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Is This Really Working?

Since my last date with Southern Drawl, he had been bothering me for another date. I was trying to take things slow with him. I wasn’t gaga for him by any means. He was growing on me a little, but he still left a lot to be desired.

We made plans to make plans after work Tuesday evening. I left work when he was about finished after trying to bang out a blog entry and made my way downtown to his office. I waited for him on the street corner to finish work for about ten minutes when it began to drizzle. I had not expected rain at all and had no umbrella. I was growing impatient. I called him, but he didn’t answer. Finally, I noticed him walking up to me at a very slow pace with his headphones attached to his phone.

Normally, I would greet someone I’d gone on this many dates with a kiss, but not him. He was too self-conscious. He was not out and was not comfortable with public displays of affection. This bothered me. I needed someone who could love himself enough to not care about everyone else.

We decided to walk downtown on the High Line. I climbed the stairs, and he walked behind me. We took a nice stroll south to find a place to grab dinner. We didn’t have a place in mind, but we had a neighborhood — the West Village. We talked about our days while we walked. Once again, he made a crack, and I didn’t respond well. It was always hard to gauge his sense of humor. We never seemed to be on the same page. If I joked back, he would tell me I was getting defensive and loud. It was insulting. He obviously didn’t get my sarcastic sense of humor.

When we reached the end of the High Line, we descended the stairwell and walked to find food. We passed more than a few places that looked good, but they didn’t have any available tables. They were either too crowded or they appeared non-desirable. We finally came to Frankies 570. I had been there, and the food is amazing. I hesitated going there for a solid second because I already had memories with Smiles there. We shared a really nice meal there one night after work. Then I thought about it, and it made more sense for me to expunge those memories. I could overwrite them with new ones. I didn’t exactly have positive associations with him. I felt used by him as a meal companion.

I suggested it to S.D., and we perused menu before going in. He agreed on the spot and was seated by the front widow at a nice table for two. We ordered drinks and chatted casually. It was nice to sit and relax and just talk about things and my day. We discussed his coming trip home. He was very excited. This would be the last time I saw him before he left. He told me he’d be sending me a lot of pictures from home and would call periodically.

Throughout dinner, he was much more demur than usual. There were no overtly sexual comments and no innuendoes. It was kinda nice. He asked a lot of questions as well. Usually, he was just talking away. It was nice to talk about our upbringings and his home, however, his sense of entitlement was still shining through. He spoke about politics and slavery. He told me stories of his family and how they basically still had slaves. He certainly wasn’t winning me over. I was never all that thrilled with the South’s way of doing things, and he was certainly perpetuating the stereotype in my mind. I also learned how important money is to him, and it was a real turnoff.

Slowly but surely, I was realizing this guy really wasn’t right for me. We had so little in common. I was simply enamored by someone paying attention to me and being interested in me. We were in a downward spiral.

On the positive side, my meal was spectacular. I ordered the rabbit ragu and enjoyed every bite. My drinks was pretty amazing as well.

When we finished eating, we sat there talking a bit more before heading out. When we finished our drinks, he accidentally spilled his water all over me. It was a bit humorous because we were just joking about it, and it embarrassed him immensely. The table next to us took notice of the large commotion this caused, as did the wait staff. We paid our tab and made our way out into the street.

He walked me to the corner to say goodbye. I could tell he was very uncomfortable. I was a block from the PATH and ready to head home. I was not going to a second location, and I was not going home with him. I think he was itching to hang out more, but I wasn’t interested. Just as I was about to go in for a kiss, he turned his head. I was partially p*ssed and partially happy. This was creating an out for me. I scoffed at him and began to walk across the street to go home. He chased me and stopped me on the other side of the street. I told him what he did was not cool at all. As he went in for a kiss, I played along, and at the last second, I too turned my head. Just then, a man was crossing the street and witnessed this. He began to chuckle to himself, and I pointed this out to S.D. He was embarrassed. It served him right. If he thought he had a chance with me, he’d have to sack up. I wasn’t about to date a closet case. I’d moved past that.

We said our goodbyes, and we finally did share a kiss. There was nothing magical. He was still self-conscious. He may have made a good friend, but I couldn’t see myself with him in a relationship. I finally came to see the light. I said goodnight and hailed him a cab. I put him in the cab and said goodbye. I wouldn’t see him for over a week. This would give time for things to settle and fizzle out. I wasn’t going to end things over the phone across state lines, but I wasn’t going to make myself available while he was gone.

After all, I was back out there searching for a real prospect. I needed a real man who could make me happy. I didn’t need to settle on a guy like this. I live in NYC. I fired up Grindr to check my messages on my walk home. There are great gay men everywhere. Now, they just needed to find me…

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Saturday finally arrived. Smiles so graciously found time in his busy schedule to meet with me to discuss “us.” I wasn’t in a combative mood, but I was resolved in the notion that I wouldn’t be a doormat for him anymore. I had a lot of things I wanted to say to him, but I didn’t rehearse them in my head. I wanted my emotions to speak for me.

