January 9, 2013

Reality Check

Matters of the Heart and Loins

My partner and I recently broke up during a fight. Then, a week later, we started hanging out, messing around and generally returning to our routine as lovers. I head over there after work, my partner visits me on my lunch break, etc. We decided to continue as we are without the serious labeling of partnership. We are a gay couple, and in our circle of friends, partnership is next to godliness: the holy grail of commitment and love. 

While things are nice between us, I want the label (and the respect that comes with it) back. I want the full thing. The only issue is that I'm afraid bringing it up will make him pull away and that I'll lose him forever. I ended the partnership very unceremoniously—on the phone screaming while he was sobbing—and I don't know how to broach any of this without it passing into sadness and regret. I've already hurt him so much and I don't want to lose what little we have left. Our routine may be the same, but the lovey-dovey stuff is gone. 

I've tried to talk to my friends about this but they think that a gay man in his late 20s shouldn't need relationship advice or help discussing emotions. I want my partner and our old life back (we were previously planning a commitment ceremony to take place in the next four years, when we had the money to do it the way we both wanted), but I don't know what to do. I guess I'm not gay enough.
Not Gay Enough

RealityCheckBig.jpgI’m not sure what you mean by your moniker, NGE. Maybe you actually mean not human enough, or not mature enough to face difficult and emotional conversations with a person that you purport to love? Maybe you need to “pass into sadness and regret.” I mean, how are you going to get back to the way you were without talking about how you got where you are now? You should regret the way you broke up, NGE, because screaming into a phone at your sobbing partner is regrettable behavior. 

I have no idea why you two broke up or who was at fault, and I don’t want to make any assumptions, so I’ll just say that it is up to you to bring this thing back around. If you really love this guy and not just “the label” of partner and the respect of your peers, then show him. Have the talk, as painful as it might be, and tell him how you really feel. It is possible that he wants the same thing but he’s too afraid to ask because the last time things got emotional you were screaming through the phone at him. 

I have been hooking up with my friend Bill on and off for the last two years. He travels a lot for work and goes to school, and I have a job and I volunteer and neither of us really has a lot of free time. We live in the same apartment complex, though, so when we are both around we tend to hang out a lot. We cook together, watch movies and occasionally go out. We have talked before about the status of our relationship (or lack of it), and both agreed that neither of us had the time or inclination to get serious. We have a lot of the same friends (the apartment complex has a lot of people in their 30s like us who are fairly active, and we tend to get together in groups a lot, especially when the weather is warm). We are both independent people and need a lot of time to ourselves, so we have always been respectful of one another’s space and don’t make assumptions about being home meaning not busy or necessarily feeling like hanging out. Things have been going very well. 

Recently, Bill’s friend Dave got back from Afghanistan. This is a guy whose name I have heard a million times. Dave and Bill have known each other since college and were roommates years ago. Dave used to live in this complex for a while before he deployed. Dave calls when Bill and I are together sometimes, so I have shouted hello at him from across the room. I have met his sister, who is also friends with Bill. I know so many stories about Dave that I feel like I already know him. However, I had never seen Dave before he got back—not even a recent picture, if you can believe it. I don’t know what I thought he looked like but I was not prepared for what I saw when I first met him. He is beautiful. He is also charming and funny, and has a lot of the qualities that Bill lacks, which in my mind make Bill not serious relationship material. 

I won’t get into it, because it is too gooey and boring, but suffice it to say that I have a real thing for Dave, and Dave has made it clear that the feeling is mutual. I have spent a month trying to figure out what to do, and when I talked to Bill about him, I really thought that Bill gave me his blessing to date Dave. I can’t remember the conversation exactly, but I guess I was being less than completely direct, because I thought he got it and I thought I understood that he would be fine with me dating Dave. Well, Dave and I went out together one night and we had a great time. Then we started calling each other to go to the gym and get dinner, and occasionally for no reason at all. Now, Bill seems to have figured out what is going on and he told me that he really wanted to have a relationship with me. He seems confused about how Dave got into the picture at all. And I really, really don’t want to date Bill, but I also don’t want to make a huge drama and ruin their friendship. (I’m pretty sure ours is going to crash either way now.) So, how do I do this?

Melrose Place

RealityCheckBig.jpgYou start by ending things with Bill. Tell him that you just don’t feel the same way that he does and that you were fine with the friends-with-benefits arrangement but that you never saw any future there. Then you take a step back from Dave. I’m not sure if the two of you already hooked up, but you should probably keep things fairly platonic while you figure out if the two of you are actually as compatible as your hormones think you are. If so, great. Go for it. Bill’s gonna have to live with it, because he’s been saying for two years that he didn’t want a relationship with you, and it isn’t your fault that he wasn’t being honest with you or with himself. But if you figure out that you and Dave really aren’t so compatible after all, then you haven’t created a raging drama between old friends and new neighbors and everybody in between. Good luck.