Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sex as the Gay Man's Handshake

A few years ago, there was a gay blogger who entertained his readers with stories of traveling the world and hooking-up along the way.  I forget the title of his blog but "Sex is the Gay Man's Handshake" was his mantra.
Who's the a-hole who told the Baptists?

I've never understood that way of thinking.  The idea that sex could (or should) be the very first step toward creating a lasting connection feels odd.  And somewhat wrong.

I don't mean "wrong" in the moral sense, I mean it's not for me.  I see sex as such a bonding experience that I strongly prefer it only after an emotional connection has been established.  When that doesn't happen and sex comes first...well, that's weird.

In response to my previous post, Rob of I Just Wanna Be Happy said I sounded surprised that the Architect and I had sex on our first date.  "I think the reality is most gay 'first' dates end with sex if the two guys click."

Many of them do, I'm sure.  But this is the first time it's happened to me --- and I certainly didn't plan or expect it.  I don't think the Architect did either.  So yes, I was surprised.


And surprise became regret the morning after.  Not in a major way, but just in the sense that I questioned whether I'd turned something potentially great into something cheap and transient.

To try to prevent that from happening, I sent the Architect a glowing "thank you" text the next day.  I also told him I'd like to meet again "very soon."

"I'd like that," he quickly replied.   


Within minutes we made plans for a second date: dinner at his place, on the day after Thanksgiving.  "I hope you don't mind leftover Cornish Game Hen?  If you do, I can easily make something else." Awww.

Friday couldn't come fast enough, but when it did, my fear that we had sex too soon returned.  Our first date had left me in a such a state of sexual euphoria that I really had no idea if our connection was more than skin deep.  That left me wrestling with uncertainty...
Will the magic be gone because the sexual tension has already played out?
Will one of us no longer be attracted to the other?
Will it be awkward because we actually don't have that much in common?  
The answers to those questions would make or break the second date - and any potential future together.


The moment I saw him again, the lust returned in full-force.

Must. Not. Lose. Control.

It was difficult to keep my desires under wraps but I had to.  I needed to be certain we had a connection that transcended sex, and, I needed to be certain I was seeing him for who he was, not for who I wanted him to be.

As he prepped and cooked the dinner, we talked.  As we ate, we talked.  Physically, we barely touched.  For me it was safer that way.  I needed to be clear minded.

While I can't say we had any amazing discussions, we certainly had natural rapport.  There were a few times when the conversation dragged a bit, and I had to think of questions to keep it going, but overall the "getting to know you" phase went well.  No hidden icebergs.

We'd been together for about two hours and, as I said, barely touched.  I knew I had good reason to keep my distance, but as we cleared the dinner plates, I began to wonder why he was keeping his.  Was he no longer attracted to me?

Then, as if he was reading my thoughts, he plopped down next to me and laid his head on my chest.  With desire in his eyes, he looked up at me.  I couldn't resist.  I had to kiss him.

Once the kissing started, we could not stop.  I least I couldn't.  Within minutes, we were upstairs, in his bedroom, frantically pulling off our clothes so we could be naked together under the sheets.

It was fun, sensual, passionate and very, very exciting.  Afterward, we tightly cuddled for a long time.  Just as with the first time, he fell asleep.  Holding him as he slept was heavenly.  And natural.  Totally natural.

Oh how I wished I could spend the night!  But with my kids at home, that wasn't possible.  Not yet anyway.

I tried to sneak out of the bed without waking him but I wasn't successful.  "Handsome?"  That's his nickname for me, "Are you leaving?"

"Yes.  I'm sorry, I have to go.  Thank you for a wonderful night and a wonderful meal.  You're a terrific chef and a terrific person.  I... um, would like to see you again very soon."

"I was going to tell you...I should have said something earlier... I'm leaving on Monday for two weeks.  I'm visiting my parents in India."


"Oh. Um... well, that's good.  I'm sure your parents will be very happy to see you.  Monday?  Wow.  I expect you'll be quite busy preparing for the trip between now and then."

"Yes.  The worst part is that I have to buy presents for all my relatives.  I really hate shopping but I have to do it."

"I'd be happy to go with you...  as moral support, you know?"

"No.  I wouldn't be any fun at all.  But I would like to meet again when I return."

"Sure....SURE!  Yes, I'd like to meet again too.  You're a really wonderful man."

On the drive home all I could think about was how two weeks would seem like forever.  This is so frustrating.  I finally meet someone I really like - and he seems to really like me - and now I'll be stuck...waiting.   Waiting, waiting, waiting.  GAH!  Two weeks can't come and go fast enough!!!!!!!!!!!

To be continued...

Monday, December 7, 2015

Even More Sex, and, What Can Happen When You're High on Endorphins

About two weeks ago I received a "like" from a guy I didn't recognize on a dating site I'd written off as useless. The guy was cute and his profile was warm and authentic, so I messaged him, hoping he might reply.  He did, with a glowing response about how much he liked my profile and how handsome I was.

Well, damn!

That message began a daily habit wherein we exchanged boatloads of flattering comments about each other.  After about the fourth day, however, I started to wonder if he might be a catfish because he kept ignoring my requests to meet in person.  Then he talked about the weather in San Antonio on one day and Salt Lake City on another.  Why not say he couldn't meet because he was traveling?  I wondered.  Finally, on the tenth day, at the very end of yet another highly flattering email he said, "I'm free for the next several days."


It took a few more messages but eventually I got him to commit to a day, time and location for dinner.  Essentially I said, "Pick what works for you and I'll be there."

On the appointed day, in anticipation of finally meeting, I did some last-minute homework and reviewed his profile, pictures and the messages we exchanged.  I wanted to be certain the details were fresh in my mind so I could keep the conversation flowing in case there was a lull.  When that was completed, I still had time to kill so I did a web search of his name and pictures to see if anything came up.  It turns out that he's quite a successful architect.  Nice.

More searching led me to a series of links and ultimately a Youtube video of him speaking at a conference in Denver.  Much to my delight, in the video he was every bit as handsome as his dating profile pictures suggested.  His voice, mannerisms and demeanor were all very pleasing too.

Watching the video really put me over the top.  Because I could clearly see and hear him in it, I was *certain* I would be attracted to him when we met.  The more I thought about him, the more excited I got.  Could something special actually happen between us??

I spent about a half-hour contemplating the possibilities... then I realized I was setting myself up for a huge disappointment if he didn't like me or if we didn't click.  In an attempt to be more grounded, I reminded myself that his behavior was a little fishy and that none of his pictures, nor the Youtube video, showed his full body.  What if he was wheel-chair bound or something?

About thirty minutes prior to our meeting he sent a text: "Let's promise not to have expectations of each other."  I replied with, "I'm driving to the restaurant now...with no expectations."  Such a lie!

As I waited in front of the restaurant, the much-anticipated moment finally arrived.  There he was...a very handsome man walking toward me.  He was a little shorter than I expected - but that's good because I have an affinity for short men.
Not pear-shaped. Tom Daley = perfection

After we said hello and checked in with the hostess, we were led to a small table in the back.  In an attempt to be a gentleman, I let him go first.  That's when I got a good look at his backside.  Um.  Hmm.  In his profile he describes his body as 'fit and athletic'.  That's not what I see...  Once we were seated, however, and I looked into his beautiful brown eyes, all thoughts of his pear-shaped body quickly evaporated from my mind.

To be honest, I don't remember much of our conversation.  That might be because the communication I focused on was happening between our eyes and through our facial expressions.  My eyes feasted on how completely adorable he was, while he kept blushing and looking down.  It was a virtuous cycle of lust and shy charm that was almost dizzying.

Dinner lasted nearly two hours, in part because I never wanted it to end.  Not only was he cute, smart, sweet and incredibly charming, but I also felt like we were genuinely connecting.  Talking to him felt both amazing and completely natural.

Eventually, after the dessert had been devoured and the bill had been paid, it was time for us to go.  As we stepped out onto the street, the cool air cleared my head a little.  I didn't want to say goodbye but I also didn't know how to make a graceful exit.  Instead, I asked if he was parked nearby.  "No...I actually don't have a car - or even a driver's license.  I prefer to walk or take public transit.  I ran most of way here."  It turned out that he lived a mile and a half away.  Of course I asked if I could drive him home.  He paused for a second, then said, "OK."

When we arrived at his place, a cute turn-of-the-century Victorian, all too soon it was time to say "cheerio!"

"Can I get a goodnight kiss?" I asked.

"Here, in the car?" He replied doubtfully.  "How about on the doorstep?"

I parked and we walked up to his elegant porch.  "It's cold out here," he said.  "Do you mind if we go inside for a minute?"