I knew how I felt, and I knew how he let me down. I was so disappointed in him for simply trying to back away from our three-month relationship instead of just speaking to me like a man. I was embarrassed for him.

We decided to meet at Doma Coffee Shop. Ironically, it’s pretty much where our relationship started (after a failed date at Employees Only). I had a few places to go in the city that day, so I took the motorcycle in. It was a nice enough day I could get away with it with a few layers.

After I parked my bike and walked toward the shop, I noticed Smiles was just arriving. We shared an awkward hello. I think he may have been going in for a kiss, but I gently turned and just gave him a hug. I had no interest in giving him any more of my affections. I’d already given him enough.

We went inside, and he ordered his coffee and began to pay. I wasn’t expecting him to buy my coffee, but it was interesting he didn’t even offer. He found a table for us to sit at while I ordered my coffee.

I joined him at the table, and we awkwardly chatted about work for a bit. Surprise, surprise — Our conversation revolved around his job once again. I was trying not to enter this meeting bitter or with a superior attitude. After all, it was a week earlier I was kissing another man in front of him. I wasn’t above him in any respect.

He talked about his business partner who was in the news at the time. Because I stay well-informed, I knew a lot of the story about the man’s current situation that Smiles did not. So when he was complaining about the man not getting back to him, I informed him of the news of the day and his new partner’s involvement in it. He was shocked to learn some of the details I knew. We were about to break up, and I was still keeping Smiles up-to-date on the goings on in the world at the time.

When that conversation got stale, Smiles kicked off the “us” conversation. He led with his thinking on the “situation.” He told me he recognized he wasn’t putting as much of himself into the relationship as he could have and how that wasn’t fair to me. He pointed out his priority of focusing on his career currently, and his schedule didn’t allow for a relationship. He acknowledged the possibility of his being partly responsible for my actions on New Year’s Eve. Over more conversation, I realized he thought I might have been acting out or doing it on a subconscious level.

I reiterated for him how little of the end of the night I remembered. I was on the verge of tears as I explained this to him. I told him I never would have done it had I been sober. I told him I didn’t initiate the kissing, but I also didn’t stop it immediately. I told him that I would like to think I stopped it relatively quickly, but I have no idea because I don’t remember a single moment of it. I think Smiles wanted to know the motivation for the make-out session. He half asked a question and then stopped when he again realized I didn’t recall any of the end of that night. I apologized emphatically and acknowledged how horrible what I did was. I choked up as I told him it was one of the worst things I’d ever done in my life. I could see that it did in fact bother him. The morning after, he told me he was okay with it, but now, I knew he wasn’t.

Sadly, it made me feel a little better knowing it upset him. It showed that maybe he, on some level, actually did care about me, even if just a little bit. At least I knew he felt something toward me.

I transitioned into more conversation of how we would move forward. I told him I was pretty much on the same page as him as far as ending our relationship. I told him I wasn’t getting enough of what I was looking for from him, and it was a direct result of his priorities.

I told him how hurt I was that he would just drop me after three months. I really stressed that point. I told him I felt so disrespected that he would just stop texting and calling like a switch, as if I wouldn’t notice or I would be okay with it. It really did hurt, because in my mind it nullified our relationship. It showed he didn’t respect it enough to give it the attention it needed, even if it was coming to a close. He told me it was because he needed time to think about what he really wanted and how he wanted to proceed. I told him he didn’t need to cut me off while he thought about it, and he acknowledged his fault.

In the end, we were fine. The whole conversation lasted roughly a half hour. He was on task and had things to do, so when the conversation was winding down, he stood and said, “Shall we go?”

We walked outside and began to part ways. I turned back and said goodbye. I also told him to call me to grab dinner sometime. Just because we weren’t dating didn’t mean we couldn’t be friends. He responded, “Sure thing sir.” I thought that was an odd response, but I’ll take it.

It was an amicable breakup. I’m not sure if I got the closure I needed. I still felt like he used me and doubted if he ever really cared for me. I never got an answer if my suspicions were true. I wondered if he’d been with other men while dating me. I wondered if he met someone else. All questions I would never get answers to. I think that is the hardest part about a breakup — The blow to the ego. We take fault and feel there is a flaw in ourselves, even if that’s not the case at all.

I would recover from this breakup relatively quickly, but I certainly would walk away with a few new scars and a few pieces of luggage to my baggage pile. I would try not to let it affect me too greatly, but then again, you can only control your emotions so much.

