At Least I Know What I Felt Was Real..

I came out of the closet just after I graduated from high school and started school in northern CA. I come from a very conservative family and even though I have a brother who came out several years ahead of me, it was not an easy experience. Since then I have had 3 serious relationships. The first happened when I was 19, and it lasted almost 9 years. It was a messy breakup but we managed to find some common ground, years later. My second relationship started just after the first ended, and it was a roller coaster from day one. Neither of us was really into the other person and even though we ended up dragging it out over 4 years, it was a terrible breakup that took place in a couple's counseling session. The damage from both of these experiences in addition to silly stuff like getting laid off because of the financial meltdown caused me to have a meltdown of my own. I sold or gave away all my stuff and moved back home for a few months, in Southern CA. I licked my wounds then started over. I got a place, bought a car, got a job and started a new life. I was so happy! I would get up in the morning, take a shower and say thank you. I started meditating and pursuing spiritual/shamanic interests which led me to great thinkers and feelers. I was a new man.

Almost a year later, the day before my birthday, I met P through a mutual acquaintance. I knew he was a single father, but I didn't know he was gay. I was surprised to find out that he not only was, but that he was interested in meeting me as well. Our friend arranged things perfectly : invited us to his jacuzzi, then conveniently took a phone call 15 minutes into the session and walked away, leaving us alone. It worked amazingly. P and I connected, and we spoke about many things : life, coming out of the closet, family. He was gentle and kind, courteous and because of his work in the medical field, always had stories about saving lives and helping sick kids that made this guy a real stand-up kind of person. He took a particular interest to my spirituality, being somewhat spiritual himself. I gave him a copy of the Power of Now, and it would be a recurring conversation piece going forward.

During these initial conversations, I came to find out that he was still coming out of the closet but that he had made some strides, including telling his older daughter. He mentioned, however, that he hadn't dated anyone seriously after his divorce 8 years ago. I'm no stranger to this type of situation. Coming out isn't easy and it's not the same for everyone. I made it clear that I understood it was going to be tough at times, but I was not focused on him being out as much as him just being right for me, so I was willing to give it a shot.

And so it began. From a simple kayaking date to a quiet drive for sushi or a movie at home, the relationship was wonderful. He didn't just talk the talk, he was a beautiful man to be around. So attentive, so genuine. He quickly started helping me work through previous issues I had, like talking about my exes a lot and my issues with low self-esteem in the past. For this I became even more grateful and my feelings for him grew. He was good for me. It was not long before the conversation started branching out a little and he began talking about his family. I gathered that he comes from a very large family that is very close knit, lots and lots of cousins. He had in the past made a habit of gathering with his cousins and sisters for monthly family bonding sessions, times he said he looked forward to.

I think if I waited a month before taking him home, I'm being generous. This was a guy I had rapidly become so crazy about I couldn't wait to show him off to the world. I don't have a large family, and while we're close, my parents and I are not open about my relationships. They know I'm gay, but it's a part of my life they have always struggled to understand, and we don't talk about it much. Still, they welcomed him warmly, just as they have all my previous boyfriends.

P works in a hospital, so he works 12 hour shifts, 2 or 3 days a week. This leaves him open to stretches of several days in which he is free to do things like skiing, hiking and camping. I have a standard 9-5 so I only have weekends free. Still, we managed to squeeze time here and there, but the gradual pattern settled at something like him calling me at 7ish on his way home, and I would then leave my house and drive over to his house. There, we would just spend a few quiet hours together and wake up the next morning early, when he'd get up and drive his girls to school (if it was his day off) or leave before me if he was working. It took a few months to get to this point, but this was the basic routine. We didn't go out as much anymore, and I never met any of his family, but the time we spent together never felt wasted as we just had such a nice time together. He would periodically mention that there was a whole lot more to him and that he wanted me to see more than just "Sleepy P".

Then there came the weekend we went to his house in the mountains. As we were sitting in the hot tub, and he was rubbing my feet, I sort of stammered out that I was falling in love with him. I didn't notice at the time, but when I said that, he didn't smile. He didn't not say anything. He said "well.. that didn't take long.." sort of as an afterthought. Sensing I had stepped over some boundary, I became immediately self-conscious. I tried to explain to him that I couldn't help it, that no one had ever treated me so kindly before, that every waking moment of out time together was nothing short of surreal. The conversation didn't really go anywhere, so later that night I came up to him again and explained that what I was trying to say was "I want you.. I don't really care what else there is". He became a little annoyed at that and told me to slow down, there was a lot about him I didn't know. I let the matter rest and made it a point to not use the L word again. I would fail at this, but for a while I was vigilant about letting that matter come to light again.

