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Alone for the Holidays

Well, today is Thanksgiving in the United States, the first in a number of major holidays this season. In the lead up to today a sense of loneliness has been building and I expect it to continue over the next month or so. The ill feeling is a mix of being alone relationship-wise as well as recognizing that it was about a year ago now that the troubles with John and I really started to come to a head.

gourdsJohn and I talked about the upcoming holidays some and while we’re still friends we decided it would be best not to make major plans together for the holidays. As a part of our new lives apart we need to make new traditions for ourselves. Besides, I expect we’ll both be emotional about the season and its not good to try to vent that together.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make plans to visit my family back east for the holidays. That leaves me wondering what I will do for Christmas and New Years. Fortunately, for today I received a gracious invite for lunch.

Here’s wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving.

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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.

A Little Reflection

Well, it has been about five months now since I’ve moved out on my own after my split with John. I have to say the first few months were very rocky. I felt lonely and without direction. Over time though I’ve begun to feel more grounded. I’m starting to feel at home in my new city and have started dating again. Over the next few weeks I plan to write some of my thoughts about post break-up life and dating again. Today I want to meditate a bit on the break-up and my relationship with my ex.

Throughout the whole ordeal I felt really uneasy about talking about the break-up with anyone but him and our counselor. I kind of feel like there is a trap in the way our culture expects break-ups to happen. They are supposed to be messy with people getting angry at each other, placing blame, and complaining to their respective friends. But, those expectations for how a relationship should end didn’t work for me. I didn’t want to be perceived as either a victim or a bad guy, nor did I want John to be perceived that way either. I was reluctant to tell friends about my dissatisfaction and ultimately reasons for calling it quits. I didn’t want to categorize John as “the bad guy”

This isn’t to say that the break-up wasn’t immensely difficult for both of us. Though I ultimately decided that the relationship wasn’t working and that we should call it quits, I still loved John. I hated to see him hurt, and I know that I was the one causing that. At the same time I didn’t see him capable of making the changes that would allow me to feel fulfilled in the relationship. It wasn’t so much about our actions and words as how we engaged the world on a base level. Fortunately, through it all we remained civil and committed to treating each other with respect.

Now, seven months since the split, John and I are still friends. We took in some of the cultural attractions together last weekend and we maintain pretty frequent communication. I feel pretty lucky.

How about you, what sort of relationship have you maintained with your ex(s)?

Moving On: Life After Love

It’s been about two months since I shared with you the end of my nearly five year relationship with John. In that time I’ve moved to another city and have tried to get on with this new stage in my life. To be honest though, I don’t really feel like I’ve pulled it together yet. I think to myself that I should gather my thoughts and makes some meaning out of the ending of our relationship, but I haven’t managed it.

So much of my life was centered around him, my identity was thoroughly wrapped up in my relationship with him. Now that he is no longer here I’m struggling to define myself again. I wish I could seek solace in friends, but all of my close friends live far away. My social circle here was really his social circle. I’m working on making new friends, but as an introvert that isn’t always something that comes easy to me.

I also hope to put more of my energies into creative endeavors. This is something John didn’t really understand, and so looked forward to fostering once again. But, in the anxiety and sadness that’s come with all the uncertainty surrounding these recent changes in my life I find it hard to bring my creative skills to bear.

Fortunately, my job is going pretty well and I’m managing to find things to fill my time on the weekends. But, I miss having social and creative lives that come with ease.

Hard Truths

Last November I acknowledged that there were some frictions going on in the relationship between John and me and that we were considering counseling. We did eventually see a couples counselor for awhile and for awhile things felt better. However, recently we called an end to our relationship.

Fortunately, we avoided much of the anger and animosity that characterizes the end of so many relationships. This doesn’t mean there isn’t/wasn’t hurt. The close of our relationship has been very emotionally challenging. We’ve committed to remaining friends. But for my part, I’m getting some distance for the moment, trying to get some perspective, and trying to re-engage who I am as an individual rather than who I was in a relationship.

I hope to get back to writing more. Sometimes it has been a challenge to keep up the posts, especially recently. More to come.

