Monday, June 16, 2014

First Date in a Year

A year ago I decided to take a break from Internet dating.  I'm so glad I did.  I just wasn't enjoying the process. I felt like a product on Amazon - and a rather unimpressive one at that.

I'm still not ready to go back to on-line dating.  If or when I do, I won't be focused on it.  Meeting guys socially works about a billion times better for me.  As proof of that, I've made nearly 20 REAL friends in the last year, which is more than I made in all the years since college combined.

The problem with meeting guys socially is figuring out whether we have a mutual, more-than-friends interest in each other.  A few guys have really confused me, leaving me uncertain as to what my next step should be.

My instinctive strategy has been to take no chances. I got badly burned by Dean, my one boyfriend since coming out, because I hit on him too quickly.  He abruptly ended what I thought was a great relationship after four months because he wasn't attracted to me.  That break-up happened 20 months ago and I still haven't recovered from the shock and pain of his rejection.  I never want to put myself in that situation again.

Another reason I've held back with questionable guys is because they're questionable in the first place.  If I'm unsure about them, isn't that a clear indication that we shouldn't date?  Aren't sustainable attractions powerful? Don't they develop naturally because of their own momentum?

I used to be convinced that a "wait-til-it-happens" strategy was the right one, but now I'm not sure.  I had a recent epiphany where I realized how important flirting can be.  Because I don't flirt, do I come off as being too aloof?  Is that why I get confusing signals?  But then I ask myself, "Why would I flirt with guys who are supposed to be friends?"

Is there anyone else out there who finds crossing the more-than-friends barrier extremely confusing???

***

My original plan for this post was to write about three different men I've met socially who, because of their behavior, have made me wonder if they're interested in me.  Two of them explicitly said they wanted to be platonic friends...but then in subsequent interactions they've done things that might indicate otherwise.  I've been so confused!

Recent events, however, have caused me to change this post.  Instead of writing about three guys, I'm only going to write about one, Shane:

The first time I read Shane's on-line profile was well over a year ago.  In addition to being age-appropriate, a formerly married guy with kids, local and attractive, he said his best quality was his loyalty.  After getting dumped by both Gabbie and Dean, "loyalty" is now a major turn-on for me. 

He also said he was into monogamy, which really cemented him in my mind as someone I had to meet.  The problem?  He was "currently in a great relationship but always looking to meet new friends."  Bah!!

Although he was coupled, I still seriously thought about contacting him.  Then I got to thinking...what if our meeting went so well that I developed a big crush on him?  That would be a problem.

Ultimately I decided not to message him because the chances for a good outcome seemed slim.  We'd have to click in a mutually platonic way, and given how much I already felt attracted to him, that didn't seem likely.

Well, a few weeks ago, Shane joined an on-line social group that I happened to belong to.  As soon as I saw him there, I logged into the dating site to see if he was single - and he was.  Awesome.  Even better, on the social group's site he said he intended to come to the next meeting.  I couldn't have asked for a more relaxed way to meet him - so much better than the usual on-line dating BS.

It turned out that Shane did not attend the meeting.  I went home very disappointed, and even worse, the next opportunity to meet him wouldn't be for another two months.

As much as I tried to be patient, I couldn't stop thinking about him.  Finally, after a long internal debate, I decided to email him.  I wanted to be as low-key about meeting as possible, so instead of asking for a date, I invited him to meet other formerly married men at a local mixer.  His reply was fast and enthusiastic, but unfortunately, he couldn't go. Instead he suggested that we meet for coffee. I took him up on that offer immediately.

We ended up meeting for dinner five days later.  I, of course, thought of it as a date.  He, I assume, thought of it as meeting a potential local friend.   It was torture waiting all week for that date.  The whole time I couldn't concentrate on anything else.

I'm happy to report that the dinner went well.  We talked for two-and-a-half hours and I felt like there was genuine, mutual chemistry.  The highlight of the meal was when he described his 'type' as "skinny and bookish, under the age of 50." 

As he said that, he didn't seem to realize that I fit that exact description.  It wasn't a flirtatious comment, it was a statement of fact, and hearing it made my hopes really soar. No man has EVER described their type as anything close to me.  Most age-appropriate guys (those over 40) like beefy, hairy men, not twerps like me.  For anyone to say skinny was appealing was a minor miracle - to hear Shane say it was un-fucking-believable.

The next day I emailed him to say "thanks for dinner" and "I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you."  He replied very quickly and said we should have lunch sometime soon.  I said that would be awesome.  Then, just two days later he texted me at 10:50am and asked if I was available for lunch at 12:15.  You bet I was available!  Lunch went well too.