That night I confided to him that my deepest fear was that would reconcile with his wife in order to have his family back, something which I assumed a man like him would consider. I said this, feeling extremely self-conscious for saying it. He replied that if there was to be a reconciliation it would have happened years ago. He then replied that he didn't want me leaving him to go back to my exes. I pointed out the same thing, adding that there was nothing for me to go back to.

What occurred over the next few months were instances of him showing that he wasn't ready for our relationship to be out. One one occasion, one of his cousins dropped by the house and I had to hide in the bedroom until he left, and it was only when cornered by his sisters that he admitted that he was gay and seeing someone. He would always hold me by the shoulders and say "You know that I'm not ashamed of you, right? I'm very proud of you, I want to show you off" or something like that. This was a pattern. There would be a phone call or a visit, but there was always a missing step. When we would go places, like weekend camping trips or nights out with the 3 friends of his I did know, and if the pictures or comments made it to a public place like facebook, I would always be skipped. I wasn't cut out of pictures, but I simply wan't mentioned. It was a horrible feeling to be looking at a picture of a place where I was, be it a baseball game or a mountain hike, knowing I was there and was contributing to the happiness he was posting about, but I was never mentioned.

Let me explain. I live and die by my family. I've come to accept their passive yet nonetheless UNCONDITIONAL love. I know and have seen time and time again that my family accepts me and loves me no matter what. Therefore, despite my knowing they don't really 'get' the whole gay thing, I still wanted to show them who P was. I did this for the friends that managed to fit into our schedule and I told everyone I could about how wonderful this man was. P, seemed content however to just tell me how much he wanted to be able to hold my hand or how much he wished he could lean over and kiss me, but never actually did it. I even suggested just grilling some burgers one afternoon and inviting some sisters over for a meet-and-greet, exactly the type of stuff I enjoy and get a lot out of. I made it clear to P that while I was understanding of his situation, I considered it crucial to getting to know the people around the person I'm dating and that it did concern me a little. He assured me in emails and texts that he was doing everything possible to make room in his life for me, I just needed to have some patience.

Needless to say, this went on. At about the 7 month mark we had a little blowout, where I found myself so frustrated by a combination of this oppressive schedule and the overarching theme of furtiveness to the relationship. During these times, I would sort of shut down emotionally, I'm sure you've seen the type : crossed arms, swearing I'm fine, but just needed to retreat. And therein I stumbled upon my biggest issue with P, space. When I came over for the night, I would either bring my stuff in an overnight bag or come dressed in my work clothes for the next day. P would often compliment me on my efficiency at being able to handle it. This distressed me, and I was quick to point out that it was not a quality I was interested in marketing. This was just something I was doing because it was what was needed. What I did say was that I wanted the time spent to be a little more amenable to both parties, I suggested that instead of him calling me on his way home, maybe he can come to my place and leave from there the next day. Despite the fact that he swore he wanted to spend as much time as he could with me, I could never get him to just drop by, even though he drives through my city to get home.

This may sound like small change, but you must understand that P's daughter and ex wife would still come by the house, and by his own admission, they snoop around (because it's their home also) so he doesn't leave any incriminating things around. In the past, when I was dating other guys and we settled into a 'routine', they would allow me some space, like a desk or a table, where I could work on my laptop or play video games, while they did their own thing. P didn't really seem keen on the idea. I was a guest at his house only as long as he was around. The exception to this was when he left for work, as he had to leave a whole hour before I even woke up. It was on these occasions that he would tell me later how nice it was to come home and find stuff moved around, reminding him that I was there. He liked it so much he even asked me to not leave the cap on the toothpaste, etc, to not wipe down the counters or anything, he wanted to know I was there. He loved the feeling, he would say.

There came a night when I had another episode of feeling shut down. This came while we were being intimate, so I think it was especially hurtful. He was not speaking to me after he saw I was shut down. I needed a place to fume, knowing that I would come around when I had calmed down a little. However, it was at this point that I realized that I had no real retreat here. I was only a conditional guest. I had no place to go. Saddened by this realization, I wrote him a note, since he was sleeping, and left to go home. The next morning I get an angry email about the note, he claims that he woke up every hour wondering where I was. I mentioned his note and also mention he could have just looked out and not seeing my car, knowing I was gone, he could have called me, I didn't leave without a trace, I was honestly just trying to be respectful and get away from this situation without making it worse.

