Monday, December 16, 2013

Men, Mixers and Everlasting Commitment

Paris, France...the city everyone loves, the city everyone wants to visit.

Except me.

I never had much of an interest in going there.  Too much hype, too much attitude.

Or so I thought.

Back in 2005, Gabbie and I took our kids to Europe to see some friends who moved to Belgium.  The kids were 12, 8 and 6 at the time.  Our friends had three boys, 8, 5 and 3.  Late into our visit, our friends shocked us by offering to watch all six kids for a day so Gabbie and I could visit Paris.  What an offer!

For $120 each, Gabbie and I took a two hour train from Brussels to Paris and enjoyed a Sunday there.  We raced through the essentials in just a few hours...the Eiffel Tower, Norte Dame, the Louve and the Champs de Elysee...all the classic tourist sights.

What did I enjoy most?

The sights on the river Seine...

...specifically, an amazing number of handsome, petite men who looked like this:

(Or at least they did after I mentally undressed them.)

Many of them worked on tourist river boats which meant they were dressed in naval uniforms - an added bonus.

Prior to my visit to Paris I hadn't particularly noticed how sexy many petite men are, especially when they have lean, muscular builds.  Now I'm crazy about them.

One of the reasons I'm so attracted to short, well-proportioned men is because I'm smaller-than-average myself.  And while size doesn't necessarily dictate relationship dynamics, I'd love to be the physically dominant man in a partnership.  That's important because I'd like to break free of my submissive relationship tendencies.  After 25 years of being Gabbie's "yes" man, I'd like to have the mental, emotional and physical stature to be the Alpha Male, not the Beta Wimp.


Every so often I'll see a guy who reminds me of the sexy, short men in Paris.  One such guy is a regular at a monthly mixer I've been attending for bi and gay men.  I've never spoken to him, never even heard his voice, and I know absolutely nothing about him, looking at him makes my heart beat about three times faster.

I should describe the mixers.  They're very casual, afternoon potlucks held at different homes in the suburbs.  They're big - easily more than 100 guys attend.  Most attendees are single and well over the age of 40.

At the most recent mixer I was hanging out with my friend Kerry from my men's group.  And, as usual, my eyes kept gravitating toward the short, cute guy I've been watching for months.
Mathieu, a French sailor

While trying not to stare too much, I said to Kerry, "I'm really attracted to that guy's looks."

"You are?" (Pause)   "Huh."  (Another pause.  Kerry obviously doesn't understand my attraction.)  "What is it that you like about him?"

"Well...It's weird.  It makes no sense, actually.  I don't know anything about him, not even his name.  But there's something about short, well-proportioned men like him that really turns me on."

"Oh, in that case..." and Kerry ducked down.

We both laughed loudly.

Then suddenly...

I wasn't thinking about the sexy short guy anymore...

I was thinking about Kerry.


Kerry is two years older.  He's an authentic, smart, REALLY nice guy.

Of all the guys I've met through the men's group or the mixers, Kerry is probably the most like me.

I "get" him.
I like him.
I'm really glad I met him.

I just wish I wanted to rip his clothes off.

He's not unattractive.  In fact, now that I've found myself suddenly thinking about him, he's gotten more attractive.  But I don't lust for him.

Is lust essential to begin a relationship?  I'm not sure.  What if we were to try dating but genuine passion didn't eventually develop?  Then I'd feel stuck in a bad relationship with a good person.

On the other hand, what if things went well?

Kerry is a good, quality man without a selfish bone in his body.  He's 100% trustworthy and loyal. There's nothing to dislike about him.  All someone has to do is treat him right and he'll be happily devoted to that person for the rest of his life.

That's all terrific, appealing stuff, but it also freaks me out.


Being in a happy, committed relationship with a good man is supposed to be my ideal.  Yet I fear how that would change my life.

By nature, I'm a very private person.  I think 30+ years in the closet has helped make me that way.  Whereas my 14yo daughter dreams about being famous, that would be hell for me.  On those rare occasions when I draw attention to myself, I do it in a very controlled, focused way.  I try to direct the spotlight, not be in it.

