Friday, August 29, 2014

Cruising Incident / Dating Realization

I cruise a lot, but not for sex.

I use eye contact to try to communicate with other men who are attracted to men.  For example, when a good-looking guy walks past me, I try to catch his gaze for a fraction of a second.  If I do, and if he's attracted to men, I'll see that in his eyes.  If he's not attracted to men, or not attracted to me, or just generally clueless, his eyes won't communicate anything.

I got into the habit of doing this many years ago when I was in the closet.  It was a fun way to feel less isolated.  Whenever I made meaningful eye contact with another guy, even if we never spoke, I felt a kinship.  Although I have plenty of bi and gay friends now, I still enjoy the hide-and-seek dynamics of what I call The Gaydar Game.

99.6% of the time, when I ping someone, there's no connection.  On those rare occasions when a connection is made, the ping is almost always a weak one. A weak ping is essentially a gay hello. We acknowledge each other but there's no lust or intensity involved.  Instead, our eyes confirm that we're attracted to men and we move along without further interaction.

On extremely rare occasions, I get a strong ping.  That's when a guy's eyes enthusiastically say, "Yo, I like what I see!"

Strong pings are wild!  They make my heart beat violently, cause sweat to shoot out of every pore in my body and overload my brain as I frantically try to decide what to do next.

It's been a long time since I've had a strong, memorable ping.  I forget most of them because nothing ever happens.  The intense stare might be there but we can't communicate because one of us is with someone else, or, we're in cars going in opposite directions.

Recently, I got a strong ping and found myself totally befuddled. The guy was alone and available and so was I.  This meant, for the first time since I've been single, I had the opportunity to spontaneously meet someone new who seemed to have an interest in me...

Here's what happened:

I was in suburban shopping mall, in a city with a microscopic gay population.  It was a weekday morning and I was there killing time before a meeting.  After hitting up all the better stores, I still had time to fill so I went to Macy's.

I'd only been in the Men's section for a minute when I saw an attractive guy in his mid-30s walk out of the fitting room area.  I pinged him and he was oblivious.  Not gay.

A few seconds later, another guy, this one in his mid-40s, came out of the same set of fitting rooms.  As he walked past me, I saw him turn his head and stare at the first man.  I didn't have to ping him.  From the way he watched the first guy I knew he was gay.

This guy, the second guy, was decent looking.  Blond and somewhat tall.  He wasn't exactly my type but he was well within the range of guys I'd consider dating.  After he checked out the first guy, he walked to the cash register to pay for one article of clothing.  Because he had his back to me as he walked, he didn't see me until he turned toward the female cashier.  Once he did, we were facing each other, about 40 feet apart.  Just for the heck of it, I shot him a quick-but-telling glance.

He noticed me but didn't respond in a particularly strong way.  For that reason, I expected him to pay for his purchase, turn his back to me, and walk away.  Only he didn't do that. Instead, he took his purchase and walked in my general direction.  Then he started "browsing" through a nearby rack of clothes.  Who does that?  Who buys something and THEN immediately goes back to browsing?  Clearly he decided to cruise me.

As soon as I realized that, my heart jumped into my throat and a thin film of sweat covered my body. Basically, he called my bluff and now I had to decide what to do next.

What to do next??


The good news is that I didn't turn tail and run. Instead I stalled for time.  I needed to think.  What did I want to happen?  What should I say to him?   Was he looking for a hook-up or would he be willing to talk over coffee?

I couldn't make up my mind what to do; I wanted something to happen, at least for the sake of following through on a strong ping, but I wasn't exactly sure what.  A coffee date would be my normal goal, but in this situation, asking for that felt awkward.  "Hi!  Want to have coffee??"  Weird.

To keep encouraging the guy, I gave him a series of quick looks, then slightly turned away each time.  I was trying to use body language to say, "I'm a total chicken.  Please approach me and make the first move."

He did approach, but not as boldly as I would have liked.  Instead of walking straight up to me, he slowly browsed in my direction.  As he inched closer and closer, I got more and more nervous.  What should I say to him?  What did I want to happen?