Maintaining a PG World

For the first time in quite some time I’m going to have to be cognizant of how my sexuality is expressed at home.  John and I have visitors coming, grandchildren.  The kids of John’s youngest son are coming to visit for several days without the supervision of their parents.  Some of them are quite young still and we all agreed that John and I would de-gay the house.  Only the oldest has been told directly about the nature of our relationship.  Of course John and I will still share the same bed, but with the convenient excuse that the other beds will be occupied by our visitors.  Ultimately, this isn’t a really big deal.  We’re putting away some books and movies that might raise questions and placing some security features on the computers to prevent prying eyes.  But really most of what we’ve hidden is pretty mild, and most likely would have been overlooked by children in the first place.  The thing that will be most challenging is curbing overt displays of affection.  John and I hug and kiss and cuddle frequently.

I wonder if John’s son would have been as concerned about his kids seeing their grandfather in a homosexual relationship if his partner was closer to his age.  I understand, parents like to shield their kids from ideas that they might find confusing or frightening.  On the other hand, I think kids have a much greater capacity for accepting things outside the social norm than a lot of parents do.  Kids also seem to be a lot more perceptive than adults give them credit.  Perhaps our relationship isn’t going to be as hidden from them as we might think.  I guess time will tell.

Have you ever had to de-gay your home?  For what reason?

What They Say About Assumptions

Today I was thinking about when John and I first met. We had traded messages online a bit and decided to have an initial meeting at a local restaurant. In hindsight I wish I could remember the details of our first meeting more clearly. What exactly did we talk about, what were my initial reactions toward him, etc. I would love to reflect on those reactions now with some distance of time, but they elude me. However there are two instances from that first meeting that I remember quite clearly; the first of which illustrates that one shouldn’t make assumptions about age.

We first met outside the restaurant. When we went in we had to wait quite a while for a table. I the meantime we started talking about ourselves. I remember telling John about the masters program I had just finished and my academic background. After being seated, we continued talking about things like jobs, families, and other interests. It was clear to me early on that John was smart, well educated, and a serious minded person. Eventually the topic of conversation turned to film. I told him that my interests tended toward dramas and independent film. He told me he liked dramas also, along with foreign films and documentaries. Then he took me a little off guard by asking me what I had thought of the movie Borat. I had seen it for the first time pretty recently and found it pretty funny, but I immediately second guessed responding honestly. With his serious demeanor and at his age it didn’t occur to me that John would have reacted positively to the film; after all their had been so much controversy over people taking offense to the movie. I just imagined that he may have really hated the movie and found it sophomoric and that if I admitted to liking it too vehemently that it would reflect poorly on myself.

I resisted my urge to out-and-out dismiss the movie, but I also tempered my praise of the film. But, to my surprise John responded by saying how much he loved the movie. His face lit up when he talked about particular parts he liked. I was astounded, relieved, and impressed. I had met someone that was mature and intellectually curious but was capable of not always taking things too seriously. The man had a sense of humor. That little bit of trivia about John, that he loved Borat, actually became a little endearing trait that stood out. In a small way I think I was a little ashamed that I had assumed that John was “too old” for that type of movie. And in making such an assumption I easily could have become insincere in an attempt to impress him.

The rest of the dinner and conversation went relatively well. We parted ways in the restaurant parking lot. As the evening ended I wasn’t completely sure what to make of the meeting. John seemed nice, I found him attractive, we had some things in common, but throughout the conversation I found it difficult to read him, to know how he was reacting to me. That brings us to the second thing that happened that night that I can remember quite clearly. As I was heading away from the restaurant, reflecting on what had just happened, my phone rang. Before I was even out of the parking lot John was calling me. He was heading out of town for a week and he wanted me to give him my e-mail address so we could make plans while he was away to get together when he returned. After the call I was giddy with confidence and excitement. That call simultaneously signaled John’s interest in me and solidified my interest in him.

That night I met a man that I found could impress and surprise me. Thanks to my own little snafu over making assumptions I’ve tried not to take anything else for granted when it came to John. And so, I’ve gotten to see the world and learn about new things from his point of view. It is a vivid life he leads and I’ve been fortunate to get to take part in it.