Separating from Gabbie has been difficult for many reasons, one of which is that it opens me up to personal questions that I don't really want to answer.  It's for that reason that I've only told one "old life" person that we've split up, and she's never met Gabbie.  The only reason I told her was because her own long-term marriage fell apart and I wanted her to know that I totally understood her situation.  Had she not shared her pain, I would not have shared mine.

No one in my family knows Gabbie and I have split up.  Not my parents, not my sister.  I have no desire to tell them, mostly because I don't want to talk about it.  There's nothing they could say or do that would be helpful or supportive.  In fact, it's far more likely that both my parents would say something that really pisses me off.  They already do that for small things, this would only be 100,000x more aggravating.

Telling them about the gay thing will be even worse.  That will be another highly irritating conversation.  Here again, there's nothing they could say that would make me happy.  Even if they said, "We totally support you," I'd never believe them.  They're not capable of being supportive - of anything.  That's a given.

Dragging someone like Kerry into my life would be cruel.  Do I subject him to my family or do I hide him?  Either choice would be a bad one.

But what if we were totally committed?  Then there'd be no reason to hide.  Or, more accurately, no excuse to keep hiding.

Now that I've realized this, I've become a full-fledged commitment-phobe.  The easiest way to avoid the scrutiny I dread is to stay away from able-to-commit men like Kerry, and from dating in general.

It's not just dealing with my parents that makes me relationship-phobic.  I also fear that I won't be able to balance a full-time, committed relationship with being a full-time, devoted parent.  One way or another, I'd have to compromise how I spend my time and that's not something I'm eager to do. I'm pretty confident it would turn into a no-win situation where I'd mostly end up feeling bad about being an uncaring boyfriend AND an absentee father.

Lastly, I fear how having a serious boyfriend would affect my relationship with Gabbie.  She's been my best friend for my entire adult life - 27 years.  My connection with her has been the longest, best and most fulfilling of my life.  It's scary to imagine that changing.

A new partner would have to be a higher priority than her, I know that, but I don't know how to smoothly make that adjustment. Here again, the easiest solution (in the short-run, at least) is to avoid the problem entirely, by not get involved with anyone.

Although I am currently commitment-phobic, I don't think I'll remain this way forever.  In theory, I could change my mind tomorrow.  All it would take would be meeting someone I'm so crazy about that my fears simply wouldn't matter any more.

My gut feeling is Kerry isn't that guy, but, I'm definitely keeping all my options open.


  1. A few comments:

    1. I think that in your head you've jumped ten steps ahead with Kerry. Suppose you had two or three dates with him. You could share some info on your situation. If he thinks he couldn't tolerate your situation, then you can just be friends.

    2. Must you have an immediate urge to rip the guy's clothes off before you can date him? I don't think so. Get to know him a little better, he might grow on you. I think you're needlessly eliminating a lot of guys from consideration if you use that as the criterion.

    3. Maybe you have a fear (perhaps sub-conscious) of moving forward with your life and into a relationship. Probably not so uncommon.

    4. There are only so many hours in a day -- and you have to be single dad and sole bread winner. It's understandable that you have some anxiety about juggling everything.

    Don't feel so bad. I feel the same way about many things.

    1. Ack, I must not have been clear about the depth of my friendship with Kerry. Because we're both in the men's group we already know a lot about each other. He knows my story and I know his. We've also had dinner together twice, just the two of us, as friends. Once at the beginning of this year and a second time in early October.

      You're right that I have jumped ten steps ahead. That was supposed to be my point.

      When I extrapolated where a relationship might lead I suddenly realized how unready I am for that kind of change in my life. It was a sobering realization, one that would apply to any man who is relationship material, not just Kerry.

      As always, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Hey, thanks for such an honest, interesting blogpost! I do think that a relationship is not necessarily "dick-tated" (get it? ;)) by sex or passion, though it's nice if they're there. Maybe spending some quality time with Kerry, even though it may not be for "forever" (a concept I think people should retire), will help in making you more open for a relationship and be good practice, plus a good time for both of you?

    Either way, amazing blog! I loved reading it! P.S. - what is this "men's group" that you mention?

  3. "we accept the love we think we deserve." you'll find your way.

    and i don't think healthy relationships are built on lust at all. of course you don't want to be disgusted by the other guy, but other things matter a lot more. for me, i feel like if u can look at someone for no reason really, and just feel happy and break out a smile, that's a good start.