Sunday, April 21, 2019

Navigating an Open Relationship

I told Jimmy that while he's abroad to not feel tied to what he has at home; namely me.  If he wants to experience a country for its food, its culture...  its men that he should go ahead and do so without guilt.  It doesn't bother me because I feel security in our 8 year relationship.  That we want the same things in life and that I will love him forever.  Whatever happens there remains there and that he'll always come home to me.

To this he responded, "WTF, THAT IS NOT WHY I TRAVEL ALONE"

And to this I said, "I know! I'm just letting you know that I'm okay with it."

Two weeks later he comes up to me to say, "Did you make those comments because you want to be in an open relationship?" 

I nodded sheepishly.  "I understand, my baby has needs," he responded perceptively.  And that's how we got here; trying something different, but still trying to navigate it.

With one key rule that he placed: no friends.
...because, you don't shit where you eat.

A logical and complicated ask because I am friends with many people.  I am naturally friendly.  And my approach to humans and relationships has to pivot.

As I navigate this, I come to realize that app-culture is the vehicle to a very transactional way of "connecting" with other men not to mention a huge waste of time. And flirting with an end goal was something I haven't done in a really long time. There are moments I feel like hot shit and other moments I just feel like room temperature shit.  Men become objects hitting physical qualifications that allow you to “get off” and then leave.  Rather than fleeting, it feels direct and hollow.  And the high from the fun is short lived and regretful.

What am I getting out of this?  By repressing my inclination to be friends... I’m not being me.  It makes me feel shitty to have motives when the Chris that people respect, possibly admire, is a Chris that actually cares about being just your friend, to be supportive of what you're trying to achieve in life and introducing you to his community.  And that Chris doesn't take advantage of people and write them off once they’ve served their purpose.

So why did I even suggest it?

... I realize that “my needs” is so obvious and in plain sight because of my predictable one dimensional personality... it's not sex, but rather it's attention; a warm body to hold, a companion to kiss and a human to love.   Things that should only come from Jimmy, and I desperately need more frequently because of my shitty codependency especially while he’s away.

Quite the epiphany... and I feel good about this Sunday thought / self-therapy, because I can be honest  and really understand what the fuck I'm doing, where my mind is at and why I'm behaving this way.  I’m seeking so much attention, playing games, overthinking and creating constructs when it should be kept as simple and dumb as the app.

Before he left for another two week trip he expressed so much concern.  He was worried that I would resent him, but I reassured him that I would never.  I understand his needs just as much as he understands mine and we work on it together to make this relationship last.  I can’t wait for him to come home.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Smooth Operater


After a few drinks in, I found myself in Chinatown at General Lee's enjoying the music of Sade on a Thursday night.  There was a guy near the bar with cute glasses clearly wore with the intention of making a statement.

Without missing a beat, I said "Nice glasses" when we made eye contact. It was an easy opening and allowed me to gauge his friendliness.  His smile was bright, though he was a little bit shy.  He was responsive so I continued to talk to him.  I asked him where he lived and why he was all the way in DTLA.  It was natural, and I turned to the bar to order my drink to give him space.  He was with 3 bros with long hair and we all introduced ourselves.  He was the most stylish, the most clean cut and the most attractive.

I went back to my friends to catch up and ride our buzz.  We were all happy to be out, happy to see each other and had a lot to say about the music and the crowd.  I pointed out the guy and they agreed, "oh yes, he's very cute" and I suddenly I became even more interested in taking advantage of my confidence.  Confidence that came with a fresh and trendy haircut, a nice outfit and a tighter body.

He was at the bar alone and I placed my hand on his shoulder.

"Getting something else to drink?"  I commented about how expensive the drinks are and then ordered something simply because I didn't want to make my interest in him so obvious.  I continued the first date-like questions and complimenting him where appropriate.

"Well, I'm older than you."
"How old do you think I am?"
"Hm... 28? "
"I'm 32!  My birthday was in January". Perfect age; my fear is coming on to a kid born in the 90s.

Telling someone how young they look is a subtle way of saying how cute they are.  Or immature-looking depending on the situation.  Here, I was obviously being my friendly self.  He gave me an in and told me more about his job.

"But for working in marketing, ironically, I'm awful at social media.  I barely update my Instagram".   Bingo... This is how I get his contact info in the most natural form.

"Oh really?  What is it.. Let me check it out."  He said sure and found himself on his phone and hit -follow- for me.  I took it as a sign that he was okay with me.  Usually people would open their profile and let you decide if you want to follow them or not.  I saw his latest photo: a beach photo at Crystal Cove.  I didn't browse his profile in front of him.  I just checked the first and put my phone immediately away.  After all, I was interested in getting to know the guy in front of me, not his feed.

