Saturday, May 17, 2014

An Email from a Reader Who Requests Anonymity

Hey Rick,

I’m in need of a bit of advice. Normally I would never email somebody like this to get advice, but here I am. I don’t really feel like I have anybody else to talk to about this. Admittedly, I haven’t really read your blog, but I’ve been looking for a gay relationship advice blog and maybe you can offer me a bit of help. Also, sorry in advance that this email is probably going to be ridiculously long. If anything, it’ll be a way for me to think things through for myself.

I’m a nineteen-year-old college freshman who just recently (like two months ago) accepted the fact that I’m gay and began acting on it. I met this guy and we began texting a lot. We had both known each other a bit before we met (on grindr… I know, I know), but neither of us knew the other was gay. So we were texting and things were going well. We decided to meet up and grab dinner, so we did. That went well. Eventually, we started hooking up. It was a once per week (if not more often) thing, but when we weren’t hooking up, we’d still talk. I met his friends and I really like them and I think they like me. In the six weeks or so that we’ve been doing this I’ve developed feelings for him. I don’t know if its simply because he’s the first guy I’ve ever done anything with or if the feelings are genuine. But I’m almost positive they’re genuine.

Anyway, a little while ago, I was beginning to get quite confused about the nature of our relationship. What were we? Friends with benefits? Hooking up? Was it something more? I decided to ask him what we were doing, and he told me “I couldn’t tell you because I honestly don’t know either.” When I asked him about how he felt about our ‘relationship’ he said, “I’ve definitely never been one for labels. I say we just keep doing what we want and not worry about what to call it.” So I asked him what the “rules” of our relationship were. I said, “I don’t know the rules. Like, are you hooking up with other guys and should I be hooking up with other guys?” To which he responded, “I haven’t been hooking up with other guys, but I’d say they’re not off limits to either of us if we find ourselves in a position where we want to.”

That wasn’t at all what I wanted to hear, but I said, “Cool, that sounds good.” (Probably a mistake, but whatever. I didn’t want to scare him away with my feelings. In this case, I didn’t want to end what I had, even if it wasn’t all the way what I wanted).

Ever since this conversation, things have been weird between us. Strained. And I can’t get my mind off him.

Whenever I’m on grindr and I see him on there I can’t help but think about how quickly and natural it was for us to go from chatting to texting to hooking up, and I picture him hooking up with other guys. And it gets me down. Now, I know— going on grindr is like the worst possible thing for somebody in my position to do, but I want to meet other guys too.

Since this conversation, we’ve met up twice. Once was for maybe an hour and all we did was cuddle and make out a little bit. It was nice, but he cut it short to leave for dinner with his frat brothers. The other time was last Saturday. We went for a walk (and didn’t really talk all that much), and I was fully expecting to go back to his room afterwards. He cut that short too. When we got back he told me he had to get to a party. I didn’t even have physical contact with him that night. There was no cuddling, there were no goodbye kisses like there used to be. It was just… cold.

My texts with him have been cold and strained, and I can’t help but feel like he’s cutting me out. He’ll still respond to my texts, and sometimes even text me, and we snapchat each other quite frequently— but I think he’s lost interest in our ‘relationship.’

I really like this guy. I want more than hooking up with him. He obviously he doesn’t want that with me. Which is fine, can’t win ‘em all, I get that. So I guess what I’m asking is… how do I get over him if he’s gotten over me?

Everything I’ve read about getting over somebody involves cutting off all contact. I absolutely DO NOT want that. He’s a great guy. I want to be friends with him at least if we’re not hooking up or together or whatever. I don’t want to cut him out of my life.

So how do I get over somebody that I don’t want to get over?

Seriously, any advice about anything would be so, so appreciated. Should I bring this up to him? Should I ask him if he’s done with me and with our ‘relationship'? Should I try and meet another guy? I’m in college and the dating scene has pretty much been replaced by hookup culture. Unfortunately for me, I think I’m just a sentimental person. Cold, empty hooking up doesn’t at all interest me. I want more than that.

If you read this whole email, you’re amazing and thank you so much. A response would be so amazing to me, as I have so many things I want to say and ask, but I’m not sure how to put them into words. If you have any questions for me, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.

And this probably goes without saying, but I’d really appreciate anonymity with this.

Thanks so much!

My response:

Hey, ______.

Let’s get right into it.

You asked me some specific questions at the end of your email, so I’ll structure my response on the basis of them.  I suspect I’ll be able to add anything I want to within the context of my answers.  If not, I’ll record them at the end. 

Remember, I’m going to be completely honest with you. These are my opinions, based on my knowledge and experiences.  You may not like what I have to say.  Take or leave it as you see fit.  Ultimately, I hope my responses are helpful.

Here goes.

Question #1:  “So how do I get over somebody that I don’t want to get over?”

You start with a tough one.
I think your friend (I’ll call him David) has been as honest with you as he’s capable of being, at this point in time, about what the two of you have.  He’s not as emotionally involved in your relationship as you obviously are (or, if he is–which he might be; you never know–he’s not willing to show that to you). 

The way I look at it is, you have a decision to make: Can I only be with David if he’s something more than a friend, or can I be happy if he’s a friend only?  If you push too hard to make it something more than he wants it to be, you risk losing him altogether.  If you play it cool and go with the flow, he may get over the initial awkwardness, resulting from the talk you both had, and things may get back to the way they were between you. 

Which will put you in a good position.  You’ll still have his friendship, which you’ve said is important to you, and you may have some benefits with that as well, if you want them.  If you don’t want them (because you’re not into hooking up), then that is your choice to make.
I’ve just read your question again, and I’m not sure I answered it.  Let me try again.