The house was small but perfectly decorated.  The style was minimalist-yet-warm, a difficult balance to achieve.  He gave me a quick tour of the downstairs, including the backyard where he'd been working earlier in the day.  "Don't look at how messy it is!  I have a lot to do before Thanksgiving.  I'm having more people than usual this year.  I hope the yard will look nice."

"How many are you having?"

"Eighteen.  I'm making Cornish Game Hens.  The last time I cooked turkey there was too much leftover.  I ate turkey-everything for the next week."

"Eighteen?  Wow.  In addition to being a very handsome man, you must be an amazing cook too."  He sheepishly looked down, making it impossible for me to resist him any longer, "You're so adorable...I just have to kiss you."

Once we began kissing, I didn't want it to end.  He didn't either, apparently.  "Let's sit on the couch where we can be more comfortable," he suggested.  Then, after just a few minutes more, "This couch is too small, let's go upstairs."

By "upstairs" I knew he meant his bedroom.  Should I go up?  This has been such a perfect first date...I don't want to turn it into a hook-up.

Once we were in the bedroom, we shed our shoes and he flopped down on the bed. In that position, he looked especially delicious.  We kissed for a while, and it was fantastic.

"It's getting hot in here," he whispered.  "I need to take this sweater off."

Before long, not only was his sweater off, but so was my shirt.  Then his.  Then his pants, then mine.

I have no idea how long we were naked together, but it was glorious - and fun...and passionate...and erotic...and exciting.  When it was over, we hadn't done anything more than what Yousef and I had done three times before, but it was a completely different experience.  This was good sex - and no orgasm was required.

On the drive home, I reveled in the after-glow.  Everything about the night was perfect.  Everything about him was perfect.  (Well...not entirely.  Given a choice, I'd prefer that his hips, ass and thighs were slimmer than his shoulders.)  But was it a mistake to get naked on the first date?  Did we turn something with loads of potential into a cheap hook-up?

Before we met, I was very confident we would click, yet I never imagined we'd have sex on the first date.  I don't think that was his intention either.  It just happened.  One step lead to the next.

What will our future be?  I wondered.  Of course we'll see each other again.  But was this a one-time thing where the magic can't be rekindled?  Or is this the start of something big and meaningful?


Yousef doesn't warrant a full post so I'm adding an addendum about him here...

I've been wanting to have the "Let's be friends" conversation with him for several weeks but I've also wanted the timing to be right. 

Finally, five days after I met the Architect, Yousef and I made arrangements to have dinner then see a live, interactive theatrical performance.  My goal for the night was to have the uncomfortable conversation at dinner and then, hopefully, let the performance end the night on a positive note.

At dinner, Yousef was his usual self as he complained about the food.  "This is the worst Cesar Salad I have ever had!  There are no croutons!"  I had a house salad soaked with croutons so I playfully flipped a few of them onto his plate.  "That's very rude, you know.  It's nice of you to share them but you should respectfully put them on my plate."

"Apparently I cause you endless grief!" I teased - with a goal in mind.

Right on cue, he took the bait.  Without having to say very much at all, in just a few minutes it was Yousef who was trying to comfort me,  "You'll always be part of my inner circle of friends."

With the deed done (quite skillfully if you ask me; I'd been carefully arranging the deck chairs on the Yousef-Titanic for weeks), we finished dinner and walked to the theater.

The show was put on by a local troupe, so my expectations were low, but it was better than I expected.  The interactions with the audience made it both interesting and entertaining.  Near the end, one bit involved a toilet plunger making a journey through the audience.  An actor carried the plunger around, slowing spinning it, as if it was flying in slow-motion.  We all knew it was destined to land on someone - and that person was Yousef.  He was a good target because he has a perfectly bald, smooth head.  Both Yousef and the rest of the audience had a good laugh as the actor struggled to remove the plunger from Yousef's head after it "landed" there.

The next day, I sent Yousef an email thanking him for dinner and the performance.  Here is a portion of what he said in reply:
"Yes, the show exceeded my expectations, except I woke up the next day with a neck/shoulder strain due to the activity the performer conducted on my head, shoulder, and neck. I did contact the company and let them know about my strain and the unsafe implications of their act. They were receptive and removed the plunger stunt from the performance. They offered to refund me the price of my ticket, but I declined."
Maybe he really was injured and I shouldn't make fun of him...but I see this as typical Yousef - a walking rain-cloud of negativity.  Although there are things I genuinely like about him, I've realized a good match for me is someone with a naturally positive attitude.  It's therefore not at all surprising that I liked the Architect so much - he's a fire hose of positivity - and it's all real.

The Architect and I did meet a second time.  More about that in the next post.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

More Sex

I asked a few friends if they thought naked cuddling, some oral stimulation and no orgasm counts as sex.  They said it did.

Boo.  I didn't really want to end three years of celibacy with an uninspiring forty minutes with Yousef, but I guess I did.

I don't completely regret the experience.  It's likely that I reached a point where maintaining my celibacy became (stupidly) too important.  At my age, why bother?  And who cares?  Breaking the streak is probably good for my mental health, so, no regrets.

Staying with that attitude, I decided I should welcome the prospect of more sex with Yousef.  I therefore found myself looking forward to seeing him on a recent Saturday night, mostly because I wanted to fool around again and actually enjoy it.

We spent a large part of the evening at a social event that lasted much longer than expected.  By the time we arrived at Yousef's place it was 11:00pm.  Then we had to walk his dog and eat some leftovers because we were both hungry.  Finally, at nearly 12:00, we started making out.  I was more into it than the prior week, and thankfully, my mind didn't wander.

Once our clothes were shed, Yousef made a non-verbal indication that he wanted to fuck me.  My response was direct and a little sharp: "Sorry, that's not going to happen."  Generally speaking, I'm not opposed to the idea, but submitting to Yousef?  No.  I'm just not interested.

Then, much to my surprise, he offered to let me fuck him.  Now THAT I could get into.

I expected him to open a drawer and pull out a condom but he made no move to do so.  I wondered for a few seconds if he wanted to go bareback, then I decided it didn't matter, there was no way I was going to take any chances.  When I asked for a condom, he slightly hesitated, then said, "Of course."

His relaxed attitude about safety bothered me, which was an unwelcome distraction when I was supposed to be focused on something else.  The condom's dulling effect didn't help matters.  I made a number of attempts to penetrate him but when the fun started to feel like work, I switched things up.

Because it was so late, our session only lasted about thirty minutes.  I ended it as soon as Yousef was satisfied.

This isn't saying much... but it was a better experience than the first time.  I was more present and more into it.  I'm looking forward to our next meeting.  I'm intrigued by the challenge of trying to turn these very basic encounters into something hot and fulfilling.

Nothing like Yousef.  I'd call to make plans with this guy.

It's been two weeks since I last saw Yousef.

I never call him, and that (quite understandably) annoys him.  The thing is, if I wanted to earn an Oscar for faking interest in someone, I'd choose a woman.

He suggested that we meet for dinner on Saturday night, so we did.  In preparation for the romp afterward, I abstained from any kind of sexual release for four days in advance.  I figured, if being very horny wasn't enough to make for some magic between the sheets, nothing would.

Also, earlier in the day I got very turned on by Cooper...

Although Cooper and I spend a lot of time together, we don't talk about sex very often.  When we do, it's PG-rated.  On this day, Cooper broke all the usual rules and went on and on about wanting a sex buddy and how much fun that would be.  He even got a little graphic.  I, of course, wondered if he was waiting for me to volunteer for the role.  As tempted as I was to do so, I kept my cool, at least on the outside.  Inside, my already charged-up libido was deep into fantasy mode.  I didn't see Yousef until seven hours later, but thinking about Cooper all day kept me mentally lubed.

At dinner, Yousef spent some time complaining, as usual.  But then he shocked me by talking about moving in together.


He wasn't asking to do so, nor do I think he wanted to have a serious conversation about it, instead I think he was tossing the idea out there as a future possibility.  Of course, I didn't have the courage to tell him that's never going to happen. Ever.

Although that bit of strangeness threw me for a loop, I quickly recovered when it was time to pay the bill.  Leaving the restaurant meant the countdown to sex could officially begin!

Just as the bill arrived, Yousef said, "You know Cameron...I'm really beat.  Would you mind if we called it a night?"


"No problem, Yousef.  I totally understand."

That was a lie, I totally didn't understand.  We hadn't seen each other for two weeks, he talked about moving in together, and then he says he's too tired for sex?  What's the point, dude?  Why should I drive an hour each way to see you?

On the way home I kept thinking, "I'm done with this guy.  Done!"

