[Two Pronged] Gay courtship
Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,
Hi. I'm 41 years old, openly gay and a freelance writer. I have had relationships in the past with "straight" men or MSMs, if you will. In these past relationships, there was no formal courtship on my part perhaps because these guys willingly got into the relationships for the benefits they hoped to receive. I have no issues nor hang-ups with this set-up. In fact, I have gotten used to this over the years.
However, recently, I met a 26-year old guy in a party. He's openly gay. He's a high school batchmate of my niece (daughter of my first cousin) and his parents work in the same government agency as my cousin and his wife.
We hit it off well that night. We talked about interesting topics. He said that he has never been in a gay relationship because he's "walang suwerte" (or not luck in that area, in his words) and that he outed himself to family and friends 5 years ago. When it was time to go, he said yes to my suggestion that I drop him off at his place since it was along my way home.
I am attracted to his looks. He's not drop-dead gorgeous but his cuteness is fine with me. He's also down-to-earth despite his privileged background and university affiliation.
5 days later (early evening), I invited him out the next day for coffee and cigarettes since he works in an office in the area. His reply belatedly came the next day, with a tentative tone. But in the end, he came over and as planned, we talked for two hours.
And since I didn't bring my car that day, we went our separate ways. I texted him the next day twice, but I did not get any reply.
I'm getting mixed signals (I think) if there are chances for the friendship to grow into a deeper and more meaningful relationship in the future.
I have not communicated with him for over a week now. I'm thinking, is it the fact that I'm not used to "courting" someone in a gay-to-gay set-up or am I just afraid of being rejected or both?
What to do? – Alan
Thank you for your letter.
Let's analyze your situation. At 41, you have never before courted someone and never had a 'deep and meaningful' gay relationship. You have now met a guy (let's call him Jim) and on the basis of two meetings and talking for a few hours together, you think there is a chance that it could develop into something more profound.
Your last effort to communicate with Jim was however unsuccessful and you have made no further attempt to connect with him. You now wonder whether it was your inexperience and/or fear of rejection that led to this impasse.
It seems that we have become reacquainted here with an old friend: the false dichotomy.
There are after all many alternative explanations for why Jim has not been in touch with you, among which are, for example, he just does not fancy you on the same terms as you see him, he is not comfortable with the differences between you (age, social etc.), he is wary of the family/ work connections.
Whatever the truth, however much you angst over possible psychological and other explanations, you have to confront the reality which is that you don't actually know why Jim has not responded to your texts. You have therefore to decide whether a possible relationship with him is worth the effort of pursuit.
If you decide that it is, then persevere, don't just give up at the first hurdle. In the words of one of my wife's favorite sayings: "Fortune favors the brave." Best of luck. – Jeremy
Thank you very much for your letter. In the past, it was helpful enough to say “It doesn’t matter what gender the person you love is, what matters is if you love with passion, consistency and integrity.” Of course, courting is different from loving and I feel that, to some extent, it also doesn’t matter what gender the person is. What matters is how you court someone and if it resonates with his own view of what courtship is.
While all the above may seem corny to many, I find that it is still a useful subtext when dealing with any sort of relationship.
In your particular situation, the age difference has to be addressed. I am not referring to the literal 15-year difference between the two of you, rather, to how different your worlds were when each of you was growing up.
There are 3 terms that need defining: digital natives, digital intermediates, and digital immigrants.
A digital native is a person who born during or after the 2000s, just as the more pronounced digital age began. He is a person who understands the value of digital technology and uses it to seek out opportunities in most life areas.
A digital intermediate is what, strictly speaking, Jim is. Born a wee bit earlier than 2000, he cannot really be defined as a native but is just as comfortable and savvy enough to use all it has to offer.
You, Jeremy and I are digital immigrants: born before the existence of digital technology, we have adopted it to some extent later in life. Digital immigrants are believed to be less quick to pick up new technologies than digital natives and sometimes find it difficult to keep up. I am ashamed, but willing to admit, that I fit this description to a T.
If the description of a digital intermediate fits Jim, then he is probably familiar with an app called Grindr. This is a mobile (cell) app which enables gay, bi and gay curious men to message, swap pictures and arrange saucy rendezvous with nearby strangers. I am not saying he uses Grindr, but then again, why not, as long as he practices safer sex and doesn’t knowingly hurt anyone including himself?
And whether he uses Grindr or not, this is the sort of sensibility he grew up with: no apologies for being who you are, for going after what you want, for saying “thanks but no thanks” in as kind a way as possible. And if technology helps you do all these things, why not?
Prof Eric Manalastas is one of the brightest, most engaging faculty members of the Dept of Psychology in UP Diliman. Because he also conceptualized and taught THE first LGBT course in a department of psychology here in the Phils, he seemed the most able to help me out with your letter, Alan.
Eric felt Jim’s response was “medyo (somewhat) lukewarm,” because there were no indications that Jim is interested either sexually or romantically. Indications would’ve included initiating further contact after your second encounter. As it is, he didn’t even respond to your texts.
I also asked Eric if the reason he went out when you invited him was his way of exploring the possibility that he may be interested in you as anything more than as a friend, and Eric said: “Probably. Pre-date, kung baga.”
So there you have it, Alan. While it is true that "Fortune favors the brave," there is also such a thing as cutting your losses. I feel this may be one of those times cutting your losses might be the better option. Of course, it is also brave to go against one of your two "advisers" here in this column, and it may be the very thing to win Jim over, so good luck with whatever course of action you choose to take. – Margie
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