He stopped by my house after work that day, wanting to talk to me about it. I was still upset and was being uncooperative, so he left. We spoke on the phone that night, and by the end of the conversation he said he was feeling angry. The next day he messaged me to say he was not angry anymore, just sad. That afternoon I messaged him to apologize and tell him that I wanted to talk it over. He said he decided he was going out of town, presumably to his house in the mountains. He send the closing "Have a nice weekend" (it was Friday). By Saturday I was apoplectic. I sent him a message to say "I miss you", to which he immediately replied "We need to talk, face to face. Tomorrow?"

My head swam. I felt dizzy and my blood ran cold. That horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach now was overwhelming. I knew it was over at that moment. Sure enough, he showed up the next evening, and announced that he can't give me what I need, that my needs and desires are perfectly normal and in line with what an adult who wanted a relationship would want. However, we have a communication problem, and it leads to patterns of sadness that he also doesn't want. Therefore, we were ending it. I didn't have the heart to fight him. I didn't know how final he was settling things. I naively though he was proposing some kind of 'break' or 'time out', I don't know. What I do know is that when he left, I had no idea what I was going to do next.

Two weeks went by and I got an email from him saying many different things. He described how he misses me every day, every song reminds me of him, our time together, but that the universe has a plan for me, and that I should keep my eyes open. I was confused by the email, and I replied, asking him to just call me so we could talk. He didn't. I called him 2 weeks later and he answered the phone. I told him that we shared a connection that was beautiful and I wanted to keep it alive. Of course, for me this meant getting back together, for him now this meant only being friends. We ended up having a heated conversation about "what happened", where he finally revealed that in the 10 months were dating, he never once mentioned to his ex-wife he was even dating at all, man or woman. He blew up at that point "what does that matter?" he asked. I was astounded that I would even have to be in the position to explain. "What do you mean, why does it matter?" I asked.

He also admitted that several times, he thought to himself how nice it would be if I was actually at home waiting for him when he got off work. I asked him why he never invited me to do that since it's precisely what I was sort of hoping he would do. He had no answer. None of it mattered anymore. Over the next two weeks, sporadic "Hello" or "Good Morning" messages would not be answered, and when I finally wrote him another email and broke down that was miserable and I wanted to work things out he replied that our romance was over, and that I needed to make it a point to move in order to maintain the possibility of a relationship. It was just overwhelming to me. Since I'm a stained glass artist, I took the next few days to make a garden ornament for him, then snuck over to his house and put it in his garden. He found it and liked it, but didn't fail to point out that he found it a little 'creepy' that I was at his house without him. That's when I lost it.. I sent over a flurry of text messages that weren't angry as much as desperate. It was just a lot of 'why are you doing this to me?" kind of thing.

Epilogue :

A few days ago I went to see the friend who introduced us, Ray. It turns out him and P haven't been speaking lately. He asked me what's up and I told him enough to cover the basics; it didn't work out, I really miss him, etc. He didn't sound surprised. He looks at me and says "You know P wasn't the one for you, right?" I'm still having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to take that comment.
nahualli nahualli
31-35, M
1 Response Jul 19, 2010

I feel so horrible for you. It sounds like P. is really struggling with "coming out". He hasn't really incorporated his sexuality into his whole life . . . . only when it's secret. <br />
What really gets me is the last comment. If the guy that introduced you said such thing, I would be thinking, "Then why the hell did you set us up?" Maybe your matchmaker has made a match with P. or your matchmaker has feelings for you. <br />
I had a gay guy friend I was in love with (I'm a woman) It took him a while to confide in me about his boyfriend. I think he used me as a cover to hide his sexuality but I got hurt (very hurt) in the process. I noticed one day he was wearing a silver ring on his left 4th finger and told him I was happy for him if he and his boyfriend had made a commitment and he said, "no". I had shared with him that I loved him and that's why I acted crazy sometimes, but I didn't want to cause any problems between him and his boyfriend. Then, he moved away (with his boyfriend I'm pretty sure) He almost didn't say goodbye to me and that really hurt because I had given him so much support. I loved him for who he was/is. I wanted to remain friends. I was hurt HE didn't share his exciting news with me. Out of all people, I was genuinely happy for him. <br />
I can identify with the hurt you felt of not being shown by actions that you are important to someone. They say one thing and do another. Inconsistency sucks!<br />
I am truly grateful to you that you have embraced who you are and don't hide. I wish you the best and that you find your soulmate that gives you the attention you deserve.