I have been seeing this guy for about six months now. He’s a great guy and about ten years my senior. The only problem is that he is just getting out of a long term relationship. It was a hard breakup but they are trying to be friends. I have met the ex boyfriend a couple of times and it has been awkward for all of us. They had an open relationship for the last couple of years of their relationship. This is not something I wanted and, after many talks, we decided that we would be monogamous. I’m not sure if he really wanted to have a monogamous relationship or if he is just placating me. All of his other relationships have been open. He said that is what works best for him and that he has always operated on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or what. It makes me feel very insecure about what to expect because part of the problem between them in the past is that they were cheating on each other, breaking agreements, and not telling each other the truth, especially when it came to sex. He tells me he wants to be honest with me and has no intention on lying to me but I just can’t be sure and it is beginning to take its toll on us. I think he’s getting frustrated with my insecurity about this. What should I do?
First of all, honesty is not “an age thing”. I understand why you might feel this way but the reality of it is that he has a history of not telling the truth to his intimate partners. “Don’t ask don’t tell” rarely works in relationships because it leaves room for skirting the truth and not being honest about feelings. You cannot have true honesty if you are not sharing all that is happening for you. This includes outside sex. I tell my clients this all the time. It’s easier in the moment not to tell because you think it may hurt the other person’s feelings but, in the long run, you gain so much more by disclosing. You and your partner can be connected on so many more levels.
That being said, it seems like your new beau is really trying to do things differently with you. In therapy, there is a saying called “leap of faith”. Some part of you has to believe that he is trying something different from his past behaviors. So you run the risk of being wrong and getting hurt? Of course. But that is the essence of love. In order to feel the amazing splendor of warmth and safety that comes with connected companionship, you have to be willing to risk being hurt. There is a great line in a song, “love is for fools, wise enough to take a chance”.
The best stop gap mechanism is to continue talking with him about your feelings. Reassure him you understand the work he is doing to be present in this relationship. Continue to be supportive of the changes in his life he is trying to make. And find a way to continue bringing to the table the concerns you have. Find a way to talk about them where he can be supportive of you rather than aggravated that you don’t totally believe him yet. Because it’s not about believing him or not. It is about your fear of getting hurt. And, trust me, he has those same fears as well.
I wanted to write to someone that I thought might have some good advice. None of my friends seem to be able to talk with me about this. But I think it’s because they are doing the same thing and want me to join. It’s about doing steroids. I have been working out for a couple of years and my body has gotten better but it’s not as big or defined as I want it to be. A couple of my buddies who work out with me have done a cycle of steroids and they have had some amazing results. They have become my going out friends as well and we’ve been talking about how much they like the changes. More guys are paying them attention and they’re getting more dates. I want this too.
I know I’m a cute guy but have what you call a “swimmers build”. I want to be bigger and have more muscles. But I’m afraid that if I get started I won’t be able to stop. One of my friends has already started a second cycle of steroids even though he said he was only going to do one to “get a jump on things”. I think he looks great now and, if he gets bigger, he will be too big. The White Party is coming up and we’re all planning on going. I want to be ready by then. What do you think I should do?
Signed, Bigger the Better
Dear Bigger the Better,
It seems as if you may have already made up your mind about using these drugs. In our culture so obsessed with youth and beauty, it seems only natural for gay men to focus so intently on their looks. Philosophically I believe you are not giving yourself enough credit when you only focus on one part of your physical being. By placing all of our worth in our looks we diminish the totality of who we are. There is so much more to you than your biceps. But you’ve probably heard this argument before. You’ve also probably heard the “steroids are illegal drugs” line before as well.
My wish for you would be that you would begin to revel in your “swimmers build” good looks. Many guys love guys who are lean and tight like a swimmer. You are a definitive “type” and you could really make that work for you. But, like many gay men before you, you have to try it to understand it. So here is what to expect. You will see some increased weight and muscle gain during the cycle. When you stop you will inevitably lose some of that gain but probably not all of it if you continue to work out hard. See how you feel on it. Many guys experience aggressive mood swings and some anger. There are also physical issues like skin rashes. Also pay attention to how others react to these physical changes. And how you feel about these new reactions.
Hopefully, you will understand that although a pretty package doesn’t hurt, someone who loves you will be more concerned with what is on your inside rather than what is on your outside. However, you won’t be able to appreciate the depth of this until you experience the shallowness of someone who is just into you because of your looks. Good luck out there and keep in touch. I want to know how it goes for you.