The next day I emailed him again and told him about a social event I planned to attend the following night.  Would he like to come?  He said he would.  It was a 40 minute trip each way so I offered to drive him.  He took me up on that offer. 

The night went well, especially the ride home.  He brought up the subject of open relationships and how every gay couple he knew had one. I said I wasn't surprised, but that it wasn't for me.  He said he felt the same way.  As we talked more about it, I felt like we really understood and appreciated each other in a deeper, more connected way.

After that highlight, saying goodbye was a small disappointment.  There was no hug and no friendly pat or squeeze on my arm.  Instead he simply jumped out of the car, said, "Thanks for driving - have a good night!" and walked away.  It felt very platonic.

"Oh well," I thought, "I shouldn't make too much of it."

So I didn't... until the next day... when I couldn't think of anything else.  Is he interested?  Is he not?  I really had no idea.  Then, at about 2pm, the door to my office opened AND THERE HE WAS.

"I have just two minutes, and I happened to be nearby, so I thought I'd say hi."

He did only stay for two minutes, and we didn't talk about anything interesting, but right after he left I did a big fist pump and said excitedly to myself, "HE'S INTERESTED!"  No one stops by unexpectedly like that, especially when they just saw you the night before.

That was three days ago.  We've traded a number of texts and emails since then, but I have to say, the vibe in them has felt rather platonic.  And... the more I think about every positive thing he's said, the more I wonder if I'm hearing what I want to hear.  Looked at objectively, nothing he's said has unambiguously indicated he has any romantic interest in me.  So, I remain very confused.
Shane's type: RJ Mitte

I like Shane as a person so much that I really don't want to wreck our developing friendship by hitting on him.  I've got to have a clear sign that he's interested in me.  I misunderstood the depth of Dean's interest in me - and I paid for it dearly.

I also keep coming back to the idea that if we're meant to be together, that will happen naturally and inevitably.  I don't need to be in a rush. I just need to be watchful and patient.

If only it was that easy...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Is my wife dating a gay man?

Now that my wife's ex-boyfriend Charlie is gone forever, it's time for me to write about her new boyfriend, Ken.

I'm not sure how they met or when they started dating.  I believe a mutual friend introduced them last October.

The first time Gabbie mentioned Ken to me was in late January.  At the time, I didn't assign him any importance.  I thought he was just a friend and another permanent resident of the local bar.  I was surprised to learn a few weeks later that they'd already been dating for several months.

I only know a few things about him: he's 49, he's never been in a serious relationship, he's devoted to his mother, "the most important person in his life," and he works full-time coaching teenage boys.
Allan, Ken's "Buddy"

I held my tongue when Gabbie told me those things.  The way she describes him he sounds like Norman Bates - or another closeted homo.

I haven't met him, nor has Gabbie shown me his picture, but I once saw a guy on her phone who seemed to fit his description.  From what I could tell he was rather homely.  That surprises me because Gabbie has no problem attracting men.  I'd expect her to pick someone who's at least average looking.

In terms of his personality and values, Ken sounds much more like me than Charlie. Gabbie says he's quiet and not a big drinker; that family and traditional values are important to him; that he attends mass with his mother every week; and that all his friends describe him as "one of the nicest guys" they know.

Gabbie's relationship with Ken has captured my attention, for a couple of reasons...

About a month ago Gabbie was forced to move.  New owners bought her building and evicted everyone so they could renovate.  Finding a new rental was extremely difficult because the market is tight and prices are at record highs.  Ultimately Gabbie had to downgrade from a two bedroom to a studio AND pay $400 more per month.

Moving all her crap from the two bedroom to a studio was a major chore.  Talk about shoe-horning.  My sons and I did the move, which took us a full weekend.  Ken was nowhere to be seen, nor even heard from.  That angered Gabbie.  When he finally did call, several days after the move was completed, Gabbie berated him.  The next morning he sent her a "I don't think this is working out" text.

Gabbie freaked and called me right after she got the text.  The timing of the breakup was really bad because they'd been planning to spend the weekend together, attending two different parties with her friends.  Both parties required a long drive and Gabbie hates to drive.  What should she do???

I told her to call Ken and fall all over herself apologizing.

To do something like that is not at all in Gabbie's nature.  I can't remember a single time when she ever begged for my forgiveness.  Even a minor apology is a foreign concept to her.  She constantly fights with her (bossy) mother and never apologies.  The same was true for Charlie.  And yet...she did it for Ken.  I was a little surprised. 

The bigger shock was that he relented and they spent the weekend together, as planned.

