We're reposting a few questions from readers this week. If you have a question, leave a comment or send us an e-mail. Anonymous questions allowed and encouraged.
Question from a reader (September 2008):
My roommate and I are best friends. To the point that we consider ourselves “platonic lovers” and really, a sort of couple. Also, we’re in a band together. The situation is weird to our friends, but we've learned to ignore all the questions. We don’t have sex, but we do sleep together and cuddle and massage each other. I'm the gay/bi one in the relationship. And sometimes I worry that the situation is more homoerotic than we like to think.
My friend has never given me the impression that he's turned on by our physical affection. And most of my closest friends in the past have been straight. Sort of intense “bromances.” So I don't think of sex and physical affection as linked. [I know this is probably some fear of intimacy quirk on my part...]
I don’t want to make my friend have same-sex desires. And I worry about his reputation being around me. And he has no previous history of being around gay guys. And I have spent very little time around men in “gay culture” settings. Question: are we kidding ourselves? One of our gal pals recently said “you two are in love, so have sex and get it over with.” Her comment pissed me off, but it stuck in my head.
The two of us are in love, in a way. But if we were to have sex, I’m very sure that our friendship would be ruined. But our “bonding time” -- as we refer to many hours spent in bed being physical but not sexual and chatting -- is suspicious to me. Yet him having a girlfriend only made him more affectionate. On the other hand, I get all my emotional and physical needs from him, so I don't even look at other guys. Am I in love but unable to face it?
I tell him I’m in love with him all the time. But I claim I don't want to have sex, and it's true. If you knew more about my sexual/romantic past with men and women you might understand more. Am I avoiding “the love task” by turning my friendships with straight guys into substitutes for real romance? In the past I consistently turned down approaches by straight guys who are curious. Then I have sought out sex with gay men I don't care about.
Just writing this email makes me feel weird. I know that life and love are sloppy… that all relationships are unique. And that you don't really know us, so it's hard to have input. But I thought the two of you might.
Anyway, just wanted your input.
STRAIGHT GUY RESPONDS:
Oh, cripes. Your roommate has my subpar gaydar screaming like an air raid siren. Same with my dramadar, re: you. The fact that you are in a band means NOTHING. The fact that you felt the need to mention it up front speaks volumes about your need for attention.
Anyway, who knew two mostly-gay dudes could cock-block each other into a masochistic stalemate? Instead of someone, anyone, making a move, you're putting all of your effort into maintaining an anguishing status quo. Maybe it's time to rip off the bandaid.
At some point, the bed-sharing, cuddling, and massaging (air raid! air raid!) gets to be too much for the rest of your friends to bear. You're living full-time in the boring, dialog-heavy, porn movie set-up that everyone hates (anything before the boom-chicka-wah-wah!). What your "gal pal" (ugh) meant to say was, "Get a room!" She's doing you a favor by trying to hit fast-forward.
- Tip 1: No unattached adult is ever ambivalent about getting snuggled and rubbed in bed. If you haven't immediately jumped up and left the room, you're either turned on, being abused, or both. So, your roommate is either gay, bi, or catatonic.
- Tip 2: Your roommate is more affectionate with you when he has a "girlfriend" because that's the only time he has cover, an alibi, and can better manage his denial.
- Tip 3: This is one of the rare scenarios where getting wasted may be the solution rather than the problem. What happens when his inhibitions are lowest and you finally shut the eff up?
- Tip 4: People who put "the love task" in quotes never get laid. Ever. Oh, crap!
It's really not about sexual orientation. You're obviously compatible and certainly sound gay or bi enough to me. It's about taking a chance and hoping for the best. I had a similar massage-to-nowhere problem with a girl in 8th grade. I made a move. Epic fail. It still hurts, but I wouldn't change a thing. Better to have groped and lost, than to have never groped at all.
All in all, I'm still betting on this relationship outlasting the band, which, I am absolutely sure, sucks.
What do you think GG?
GAY GUY RESPONDS:
Let me tell you a little story:
A couple of years ago, I dated a guy for about a month. Like a lot of things that start out red hot, it went cold fast. We, in the way that gay men do, stayed friends. Quite sincerely friends, as in zero lingering sexual tension. One evening he came over to watch TV -- to be precise a State of the Union address, which I specify only because that it must be the most sexless hour broadcast on TV in the course of a year. My TV was in the bedroom. See where this is going?
There we were, stretched out on my bed, fully clothed, shoes still on, not touching. We barely lasted five minutes before we had to call it off. It wasn't some whiff of prior desire raising its head. Lying within a yard of each other was just plain freaky and uncomfortable.
My point: Adult male friends do not sleep together, cuddle, or give massages to each other. Especially if at least one of them is straight. "Bonding time" is based on shared interests not shared body warmth. Adult men do not offer or accept cuddles or massages to anyone unless we mean business.
Here's a free life lesson for you: With the exception of going to work, a funeral, or wearing a sweater your mom knits you, people pretty much do what they want to do. Meaning your pal is exactly where he wants to be, doing exactly what he wants to do -- and so are you. You' re responsible for you own happiness; the only way you are cuddling up without knowing you are hurting yourself is if you are wearing an orange jumpsuit and missing your two front teeth.
I know my share about unrequited love, so in sympathy and with compassion, let me give you some tough love, step by step:
- Your roommate has never let you know he's turned on by your mutual physical affection? He's not exactly pushing you away.
- You cannot make someone else have same-sex desires. . . any kind of desire for that matter. If making same-sex desire was possible, I'd be lubing up with Michael Phelps.
- Many hours spent in bed with you, then revs it up when he's dating a girl? Dr. Freud, call your office, you have a message.
- Have you never checked him out during some of your massage sessions to see if he's throwing some wood? Never? Are you kidding me?
- Yes, to answer your question, you are kidding yourself. You're not happy and you are not getting your emotional and physical needs met.
- You tell him repeatedly that you are in love with him and he hasn't replied with a "Let's just keep it 'het'" conversation?
You asked for our input for a reason, which I assume is because we are a straight guy and a gay guy. Yep, Straight Guy has long been my best friend. I'd do anything I could for him, support him in any joy, sorrow, or trial. However, this does not include shaving his back.