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Dating Again #1: Mr. Rebound

When I met John I had been in the dating world only for a short time. After our relationship ended I found myself back in the dating pool. Since, I have found it a bit daunting to try dating again. I certainly know a lot more now than when I first really started dating older men six years ago, but I’m finding that I’m encountering more unusual and challenging experiences than I expected. This is the first post of a series reflecting on my experiences now that I’m dating again.

Shortly after the split I started frequenting one of the more popular intergenerational gay dating sites. Having just come out of a relationship I wasn’t looking for anything serious and even if I were I wouldn’t know what I was looking for. I just wanted to get out, try dating again, and hopefully have some fun times. On this website I started trading a few messages with the man I’m going to call Mr. Rebound.

Mr. Rebound was friendly, thoughtful, and a little bit shy. My own introverted nature led to some of the problems I had with John and it was refreshing to encounter someone that seemed to understand that part of my personality. After a couple of weeks of correspondences and chatting we agreed to meet for coffee one afternoon. The first meeting was rather uneventful. Mr. Rebound was unassuming and easy to be around. We sipped coffee and had rather general conversation. At that first meeting I found him attractive and was excited at the prospect of potentially being with him.

Mr. Rebound and I continued to have our online conversations, and early on he was well aware that I had just come out of a relationship. We commiserated together at how much of the world just doesn’t get the way introverts like us operate. A week or two after the first coffee date we met again for dinner.

To be honest, I don’t remember the dinner much. Afterwards he invited me to his place. We chatted more, listened to music, sat on his couch together and eventually began to make out. Mr. Rebound respected, or at least tried to respect, the fact that we really hadn’t known each other long and that I was fresh out of a relationship. I kept the momentum going however and we ended up in his bed. Again, he tried to slow things down but I thought I was ready to go for it. I threw caution to the wind and we ended up hot, sweaty, naked, and sticky.

I don’t think it was too long after that that I realized that I had made a mistake. I continued to see Mr. Rebound but we didn’t have sex again. It wasn’t that there was anything particularly wrong with him. But, while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trying to fulfill competing desires with my relationship with Mr. Rebound. On one hand I wanted a friend to talk to, to decompress with, and to get thing off of my chest that had built up as my relationship with John fell apart. I hadn’t felt comfortable doing that with any of my existing friends. On the other hand, I wanted to fulfill sexual desires that weren’t being met. I discovered those two roles shouldn’t be fulfilled by one person, especially not during the emotionally stressful period I was experiencing at the time.

With Mr. Rebound I realized I wanted a friend more than I wanted a lover. Eventually, I was able to tell him this and to my surprise he wasn’t angry nor did he simply disappear after I made it clear I no longer wished to have a romantic relationship with him. We have continued to be friends, and though not terribly close we see each other fairly frequently to have walks, chats, coffee, etc.

Since then I think I’m still trying to learn lessons from this first post-John relationship. First, one must make a distinction between those they really wish to date and those they simply want something physical with. I should have learned that when dating someone that I may want to have a meaningful relationship with that I need to take it slow on the sexual front. I’m not sure I have fully learned that lesson, but that’s a story for a future blog post. By meaningful relationship I mean either long-term dating or simply friendship. To move quickly into sex complicates the getting to know you process and if you do determine you just want to be friends the sex could be deadly to the future of the friendship. I feel that I was pretty lucky to come away with a new friend in Mr. Rebound.

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Relationship Skepticism: The Problem With Pals

My partner and I can be, at times, self conscious of about our relationship, but for the most part we take it all in stride. I have to admit that we have it pretty good. We live in a pretty liberal town. Most of our friends, both gay and straight, are pretty accepting of our relationship. And, though there have been a few highly publicized instances of violence against gay people in our town, we feel fairly safe. Over all we’re in a really good place.

It can be hard though when people close to us seem to have a problem with our relationship. Especially when those problems seem to go away only to pop up again later. I can understand that people might initially have trepidations about our relationship. They wonder what we have in common, whether I’m using him, whether he’s using me, etc.; all those myths I’ve discussed before.

A, now mutual, friend of ours once told me he was shocked when my partner told him that he was beginning to date a 20-something guy. But, after he really saw us together he decided we made sense, that we were a good couple. It seems that most of our friends come to that conclusion after they’ve spent some time with us together. In the abstract such an age disparate relationship seems irrational, but in reality it works great for the two of us.

It can really sting then when someone we know seems to question us being together or doesn’t give our relationship much credit. My partner recently went to a pride event. I couldn’t go because I unfortunately had to work that day, but John went and took a 40-something friend of ours that was visiting from out of town.

While at pride John ran into a friend of his we’ll call Joe. When Joe saw my partner with our guest and not me, he made some remarks as though he were probing to see if I was still around. John asked him directly if he was wondering if we were still together and he admitted that, yes that was what he was wondering. John explained that I was at work.

Later that evening John told me about the encounter, but he didn’t perceive the probing as negatively as I did. It really hurt my pride to think that others might not see our relationship as durable or that I might be so easily replaced. From the first time I met Joe he’s seemed rather skeptical of me. In some ways it is to his credit; I don’t think it is out of malice, rather he likes John and is protective of him. We don’t spend as much time with Joe as some of my partner’s other friends, but over the past couple of months we’ve seen him a few times and he seemed to be warming up to me. I think that’s why his behavior at pride really struck me.

After a little time to reflect on the situation I’ve mellowed out some. It doesn’t bug me as much as it did when John first told me, but it makes me wonder how many others may secretly think my partner and I aren’t good for each other. I’d like to believe that it doesn’t matter what others think. To a certain extent that is true, but when it comes to your friends you hope for them to be supportive and trusting. If they’re not, then where will that friendship lead? For now I’ll just have to double my resolve to win over Joe and we’ll see what happens next.