Monday, September 12, 2005

Open to Suggestions

I'd like to move off the beaten politico-blog track long enough to talk about my...friend. Who is called...Barry.

Anyway, Barry's in a bit of a bind. When he was younger, so much younger than today, Barry was a delicate little thing, lacking in self-confidence, obsessed with finding and being with somebody - anybody - just for the sake of being with somebody, and assuming there was something terribly wrong with him, otherwise why was he always terminally single?

It was only as Barry got older that he came to realise boys who promote themselves, consciously or otherwise, as "instant husband, just add tongue", are not going to land other boys so much as send them fleeing for the hills, especially in the early 20s, when commitment is as common amongst gay men as Cold Chisel tracks are at homo night clubs. Barry also came to appreciate other pursuits in life over which he had a greater degree of control and which proved more rewarding - and sure enough, the desperate desire for companionship diminished. It did not cease, by any means, but Barry realised that being single at 24, 34, even 44 (though probably not 54) is not such an unspeakable crime after all.

Barry can now leave nightclubs alone without tears streaming down his face, as he has developed perspective and such. Having said this, he's had a solid nightclub batting average in 2005 and was lucky enough on Friday night to accompany home one of the single hottest Englishmen (or at least, that's how Barry described him to me) currently on the market. Even Barry, with his growing positive self-image, could not believe how lucky he was when his lustful stare was reciprocated two-fold.

The complication is that Barry is currently seeing another young man of whom he is very fond... Jose. Barry took a strong liking to Jose the second he met him - he finds Jose spunky, warm, sincere, funny, intelligent, stimulating, quirky and off-beat without being unsettling, is happy that he gets along with all his friends, and provides Barry with a level of boudoir gratification he otherwise assumed should be outlawed. Jose also seems to like Barry very much, which makes Barry feel all special and gooey and junk.

Barry and Jose are keen to follow their pursuits, both of which necessarily involve travelling abroad. Consequently, they have agreed to forge ahead in what is essentially an open relationship, in which both parties are free to play around with other playmates, just so long as it's kept to only one or two play dates at a time.

Friday night was the first tester of how this theoretical gentlemen's agreement would play out in practice, and unfortunately Jose felt strangeness and disappointment upon finding out about the Englishman, which did not bode well with Barry who does not like to see Jose unhappy.

Barry is very keen to keep Jose in his life but he's also reluctant to give up even a fraction of his independence. Not that Jose makes him feel constricted, but clearly there is somebody else's feelings to be considered here, even though Barry is not being dishonest about what's going on.
Barry became very good at being single - largely by necessity than choice - and though occasionally the vacuousness and superficiality of the homo scene wears him out, he's not entirely sure he's ready to give it up for domestic bliss and become one of those dreaded "coupled" chaps whom friends never see. Barry has never trodden this path before and wonders if there are any seasoned travellers out there who know how to navigate and what to expect along the journey?


At 12/9/05 8:33 pm, Blogger John said...

Oh, how offensive it is to be compared with Cold Chisel!

At 13/9/05 8:54 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess there comes a time in everyone's life when they have to put away their childhood toys and become an adult. I think for Barry that time is now.

At 13/9/05 12:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not gay and I'm female so my credibility might be down the toilet.
The hot Englishman and the hot others like him are delicious as an appetizer but going home to the main meal and dessert like Jose is a balanced diet. The issue is how open is the open relationship? Can Barry take it when the hot Englishman decides to take Jose home for the night? JT

At 13/9/05 12:25 pm, Blogger Sam said...

A very valid hypothetical there, JT. I think the short answer is yes, he can, although he probably wouldn't like to be there and see it happen in front of his face.

PS - Being female and not gay probably trebles your credibility, not diminishes it :-)

At 13/9/05 1:23 pm, Blogger Sam said...

You're Barry, right? Congrats on landing a hot Englishman!

At 13/9/05 1:46 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I can neither confirm nor deny Barry's identity. What a smug little shit I am :-)

At 13/9/05 2:10 pm, Blogger QM said...

Ahh, the "open" relationship. Seems to me that the open relationship is no longer really an option. So the choice has to be between Barry and Jose going their separate ways with no ties or commitments or closing the opening.

From what you have relayed of your friend's experiences, it seems that it would be a shame to lose the Jose-Barry thing.

At 13/9/05 4:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An open relationship is what you do within it not who you do outside it. To be successful both men have to have high self esteem, absolute trust and love. It's meeting over breakfast and discussing said hot Englishman. It's trusting that safe sex was involved and if it wasn't, not afraid to discuss that as well. It's not being 'in love' but being loved and loving back. Otherwise it's just two guys living together fucking other men. JT

At 13/9/05 5:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS I hope it's not just that. I cry at happy endings. JT

At 13/9/05 8:57 pm, Anonymous stephen said...

in the end relationship is about relating not about sex. sex is about deepening its best...or am i just a hopeless idealist.
the trouble is most guys...irrespective of sexuality are obsessed by sex and only realise too late that sex doesn't get you through the darkness.
only a few exceptions i think...the amazing and lovely Luke Gahan. A true innocent I think.