The following week Gabbie was away with her mother.  When she returned, Ken had a whole new attitude.  Instead of wanting to break up, he told Gabbie how much he missed her and how important she was to him.  As proof of that, he invited her to spend a week with him and his family on a vacation in Mexico, in November.

When Gabbie told me about his invitation my jaw hit the floor.  First the guy wanted to break-up and now he wanted to introduce Gabbie to his family AND have her spend a full week with them??  Wow.

Another thing: now that Gabbie and Ken have been dating for six months, Gabbie feels like it's strange that he hasn't met our kids, especially since they live nearby.  She says Ken keeps asking about them.

As you might remember, Gabbie likes to use me as a buffer when she's with the kids.  It therefore wasn't too surprising when she asked if the kids and I could meet Ken at the same time. 

Even though I knew what was coming, as soon as she asked, my stomach immediately twisted into a big knot.  I don't want to meet this guy! 

Before answering, I had to pause for a few seconds and collect myself.  Then, instead of saying, "Hell no!" like I wanted to, I said, "Sure.  No problem."

Why did I say that?  Because my emotional reaction has no bearing on reality.  The fact is, we're not together and we're never getting back together...but, we get along well. 

More importantly, I need to set a good example for the kids.  That means, whether I like it or not, I really need to be as outwardly supportive of Gabbie and Ken as possible.

Much to Gabbie's disappointment, the kids did not follow my lead.  My oldest, the most easy-going, non-judgmental kid, said, "No.  I don't want to do that.  It would feel awkward and forced."  My middle son said, "Whatever, mom. I don't care," which clearly conveyed that he DID care, and not in a positive way.  After her two brothers spoke up, my daughter said nothing, which was a little surprising because she's critical of everything Gabbie does.

After the kids reacted so negatively, Gabbie decided not to push the issue, for now.  She asked me to "talk to them."  Now I'm supposed to convince them to happily do something I don't want to do.

A meeting hasn't been scheduled yet but it will be soon.  Ug.

More about Gabbie and Ken: Whenever I talk to Gabbie, she talks about Ken.  Having to hear about him really grates on me, in a nails-on-a-chalkboard sort of way.  I've noticed that I frequently hold my breath when she talks about him.  That's my way of keeping my emotions in check.  It would serve no purpose to freak out about him; it's much better that I appear to be calm and relaxed.

One good thing about Ken is that he's given Gabbie a reason to be upbeat.  As much as I don't like hearing about him, I hate it even more when she goes into a negative tailspin and repeatedly complains about how miserable her life is.  Stuff like, "I'll never have anything!  I'll be 50 years old, broke and living in a tiny studio apartment! My kids hate me!  My life is empty and meaningless!"  If talking about Ken makes her happy, I'll take that over the alternative.

On that note, it seems that Gabbie has decided that her chances for a happy future lie entirely with Ken.  More than once she's told me, "I've GOT to make this work.  I can't screw this up.  I may never get another chance."  That makes me wonder if she's setting herself up for a huge disappointment. 

In spite of his professed love for Gabbie, it seems to me that Ken really enjoys his independent life.  I mean, he must, right?  Forty-nine and never been in a serious relationship?  Gabbie requires a lot of attention.  I have my doubts that he's genuinely capable of handling her, especially when I think about his pathetic break-up text.

Whatever the future may bring for Gabbie and Ken, I'm trying to use this experience to rewire my emotional circuitry when it comes to Gabbie.  It doesn't benefit me (or anyone else) to be hurt, jealous or angry that Gabbie is happily dating someone else.  In truth, for as much as I love her, I don't want to responsible for her.  If Ken is eager to step in and commit to her, I should cheer him on.

What's annoying is that my heart feels differently.  Try as I might to change my feelings, I continue to feel a profound connection to Gabbie.

That's what makes saying yes to meeting Ken so difficult.  I'm glad Gabbie has given me time to process this.  I hope, when the day comes, I'll be able to face him and (yuck) give him a big smile and handshake.

Until we do meet, I'll continue to wonder about his sexuality.  I don't think it's a coincidence that I was the third homo Gabbie dated.  As unthinkable as it might seem, maybe she's doing it again?

I have no idea if Gabbie has told Ken that I'm gay but I seriously doubt she has.  My sexuality is an embarrassment to her.  From my perspective, it's better in the short run if he doesn't know, because when we do meet, he'll be getting more than a few gaydar pings from me.  I need a clean read on him to see if he might have any attractions to men. 

As hypocritical as it might seem, knowing the truth about him is very important to me.  If I'm going to support their relationship he has to be straight.  I can't allow her to get involved with yet another homo. 

I'm the last guy who gets that honor.