"Crystal cove!  I've been meaning to go there!  I wanted to book a house with my friends."  He told me how great it was, he told me he'd rather be traveling and then he told me he had to use the restroom.  I detached my gaze and let him go and returned to my friends.

Was he gay, was he straight?  It didn't matter, he was an attractive guy who I wanted to talk to.  He was nice and interesting which made it worth continuing.  He responded to my words, my body language my energy. Flirting felt fun and playful.   There were no motives or end goals.  It was contained in the moment.  I have a partner and I was just having fun with a human interaction. The game made the night more exciting and I'm sure he enjoyed the attention that his funky cool glasses brought him.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Christmas with My Complete Family





Eric told me that moments like these make you fall in love with your partner all over again.   I wholeheartedly agree.  Seeing him interact with my family and being with me during a very important time just really solidified that this person is who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.  It has already become easier to think of marriage because he's met my aunts and uncles.  When they get that invitation they won't be confused about a mysterious boy who've they never met.  And even if this is the only Christmas he can attend, it was sufficient to feel that he had become integrated and that our relationship was acknowledged.

I knew that bringing him to Christmas was important, I made it a big deal and it made me nervous, but when it actually happened it felt natural.  He was welcomed and everyone was happy that he was there.

My mom cooked us so many meals.  He was included in all group photos.  People got him gifts.  He wasn't used to such a materialistic style of the holidays, but embraced it knowing that this is how I was raised.  Socks for everyone.  Gift cards.  More things!  Like an all American family we use our words and we buy gifts.    My extrovert family was overwhelming, and lucky for him, they didn't force him to play Christmas songs on the piano.

What made it easy was introducing him has my partner.  Removing the gender (boyfriend) made it less about being gay, but more about being with a human that I love.  It was easier to say and more impactful at the same time.

"This is my partner Jimmy."

Jimmy made this amazing video of the holiday week with my family and my friends in San Jose and it goes without saying that there's no turning back and we're in it together for the long run.


Visual Diary: The Holiday from Jimmy Raymond on Vimeo.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Platonic, Potential, Can We Please Fuck?

A friend of mine told me that he's slept with about half of his friends.  He puts people in buckets: platonic, potential and can we Please fuck?  I told him that I see all of my friends as platonic and he responded that I might be repressing something and not knowing it.  I know many wonderful attractive guys but I'm never tempted, at least in Los Angeles.  I just want to make friends and grow my Gaysian empire creating a community of good people and a supportive network (born in the 80s).  He pointed to the cute guy in the mailroom.  "You wouldn't mess around with him?"  I responded, "I guess I would, but never really thought about it other than 'hey, he's cute, what's his instagram, let me direct message him and invite him to a party" the end.


It made me wonder, am I repressing something?  I think about being affectionate with friends.  A kiss on the cheek, a head in the lap, a long embrace, a short massage.  Platonic, but still showing that you care for each other.  

How does one put friendships into the potential bucket? I thought about the power of cuddling.  The intimacy, the smell, the touch, the warmth and the time.  Can friends cuddle overnight and still sit in the platonic bucket?  Or does it quickly move to potential? When you stay overnight your guard comes down and like someone with a weak immune system you're vulnerable and likely to catch feels.  I recall "hook up" rules in which people emphasize that they would NEVER sleep over if their intention is nothing more than just loveless sex.  Is it because embracing for a long period of time affects our chemistry and you become attached?  While intertwining your limbs, do you inadvertently intertwine your heart strings?  While feeling someone's breath and listening to their heartbeat, does your soul believe that you're holding someone very important to you?    

Kevin sent me this screen grab of me and his partner Huan (my close friend from elementary school) tangled in bed at the New Years party.  Kevin was massaging my thighs and finding my zones.  He described this picture as me and Huan trying to lure him into some more than friends activity.  But what I see is innocent platonic intimacy between friends at a party.  As this short moment with friends ended, I find myself back home with my partner to embrace overnight allowing our souls to blend and our hearts to beat in sync until he overheats and pushes me away.



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Blame It On The Juice

Instragram told me that I could spend up to 4 hours a day on the app.  I watch instastories when I do cardio, I look at the geo tag to explore the city, I stalk, I slide into DMs, I keep in contact.  It's different from facebook which is riddled with political posts and very uninteresting status updates.

So when I accidentally deleted I thought to myself that it was the perfect opportunity to take a break.

