Sunday, 26 December 2010

Why Do I Do This To Myself?...

I've always been a great believer that the past will pave the way to your future, that one should draw strength from their experiences in order to achieve their goals, and that, as my mother always told me, ‘what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger’. But now I’m not so sure. It’s not quite the same thing when the future you want is with someone you already share a past with...
At this time of year, amidst all the indulgence with food, drink and sleep, I like to reflect on the months past, the barriers I’ve overcome, the goals I’ve achieved, the balance of my bank account, and also contemplate how I can improve on these in the forthcoming year. But this year I have another experience to reflect on and contemplate – a relationship I can’t get away from.
There’s no question that we love each other and technically-speaking we’re made for each other. We’re both independent young men, self-sufficient, strong-minded and we have an amazing sexual connection that acts like a G-force magnet, yet we couldn’t be more different – we’re galaxies apart, never mind worlds. My friends are bored of listening to my frustrations and the reasons for yet another break-up, so I’m not overly keen to announce we’re back together again, but I can’t deny that I’m over the moon about it.
My concern now is that, inevitably, after several break-ups and reunions, there’s less and less expectation that it’ll work out this time round – especially from everyone in the parameter. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks; I've always been the type of naughty boy that needs to poke the fire to learn it’ll burn me – and that’s not going to change any time soon, which brings me to the point: what should I be prepared to change or sacrifice for the benefit of a relationship I've walked away from so many times?
We’re not stupid; we’re addicted to each other. We’ve learned the buttons not to press but we keep pressing them. If there were any more lessons to learn, surely we’d have learned them by now? Maybe I’m mad (and I know there are plenty of people that would agree with that), but I can’t help feeling that this is in our favour. Of course I have doubts, but they’re currently outweighed by my desires.
‘Wiping the slate clean’ is, let’s face it, impossible.  I’m unfortunate in the sense that, in his eyes, I have more to prove, which means added work. Whether I accept it or not, I broke the all-important 'trust' and that’s a huge bridge that must be rebuilt – an issue that would not be so in a new relationship, and therefore a drawback I cannot draw strength from for the future.
Another issue is the comparison people make between their new and past partners. I hate being compared to an ex, it really annoys me and it’s something I just don’t do. I know what makes a happy relationship, I know how I should be made to feel, I know what I want and I know what I don’t need. And I don’t need to compare present  to past relationships because I’m no longer there for good reason!
The more you change to accommodate another’s expectations, the more distressing the break-up will be – I guarantee it. In an ideal world, in the ideal relationship, no one should feel pressured to change themselves to accommodate another, and you shouldn't; not unless there’s substantial collateral and you’re going to get a good return on the investment, which is why we’re back together – the potential is enormous, but so is the risk.
You need to know yourself pretty well to take this sort of risk. You need to know your limits, your absolute rules and what is open to compromise. You also need to know the other person well enough to trust them to honour their word, because after all, that’s all you have. Only then can you be happy with any negotiation.
Yes, I played ‘away’ when I had no ‘home’, and despite what he may feel about that, I think it’s really sharpened my sense of what I want. I could have walked away and had nothing more to do with him, but here I am – my choice.
Like most people, 2010 has presented me with a fair share of adversities and struggles, but I’m ending it with incredibly good luck and high spirits – a sentiment I want to carry into 2011. I’ve grown and learned a lot this year, even as far as to say I’m a different person, so I’m going to choose to take an optimistic view of everything and hope it pays off.
Will I fulfil my New Year’s resolution to quit smoking? Will I learn to be more patient and to foresee the fruit of my labour, or ‘the light’ at the end of the tunnel? Will this 6th chance in love with the same man work out? Who knows, but one thing is certain - my mum is right, what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

A Single Man

Sex is boring, when that’s all it is. But I don’t want a ring around my finger (pardon the pun), so what is the happy middle ground here, and how can you sustain it?

I can’t help but feel that I’ve come prematurely (stop it) to a point I did not foresee happening for quite some time. I thought I’d be quite happy just having regular no-strings sex with a few select people as and when I please, especially after seven years in just two relationships. But I’m bored now and I feel almost uncomfortable with the ‘expectation of sex’ in this sort of arrangement.