The answers wouldn't come.  I was paralyzed with anxiety.  All I could do was flip through rack after rack of clothes, pretending to look at them.

My blond friend was surprisingly patient.  He followed me for at least five minutes, which is a very long time for this sort of cruising.  In the past, I've had guys follow me for a minute or two but then they give up when they realize I'm all eyes and no action.

Many thoughts raced through my mind in that five minutes, including some that were very surprising.  I actually became so engrossed in a new realization that I lost track of where the guy was standing.  When I looked up, I didn't see him.  Then, as I turned around, I nearly gasped aloud when I realized he was standing right behind me.  Unnerved, I put my head down and walked about twenty feet away.  When I looked up again, he was gone...never to be seen again.

Both angry at myself and relieved to be off the hook, I walked back to my car to contemplate what had just happened.

Mostly, I think my behavior was ridiculous and immature.  If I was in a gay bar and got the same strong ping from the same guy, I wouldn't have been nearly so flummoxed.  To be panicked because we were in a suburban department store was stupid.  Why didn't I make some kind of small talk with him?  What's so hard about that???

In truth, I never thought of making small talk, which would have been the logical thing to do.  Instead I obsessed about asking if he was free for coffee.

Overall, my lack of game while under pressure was very disappointing.

But what about the realization?

It began with the question of what I wanted to happen.  As I thought about that, I considered the best-case scenario:

I didn't want to hook-up, I wanted a first date.  If I got one, then what?

We'd start dating.

Then what?

We'd get serious.

Then what?

I'd have to tell my kids, parents, friends and family.

Then what?

I'd irrevocably change everything in my life, all for the sake of one new person.

And what would happen if, after all that, the relationship fell apart?

I might regret having ever met him.

What's the realization?  That maybe I shouldn't be meeting strangers in department stores, and more generally, that maybe I shouldn't be meeting anyone, ever, because it's extremely unlikely that everything will work out perfectly.  Either my hopes will crash and burn, OR, they'll be realized - and my life will irrevocably change in frightening ways. 

As you can see, it appears that the only kind of relationship I'm willing to risk is one that is certain to succeed.  If I can imagine any chance of failure, then the risk for pain and regret is too high.  I'd much rather be safe than sorry. 

No wonder I'm so unmotivated to date.

I understand that this attitude is unhealthy.  I just don't know how to get over my fear of relationship failure.  I did everything I could to make things work with both Gabbie and Dean, and in both cases they dumped me anyway.  Is it any wonder that I'm reluctant to put myself out there?

I don't want to be this way.  I need some positive dating and relationship experiences to get out of this funk.  I need to be willing to take more chances.  I just wish I wasn't so plagued by fear. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Straight Wife Needs Help: How did this happen???

I recently received the message below as a comment from an anonymous straight wife.  In it, she tells her story and asks if anyone can help her understand her husband's behavior.  What would you tell her?  Please share your feedback in the comment box below.
I am 45 years old and been married for 25 years to the same man, we have two beautiful daughters. I have been faithful to him in every way. My husband is 46, a tradesman who worked away for much of our relationship. Just over a year ago he came home on his turn around, we were having a wonderful day and all of the sudden he said "I'm leaving, there is nothing to talk about and I am not coming back". He packed his car and left. One month later came back wanting to come home. He had been drinking excessively for the last 3 years and I thought that was the problem for his sudden mood changes. I would not let him come back but told him I was not giving up on our marriage. 10 months after our separation (we were on speaking terms some up and downs but getting along well) he was at our home, I had moved out with our 16 year old daughter, I couldn't financially afford to live there and he was giving me no support. I showed up unannounced which was not unusual but this time he had a man there. I come to find out that he has been living (not just dating, has a home) with this man for the past 4 years, we were only separated for not even a year. He admitted to me that day that he was having a relationship with this man but when I went back the next day he denied everything saying he was just someone to communicate with. He continues to put the blame on me and I can't understand why. So I thought maybe you or another gay husband could fill me in on how he justify what he has done. Was he gay from day one, is every memory and moment of my past just a lie? Was I just a cover so no one would know? Was my life, my happiness not important? Did it repulse him to be with me?
Here's my response:

Anonymous - I'm very sorry to hear about your situation.  You've been blind-sided.  Not once, but twice.