Hopefully, as one door was closing, another would soon be opening…

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What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Sunday afternoon, I tried to see if Smiles would want to do something fun the following day since I didn’t have to go to work. Sadly, he had work to do. He was trying to build up a company from scratch, and it is a lot of hard work, so I understood. What I didn’t expect was he would be busy he wouldn’t be able to find the time to pick up the phone and call or text.

Monday passed with me planted on the couch watching TV all day while surfing and reactivating my Grindr account. I was just seeing what was out there, but as the afternoon progressed, I started to think toward the future while examining the past.

I realized I wasn’t happy. I equated my relationship to the struggle of Sisyphus, a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. I was constantly putting work into the relationship only to find I wasn’t receiving much benefit from it.

I had given Smiles more than his fair share of chances to finally woo me, and he failed. I enjoyed his company, and he was a very nice, successful, good-looking man, but the time had come to move on. It just seemed he wasn’t that into me, and I realized I deserve better. Since I had been on the journey to this conclusion for quite some time, I wasn’t that broken up about it. I’ve had varied reactions to the end of relationships in the past. I moved on with closure after my mutual breakup with Broadway. I had slight some minor cardiac scarring after I ended things with San Francisco. I was a wreck when things went south with N — Losing ten pounds in a week (Not proud of that).

This epiphany wasn’t all that earth-shattering for me. Things had been on the decline for some time. This certainly didn’t come out of the blue, so the blow was lessened.

I actually started to get slightly angry about things. I felt used. I recalled asking Smiles on our first date why he was on Grindr, and he had mentioned he was lonely. I realized I was someone to pass the time for him. I was someone he could go to dinner with so he didn’t have to eat alone. I was someone he could have the occasional romp in the sheets when he was in the mood. I was a seat warmer. He never had any plans to forge a relationship with me, and this made me really feel used.

I wanted more. I deserved more. And I was going to find more. I started searching once again on a4a and Grindr. These are clearly not the best place to find Mr. Right, but it couldn’t hurt to try. Once again, it was just going to be a lot of work.

On top of it all, our sex-life was minimal. As a result, I was horny. I was hungry for some good sex. Over the summer when I was having my wild time, I felt I started to really hone my craft. I had numerous guys constantly hitting me up for seconds, thirds, and more. It was great for my ego, and I craved a really good romp in the sack.

That’s when I turned my efforts toward Grindr. I wanted to find a local guy with a hot body. I knew it wouldn’t be easy from past experience, but maybe some new hotties moved into the area in the three months I’d been away. I started talking to one guy for quite some time. We even started to Skype with each other while I watched TV. He lived very close and had a really nice body. He was Asian, which doesn’t quite get my engine roaring so there he wasn’t a relationship prospect, but we could at least start on a friendship. We face-time chatted most of the evening. I gave him full disclosure on the situation. We even discussed him coming over to hook up, but in the end I decided to be good.

Afterall, I still hadn’t officially ended things with Smiles yet. It wouldn’t be right. I’d already betrayed that relationship once, I didn’t need to do it again, not matter how resolved I was about its end.

I got an offer from a man I’d had a tryst with in the past. He begged me to come to his apartment, but it was cold outside, and it was getting late. I had work the next day, and I needed to go to bed. I told him I’d take a rain check.

My new friend went to bed, and I continued to figure out a way to satiate my libido. I figured I would hit up some old friends in my Skype contact list. One of the sexiest men happened to be online. He lived in South America on an island, and I wanted to do bad things to his body. It was amazing. I loved camming with him. The only issue was he had a big thing for me. He always begged me to be his boyfriend, no matter how many times I told him it couldn’t happen because we are so far away. He begged me to come visit, but I told him I couldn’t afford the flight. I wasn’t about to fly to South America for a booty call. But if he lived anywhere close, I would have been over there in a second!

I convinced him to have a little fun on camera until I finished. As usual, it sapped all the energy from my body, and I jumped into bed and dozed off without a thought left in my head.

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2 Can Play That Game

N and I were talking sporadically, but it was almost as if we weren’t in a relationship. He was working in the city that day, and sent me a text message asking what time I was heading in. I was getting in the habit of waking up and getting to work earlier. I still didn’t have my appetite and wasn’t eating breakfast in the morning, which bought me more time. I was also enjoying the distraction of work that kept me busy. I told him I would be heading in at 8:30. He said he wouldn’t be ready by then. I didn’t have to be in at a set time, so I waited for him.

Finally, at 9:15 he emerged from his apartment. Had I known he would take so long, I would not have waited, especially if I knew what was to follow. The conversation on the walk was very distant and awkward. We spoke as if we were already broken up. Most of the time, he was buried in his phone. Maybe he was on Grindr, but at this point, I didn’t care. I was too, and I was getting bites. When we were half way to the PATH, he pulls back and says, “Wait! This is telling me the bus is a better option for me to get to work.” Apparently we wouldn’t be going into to work together after all. I waited around for an awkward five-minute walk. He mentioned his need to stop at the ATM but would also needed exact change. Since I’m the overly generous person I am, opened my wallet and handed him a bus pass. He commented, “You would have this in your wallet.” Not even a thank you. I felt like one of his discarded used tissues. I allowed him to take advantage of my generosity, and I hated myself for it.