It’s somewhat confusing and a bit of a double-edged sword because ultimately, sex is what’s brought us together and I’m really not looking for anything more, until it’s over and one of us leaves. I think it takes a certain kind of mentality to feel content for just having sex, not that there’s anything wrong with it – I thought I could do it, but I don’t think I can now and it’s just not for me.

I was content ‘finding’ regular partners but, and maybe this is just me, they’ve been worthy of so much more and the feeling appears to be mutual. Once we’ve thrown our inhibitions to the curb, along with our clothes, and got past the action, I become nervous and I can’t stop thinking about ‘what next’, as if I didn’t know this was the end of the line. I don’t want to keep feeling that. I don’t want to give a false impression of our potential future and I don’t want to get one either – it’s just sex, please don’t complicate it (I say to myself).

So, I either restrict myself to one-offs and move on, or risk emotional attachment to them. The first option seems safer to me, but takes so much effort – I’m a serial flirt but I only seem to enjoy it when I know it’s not going anywhere; the adrenalin has unwelcome effects on me if I’m not the one chasing and I’ve had to categorise people as either Hunter or Hunted in order to cope!

It’s been an eye-opener. This whole ‘single’ experience has been a very interesting and active one so far. I feel like I’ve gained a lot from it; it’s been the most productive time I’ve had as a single man to date, actually. I do feel validated by it, and if there were no other options I would probably be happy to continue doing it, but I don’t want to.

In a previous edition of this blog I expressed how I felt that sex has nothing to do with love – I still stand by that, but I can’t deny that great sex with someone you love is just so much better. What’s even better, is when you’re totally relaxed in each other’s company in the comfort that there’s no expectation to ‘perform’ – which always means that you do ‘perform’, when it comes to it – and there’s no greater sex than that...

There may not be a happy middle ground when you put random sex versus monogamous relationship in such a black and white contrast, but there is a healthy one – I know what I want and who I want it from, and I don’t want to waste anymore time.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

It’s Not Me – It's You!

Ignorance is indeed bliss. Some people really aren’t clever enough to look past the end of their noses, and as frustrating as that can be, sometimes you’ve just got to love them for it. My best friend always said ‘complete idiots are rare’, but my God, I’ve come across a lot of them lately. Or at least they’re pretending to be.

Not being aware of what’s going on around you protects your innocence (to a point) and keeps you safe. But when someone you love, who is hurting you, cannot understand the effect their actions have on you, you need to question their motives. I’ve found a good way to deal with this is to simply make an educated guess; if they did or could understand how their actions affect you, would they be upset about it or defensive?

It’s hypothetical, so unfortunately this method cannot provide a black or white answer, but it’s a start. Quite often it throws up more questions than it does answers, but at least it keeps things moving in the right direction and I’ve started questioning my own motives by analysing another’s. 

Far too many people seem to think they can get something for nothing, and to me, that is some evidence that they must be complete idiots. I’m no Mother Teresa – I get a lot of pleasure from pleasing others, but not when my efforts go unnoticed and unappreciated. And certainly not when these fuckers carry a metaphorical pair of scales and are constantly weighing up what they’ve done for me versus what I’ve done for them. If I, too, were keeping a log book, they’d be crushed under its sheer weight! But I don’t, and neither can I recall specific examples at the drop of a hat. Give me time, however, and I will, if I must.

Nobody’s perfect and there’s a balance that must be struck in friendships or relationships, but the effort to achieve that balance will be futile if you cannot understand what’s important to one another – how can you score if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? And how can someone else appreciate your efforts if they don’t understand the effort you’ve gone to?

The answer is simple – with difficulty, and the efforts will probably be wasted. I learned this over the last few days after having a very sincere, calm and gutsy conversation with my ex-boyfriend about ‘where it all went wrong’ – something that could not have happened in the heat of the break-up, but which we’ve managed to do by remaining friends.

I see the error of my ways now and I’m so deeply distressed about them. I’m appalled that I was so ignorant and became so complacent. He’s appalled he didn’t handle it better. We’re appalled we let the communication break down and the resentment build up. We were made for each other and we still fucked it up. 

They say the last thing to die is hope. The lesson here is ‘don’t rely on hope when not all else is dead and you have other choices’. Leave hope for those who really need it and make another choice, while you can.

I’m so grateful we’re still in each other’s lives. I’d have never understood the full extent of the part I played in destroying the relationship otherwise. I’m grateful to have stayed around and communicated for long enough to learn a valuable lesson from this relationship and therefore grow as a person before entering the next one.