Yet, here it is, the following Saturday afternoon, and Yousef and I are making plans to meet again tonight.

Sex is definitely on my agenda.  But the truth is, unless we have sex AND it's really awesome, Yousef will be receiving the "Let's be friends" speech from me in the very near future.  Once again I've abstained from any kind of sexual release for several days.  The way I see it, if raw horniness can't make for passion between two gay men, nothing can.


It's now Sunday morning.  Here's how Saturday night went -

Yousef originally wanted to go to dinner and see a movie. From my libido's point of view, that was a horrible idea.  *IF* Yousef wasn't too tired for sex, we'd get back to his place after 11, then we'd have to walk the dog, and finally we'd get down to business at close to midnight.  No.  That's not what I wanted.  Instead I suggested take-out and Netflix, which is date-speak for "let's have lots of sex."  Yousef seemed to understand that.

We ate the food, then watched the movie.  It was 10:30, the perfect time to start a long, spectacular sexcapade.  But what did Yousef do?  He started a one-hour documentary.   Grrr.  By the time that was over and the dog had been walked, it was midnight - and I was annoyed.

Soon after I met this guy four months ago, he kept talking about how much he enjoyed sex and how he couldn't wait to rip my clothes off.  But now that we've had D- and D+ sex sessions, he's proven himself to be only marginally better than a dead fish.  AND... he keeps complaining that we don't see each other enough.  I don't get it.  His inconsistencies just don't add up.

Anyway, SEX!

Things started off pretty well.  I felt lots of tingling in all the right places and I thought, "Yes, finally, this is going to be good!"  And then what happened?  Yousef essentially jerked himself off within five minutes.

"I can't wait to see you shoot all over me!" he said afterward. 

But that wasn't going to happen.  I was annoyed, frustrated and I didn't want him as my audience for a rushed, un-fun version of my normal show.  Sex is participatory dude!

Once again, on the one-hour drive home I kept repeating, "I'm done!"

Part of me feels like I should give him one more chance for at least a B- session, but maybe I'm just stalling because I dread the "let's be friends" conversation.  Further complicating matters is that I actually enjoyed the pre-sex part of the date with him more than any other time we've been together.

I know what I need to do, now I just have to do it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Meeting More Men

Dating is definitely a numbers game.  Although you could focus on a lot of different aspects of the dating process, success ultimately comes down to math...and luck.  If you meet 100 new men in a year, instead of 10, your chances of clicking with someone are 10x greater.  It's that simple.  Pictures count for a lot, but "happily ever after" always begins with a face-to-face meeting.

And what's the best way to meet more men?

Well, based on the comments from my last post, the unanimous answer is...

Hook-up sites.

Several guys even shared the story of how they met their current partner by hooking up.  Yes, it works!
Definitely not "meh" but why bother, even for a hook-up?

With that in mind, I downloaded a popular hook-up app (not Grindr) and created a profile.  It's been up for a few days now - and I'm basking in the glow of being fresh meat - yet I very much feel like a fish out of water.

I get that the thrill of hooking-up with someone new can be a huge adrenaline rush, but that's not how I feel when I look at rows and rows of shirtless men.  Instead I feel bored and uninspired. "Meh" pretty much sums it up.

Then there are the messages that come in.  Quite a few of them have been complimentary and validating - "you're so handsome", "cute!", "you're just my type" - and that's been awesome, but once again, when I look at the men who sent them, I feel no thrill or attraction.  I'm grateful for the positive validations...but that's it.

This reaction comes on the heels of a significant Saturday night I had with Yousef.  He was away on vacation with his best friend for more than two weeks, so upon his return we agreed to meet for dinner to catch up, then go back to his place to look at pictures from the trip.

Dinner was OK, except Yousef complained a lot.  Among other things, he complained about how his friend behaved on the trip (although the friend paid for everything) and he complained about the food at the restaurant where we ate.  "I expected something much better than this!" he angrily told the waiter, making it the third time in six he's said that when we've been out.

Once we got to his place, he made it clear he wanted to make-out, and I was OK with that.  After a few minutes he led me to the bedroom and pulled off my shirt.  The last time we were together we had a shirtless make-out session, so I was OK with that too.  But this time, after only a minute or two, he simultaneously stripped off my pants and underwear.  At that moment I had to make a I tell him I haven't had sex in three years and I don't want to break that streak with him, OR, do I relax and act like the mature middle-aged gay man I'm supposed to be?

I chose the latter.

Here's the thing though - I felt very "meh" about the experience.  It wasn't a chore, but it wasn't a joy either.  Mostly, I felt like I was participating in a ritual; I went through the motions and tried to be "present", but my mind often wandered.  

For a while, I kept thinking "I wish I was doing this with Cooper," then, fearing Yousef might notice my detachment, I intently focused on getting him off.  I figured if I could do that, at least one of us would enjoy the experience.

Afterward he asked, "What can I do to help you?"  

"I'm good," I replied.  "It's been a long time.  I'm happy to just enjoy the intimacy."  

In truth, I wanted to leave.  That seemed like the smartest thing to do, largely because it would enable me to dodge uncomfortable questions like, "Can you tell me something you like about me?"  

[Poor Yousef.  He really is a smart, interesting and affectionate guy.  I do like him, but not enough.]

With that story told, I can go back to talking about hook-ups -

One of the primary reasons I've avoided them in recent years is because I fear regretting them afterward.  I ask myself, "Why do something that might put my health at risk just for the sake of an orgasm?"  

I never have a good answer.  All I can think about is how it's better to be safe than sorry.

Also, what most attracts me to men is the chance to feel emotionally connected to them, yet that's NOT the purpose of a hook-up.  Which leaves me asking...if I'm unlikely to get what I truly want out of them, why do them?

So..hook-ups are real quandary for me.  They may be the best way to meet more men, but should I do them if I'm not really into them?  Perhaps the solution is to be open to the possibility, and let things happen from there.  I don't know.  This is something I'll probably continue to struggle with for some time.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Your help please - which of these strategies will help me meet more men?

Finding a long-term relationship with a man over 40 is a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be.

I'm getting a bit discouraged with dating again, but unlike the last time (when I took a two year hiatus), I'm determined to keep trying.  I'm very fortunate in that I live in one of the most "mature" gay-friendly cities in the US.  There isn't a limitless ocean of potentials here, but the waters are wide and deep.

There's someone out there for everyone, right?

My biggest frustration is how dismissive many guys are.  I know that appearances count for a lot (nearly everything) but the fact is, no one can have a fulfilling relationship with a photo.  This is especially true when *so many* guys' pics are 5-10 years old.  For me, the purpose of a dating app is to facilitate face-to-face meetings.  There is literally no other way to know if I click with someone until I meet them.  But other guys are far more confident.  They know we're not a match as soon as I message them. I can easily send ten messages and get no replies.  Should I take that personally?  No, apparently that's normal.

The dismissiveness doesn't end there.  I've had guys "like" my photos, but when I send them a quick hello, they don't reply.  What's up with that? Are their likes "fat finger" phone mistakes?  Who knows.  For the sake of my mental health, I assume they are.

Finally, there are the decent first dates that get dismissed ten minutes after they end.  That's when a texted "Good to meet you" actually means, "I never want to see you again."  Well, whatever.  I'd rather be rejected sooner than later.

The thing about all these dismissals is that photos and first dates are poor indicators of long-term compatibility.  Far more often than not, good connections develop over time.  How many men correctly "know" they've met their future spouse after the first date?  I really think more gay men would find satisfying relationships if they invested time in getting to know each other beyond a single coffee date.

As you can see, it's easy for me to complain about how other guys behave when dating.  But complaining doesn't change a thing.  I can't *make* people meet me, just because I think we may be a good match.  If I want to be more successful, I can only change myself and\or my approach to dating.  With that goal in mind I've been considering some changes, and I'd like your feedback...

It's my observation that most gay guys over 40 who will date someone their own age are looking for a man, not a boy.  Bears are popular, twinks are not.  I've also noticed that average bodies and six-pack abs aren't impressive but bulky chests and big biceps are.  My perception is that significantly more gay guys over 40 would reply to a message from the guy on the left than they would from a guy on the right.  Do you agree?

Similarly, I think a more masculine face - particularly one with stubble or a beard - is significantly more desired than a "cute" clean-shaven face.  Who would you prefer, the guy on the left or the guy on the right?

Of these four pictures, I am most similar to the guy on the top right.  (I'm actually more twinkish than he is.) And of the four, who is likely to get the fewest replies?  The same guy.  So... what if I were to try to look more masculine by growing a stubble-beard?  Would that make a difference?