But without the app, I found myself bored with the phone.  I found myself sad that I couldn't post something that would potentially make someone laugh, smile, cringe, all of the above.

I gave in within 24 hours and redownloaded it.  And I'm happy for it because it reminded me of what made me happy: being silly and sharing it with people who are interested enough to keep me unmuted.

Charles and I were inspired by Lizzo's music video Juice and decided to recreate our own version.






We pretty much nailed it even though it took us hours to get it close to looking okay.  It was our gay Zumba workout for Saturday.  

The rest of the day we stayed in and got food delivered.  We sang our hearts out in our makeshift karaoke room with disco lights.  At 10:30PM, I caught up with a good friend to vent, to catch up, to eat, to love.

I feel normalized, less anxious and almost myself again and in order to achieve that I had to get out of my mind and onto the dance floor.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pick the Path with Least Resistance

While driving a friend home, he reminded me of the dangers of worrying.

He reminded me that life is too short to stress and that we should just approach challenges and obstacles head on without torturing ourselves.  If it doesn't need to be a big deal, why make it a big deal?

If something is going to hurt, why make it hurt twice by worrying about it too.  Something like that.

But it seems like something difficult to control, or as we agreed, comes with experience.  You just learn to just not care, take things as face value and not overthink.

I'm starting to understand that overthinking is dangerous.  Overthinking comes with free time; letting your imagination run wild, creating worst case scenarios, misinterpreting people, make up a false reality.    And this is what happens when I'm on my own for too long.

Again, I need to keep busy to prevent my mind from wandering and worrying about things that aren't important.

And I'm writing this down to remind myself that things are only as big as you make them out to be and that the path with the less resistance is worth taking for the peace of mind, heart and soul.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

2019 Thots and Jots

Jimmy usually stays up until 3AM on the living room couch lost in his thoughts, creating art, watching his favorite TV show.  This morning, it's my turn to step away from the warmth of our bed and spend some alone time journaling at 5AM.  After all, I am the early bird and he is a night owl.

I told myself this year that I would be more transparent with my relationship with people.   On the theme of Marie Kondo I told a very old infatuation that I was letting them go and thanked them for the joy that they provided.  I was holding on to this idea of fleeting moments that some would consider beautiful and romantic.  At this point of my life, I've determined it to be more destructive and distracting.  I feel relieved, I feel honest and feel like I had just grab a box of my old college clothes that never fit right and donated them.

He responded, "I'm no dummy" and thanked me for my honesty.  But there was nothing really for him to thank, it was more for me to say good bye to something that didn't exist.

==

It's now 6AM and I have the sudden urge to swim laps.  I want to cleanse myself of this feeling of frustration.  I'm confused as to how people could be so careless; how they can flat out lie to their friends and themselves.

People are selfish, manipulative, disrespectful and oblivious and calling them out is something that I'm not quite good at.  But is it my job to teach?  Being nice is my M.O., but to not be critical of others, to behave like everything is okay, does more harm than good it seems especially when it causes me stress.

I'm seeing that Jimmy can be worse than me - play nice, non-confrontational, everyone is happy.  But it would feel so good just to say it:  You're a dishonest / harmful person who's convinced yourself otherwise lying to people to create this image of yourself that's not true.   You're an insecure disrespectful mess and you don't need to try that hard to make people like you.  You're irresponsible and use your friends to gain social clout and it reeks...etc.  but it's just easier to say.  "Hi... I'm great, how are you?"

The challenge is to be emphatic and ask why.  Is it insecurity?  Is it saving face? Is it fear? And once you understand the root you can forgive while holding on to your own boundaries and values.  But man, people can be really shitty and staying away can seem like the only solution.

==

I’ve been working on my relationships with people.  I apologized to two others for using them; for only reaching out when I needed something.  I thanked my friends who make me laugh, who share their joy and I told them to their face that I appreciate them and what they bring to my life.

==

Towards the end of the year I started to burden myself on checking in with friends.  I allowed myself to listen to people's depression, loneliness, insecurity, trauma without knowing that I've absorbed it all into my body.  I've grown so concerned with people's mental health that I feel like I've forgotten about my own.  But it worries me that my friends are falling a part.  I’ve already experienced a suicide of a close friend and I pray that it doesn’t happen again. 

So for 2019 and for the rest of my life I strive to be..
..transparent with my relationships
..honest with how I'm feeling and express it when appropriate to people who are important
..take care of myself and then take care of others in that order
..(bonus) - spend time with people who bring warmth to my heart and cook meals for me

Okay, crawling back into bed now because the pool is closed.