It wasn’t just him; it was both our faults it didn’t work. I was just clearly too quick to throw in the towel and call it a day. 

Now I must be one of the complete idiots, but maybe it’s time I let him go...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Fascinating, how we evolve as lovers. Fascinating, how we place our hearts in another’s hand and trust them to not break it, or at least hope. Fascinating, how one break-up can impact the next...

Like most people, I’ve had my heart broken. Just once, though, and not recently. Looking back, I see a very clear distinction between that heart-break and my other break-ups. Deeply hurtful and disturbing nonetheless, but manageable. I couldn’t eat, sleep or talk; I just cried all the time for a long time. Since then I just find myself wide-eyed, starring at nothing in a comatosed, numb sort of way, until something distracts me.

Filling one’s free time with plenty of distractions is proving quite successful. Realising how much energy the emotional turmoil in the aftermath of a break-up consumes, I’ve somehow managed to distract myself enough to disperse that energy to the rest of my life, and the future.

When making the next move is as painful as not making a move at all it’s easy to become stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle, especially if you’re still in contact with the ex. More often than not, this leads to accumulation of emotional baggage that affects future relationships in a profound way. I therefore find it hugely important to understand the causes of an ex’s behaviour, because for me, this will provide a more solid closure than their answers or excuses for it.

Weirdly enough, I’m now recognising my heart-breaker’s behaviour in myself and although it’s no more forgivable, I’m at peace with myself about the way he treated me – he was a loving and affectionate guy, hard-working and he made me happy. He was the love of my life, but he couldn’t keep his cock in his pants.

I really didn’t see it coming. I was blindly in love with him and would have followed him to the farthest corner of the universe with eyes shut. I trusted him implicitly, and that’s how he broke my heart – I was utterly stunned with shock and pain and I couldn’t comprehend how someone who loves you can betray you in that way when you have an extraordinary active sex life. But I do now.

To me, back then, love and sex were practically the same thing, especially as he was the man responsible for my sexual ‘awakening’. Until he came along I needed to know and trust someone before I could be intimate with them. I had many insecurities and hang-ups about myself. Sex used to be an anxious and silent experience, although enjoyable. With him I lost all inhibitions; developed fetishes and the confidence to admit to them, bought sex toys and had a thoroughly good time. I learnt who I was and what I liked and I’m so very grateful to him for that.

Following my recent break-up, I now know that great sex isn’t enough to hold a relationship together. I also know that the heart-breaker didn’t love me any less just because he was shagging everything with a pulse behind my back – yes, it was callous, disrespectful and extremely hurtful, but it wasn’t nasty and intended to hurt me – he was a sex addict and had other emotional issues. But lastly, and most importantly, I now know that sex has nothing to do with love.

I’m not incapable of keeping my cock in my pants and I’m not a sex addict myself – I know when I’ve got a good thing going and I couldn’t consciously betray a partner in this way and be at ease with it. But great sex is a ‘must’ for me and I make no apologies for it. I will break it off before ‘doing the deed’ elsewhere, but this should not be understood as a lack of love and care for the ex if it happens fairly quickly. Especially when I'm the one that instigated the end of the relationship.

Getting over an old love by getting under a new one will obviously cause more heartbreak for an ex, but it’s got to happen at some point. As hurtful a thought as that is, you must accept it’s got to happen. The hurt for me is not about the intimacy with another, it’s all about the love. Of course, they are very closely linked, but we need to differentiate and separate love from sex in order to move on and avoid further heartache.

With this particular break-up, love has nothing to do with it...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Gaydar - The Official Messenger (Part II)

Sex is a weapon and should not be toyed with. Not in the way this disturbing wave of gay twenty-somethings are treating HIV – as though it’s nothing more than a bout of flu (I’ll touch more on this in a later edition) – but when it’s used as a game. I’m guilty of it as much as the next person, so I really am due no sympathy for it being used against me. Or am I?

It turns out the ‘reason’ my ex logged on to Gaydar so soon after the break up was to intentionally hurt me. It was a deliberate attempt to gain back control of the situation and put two fingers up at me for seemingly giving the impression that I was over it and going about my daily affairs (literally) unhurt and unscathed.

Break-ups often become a game of chess with things said or done out of insecurity and malice for effect. You consciously act or react to the opponent’s last move with the intent of taking them down. You forget the bigger picture and piece by piece, the game goes on with no end in sight.