Or, what about a more difficult change...what if I tried to follow in Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's footsteps and bulk up as he did for his role in "Don Jon"? (Left is "before," right is "after.")

He told Men's Health, "I put on about 12 pounds. I went to the gym every day for a couple of hours for six months. And I ate and ate and ate. I ate so much food, [but] no fat, no sugar, no dairy, no bread."

I wonder if changing my "packaging" with a stubble-beard and\or more bulk would genuinely make a difference when it comes to getting more first dates?  I also wonder if guys who are *that* focused on looks are men I would be interested in dating.  Do you think a year of intense gym time would be worth the effort?

Another direction I could go is to download every gay dating app there is (Grindr, Jackd, Hornet, Scruff, Tinder, OkCupid, Match, Plenty of Fish, Adam4Adam, Manhunt) and post a profile on all of them.  This would be a "big net" approach.  I'm reluctant to go this route because, within a month, I'd be stale everywhere and then what?  But on the other hand...all it takes is meeting the right guy.

A third option is to look for a relationship by hooking-up.  This is seems to be a somewhat common approach.  It's also something I'm extremely unmotivated to do, despite the fact that I'm fairly certain I'd meet more men by arranging sex dates instead of coffee dates.

The fourth option is make the (possibly insane) assumption that I'd be best served by changing nothing.  I should "be myself."  OK, sure.  That's easy to do.  But how is that any different than watching the years roll by?  I think being true to one's self is generally good advice, but it also seems naive to think that looks don't matter or that effort doesn't correlate with results.  What I don't know is where to most effectively put that effort, so I'm asking you: how do I get more first dates?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Finding Sex and Intimacy with Men

Platonic friends with sexual tension
My last two posts have been about this weird guy, Cooper, with whom I've been spending loads of time.  In the past week alone we've gone on three hikes and spent anywhere from five to nine hours together each time.  Getting to know him has been quite the experience: he can't seem to spend enough time with me, yet he makes it very clear that I'm not allowed to touch him.

Over the course of four months and many hikes we've developed a bond.  For me it feels like we're in high school again and I'm crushing on him, my straight best friend.  We share the intimacy of spending lots of time together, but we must keep our distance physically, to be certain our connection stays safely straight.  This close/far dynamic is both titillating and frustrating.

In addition to Cooper, I've been seeing another guy, Yousef.

Yousef and Cooper are similar in that they're both highly educated.  Yousef has a PhD, two Master's, a Bachelor's, and many additional certificates.  Cooper has a PhD, three Master's, a Bachelor's and several Associate degrees.  Yousef was born and raised in an Arab country so he's much more worldly than Cooper.  He's also a teacher and a certified life coach so he's a better communicator and far more transparent.  Yousef has told me a lot about his family, friends and former boyfriends, whereas those subjects are mostly taboo with Cooper.

I like Yousef.  I enjoy spending time with him. He's very intellectually stimulating and he's led a fascinating life. Our conversations are deep and informative; I learn something new and significant every time we meet.  Also - and this is incredibly important to me - he is very much attracted to me physically.  He says I'm his ideal type and he "can't wait to rip my clothes off."

As I said, I like Yousef...and he likes me.  So what's the problem?

I'm not sexually attracted to him.

He's not an unattractive man, I just feel very ambivalent about him sexually.  Given his many other good qualities, I've been trying to relax and spend time with him with the hope that he'll grow on me, the way Cooper has.  Unfortunately, despite eleven dates and several long phone conversations, I don't feel any more attracted to him now than when we first met.  I haven't given up yet, but I am wondering how much more time I should give myself.  Do you have any suggestions?

Another thing with Yousef I'm puzzled about is sex.  On our fourth date he made dinner at his place and we cuddled and watched a movie afterward.  A week or so later, he told me he was very disappointed that we didn't have sex.  I felt that was a strange thing to say because I knew, when I agreed to the date, that the whole "come for dinner at my place" was a sexual ploy.  I therefore showed up that night mentally, emotionally and physically open to whatever might happen.  But as the hours ticked by, I never once got the vibe from him that he wanted to do anything other than cuddle.  It seems to me that, if he really did want to have sex, he would have ramped up the situation to something more intense but he didn't do that.

About three weeks and a few more restaurant dates later, I suggested that we go back to his place.  Once we were there, we did get friendly...but only a little...shirts off and nothing more. As with the first time at his house,  I found his energy level and playfulness to be surprisingly low.  If we're in the early days of a relationship, shouldn't there be some intensity??  He claims to be a very passionate man, and I've witnessed that passion in several ways, but never sexually.  I really don't get the disconnect.

Here's another odd thing: in the same conversation where Yousef said he was disappointed we didn't have sex on our fourth date, he asked me if I was "sexually anorexic."

Say what??

At first I thought it was a term he had invented but I looked it up afterward and sexual anorexia is a real phenomenon.  Wikipedia defines it as "a pathological loss of appetite for romantic-sexual interaction, often the result of a fear of intimacy to the point that the person has severe anxiety surrounding sexual activity and  an intimate relationship. The person does not have an aversion to sex but to intimacy."

What a stupid question for such a smart man to ask!  The one thing I *most* like about interacting with men is intimacy and I've told him that.  In view of his behavior, I have to wonder if he was projecting his own sexual anorexia onto me.  He denies it, of course.  He says he's sensitive to the possibility because his last boyfriend was officially diagnosed with the condition.  Hmm, OK.  But don't actions speak louder than words?

I'm also not feeling much of an intimate connection with him, especially compared to my totally platonic "friendship" with Cooper.  I find it incredibly ironic that Questionably Asperger's Guy is more skillful at developing intimacy than Mr. Communication Expert.

All this said, I remain open to whatever might develop with Yousef, provided his energy level picks up significantly.  With Cooper...who knows what will happen.  Every hike is a new adventure with him.

Thanks for reading and commenting!  I'm always open to insights and advice you'd like to share.  I value  your input. 

I'm sorry I haven't been good about directly replying to comments lately but part of that has to do with the fact that my posts have been lagging behind real-time events by several weeks.  This post pretty much catches me up.  Really, the only other information I could add is that I'm continuing to have first dates with new guys, roughly one a week  None of those connections have progressed anywhere interesting yet, but there's always that possibility.

Again, thanks for reading and commenting.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Payoff for "Dating" Sheldon Cooper

Cooper is obsessed with hiking.  It's one of the few topics he's eager to discuss. His hiking motto is "Every park, Every trail," and he's quite proud of it.  He's repeatedly told me that hiking on every trail is essential because you never know when you'll be surprised by something wonderful or unexpected.

Well, apparently he's applied his hiking motto to finding new friends.  Instead of forgetting about people who don't seem promising, he's decided to give them (and specifically, me) a chance to prove their worth by spending more time with them.

Such a noble guy!

Normally I'm all in favor of open-mindedness and not judging people too quickly, but I was furious when Cooper confessed that I was, essentially, a rescue dog from the Last Chance Pet Shelter and Crematorium. "Thanks for the gesture bud, but I don't need your pity!"  I remember thinking.

The truth is, his comment hurt me much more than it should have - and that made me realize I'd let my infatuation with him go too far.  But strangely, I became *more* obsessed the angrier I got.  Eventually I reached the point where I couldn't think about anything other than him, so I knew I had to take action.  One way or another, I had to get him out of my head.

The best way to stop obsessing, I decided, was to confess that I had a crush on him.  It actually didn't matter how he responded because either way I'd be dealing with reality and not idealized fantasy.

I was determined to make the confession the next time I saw him, during our ninth hike.  As was typical, we spent more than seven hours together that day, but as the hours ticked away I grew increasingly worried I was going to lose my nerve.  Then, somehow, in our final minutes together, I got a burst of determination and perfectly executed a monotone, matter-of-fact, "Well, since I have a bit of a crush on you, of course I'd like to hike again as soon as possible."

His response?  Big eyes and silence.  Then, "We can go to 'X' park in two days."

That's it??!

As frustrated as I was with his vague response, revealing my attraction turned out to be a smart move for my mental health.  Although I still thought about him a lot, I felt more and more at peace with the idea that nothing would ever happen between us, and achieving that state of mind was definitely a step in the right direction.  It was also awesome to learn how helpful confessing a crush could be.  (No doubt I'll need to use that tactic again in the future.)

On our tenth hike I expected *some* kind of reaction to my confession, but the day passed and Cooper said nothing.  In our last few minutes together I decided to put him on the spot and call his bluff about an overnight trip he'd been begging me to take him on, to a national park about five hours away.  What was significant about the trip was not the drive, or the park, but the overnight stay in a motel.  Believe me, I spent many hours imagining what the sleeping arrangements might be.

