Dear Dr. Fred: I’m a successful middle-aged professional male just getting back into dating after a messy breakup. I’ve mainly been meeting guys online and I've had pretty good success, though no one has emerged as "Air. Right" so far. Recently I thought maybe I had met "that guy " but it turns out, not so much.
“Frank" is a handsome, sexy 40-something career Army officer. We met for dinner several times, found that we were compatible in countless ways, then decided to see if we were compatible in bed too ... and OMG were we ever! I thought I'd had some pretty good sex before, but I’ve never experienced anything like sex with Frank. I was in heaven for several weeks, and Frank seemed to be too, as he began to talk about wanting to "deepen our relationship. ” That’s when the bomb shell dropped — after he arrived late one night at my place for an impromptu roll in the hay ... and he had forgotten to remove his wedding ring.
I was feeling somewhere between thunderstruck, hurt, angry, self-critical and guilty. One of my cardinal rules has always been to never mess around with married men, but now here I’d just done that because of his lying to me about his marital status.
He was incredibly ashamed and apologetic, saying he wanted to tell me about his wife when we first met but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He said he was so attracted to me, he just had to have me in his life and figured there would be a better chance of that once we had gotten closer. He professed that this was the first time he’d been unfaithful to his wife or been with a man and that it was just all so “exhilarating” he kind of lost his head for a bit. He also begged me to keep seeing him because he’d decided he was going to leave his wife.
I never wanted to compromise my principles so bad in my life, but I didn’t. I gave him my ironclad rules about not being a side interest for someone already in a relationship — especially a married man — and showed him the door. Then I lost it and went into a complete funk for days.
That was about two weeks ago, and I’m beginning to climb out of the depression. But here’s the problem ... I can't get him out of my mind and I’m wondering if I’ve made the right decision. I've been tempted dozens of times to call or text him and tell him to come back over so we can talk things through and hopefully figure out some way to be together. My head knows this isn’t a good idea, but my heart says something else.
So what is your advice? Can a married man who's just begun exploring gay sex really be trusted to leave his marriage and make good relationship material? Or should I continue to keep my distance from him?
Dear "Lost:” An old saying reminds us "sometimes doing the right thing just feels so wrong.” And that’s what I think you're dealing with here.
I've commented countless times in the past while writing this column how often when people are seeking advice, they really already know what they need to do, and just need some validation and encouragement to do it. And that's also going on here, I think.
No self-respecting gay male, especially a "successful middle-aged” one, would allow himself to be relegated to the degrading status of a "booty call” for a married man who is "on the down low." You demonstrated considerable self-respect when you told Frank to get lost. But now you're dealing with the aftermath — the grief over the loss of a relationship that was beginning to show real promise for the future.
I know it's kind of corny and naive, but I really do believe there is such a thing as a "soul connection" between certain people who encounter each other in life. Before we know how it's happened, someone we've just met or have only known briefly gets under our skin and into our heart and psyche so unexpectedly and powerfully it almost takes our breath away. Sometimes the experience is so intense and mind-altering that it's almost like a form of "temporary insanity,” causing us to say and do things we normally wouldn't even consider when in our right mind.
And that's what you seem to be experiencing here, Lost. Frank appears to have been one of those soul connections for you, but that doesn’t mean that he would have been a satisfying partner for you. You say yourself that you know "in your head" that things could almost certainly never work out with Frank, but your heart is tempting you to go in another, totally irrational and potentially self-destructive direction.
Coincidentally, a client in my practice just had an almost identical experience with another married man and he did exactly what you did: sent him packing. It took him a while, but he's now completely through his grieving and expresses being totally happy with his decision. So just hang in there a little while longer, Lost, and I predict you'll feel the same way soon.