My issue, perhaps an issue I need to look at closer, is that I felt able to move on in a sexual sense before I saw he’d ‘beat me’ to Gaydar. That move, on this chess board of a break-up, disabled me very effectively and for a while I struggled to come up with a proportionate response.

I find that in a community where promiscuity is particularly high, we (gay men) often validate ourselves though sex, mistaking or using it as a replacement for love. It’s an effective way of getting short-term gratification, affection and approval when it lacks so heavily in our relationships with others. Of course it depends on how much importance you place on sex, but if like me you have a particularly high sex drive, fulfilling that need, whether it’s with one or multiple partners, probably keeps you happy.

After taking a step back I’ve re-emerged as a wiser man, realising that at the end of every game there’s always a loser. When emotions this deep are involved, sometimes the winner can end up very unhappy and remorseful, too. So I’ve brought the game to a quiet halt. I never wanted to play it in the first place. My intentions were never to hurt him; I wouldn’t deliberately cause someone I love that sort of suffering. I even told him, whilst shivering with shock, that he should put some new photos on his profile because the old ones don’t do him justice.

Perhaps one could interpret that as a clever move of mine, totally intended to confuse him while I plan the next one – a red herring – but it wasn’t. If anything, it was a white flag, a subliminal message that I’m tired of this, that I love and want the best for him, that I’m dying to make up and have amazing sex again, that I want us to be friends and if nothing else, bring this to an end.

There is still no end in sight. Maybe deep down I don’t want to see the end of this, but whatever happens, I can’t allow him to keep using sex as a threat – I don’t deserve it.

I’m on Gaydar to fulfil a need. He’s on there to stop me.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Gaydar - The Official Messenger of a Relationship's End?

That’s it. The penny’s dropped, along with my heart to the pit of my stomach. And it aches. I didn’t expect it would have this effect on me, but I’m shocked, saddened and almost numb. It’s been a week since the fifth and final break up and I ‘just’ remembered Gaydar exists. So before logging in and changing my profile status to ‘single’, I venture to my freshest ex’s profile to find he ‘last logged in’ today, for the first time since we met 14 months ago.

I’ve been lucky enough to find two of my long-term partners on this dating-cum-social networking site, consecutively! I spent the most influential six years of my life with the first; he’s my soul mate and will always be my best friend. The latest, possibly a rebound, was the first man I took to my place of birth on the island of Madeira to introduce as my partner to my entire family.

I gave my little sister away at the altar on the same holiday. Listening to her translate the vows the priest spoke to her husband brought tears to my eyes. The words seemed to have so much more impact in my native language. It was then I decided I wanted to marry my newfound love.

But it’s over. We both knew it couldn’t work and decided to go our separate ways for the sake of avoiding resentment and keeping a friendship. Of course, it wasn’t that simple and straightforward. It was a bitter and angry break up. We said some horrible things to each other, launched character-assassinating tirades at one another, and eventually exhausted ourselves before mutating into civilised human beings again. Why then was it so hurtful to see he was ‘back on the market’ by the date stamp on his Gaydar profile? What is it about Gaydar that made it so ‘official’ the relationship was well and truly over?

Perhaps it was because he beat me to it. Not beat me to Gaydar, but to giving a public impression he was over it and ready to move on, which only strengthened my argument that I loved him more than I felt he loved me. It wouldn’t have had the same effect if I’d seen his relationship status changed on Facebook, but then Facebook isn’t a sexually-driven social networking site, and this is where I found the answer.

I’ve concluded that there are only two types of monogamous relationship. There is the ‘exciting and sexual’ relationship, and the ‘emotional and stable’ type. And never the twain shall meet. This is not to say that there is no emotion in a sexual relationship, or likewise, that emotional relationships are sex-less. Just that my experience (and I’ve had a lot of it for my age), has led me to believe that emotional relationships will outlast highly sexual ones.

The element of monogamy in what’s been one of my most sexual relationships to date is what crushed me in this break up. It’s the ultimate betrayal, and the more sexual the relationship, the more hurtful the idea of your partner sharing that intimacy with another person. That’s where Gaydar comes in – after the dramatic break-up of such a sexually volatile relationship, the only thing he’s looking for on Gaydar is sex. 

It must be. That’s what I’m doing...