Just as I was about to drop him off I said, "Oh - I wanted to tell you that I can do the overnight trip on Labor Day weekend.  Finally you'll be able to do your dream hike."

"OK....  Um, well, I actually prefer to do a different hike that weekend."

"What?!!  You've been talking about this dream hike for months and now you don't want to go?  Why not?"

For the first time ever he seemed to be at a loss for words.  "I'm not comfortable with the overnight stay."

"Uh huh," I replied - and let the topic drop.  I felt like making a big deal about it would be a mistake.  And also, I didn't want to end an otherwise good day with a fight.  Since we planned to hike again in two days, I could follow up then.

Hike eleven went well.  He seemed to be more at ease and trusting of me, while I was more willing to focus on the moment and not on whether I might be allowed to touch him some day.

Once again, in the final minutes of the day, we had a significant conversation.  Unlike the usual pattern, however, he initiated it.  After we sat in silence for a good ten minutes, he said, "Two cents...(well, one cent really - if I pay what it's worth) ...for your thoughts?"

"Since you asked - and to be honest - I was just thinking about how I cancelled two meetings with a guy who seems to really like me in order to be with you.  I'm concerned that my attraction to you is unhealthy."

That statement led to a short conversation where Cooper, finally, after 11 hikes averaging 7 hours each, told me where I stood with him: "You're a terrific friend but we have no sexual chemistry."

I was not surprised by that information but I was both disappointed and thankful to hear it.  The disappointment lasted about two days and the thankfulness continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.  Truly, it was better to have my fantasies obliterated rather than to continue to wonder and hope.

You might think this is the end of the story but it isn't.

As I picked Cooper up for our twelfth hike I was nervous about how our dynamic might be different now that I knew how he felt.  Would it be awkward?  Would I regret seeing him again?  Would my futile fantasies be reignited?  It turned out that none of those things happened.  Instead I felt surprisingly comfortable thinking of Cooper as just a friend and nothing more.  I even returned one of his impatient snaps at me, which was something I'd never done before.  (And it definitely surprised him.)

All in all, it was a good day.  Other than his small jab and my volley, which had to do with where to park the car, there were no awkward, contentious, annoying or unpleasant moments.  The only weird thing was when he made a point of telling me, "There are two types of listeners.  The first type is 'present' and listens actively without interruption or imposing their own agenda.  The second type jumps in with questions and can't resist pouncing on the slightest provocative statement."  Translated from Cooperspeak that means, "I want to tell you something but I only want you to listen.  Don't ask any questions, just let me talk."

I responded with a simple "OK" thinking that would be his cue to share whatever was on his mind, but he didn't.  Rather than badger or beg him to talk, I said nothing.

On our thirteenth hike, as had been gradually happening more and more, I noticed early in the day that we seemed to be very much in sync.  We knew what to expect from each other and we were increasingly comfortable with it.  While I wouldn't say we shared an unspoken bond, we definitely had an unspoken connection - and that made me happy.  Even if we weren't going to date, the growth of our connection was very satisfying for me.

Somewhere between our fourth and fifth hour together, Cooper said something odd, even for him.  Out of the blue he said, "I'm feeling very emotional today."  With the 'two kinds of listeners' lecture still very much in my head, I responded by looking at him expectantly.

And then it happened...

On the day I met Cooper three months ago, I greatly angered him by asking about his family.  Clearly I'd stumbled onto a sensitive topic.  He gave me a two sentence answer to my question - which was exactly enough information to make me regret I'd ever asked.  If you're guessing he was rejected by his family because he is gay, that's not it.  That would be a relatively minor problem compared to the truth.

Because of what he told me I've always been empathetic to his strange behavior.  Given what happened, he's still a remarkably well adjusted total pain-in-the-ass.  It's clear to me that 80% of his weirdness can be attributed to essential self-protection measures, while the other 20% is just who he is.  Knowing that, I've found it relatively easy (and even entertaining) to be patient with him.

What I've never understood is his strong interest in me.  If we were dating, why was I strictly forbidden from touching him, even accidentally?  If we were friends, why didn't we ever talk about anything personal or important?  On so many occasions he'd say he wanted to go hiking with me "as soon as possible," as if hiking together was an urgent mission.  I could never understand the disconnect between wanting to spend time with me and how we actually interacted.

Well now, at long last, I understand.  On the thirteenth hike Cooper magically opened up.

I can't say what he shared but I will say that I was both very sad for him and deeply touched.  I always knew he kept his tender inner soul barricaded behind a thick wall of intellect and anti-social behavior, but I really didn't know the full extent of it.  I still don't; he gave me just a taste.  Listening to him share was actually one of the most intimate moments I've ever experienced with a man.  I'm grateful that his persistence and my patience made it possible for us to be friends.

It's probably anti-climactic for me to say I experienced "one of the most intimate moments I've ever shared with a man" and not give details.  The best explanation I can provide is that it was sort of like someone sharing the biggest secret of their life with you and it turns out the secret really was big.  I felt honored and humbled and touched all at the same time.

I also had a highly inappropriate (but involuntary) reaction that Cooper doesn't know about.  Listening to him share something very personal was extremely erotic for me.  I practically fainted as the blood quickly drained out of my big head and into my little one as he spoke.  I really wanted to rip his clothes off right there, even as he poured his heart out to me.  The *idea* of masculine emotional intimacy has always been very appealing to me but this is the first time I've ever experienced such a rush from it when interacting with a gay guy.  I wonder if this will become my 'yardstick experience;'  the significant measure by which future potential partners will be compared?

Now that the mystery of what-the-fuck-does-this-highly-intelligent-totally-weird-guy-want-from-me? has been solved, I don't expect to be writing any more about Cooper.  I am, however, looking forward to seeing him again soon.

I think my next post will be about the guy I blew off twice to see Cooper.  I've seen him now seven or eight times and he's another interesting situation.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Help! I might be dating Sheldon Cooper

Sheldon Cooper is a fictional character on the television situation comedy, "The Big Bang Theory."  Sheldon is straight, but he's portrayed by gay actor Jim Parsons.  Wikipedia has this to say about Sheldon...
Sheldon Cooper is a former child prodigy with genius level IQ, but displays an almost total lack of social skills, a tenuous understanding of humor, and difficulty recognizing irony and sarcasm in other people, although he himself often employs them. He exhibits highly idiosyncratic and narcissistic behavior and a general lack of humility or empathy. These characteristics provide the majority of the humor involving him, which has caused him to be described as the show's breakout character. Despite speculation that Sheldon's personality traits may be consistent with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive personality disorder and asexuality, co-creator Bill Prady has repeatedly stated that Sheldon's character was neither conceived nor developed with regard to any of these traits.
Sheldon is a strange, funny guy, but he's far more amusing to viewers than he is to the other characters on the show. Sure, they genuinely like him, but they also regard him as a pain-in-the-ass-know-it-all, whose many idiosyncrasies must be constantly accommodated.

About two months ago I met a real-life Sheldon Cooper and we might be dating.

There are so many stories I could tell about this guy, who I'll call Cooper, that I hardly know where to begin...

We met on a relationship-oriented dating site.  Physically, he's quite attractive so I was somewhat surprised when he "liked" me almost immediately after I joined.  I "liked" him back and sent a message which he quickly returned.  Two days later we spoke on the phone for about 10 minutes and arranged a hike as a first meeting.  AFTER the details for the hike were agreed upon, Cooper said, "I don't have a car.  Can you pick me up?"  This was a surprising request because it required me to drive an extra 40 minutes each way to pick him up and drop him off.  Doormat that I am, however, I said, "Sure, I can do that."

Cooper lives in a small apartment building with a locked lobby.  When I arrived on-time, I texted to tell him I was downstairs waiting, to which he replied, "OK.  I'm almost ready."  Fifteen minutes later he appeared.  I'm not sure why, but I greeted him with a polite hug.  That's not something I would normally do when meeting for the first time, but I guess he seemed approachable.  He, apparently, thought it was very odd.  His whole body stiffened under my arms.  "Ooops," I thought.  "I guess I shouldn't have done that."

The drive to the hike location (which he chose; I couldn't have cared less where we went or what we did) was about 45 minutes.  As we began the drive it soon became clear that the burden of carrying the conversation was on me.  My tactic when that happens is to ask questions until I stumble onto a topic that triggers discussion.  After about fifteen minutes of my inquiries and his so-so responses, I started to ask about his family.  Did they live nearby?  Did he have siblings?  Was he close to his parents? 

Well, holy shit, was that the wrong question to ask.  Quite angrily he replied, "I have a tip for you.  The first time you meet someone you shouldn't ask so many personal questions.  It's rude. I feel like I'm being interviewed!"