At 13/9/05 10:58 pm, Blogger Dawei said...

in which both parties are free to play around with other playmates, just so long as it's kept to only one or two play dates at a time.

Oh, as long as it's only one or two at a time! How often do people have orgies these days?

But yeah, I don't get the whole open relationship thing. I think they are for losers who don't have the personality to hold down a relationship, and like to validate their desirability by getting fucked by the next faggot who comes along. Stay away from that route. Exactly what do you have to lose by exploring a relationship? The travel thing can still go ahead. Or is it a trust thing?

PS -- why are you both travelling? I mean, what do you work as?

At 14/9/05 9:27 am, Blogger Sam said...

I never saw myself as the O.R type before, Dawei. I also don't consider myself a loser or need to validate myself by sleeping around. I'm just being totally honest about where I am right now and what I am and am not prepared to change about my life.

There's no question we trust and respect one another enormously - if that wasn't the case I don't imagine this arrangement could ever have been floated to begin with.

JT: I'm also the cry at happy endings type. In fact I'm one of the least cynical of my gay male friends when it comes to such things. I can be soppier than a pancake :-)

At 14/9/05 10:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love soppy pancakes. After re-gaining my independence from a soul draining cretin, I understand Barry's reluctance to give up his. We then go back to whether both Barry and Jose are equally independent and I stress equally. The relationship can only strengthen this but reading the story again, I think Barry is afraid that somewhere down the track he is going to be left alone in a re-run of his early years. Sex isn't everything, even stud muffins get stale.
Personally it will be decades before I try a relationship again although I could be interested in someone who lives in Sydney, loves phone sex and whose mother owns a jewellery store. JT

At 15/9/05 11:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you get married do you plan to have an open relationship with your husband?

At 16/9/05 9:03 am, Blogger Sam said...

I don't plan to get married for many years - after all, we should probably start with the basics and get same-sex marriages legalised before we plan too far ahead.

At 16/9/05 6:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike the others, I'm commenting only for own sense of self-satisfaction. ;)

You - sorry, Barry - don't strike me as someone whose personality is built for an open relationship (meant it as a compliment hon). I've observed that 'successful' open relationships happen after a foundation of trust - ie security - has been built. If Baz and Jose only just got together, then it doesn't sound like that's happened yet. 20-something homosexuals, no matter how intelligent or mature, aren't generally the most secure and confident groups of people around.

Probably best to start having an open relationships the "old-fashioned" way: be monogamous for a few years until sex gets tiresome and then both parties will wholeheartedly agree to have an open relationship. 'Course, you run the risk of mistaking the thrill of new sex for something deeper and the whole partnership crumbles into a cloud of dust, but meh. Shit happens.

At 17/9/05 9:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like Barry wants to keep his boyfriend, but fuck other men regardless - but is worried about hurting his boyfriend by doing so. How thoughtful of him. Why not just talk to his boyfriend, and address the problem honestly?

Barry's real problem is summed up in the last paragraph, where we see that he wants to keep his relationship with Jose but does not want to give up "even a fraction of his independence." Barry, most healthy relationships involve compromise and mutual respect.

Yes, there is a risk that Jose will end the relationship. Could it be that Barry is not quite as comfortable with being single as he doth protest?

Perhaps Barry could grow up a little and take some responsibility for his behaviour. It's just as well Sam would never behave in such a way.

On another matter, I find it rather ironic that the Sydney gay scene is criticised - albeit accurately - as vacuous and superficial in the context of this post. Barry sounds like he would fit right in.

At 17/9/05 11:26 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I thank you for your advice Anon, and know that whoever you may be, you have never met me personally and thus would not yet know I am neither vaccuous or superficial, as you have intimated.

Of course, if you'd read my post properly you'd see how everything going on is being talked about honestly with the other person involved, so the sarcasm about my thoughtfulness is unnecessary.

I thank you also for pointing out that relationships involve compromise and mutual respect. Having been in involved in relationships for nearly 10 years, I had also picked up these little tidbits along the way. Neither of these actually relate to the issue at hand, but again I realise you're basing your misinformation from a single web posting and not from knowing me personally, so I can forgive your misapprehension.

At 20/9/05 12:16 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Barry = Sam? And Sam is hiding behind the Barry pseudonym?

At 22/9/05 3:53 pm, Anonymous zhasper said...

No advice... but lots of interest in how things work out.

Well, not much advice. Being free to do something also means that you're free not to do that thing. The power (and responsibility) to choose is yours.

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