I think you’d be better off if you turned “I don’t want to get over him” into “I don’t want to lose him as a friend.”  Do you see the difference? 

Ultimately, you want David in your life.  If you can’t have him in your life in the way you’d like him to be, I assume it’s still better to have him in your life as a friend.  You’re going to have to make that switch in your head–and heart–if you want to keep him. Only you can decide if you’re capable of doing that. 

And here’s the good news, as I see it:  If the two of you are still in each other’s lives, you may find, as you share more fun times together, that he’ll realize what he has in you, and he’ll try to get closer to you.  Stranger things have happened.  Friends often turn into the best relationships.  But don’t go into building a friendship with him, thinking for sure it will turn into something more.  It may not, and you’d have to untangle yourself from him all over again if it doesn’t.

The bottom line is, focus on the friendship.  Keep him in your life because you like him. But go on living.  He may never fully be yours, so keep your options open, keep meeting new people. 

And, if you’re serious about being in a relationship, frequent better websites than Grindr.  I found a few you might be interested in, that seem to be more focused on helping gay men develop long-term relationships: Compatible Partners (the gay equivalent of eHarmony), Plenty of Fish, Zoosk,,, and  I’ve never tried any of these sites, so be careful with your safety and your heart, but, clearly, there are more options out there than Grindr. 

Question #2:  “Should I bring this up to him?”

No, you shouldn’t discuss this with him anymore–if you want to maintain your friendship with him.

When I initially read your email, I thought you should probably sit David down and be completely honest with him about where your heart is.  But, because you want to maintain your friendship with him, I decided having another discussion might just push him further away.

So, no more discussions for now.  Focus on the friendship.  If it’s offered, have sex with him, or not.  That’s your choice.  In this regard, be true to who you are and how you feel about casual sex. 

And keep living your life.  David may never be yours.  You have to accept that.  I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but, to use a cliche, there are lots of fish in the ocean.  You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you–at least not in that way. Have more respect for yourself than that.  When it’s right between you and another young man, you’ll know it.  And it won’t be a struggle.  It’ll feel good from the beginning. 

Question #3:  “Should I ask him if he’s done with me and ‘our relationship’?”

You know my answer here.  No more talk.  Unless, perhaps, he invites it.  If he doesn’t, just be friends.  If it turns out you can’t be friends–because it hurts you to know every time you’re together you’re not something more, or because you know he may be fooling around with other guys–then make a clean split with him. It may be the only way to go. You’ll have to decide that for yourself. 

Question #4:  “Should I try and meet another guy?”

Yes, you sure should.  In fact, you should try to meet lots of other guys.  You should always keep your options open until you're one hundred percent committed to the guy you should be with. Meeting other young men will give you perspective on what you have with David.  Either it will confirm what you had with him is the real deal (in which case, you have a problem, especially if he still isn’t interested in you in that way), or it will show you your feelings for David weren’t grounded in something that was real and true.  In other words, that your feelings were nothing more than infatuation.

Listen, ____,  you're still very young.  I don’t want to sound like a parent here, but let’s be honest.  You’ve just accepted your own homosexuality.  The whole gay thing is pretty exciting, especially the part about meeting other young men like you, and some of them actually being interested in you, either as friends or something more.  What you’re going through is an initial bit of excitement, and, believe me, it’s a heady experience.  It can really throw you, particularly if you’re not prepared for it.

So…take a deep breath.  You have a lot of life ahead of you.  At the risk of marginalizing it, what you have with David is a crush.  It’s great fun, and it’s so damn validating, knowing you’ve turned someone else's head.  You've gotten his attention, and he's interested in you.

But there’s a good chance it was never meant to be anything more than a friendship.  That’s certainly the indication David's given you.  So accept that.  Don’t fall into the arms of the first young man who shows interest in you and plant yourself there.  There are so many young men who would be lucky to have you as a friend–and maybe something more.  Think about how exciting that is. 

You’re going to discover so much about yourself over the next years, both in terms of who you are as a human being and who you are as a gay man.  You might think you and David are a perfect match now, because of where you’re at in your life, but that could all change tomorrow, when you discover you’re really someone else.  Or that your priorities are different from what they are today.  Or that you’re really looking for this type of young man, not that one. 

Making a life long commitment to one person is a huge responsibility, and you want to be as certain as you can be that the one you commit to is absolutely the right person for you.  You shouldn’t be in any rush to do this. 

I met my partner, Chris, when I was thirty-two, and he was just twenty-three.  I was ready for a serious relationship, but I remember thinking at the time Chris was probably too young, and I had to ask myself questions like, was I being unfair not letting him experience more of life, meet other people, find out what he really wanted?  It turned out well for us, and, in the end, it might turn out well for you and David.  You never know.

Maybe David really is THE ONE.  But he’s not giving you that indication yet.  So keep moving ahead.  Don’t get stuck in one spot, waiting for him to come around. If he never comes around, you’ve wasted too much time.  Who knows, if you both keep moving ahead, but you both keep coming back to each other too, it just might be right, after all.  Only time will tell.

I hope you’ve found this helpful.  I hope I’ve been able to help you see past the feelings you have for David.  And I hope this makes sense.

You write in your email that you have other things you want to say and ask, but you don’t have the words for them yet.  Well, when you find the words, I’m here for you.  If you respect what I have to say, send me an email with additional comments and questions, and I’ll see what I can do to help.

Thanks for sharing with me, for trusting me, and for being open to what I have to say.

I wish you all the very best.

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