Although the way he made his point was unnecessarily harsh, he was right.  In my nervousness I probably did come off like an attorney conducting a deposition.  I immediately and sincerely apologized and stopped asking questions.  Inside, however, I was in a panic, "This could easily turn out to be the worst date ever and it's only been fifteen minutes.  What if it gets uglier and I have to drive him back for 40 minutes?!!"

Well, long story short, I focused on keeping the conversation light and he seemed to calm down.  The hike was OK, although things got contentious whenever there was a decision to be made.  I felt like I was walking on eggshells with him so I wanted to be certain we were doing exactly what he wanted.  He got annoyed that I kept confirming every decision.

When Cooper decided we were done with the hike I breathed a silent sigh of relief.  I was anxious to take him home before anything bad happened between us.  However, as we were walking to the car, he started talking about how hungry he was and how he hadn't been to his favorite restaurant in months.  "Let's go there," he said.

"Well, that restaurant is about twenty-five miles away and commute traffic is starting to kick in.  I estimate it would take us 45 minutes to get there."

"That's OK.  I really want to go.  I haven't been in months and it's my favorite restaurant."

Eager to end the date in a positive way, I said, "OK, let's go."

The restaurant was Ethiopian, which I hadn't eaten in years. Because Cooper loved it so much, I followed his lead and ordered what he did, a sampler and an entree.  Little did I know that the sampler was humongous, more than a full meal by itself.  I was stunned by the quantity of food we ordered as the waitress brought everything out.  It was easily enough for four full meals, not two.

One thing I forgot to mention about the hike were Cooper's rules, one of which was that we had to silently observe nature's beauty as much as possible.  It turned out he had a similar rule for eating.  Talking, he said, distracts from the deliciousness of the food.  "Of course it does," I thought.

It turned out that Cooper was correct about talking being distracting.  Sort of.  Although I thought the food was nothing special, I was left completely speechless by the way Cooper inhaled every bit of it.  I've never seen anyone eat with such joyous gusto.  He was truly a sight to behold, especially when he periodically moaned and rolled his eyes back in his head.  The connection he made with the food was sensuous and slightly erotic.  I couldn't help but stare.

When the check came, I paid for it all, mostly because I felt bad about offending him at the beginning of the date.

The trip back to his apartment was uneventful.  I'd learned by that point to accept uncomfortable silences.  As I dropped him off he asked, "How do you think it went?"

"Umm...I'm honestly not sure what to think.  How about you?"

"There were some rough spots but it was OK."

"Yes, that's a good summary.  I'll go with that."

He nodded, then said, "OK, have a good night," and walked into his building.

On the drive home, I asked myself if I ever wanted to see him again.  After some debate, I ultimately decided I *did* want a second date, but mostly so it would wash away the unpleasant aspects of the first one.  Previous bad first dates had haunted me so I really wanted this experience to be positive. 

That said, if we never met again I would have been OK with that too.

It turned out that Cooper wanted a second meeting right away, another hike.  He has a 'thing' about hiking every trail in a park and there was a place, nearly two hours away, where he hadn't finished every trail so that's where I agreed to drive him.  Ultimately, I ended up driving 200 miles that day and we spent more than nine hours together.  At the end, we were back at the same frickin' Ethiopian restaurant again, where Cooper ate the same massive quantity of food in the same moaning, eyes-rolling-back way.   Again, I picked up the tab, although I'm not sure why.  I guess for the honor of having this strange guy entertain me all day.

Although our second meeting went much more smoothly than the first, there were still some choice moments - a $60 alcohol-free lunch tab; the dead mosquito on his face that I was about to brush away until he angrily said, "I'll do it!"; the time he told me I had too many opinions and I should only talk about facts; and, his hilarious joke that he was better at everything than I was, except, maybe, scrubbing toilets.  "You have janitorial intelligence!!!!"  Yes Cooper, you're very funny.

He also couldn't remember my name.

Sometimes I felt like he appreciated having me with him.  Other times I felt like I annoyed him.  Mostly I felt like a useful object - a thing to be manipulated to achieve his objectives.  Two meetings were enough for me.

But I dropped him back at his apartment...he asked to meet again.  

I hate bad endings so rather than say, "No thanks, you're a weird pain-in-the-ass," I said, "OK, when?"

On our third hike he asked me to carry his backpack, but not on my back; he didn't want my sweat on it.  He wasn't joking.  Later he told me not to stand too close to him when we looked at the map.

On our fourth hike he told me his type was George Clooney - an older, taller, distinguished guy.  I am so *not* George Clooney.  He also heavily flirted with our short, straight, twinkish waiter.  He was nicer to him for three minutes than he'd ever been to me.

Gah, I was so done!  But the rest of the day went OK so why ruin it by speaking up?

On our fifth hike he was nicer than he'd ever been.  He even apologized once after snapping impatiently at me and several times we shared meaningful eye contact.  How could I be done with him after that?

On the sixth and seventh hikes, he gave me a thoughtful, sincere compliment each time.  These meetings were more harmonious.  By then I'd learned when it was acceptable to speak and what was acceptable to say.  Even so, he made it clear that touching him, even by accident, was off limits.

At the end of our eighth hike, just as I was about to drop him off, he said, "You know, I don't have as many friends as I'd like.  I have a history of not liking certain things about people and then I don't want to see them.  I recently decided to start giving people a second chance, so I did that for you."

What??!  I'm his friendship guinea pig???

"Oh wow," I replied.  And I repeated it over and over as the ramifications of what he said sunk in.  

If he had anything else to say, I wasn't listening.  I was in too much shock.  Not only was I used as a chauffeur and a benefactor, I was a sociological experiment as well.  Nice to know!

We parted with mutually strained "see ya's."  I had no idea what he was upset about but I was seething.  I felt like our eight dates and many, many hours together were a fraud.  The guy didn't want to hike with me because he liked, he just wanted to see if he could learn to tolerate an unlikeable person.

The more I thought about it however, the more I realized he was probably trying to say something nice but I stopped listening before he could make his point.  I texted an apology.

"Acknowledged and thank you," was his reply.  Then, "Let's hike very soon."

I really have no idea how this guy feels about me.  And I don't seem to care.  Somehow, during our many hours together, I've grown attached to him.  This, despite the fact that he's a total germophobe who doesn't like to be touched. Not to mention that he's controlling, frequently rude and always self-centered.

Why am I infatuated with this guy??

In part because he's good-looking...which is certainly a positive attribute...but mostly because he's a super-intelligent, highly idiosyncratic puzzle.  I feel challenged by almost everything he says and that makes him totally captivating.  Engaging in conversation with him is like playing with verbal grenades, and the experience exhilarating.  I've never met anyone like him.

Another part of his allure is the uncertainty of how he feels about me.  Of course I could ask him, but that's not our thing.  I have to deduce the correct answer based on the information he gives me.

The biggest positive is that he's relentless about wanting to meet again "as soon as possible."  As a rule, I don't think people repeatedly make that request unless they genuinely like you.  But I also feel like we have a deeper connection.  Often, our eye contact is sustained and significant, and I have this sense that he likes having me close by, despite not wanting to be touched.

Objectively, I know that getting into a relationship with this guy would be a bad idea.  Yet I'm infatuated with him.  Perhaps I need to let my attraction play out so I can get over it and think more rationally again.

If you have any thoughts about this guy or my strange attraction to him, please comment below. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Why can't bisexual married men be monogamous?

A straight wife says:
My husband recently told me he's bisexual. Now he wants an open marriage.  I'm pretty open minded so it doesn't really matter to me that he's bisexual. 
What I don't understand is why he can't be monogamous.  Why should being bi be any different when it comes to marriage than being straight (or even gay)? 
I understand that sexual orientation is not a choice, but monogamy definitely is.
How does a bi-married man make the case to his wife that he shouldn't be expected to be monogamous?

A guy who's had experience with both genders might explain that intimacy with a woman and sex with a man are completely different, and as such, shouldn't be confused with one another.  With women, you tap into your passionate side and connect intimately through sex.  With men, the experience is not emotional, it's physical.  If a connection is made, it's raw and primitive.  Affection is irrelevant.

A monogamously married bisexual man can't explain the difference between sex with men and sex with women because he's only been with women.  Instead he can describe how his unmet need to connect with men has been festering within him for too long and is making him miserable.  He can explain that, after many years of fighting it, he can't fight any longer, and he NEEDS to act on it.  This argument, of course, isn't an argument at all.  It's a plea: "Allow me some latitude - or I'll implode."