Blind-side betrayals are traumatic events.  The pain can be worse then getting run over by a truck.  At least with a truck you get taken to a hospital.  After a blind-side betrayal, you're often left alone, wondering what the hell just happened.

The most important thing for you to know is that what your husband has done reflects on him, not you.   Sexual orientation is not learned.  Your husband has always been attracted to men, although he may not have been fully aware of it.  The fact that he decided to leave after 25 years does NOT mean you are an undesirable woman.  All it means is that he couldn't hold back his attraction to men any longer.  It's like holding a giant inflatable ball under water.  You can keep it submerged for a very long time...but, inevitably, it pops up to the surface.

Love and sex can be very complicated, especially for men who are not strictly straight or gay.  I can't imagine that your husband doesn't love you.  You spent 25 years together and got along well.  That has to mean something.  People can be fake-nice or fake-loving for short periods of time but not for decades.  This means that every moment of your past was NOT a lie, it just wasn't the full truth.

Were you a cover?

It depends on what you mean by 'cover'.  Some women want to know if their husband had a premeditated plan to use them.  They imagine their husband saying to himself, "I'm gay, but because that's not socially acceptable, I'm going to find a gullible woman to be my beard."

I can only remember one man ever admitting he did that.  Every other man's story has been rooted in wishful thinking or denial.  Wishful thinkers say to themselves, "My attraction to men will go away or won't be important if I marry a woman I love." Deniers don't believe (or don't even comprehend) that they're attracted to men.  In their hearts, their decision to marry a woman is completely sincere.

Based on what you've said, I don't know whether your husband was a wishful thinker or a denier.  I'm not sure that it matters.  You can't fake 25 years of intimacy.  He cares about you...but sexually, he's more attracted to men.

Was your life and happiness unimportant? 

This is a difficult question to answer.  Yes, your life is important, but human nature makes us selfish.  A hungry man may be willing to give his food to his starving wife for a long period time, but when does he start to hold back because he convinces himself he's more hungry than she is?

Long periods of denial often play out like a dam breaking.  Everything is fine and then *wham* it's total chaos and disaster.  From your husband's point of view, that's why he blind-sided you.  He wasn't trying to be cruel, or to intentionally ruin your life.  What happened was that his interior dam of denial finally broke.  Once that happened, he basically said, "Your survival is up to you and mine is up to me."  That's a shitty thing to do to another person, especially to someone you've pledged to care about more than any other person, but breaking dams cause panic.  There's no reasonable excuse for what your husband has done, but, it also wasn't something he did out of malice.  Weakness yes, malice, no.

Did it repulse him to be with you?

Probably not.

Think about this: if you, as a woman, loved another woman, but were not sexually attracted to her, would you be repulsed by her?  Lack of attraction is very different from repulsion.  It seems to me that if your husband was actually repulsed he would've asked for a divorce many years ago.

Anonymous, you might not fully realize it, but you're in a state of shock.  It's going to take time for you to adjust to what's happened.  During this very difficult time you need to take care of yourself.  Don't worry about your husband - worry about you.  Toward that end, please know that you are not alone in this situation.  Sadly, there are many other straight wives out there.  Only they can truly know how it feels to be blind-sided the way you have been.  Don't hesitate to seek their support.  A number of cities have local support groups, and even if yours doesn't, there are several places to go on the Internet to talk to other women in your exact situation.

Again, I'm sorry about what your husband has done.  As painful as this is, you will recover.  In fact, it's very likely that you'll meet a new man who loves you both as a person and as a woman.  Then you'll find true happiness, as Michelle (another blogger) has.


Here's a link to a young video blogger, Ben Hobson, who came out to his wife after a few years of marriage.  He explains his thinking in several different videos.  She even appears in a few of them.

Here's a link to another young blogger who knew he was attracted to men, and had sexual experiences with them, but recently married a woman because he knew he couldn't live without her.