Making Better Relationship Choices

After Panda's wake-up call, I endeavored to do a better job on the relationship front. And while I didn't exactly become the model boyfriend or instantly end my self-sabotaging behaviors, I did manage to start making progress. For starters, I started taking things more slowly, and got much less desperate about finding someone new. Instead, I focused on working on self-acceptance issues more.

One of the instances where I demonstrated self-control was when Karl popped back into my life through an online personal site. Karl was someone I had met and started talking to back before Chris and I got involved. At that time, he was attending a university a few towns over from where I lived and had been talking. We had even started talking on the phone. However, at that time, it became quite clear that he was just recently out to himself, severely closeted, and not ready to be in a relationship, and he eventually disappeared as a result.

I'm not entirely sure he remembered me when he contacted me for the second time. To be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure it was the same person. However, there were enough elements of his personality that made me sure he was the same person. That and the information he gave about himself both times was eerily familiar.

This second time around, we never even talked on the phone. While it was clear to me that Karl was more comfortable with his sexuality at this time, it was also clear to me that he was generally insecure and clingy. That quickly proved to be a major turn-off for me. Of course, given my own insecurities and tendencies towards clinginess, I think he reminded me too much of myself in uncomfortable ways. So eventually, I drifted away this time.

At one point, I even got daring enough to schedule two dates on the same day. Prior to this point in my life, the idea of even considering two guys at the same time was foreign to me. I was constantly afraid I'd start getting to know one of them, fall for the other, and find myself in a sticky situation. However, at this point in my life, I realized that this was the sort of thing that was expected to happen in the early stages of dating. So when both Brian and Zane contacted me, I figured I'd check them both out at the same time and figure out who I had more fun with.

I met Brian first, and we had a nice enough time together. I don't remember what we did together, but it was a rather casual date. During the date, I got the strong impression that much like Karl all those years earlier, Brian wasn't truly ready to be pursuing a relationship yet. He was still getting comfortable with the idea of being gay. He confirmed as much eventually, and I turned my attention to Zane instead. Of course, I had already made it clear to Brian that I was seeing Zane that same day. I didn't want to give any impression that I was only considering a relationship with him. It had always bothered me that Jesse had not told me about the guy he was seeing back when we were talking about meeting, so I wanted to make sure I didn't spring any surprises.

Zane and I met and had a light lunch at a local bakery. We had a pretty good conversation, and I thought the date went really well. I was quite surprised when he never responded to any of my attempts to get feedback or plan a next date over the next week. Eventually, I caught his friend, Mindy, online. Mindy was kind enough to explain to me that Zane had decided he wasn't interested in me. Mindy was quite upset that Zane hadn't had the decency to tell me that he wasn't interested, which is a sentiment we held in common. I sent Zane a brief message letting him know that just blowing me off without saying anything to me was not acceptable. In fact, I told him that it made him an asshole. Mindy, with whom I became friends for a time, harped on him about it for quite some time.

To Zane's credit, however, he did convince me to start thinking more about my general appearance, however. For the year prior to my experience with him, I had decided to let my hair grow out and quit shaving. My hair is incredibly curly, and the longer it got, the less manageable it got. I also knew nothing about beard care at the time and allowed my facial hair to grow quite naturally. The net result was that despite showering daily and taking the normal care to be clean, I looked quite scruffy and gave Zane the impression that I had poor hygiene. As a result of this revelation, I got a haircut and started shaving again. In effect, I started taking care of myself again. And I began to care about how I looked.

The other instance in which I showed some sense of self-worth in my relationships was when I began talking to another man online. We talked for about a week and even set up a time and place to meet one Friday. However, as Friday rolled around, I decided I wasn't comfortable with this meeting. This particular guy was clearly interested in having sex as soon as possible. Indeed, I suspect a quick sexual encounter was all he was interested in. As I became more aware of this reality and the fact that I wanted something different, I cancelled our meeting at the last minute.

Almost as if rewarding me for such a strong decision, I came across Alan the very next week.