Many wives are unconvinced.  Why does he have this need all of a sudden?  If he'll "implode" without sex with a man, doesn't that mean he's gay?  Why can't he control his attraction to men the same way he controls his attraction to other women?  Straight married men look at porn, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and any hot woman who walks by, but that doesn't mean they all cheat.  Being attracted to other women is normal, but looking isn't the same as acting.  Why should being bisexual be any different?

There are a whole host of psychological, evolutionary and religious reasons that explain why women, especially, value monogamy.  But valuing monogamy isn't the same as sublimating part of your sexuality.  To understand sublimation, you have to experience it yourself, and the way that most women experience it, monogamy is clearly, obviously and unquestionably a choice.

When confronted by the "monogamy is a choice" argument, I think most bi-married men who ask for an open marriage simply give up.  In their own experience, they KNOW they're totally capable of looking and not acting, both with women and men.  They've done it for years!  How can they effectively argue against their own behavior??  They can't.  Which means the only reasonable solution is to "keep on keeping on" - until they really do implode.

The way out of this paradox, I believe, is to reframe what sexual sublimation feels like.  It *IS* a choice but it's not the same kind of choice for bisexuals as it is for monosexuals.

For years I've been trying to think of a way to explain the difference in a relatable way.  Until recently, my best idea was to compare sexual sublimation to dietary restrictions.  Specifically, that a monosexual is like a vegetarian and a bisexual is like an omnivore.  If you can understand what it would feel like to see, smell and ogle over meat every day, but NEVER be allowed to eat it, then you can understand being bisexual.  You can eat vegetables, and your immediate hunger can be sated, but you're still tortured by thoughts of all the delicious meat you're missing.  And even if your hunger is quenched in the short run, in the long run you're still ravenous, only in a very different way.

Although the dietary restriction metaphor sometimes makes the point, I've never been satisfied with it.  I think it vastly understates the difficulty of permanently burying a fundamental part of one's self.  I actually don't think it's that hard to be a vegetarian.  Plenty of people do it without much angst. Being bi and living 100% straight, on the other hand, is far, far more difficult.

At long last, I think I've found a better way to explain what it feels like to live as a straight, monogamous married man, yet actually be a deeply frustrated bisexual:

We never think of it this way, but every day we make the choice to speak.  Speaking is not required to live or to be happy.  At any given time, any of us has the option to stop speaking entirely.  Doing so doesn't mean we can't communicate.  We can easily do that by writing, typing, signing or gesturing.

What's the longest you've ever gone without speaking?  Could you do it for a full day?  A week?  A month?  Until the day you die?  As with staying monogamous, not speaking is something that can easily be done on a minute-to-minute basis, but it becomes increasingly difficult the longer you keep at it.

So, to all the monosexuals out there who say monogamy is a choice and being bi and married is no different than being straight and married, I ask you to imagine living the rest of your life only speaking to your spouse.  Could you do it?

Certainly you could, if you chose to.

Monogamy IS a choice, but if you're a frustrated bisexual, it's far from an easy one.  I often think that if straight wives truly understood how difficult bisexual monogamy can be, many more of them would agree to an open marriage.

I also think many more of them would want to leave their marriages.

I say this because "monogamy is a choice" provides false comfort to many straight wives.  If they genuinely understood the struggle that many married bisexual men face, they'd realize that non-monogamy is inevitable, and that wouldn't be acceptable to them.

This means that, ironically, any woman who is married to a bisexual man and believes "monogamy is a choice" is not standing on the moral high ground.  Rather, she's creating her own future nightmare.  By not understanding how bisexual sublimation differs from monosexual monogamy, she's setting herself up for a very painful lesson one day.

And just to be clear, I'm not saying bisexual married men can't be happily monogamous.  They can.   I just see a very distinct difference between those who are happy being monogamous and those who are not.  The happy ones, overwhelmingly, never come out of the closet.  Why would they?  Only for the sake of being honest.  This means, with a handful of exceptions, that any man who outs himself to his wife as bisexual is doing so because he no longer wants to be monogamous.  It's these men who are frustrated, struggling and\or at risk of imploding.   Demanding that they stay monogamous isn't a workable solution.  Either accept an open marriage or accept that the marriage is over.  As heart-breaking as it might be, there is no middle option that works in the long run.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Straight Guys, Gay Sex

I recently met a 30-something guy, Ed, who is engaged to be married.  He really loves his girlfriend and wants the relationship to work but he's having some second thoughts.  "Am I man enough for her?  Can I give her what she needs?"

His questions were surprising, especially for a straight guy.

It turns out that Ed's doubts, at least in part, began when his fiance' told him she didn't feel desired enough.  To prove her point she later went and had a sexual fling with another guy and justified it by saying she was hungry for affection.

It doesn't sound like Ed and his fiance' are much of a match, does it? 

Well, on a more positive note, Ed says the couple shares every private thought and has no secrets.  "We're very emotionally connected."

Ed believes his struggle with expressing love began as a young boy, when his father died unexpectedly.  He says he loved his father so much, and the pain of losing him was so great, that ever since he's kept his feelings tightly controlled.  He therefore understands why his fiance' gets frustrated with him.

When I heard this story I tried not to project my own feelings and experiences into it.  That was difficult. 

You see, long before Gabbie got involved with Charlie, she periodically complained to me that I didn't pay enough attention to her.  I never knew how to respond.  I totally loved her - what more did she want?  Eventually I decided the problem was hers and not mine; she was needy and perpetually unsatisfied, not only with me, but with several other aspects of life.  The best way for me to cope was to be patient and to accept her as she was.

I was so confident in my love for Gabbie that it took several years for me to see Charlie as a serious threat.  In the early days, I actually relished the competition with him.  He was such an obvious loser, I KNEW I'd prevail, and once I did, Gabbie would no longer complain about me.  At one point I even said to myself, "Bring it on Charlie...there's no way you can win!"

Famous last words...

Getting back to Ed, he said he sometimes questions whether he might be a little bisexual.  He's never been with a guy, and never sees it happening, but he does fantasize about them.  Specifically, he wants to be pursued by a man and penetrated like a woman.  This appeals to Ed because he's faced so much rejection from women that he imagines being pretty and sexy enough to attract a man.  Stockings, women's lingerie and anal toys have all become a part of Ed's fantasy play, both alone and with his fiance'.

My fantasies have never gone in that direction so I can't particularly relate to Ed, but I see the logic of his thoughts.  If you're an unattractive man and you're not desired, why not pretend to be a pretty girl so you'll be wanted?  And getting penetrated is proof that you're desired, so that makes sense too.

My friend Hayden heard Ed's story at the same time I did, yet his take was very different from mine.  His opinion: "Ed is obviously gay.  He's just so repressed that he finds creative ways to rationalize his thoughts."

Hmm.  Could be, I suppose.  I never tried to hide my sexuality from myself so maybe I don't recognize deep denial when I hear it.

What intrigues me about Ed's fantasies is that the men in them are completely anonymous.  He has no personal or emotional interest in them.  His focus is entirely on being desired and getting penetrated.  He doesn't imagine any talking or any kind of masculine bonding.  And the last thing he wants to do is something intimate, like kiss.

Really, he sounds like a great many "straight" guys on Craigslist who are looking for gay sex.

I've never understood that phenomenon.  I see actual behavior and frequent fantasies as indicative of sexual orientation, not intimacy.  Intimacy is entirely optional, regardless of whether you're straight, bi or gay.  I therefore find "straight" guys who post Craigslist man-4-man ads to be very puzzling.  I don't understand how a man can genuinely believe he's straight when he has sex more often with men than women.  I don't get it.  And universally, neither do straight wives.  Over and over their husbands explain how completely meaningless their hook-ups with men are, but their wives never believe them.  "Straight men don't like dick, EVER!"

Ed's description of his fantasies with men reminded me that I've had somewhat similar fantasies about women.  These fantasies are uncommon but they do happen, and just as in Ed's fantasies, my focus is very limited.  I never envision a face, or even much of a body.   My objective is simple: to hammer an anonymous vagina, with absolutely no concern for the woman involved.  Intimacy has no place in this fantasy.  Names, conversation, kissing, looking into the woman's eyes...I can't imagine any of those things.  If I do, they kill the whole idea.

Fantasies are one thing but real-life encounters are totally different.  Ed says he can't imagine ever being with a man.  And while I have been with a woman, I can't imagine ever pursuing one again.  However...if there was a place on the Internet where I could find local women who offered free, no talking, anonymous, NSA sex, I might be tempted to indulge.  If I did, would that make me in denial of being straight?  Or is just having a vaginal sex fantasy enough to earn me that label?

I'm sure opinions on the subject vary, but I'd bet that a lot of people (like Hayden), who would be quick to label Ed as "gay, in denial and very repressed" would not be a rush to label me as "heterosexual, in denial and repressed."  Why is that?

