep in ones step. That by itself can increase attractiveness. Whether you gain the confidence by reading a library full of self help books or invest in a mid-winter beach vacation for a tan or try the trendy new stylist at your salon, everyone, or most everyone feels, a boost when they look good. That is almost always visible to the people around you" - This is exactly what my goal is, to take whatever reasonable steps are necessary to increase my confidence. I *think* physical things are going to do the trick, or at least push me in the right direction, and for that reason I'm willing to give them a try.

      Thanks again for your terrific comment!

  7. hey i think you have a nice body!! you don't have to go crazy at the gym anymore, just as long as you maintain what you have.

    and yeah you're looking for elasticity.

    to be frank this post was very interesting to me... i always assumed that if one works out one would look more youthful. although arguably i think it's more about your defeatist attitude that might be showing on your face. probably stress, anxiety, etc has added up...don't be so down, you're beating yourself up too much. eat healthy, live healthy, pamper yourself with anti-ageing facial creams etc like olay regenerist micro-sculpting cream (holy shit i am such a girl) and things will be aiight!!

    1. How I wish that my defeatist attitude was all that showed in my face! That would definitely be an upgrade. I'm not into facial creams, but maybe I should be? I'll have to think about that. It's hard to know if they really help or if they're just a gimmick.

      Mostly I'm battling age and genetics. My parents are 19 and 20 years older than me and they both look awful. I look better than they did at the same age, so I credit that to a healthy lifestyle, but genes are genes.

      Working out when you're young makes sense because it's relatively easy to maintain a good body and not cannibalize your face. But staying 20yo thin as you get older will age you faster. Look at the faces of older people and you'll see what I mean. Heavier middle aged people look better than most thin ones.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. I think you're right -- it's possible to be too thin. A few years ago I lost 25lb and hot my goal.....and then kept on going. People started asking me, "Are you ok?" Like I had cancer or something. Now I have a more realistic goal in mind, and instead of intensity aerobics I'm doing weights or Bob Harper core. You'll find a happy medium for your weight. Being on the thin side is much better than being overweight.

    Now if you can just find the rare guy over 40 who is in shape!

    1. I've had a few people say things like, "You've lost weight...was that intentional?" One of them was a doctor who flat-out asked me if I was sick. Not many people have said, "You look good!" even for the sake of being polite. My guess is that if I added 15lbs. people would start telling me I look better and I was too thin. I'm working on gaining weight but I want muscle, not blubber.

      How have you been??? I miss your blog.

  9. I was trying too think of an analogy for the kind of rejection your wife has felt over the course of your marriage and this is the best I can think of. What if your long term friend who you had a thing with for years had come to you and said I know we have been doing this for some time now and I am happy to continue but I want you to know I never found you all that appealing.The truth is your penis doesn't really do it for me. I really prefer uncircumcised super well hung black men.I obviously can get there with you but it has never truly meet my deepest sexual needs. You are a great person but your penis is way smaller than I need and your lack of foreskin makes it look sad and shriveled down there, but as I say I will stay with you because it isn't like hung black uncut men are banging down my door. Nobody would say that you had rejected your lover if you opted not to continue after he said that to you. You would simply have decided not to be the person he was settling for.

    1. As I said above, I seriously doubt that this comment will be detailed enough to adequately explain why I feel so rejected by my wife. I will be writing a post about her soon, but I'm not sure if I'll get into the rejection aspect of our relationship. If it fits within the overall theme of the post, I will, largely because of your comments.

      While I completely understand your analogy, and it applies to most mixed orientation marriages, it does not apply to mine.

      It's true that I did reject my wife, 2.5 years after we were married, before we had kids, when we were 26. It's also true that I asked her to reconcile nine weeks later. Why? Because I wanted to be with her. Because she was the person I loved most.

      I made that decision in the best of circumstances. She was not my fallback or second choice. When she took me back, knowing that I was gay, I understood her to be making the same decision that I had made: that she loved me as person more than she loved the *idea* of being married to someone of the "right" orientation. Not once, ever, did I reject her sexually. Not once, ever, did I insult or denigrate her appearance or femininity. Not once, ever, did I think of her as unappealing. My love for her transcended gender.

      More than two years later I started to seek out men again, not really for sex, but for fulfillment of that empty space inside that neither my wife nor I could touch. It took six years of experience with men for me to truly "get" that fulfillment could only come from within. That realization made connecting with men pointless, so I stopped. It wasn't until more than five years later that my wife met her alcoholic, illiterate, criminal boyfriend and started down the long, slow path of destroying her life.

      In theory, ANY man would be a better match for me because I'm gay. But through experience I learned that my wife was the best match I could ever hope to find. I loved her fully, absolutely and monogamously for many years, and I fully expected to do so until the day I died. She, on the other hand, turned her own children and family against her, and chose a horrible man who has caused her unending pain and embarrassment since the day she first met him. Where, in that process, was her love for me?

      I'm sorry, but there's just no comparing my love for my wife to her lack of love for me. Likewise, there is no comparing unpreferred genitalia to my decision to spend the rest of my life monogamously committed to her and her decision to dump me in favor of excrement trying to pass himself off as a man.

      Had my wife decided not to "settle" for a being married to a gay man (19 years after coming out to her) who was whole-heartedly and monogamously committed to her and instead took up with any one of the 99.5% of human men who are not total scum, I would have had to respect that decision. A woman being married to a gay man is a very big deal and she would have every right to reject that. However, she chose to flush me away in just about the worst possible way. I'll never understand how she chose that asshole over me. Ever.

      I also want to say that feeling rejected is a state of mind. If I had married a lesbian and she said, "I like women so I don't want to be married to you anymore," I wouldn't feel particularly rejected. It's a tragic situation but it's not one where choice is involved. Whether you or anyone else thinks I *should* feel rejected or not doesn't really matter to me. I know exactly how everything played out and why. I know my role and my imperfections. I know that my sexuality was definitely a contributing factor. But because I know all the facts and nuances, in a way that no one else can, it's my personal right to decide how I feel. Others might want to say it's wrong to feel as I do, but I can assure you that my feelings of being rejected, not just as a gay man, but as an unworthy person, is something I will continue to deal with for some time to come.

    2. I look forward to a discussion about our wife and the details of your marriage. There are far fewer women out here blogging about what it is to be a wife in this position and it would be great to read a bit about that, even if it is filtered through your lens it would still be informative for me I think.