Before we headed our separate ways, he told me he was going to watch the fireworks with his family at his aunt’s house that night and would probably be staying there. We would not see each other that night. 

While watching TV on the couch, I began to get horny. I decided to text the man I had sex with a few weeks earlier. He was a good lay, and I figured why not? I texted, “Hey man. Wanna come over?” He responded pretty quickly. He was out with friends but would stop by later. He added, “I not a whore or anything either, but I had fun last time with you.”

This is also the exact moment N texted me asking what I was up to because he was on his way back from his aunt’s house. In my passive aggressiveness, I told him watching a movie and chatting online. In the meantime, I texted the man from Grindr and informed him I would have to cancel and apologized. I got no response from N, so I asked if he was just checking up on me or if he was interested in hanging out. When N replied telling me he was just checking up on me, I immediately texted Mr. Grindr and told him to get his ass to my place and apologized for the confusion.

When he arrived, we went out to the balcony to hang out for a little bit and smoke. At this point, he started asking a lot of questions about N. When I asked him “What gives?” he explained someone meeting many of my descriptors had been texting him for some time now. He spoke up because when we met the first time, I was upfront and told him I was involved with someone. At this point, he offered to show me the messages he received. It was really none of my business what the exchanges were between them, but I graciously accepted the offer. What I saw next was just the dose of reality I needed. N had been asking this guy to hook up many times, even sending him pictures of his dick (with his face in the shot). So much for just talking! The icing on the cake was he was messaging him that night. He was playing back n forth between the two of us. That was the ultimate slap in the face. While he was sitting there in front of me, N was still texting him. 

I knew better than to leave notifications on my phone when Mr. Grindr came over. I had a feeling N would text again, and I didn’t need a distraction. I was horny and was annoyed with N’s games. Mr. Grindr and I had an extensive conversation about the situation at hand. I apologized profusely for bringing him into the mess and came clean about using him just for sex. He actually was a good guy and I started to look at him as more of a friend than just a hookup. He didn’t need to tell me about N’s sexting, but he did. I greatly appreciated his candor.

With that, we headed inside to my bedroom. As we did, I glanced at my phone. I had three text messages from N asking if I was feeling better, asking how my chatting was going, and finally asking again what I was doing. Mr. Grindr looked at me and asked if it was N. I said yes as I put the phone down and lunged at him.

We had sex and it was good, but we needed to take a break. When we did, we discussed things again, but the conversation was more about the relationship between he and I, not involving N. He even asked, “Should I tell him to come over?” I loudly protested how bad an idea that was. I don’t know if he meant in the sense of a three-some, but I thought me meant more to confront him on his indiscretions. I told him it wasn’t my style to make a public spectacle of things. That type of action was not proper, not matter how much N was playing games.

At that very moment, Mr. Grindr got a text notification. He said, “That’s one of two people. Either my roommate or him.” I told him he didn’t need to look for me, but if he wanted to look for himself, that was his business. He looked, and sure enough, it was N asking him to hang out still. I got GREAT satisfaction out of this. Not only was N home alone with just his hand, but after trying to manipulate both of us, I got the guy. The two of them never had the opportunity to meet. Both were closeted and had roommates. They had nowhere “safe” to hookup.

Mr. Grindr’s morals kicked in at this point, and he decided it best if he went home. I tried to convince him to stay and chat further (and also finish what we started), but it was no use. He insisted on leaving. If I wasn’t feeling guilty enough for dragging him into this mess, now I felt downright awful. As he left, I walked to the window to watch what he did. I was curious if he was going to try to meet N. He walked to the corner of my street, looked at his phone, and looked toward N’s apartment. He paused a moment as I said out loud to myself, “Don’t you dare!” Just then, he turned and walked home. “Good boy!” 

After about a half hour, I responded to N’s texts. I told him my appetite was returning and the online chatting was just Facebook. I then played dumb and followed up with, “Did you need something?”

The next morning I woke up to a text from N saying, “I wanted to see you.” What a prick! He didn’t want to see me. He wanted to get off! And, he didn’t care if it was Mr. Grindr or I. This cut deep, but my anger provided a sufficient band-aid for the time being. To me, it was his worst transgression. Even if they never met, he had every intent to do so. He even went as far as covering his bases by texting me should their plans fall through again. It was over. We were done. I do not stand for anyone treating me this way. After 26 years of single life and tormenting myself, I wouldn’t stand for this behavior! I deserve better! This was the wake-up call I needed, but this was just the beginning of my transformation back to my old self.

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