Another thing...

It's common for people to associate shame with being in denial.  Certainly they can be related, but are they always?

Hayden thinks Ed is so deeply ashamed of his attraction to men that he uses every excuse he can to maintain the belief that he's straight.  Well, what if my disembodied, misogynistic vagina fantasy causes me deep shame?  Does that mean I'm in denial about being straight?  

As you can see, Ed's story has pulled me in multiple directions, some of which are contradictory.  Maybe his fiance' is right to question his ability to desire her.  Maybe he is gay, but in deep denial about it.  Or, maybe he's just an imperfect straight guy, scarred by a history of endless rejection and emotional abandonment.

Whatever the answer, this is Ed's mess to figure out. 

At first I wanted to tell him how my wife dumped me because I didn't pay enough attention to her, but the more I listened to his story, the more confused I became.  Ultimately I decided not to share my bad experience.  He isn't particularly attractive...he is being totally honest with his fiance'...what good would it do to confirm his fears?  I actually hope he does get married and he and his fiance' live happily ever after.  More power to them, right?

With all this said, I'm still wondering what the deal is with all those straight guys looking for gay sex on Craigslist.  Are they all in-denial, closeted homos?  Or, are most of them authentically straight, just somewhat fucked up the way Ed is? If you can enlighten me, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Love, Dating and the Importance of Visible Abs

I first came out (to myself) when I was 13.

Making the admission was a two-part deal: I would fully accept my sexuality and stop beating myself up about it, but not tell anyone.  No one needed to know.  At 13 I had no desire to commit the rest of my life to anything, especially something that could give me "the gay cancer."

That said, if I hadn't met Gabbie at 20, I'm pretty sure I would have started to come out at 22.  I say this because my best friend from college came out to me that year.  With his support, I would've had the courage to follow in his footsteps.

I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if I had come out in my 20s.  I certainly would have lived a very different life.

When I met Gabbie, I had no romantic or sexual interest in her; she aggressively pursued me.  We went from friends to dating when she drunkenly decided to lay down in the street and refused to get up until I told her that I liked her.  The whole situation was silly and impossible to take seriously.  At least I thought so.  But Gabbie was determined, and step-by-step, she guided our relationship toward something significant.  I let it happen, partly because I never imagined we'd have a long-term future together, but also because Gabbie's strong interest in me was very flattering.  No one had ever paid that much attention to me.  She made me feel very wanted.

Eventually the guilt of hiding the truth took its toll on me.  At 26, after two and a half years of marriage, I came out to her and she promptly moved to a new place, more than twenty miles away.

"Free at last!" I was once again on the cusp of leading a gay life. I even had an awesome boyfriend.  But, it turned out, Gabbie wasn't done with me. Although we were separated, she called me every day, and as hard as I tried to politely break our connection, she just wouldn't cooperate.

After spending two months apart, what finally convinced me to give our marriage a second chance was that Gabbie STILL wanted to be with me, even after I fucked up her life.  To be so fiercely loved by her was an amazing feeling.  She loved me with all her heart, how could I not love her too?

Fourteen years after reuniting we were still going strong.  So strong, in fact, that I'd stopped pursuing men.  I'd tried every kind of down-low, part-time relationship possible but never felt fulfilled for more than a few months, no matter how much I liked the guy.  Hook-ups, friends with benefits and closed-loop relationships...none of those really worked for me.  If I was going to be with a guy, I wanted an uncompromised, full-time partnership.  If I couldn't have that, I was very satisfied with Gabbie and our kids.  Sure, my sex life wasn't ideal, but I'd always kept my sexuality in the background anyway.  And for as much as being gay was a core part of my identity, it was also just one part of a complete me.

When Gabbie first told me about meeting Charlie I could tell she was attracted to him.  Even so, I wasn't worried she'd cheat.  I was even more certain she'd stay loyal after I met him - the guy was obviously a low-life piece-of-shit.  I KNEW it wouldn't take long for her to get sick of him.  She was a billion times smarter than him.  He could barely write his own name!

I was so confident that Charlie was no threat that I didn't care much when she started hanging out with him every weekend.  I figured that the better she got to know him, the sooner she'd be done with him.


To this day (although I try not to think about it), I don't know what happened to Gabbie's relentless, fierce, all-consuming love for me.  How did that loser Charlie steal her away???  For twenty years, all I knew was Gabbie's fierceness.  Never anything different.  She was unwavering - until she wasn't.

Honestly, I don't think I'll ever be fully healed from our break-up.  It's been more than four years and I still fight feeling hurt when I see her.  But I know I can't continue on this way.  I need to forget the past and focus on the future.

When we split up four years ago, I was 44. Twenty years of desk jobs and no exercise had made me a little pudgy and definitely out of shape.  My first priority was to get healthy so I could date.
November 2014

Much to my surprise, I found working out to be easier than expected.  I took to it pretty quickly and the extra pounds vanished in a few weeks.  To avoid going back to my old habits, I kept working out and in a few month's time, I began to wonder if I could drop enough fat that my abs would show.  I know it's very cliche' but I find six-pack abs to be a big turn-on so OF COURSE I wanted to have them.

I've never been happy with what I've achieved, but as of November 2014,
here's what I could show :

Not bad for 48 but certainly not great.
May 2013

As you might know, the trick to having visible abs is to drop your body fat below 8%.  I have no idea what mine was, probably 10-11%.  Close enough that giving up was not an option.  I had to try even harder to make it.

Little did I realize what I was doing to myself.  Here's how my face looked in May of 2013:
And here's what it looked like last November, 18 months later.  This was taken at the same time as the torso picture above:
November 2014

Do you notice anything?

In an all-out effort to lower my body fat, I drained a huge amount of volume from my face.  Look at the canals and sagging skin. Yuck. 

Sure, I obtained a slight indication of visible abs, but my face was so gaunt who the hell would want to talk to me?  It was this picture that made me realize I'd gone too far.

May 2015

I immediately made some changes and spent some money to try to rehabilitate my face.  I'm never going to fully recover because aging is pushing against me, but here's where I am today:

So...what's my point in all this?

I have a few conclusions, actually:

1.  Gabbie's rejection of me was so unexpected, so debilitating and so beyond my control that my way of healing from it was to focus on one thing I could control: obtaining defined abs.  In time, my progress toward that goal became my primary measure of self-worth, much in the same way that Gabbie's ferocious love had been that measure for my adult life.

2.  Because I had some experience dating men when I was younger, my concept of what would make me attractive was stuck in the past.  Specifically, I thought a thin, 20ish body would draw the attention of plenty of men over 40.  This is true, however, I've since learned that guys who like twinks want the whole package.  No matter how "twinkish" a 45yo guy is (including many Asians), other age-appropriate guys who like that look will not 'settle' for a guy in his forties.  They'll only chase guys in their twenties.  

It turns out that what most single gay men over 40 find attractive are "bears" and muscle daddies.  Thin, middle-aged twinks are near the bottom of the list.  

Too bad for me that I poured so much of my self-worth into something so utterly undesirable.

3.  Even if was 6' and 180 pounds, having visible abs at 48 wouldn't count for much.  They'd count for a little in traditional dating and somewhat more on hook-up apps, but overall, obtaining them is largely wasted effort.  Face pics are universally demanded for a reason - they're what REALLY matter.

The good news is that my self-confidence has been smashed to nothing and I have no where to go but up.  I recently read that confidence comes when you become comfortable with what you lack:
The big charade with confidence is that it has nothing to do with the comfort of what we achieve and everything to do with the comfort of what we don’t achieve.

People who are confident in business are confident because they’re comfortable with failure.

People who are confident in their social lives are confident because they’re comfortable with rejection.

People who are confident in their relationships are confident because they’re comfortable with getting hurt.

The truth is that the route to the positive runs through the negative. Those among us who are the most comfortable with negative experiences are those who reap the most benefits.

It’s counterintuitive, but it’s also true. Often we worry that if we become comfortable in our failures — that if we accept failure as an inevitable part of living — that we will become failures. But it doesn’t work that way. Comfort in our failures allows us to act without fear, to engage without judgment, to love without conditions. 
                                                          - Mark Manson, "The Confidence Conundrum"
It's a daily and sometimes hourly struggle, but I'm doing my best to embrace failure.  After taking a two year break from trying to date, I'm back at it, determined to find success through endless rejection.

I have a long way to go, but I am optimistic that one day I'll either be partnered OR I won't give a fuck that I'll be single forever.  It's a weird goal to have but I can already tell the journey will be more worthwhile than endless crunches, planks and side planks.