Comfortably numb and numbered
Dear Dan: I’m a cis bi guy in my 40s who doesn’t have a lot of experience with other men. I’m happily married to a wonderful woman who knows I’m bi, and while we’re presently monogamous, we’ve talked about opening things up in the future. If that happens, I’d like to casually hook up with a guy once in a while, but I’m a little anxious about gay hookup culture.
1. Will a lot of guys dismiss me for being bi or married? I assume biphobia is more of an issue when looking for a relationship, rather than a hookup, but I dunno.
2. If I meet a guy and we’re going to fuck, is it weird to bring up condoms? I know: I shouldn’t be afraid to ask to use a condom, and if someone can’t respect that, I shouldn’t fuck him. I’m not and I won’t. But will most guys be a little surprised, especially with PrEP these days?
3. On that note, should I ask my doctor about PrEP when all I want is a very occasional fuck (maybe a few times a year) with someone I’ve vetted and trust about their HIV-negative or undetectable status? I want to be safe, but I don’t want to put superfluous meds in my body.
4. Is the “top shortage” I’ve read about a few times a real thing? Are a lot of guys strictly tops or bottoms?
5. And is there anything else I should know before hopping on the apps?
Wondering About Navigating New Arenas Before Indulging
1. There are lots of biphobic gay men out there, WANNABI, but I gotta say… there are more biphobes in the straight community. Yes, straight biphobia is less gallingly hypocritical, I will grant you, but it does more harm; research has shown that having a biphobic straight spouse is the single biggest risk factor for poor mental health outcomes among bisexuals. So I’m happy to hear that your spouse accepts your bisexuality, WANNABI, and I’m going to apologize in advance for the biphobia you’ll encounter from some dumb gay men. But if all you’re after for is some casual sex, WANNABI, you don’t need to disclose your bisexuality to the men you meet on the apps. You also shouldn’t assume the men you meet on “gay” hookup apps are gay; some will be bisexual, just like you. And while biphobic gay men get all the press, WANNABI, there are lots of biphilic gay men out there—that is, gay men who are really into married “straight” men. If you don’t wanna hide the wife and don’t wanna wind up with a FWB who wants you to leave the wife for him, finding guys who are actually turned on by the fact that you have a wife at home is not a bad strategy.
2. Even at the height of the AIDS Crisis—even at a time when contracting HIV was almost invariably fatal—condoms weren’t used 100% of the time by 100% of gay and bi men. Now with PrEP (a daily pill that prevents HIV infection) and treatments for HIV+ men that make it impossible for them to spread the virus (HIV+ men with undetectable viral loads can’t transmit the virus), fewer gay and bi men are using condoms these days. If you wanna use a condom because you’re not on PrEP and/or you wanna protect yourself and your wife from all the sexually-transmitted infections PrEP won’t protect you from—and that would be all the other sexually-transmitted infections out there—insist on condoms and pass on guys who argue with you about it.
3. If you wanna be able to have spontaneous and/or anonymous sex with other men, taking PrEP daily is smart. But you can use PrEP without taking it daily if you’re having sex with other men once or twice a year and you’re making those sex dates at least a few days in advance. Intermittent or “on-demand” use of PrEP is highly effective; take two pills 24 hours before you have sex and one pill a day for two days afterwards.
4. Not all gay and bi men are into anal sex or into anal sex with casual partners, WANNABI, and while most of the men I’ve encountered—most of the men encountered the shit out of—were functionally versatile, there do seem to be more bottoms out there than tops. Not that “bottom” and “top” are static identities; a guy who’ll bottom for you might be more comfortable topping for someone else, a guy who enjoys bottoming when he’s younger might enjoy topping more later in life and vice-versa, etc.
5. Not every photo is recent, WANNABI, and not every guy is decent. Some guys will lie to get in your pants or in your ass or on your dick or on your face. Trust your gut, WANNABI, and be choosy about the guys you invite to rearrange yours.
Dear Dan: I’m a gay male in his mid 40’s living in a rainy city. I met and fell for a recently divorced guy with a few teen kids. We progressed quickly, moved to the burbs, made a home, and even had one of his kids come live with us. It was out of character for me to move that fast, but we clicked. I thought he knew what it took to make a long-term relationship work and his post-divorce finances put him in a spot where it really helped him for us to live together. Fast forward five years to me coming home one day with him declaring he was moving to a not-at-all-rainy state with his new boyfriend. New BF had been a mutual friend who I had suspicions about, but I was told repeatedly it was all in my head. Of course the friend made a show of being “really hurt” because he felt I didn’t like him anymore for something he claimed to be innocent of but was actually quite guilty of. So yeah, textbook gaslighting by both of them.
Since then what I want from a relationship has changed. I miss and want the emotional connection, the day-to-day stuff, the sleeping in the same bed with someone, the incidental physical affection. Sex, that’s a different story. As soon as I have sex with someone once, maybe twice if it’s really good, I don’t want to continue seeing them. I still want and do have sex, just not with a person I might want a relationship with. My questions:
1. How do I get this? We all know LOTS of relationships where the partners don’t have sex with each other anymore, but they all did in the beginning. No one wants this from the start.
2. The close friends I’ve told this to think I’m broken and or nuts. I think I’m fine. I can’t explain why this is what I want but I know it feels right. Am I nuts? Am I broken?
Down To Fuck Or Marry But Not Both
1. You ask for it. That’s no guarantee you’ll find it, of course, but it ups your chances considerably. And while it’s true most loving-but-sexless relationships were sexual at the start, DTFOMBNB, not all of them were. So if loving-but-always-sexless is what you want, well, then you should lead with that. Put it out there. There are gay asexual guys who want partners and day-to-day intimacy and someone to sleep with every night but who don’t want sex—not at the start, not ever. There are also gay cuckolds out there, DTFOMBNB, and while most wanna have sex with their “cheating” partners, some wanna be denied sex by a partner who constantly fucks around on them with other guys.
2. I don’t think you’re broken or nuts, DTFOMBNB, but something has definitely changed. What you want now, post-traumatic breakup, isn’t what you wanted before. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing… I guess… so long as you can find what you want or aren’t driven crazy by your inability to find what you want. Because it’s definitely gonna be more difficult for you to find a partner; asexual gays and cuckold gays are out there and they’re great, for sure, but they represent tiny minorities of an already tiny minority. So I’m thinking you might wanna unpack this shit with a shrink. At the very least you need to acknowledge that what you want has changed and that it could change again. Do what and who feels right for you now but don’t lock yourself into anything—don’t sign any leases, don’t make any long-term romantic commitments, sexless or otherwise, don’t weld yourself to any self-fulfilling prophecies—at a time when you may still be numb or still be reeling from a traumatic breakup.
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