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Sex, drugs and sausage rolls: London life, love and other random stuff

Am I on the shelf?

with 14 comments

Image: Woody on the shelf

Can I come down now?

Forgive me.

It’s been a while since I’ve paid attention to this blog, but I’ve been dealing with a few issues of the ‘personal’ variety, and to be honest, it’s been like holding the nozzle of a Dyson to whatever gland I have that allows me to do anything creative.

Forgive me again, therefore, that I’m not heralding my return with some barnstormingly funny or hard-hitting ‘comeback’ post. Nope, instead, I’ve opted for something that can only be described as…well…self indulgent.

You see, it’s these damn civil partnerships.

Up until 2005, I never really thought about marriage, but with the advent of same-sex unions, suddenly everyone wanted in on the act, and all of a sudden, I seemed to be living in marriage-ville, with a new one happening every week.

I now have a plethora of friends with cute double-barrelled surnames, because neither of them wanted to be the ‘woman’ and take the other’s surname.

Last month, yet another schoolfriend got married, the month before that, two. My best mate from school is a divorcee and my other friend is on her second marriage. I’ve got no less than three civil partnerships coming up in the next six months, and I’ll admit it — I’m getting jealous of all these cute, loved up couples, with their dinner parties and Saturday mornings at Sainsbury’s. I’m kind of wanting in on the action. I reckon I’ve paid my dues to the single world for long enough.

I’m the guy people always look at and say “I can’t believe you haven’t got a boyfriend”, but here I am, thirty-one and single, and facing an ever decreasing pool of available men. But I’m fucked if I’m going to lower my standards and settle just because I don’t want to end up on my own.

I’m considered attractive, I’ve got a good job, a nice place, a great set of teeth and a talent for mimicry that always goes down well at parties.

However, my talent for picking absolutely the wrong man still astounds me. Out of the three long-term relationships I’ve had, the first beat me solidly for two years and left me bankrupt, the second knocked me up with HIV (he was sleeping around and forgot to tell me) and the third was a control freak who made playing mind-games look like an art form.

My latest spectacular misjudgment was an affair with a married man that I chose to end three months ago.

Since then, I’ve been careening from one encounter to the next like a pinball in an arcade game. Some of them have been fun, others plain disastrous — all of them ultimately empty. It must be the same for heroin addicts — methadone is no substitute for the real deal.

And yes, despite the fact that The Married Man was never really mine, it was the real deal for me.

So this is the reason why, at the moment, I’m probably not going to meet the love of my life. I have wounds that need a considerable amount of licking before I’m ready to date again.

Dating’s a funny old game anyway. Nobody at my age is without some sort of baggage. We’re all of us ‘damaged goods’ in some way or another, we’re all scared of being hurt. And the thing is, I’m not sure whether I can be bothered with the whole rigmarole. I’ve been on my own for five years now (affairs with married men notwithstanding) and I’ve kind of gotten used to it.

I can do what I like, when I like, and with whomever I choose. And having been this way for so long, I know I’d find it hard to have to consider someone else’s feelings and needs on an almost constant basis.

Does there come a point where you’ve just become too hardened by disappointment and heartbreak, too self-sufficient, and let’s face it, too damn selfish to be able to function in a relationship? Would the shock of having to share my life and bed once more be a bit too much to take?

So perhaps the question isn’t really about whether or not I’m on the shelf. Perhaps I should be asking myself a different question:

Have I put myself there?

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Written by guy_interrupted

September 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Hang in there! Bear in mind one of my favourite lyrics ever, from the Pet Shop Boys: “just when you least expect it – just what you least expect”. That really has been the case for so many people I know…

    Nicholas

    September 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

  2. I could have written this post myself! I’m 31 too, and been having exactly the same thoughts for a little while now. I have to keep faith that there is someone out there and they’ll be along when the time is right. That’s what I keep telling myself, as well as stopping looking in the wrong places, and also modifying what I’m looking for (ie. coming to terms with the fact that Cheyenne Jackson is never going to call. Maybe he just lost my number). One day, one day… x

    M@

    September 21, 2010 at 12:41 am

  3. JeeeEeez, you’re 31 not 81! Maybe you have some ‘issues’ that need to be worked out as to why you choose to date the wrong men (or at least stick with them so long), but.. jeeeez you’re only 31!
    Believe it or not people of all ages date, and the ‘pool’ you talk of is only really any larger say pre age 18. Cheer up, have a think, chill out. All the best.

    Johno

    September 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

  4. Have to agree with the other poster, in that this is very similar to my own situation.
    Perhaps it’s this age, I’m 31 also.

    I have been worn down and am beginning to wonder if the whole dating game is worth the effort you put in….but then I still hold out the faint hope that I will meet someone, and not through having to lower my standards (not that they’re that high to begin with!).

    Although, if you think that you’re on the shelf, what hope is there for us meer mortals??

    Stu

    September 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

  5. This article resembles my life. which is depressing to say the least when you read it and think I can relate to almost 100% of this… well maybe not the married man bit.

    Guys tend to fall into one of three categories:

    Guy one: is always the right guy in every way possible.. Just totally wrong time for whatever reason and there are always lots of reasons.

    Guy two: is always without a shadow of a doubt totally the wrong guy. Period… but we always tend to fall for guys from category 2. It’s almost like we know their going to mess us about; leave us hanging on for days; not reply to text or phone calls… yet somehow this attracts us to them more? Why this happens because it defies all known logic and reason is beyond me. This is the type of guy we always advise friends about; telling them to ditch them, and how we wouldn’t tolerate being messed about like that, but then when it happens to us we forget all this advice.
    Guy three: always the nice guys; sweet lovely my-mother-will-love-you type guys. Just not “my” type of guy – yep, the ones who fall head over hells for you, yet you never feel anything stronger for them than you would a dear friend. The ones you spend days thinking why couldn’t the guys who fall under category 1 and 2 be more like.

    As for the “I can’t believe you haven’t got a boyfriend”, comment. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that comment has been passed my way. Yes, in an ideal world it would be nice to have someone there, but at the same time I actually enjoy being single, which seems to be a concept some people struggle with. “oh my god!! You’re single??” well yes I am, and half the time I’m actually glad I am. I can see the plus points and downsides of both situation so whilst I’d deeply love to be in a committed relationship, I’m also very much content on my own doing as I please. Why is there this constant need to have people paired off?

    If I could advice anything, it would be to expect little from dating for the most part. If you expect little then you can never be disappointment, yet when something good does happen or come of the dating game, then it’s not expected and you appreciate it more. Maybe this is a sign that I have become to cynical for my own good. But I live in hope and have a date at the weekend so I can’t be THAT cynical after all.

    anthony

    September 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    • So yeah; date on Saturday… well my mum would probably love him, sadly its not my mother who would be dating him – yet another perfect good guy, who just happens to annoyingly fall into the third catagory. I just love this bit now; having to have the whole “I think we should remain JUST friends” conversation.

      anthony

      September 28, 2010 at 9:32 am

  6. I can relate in some ways, but my lack of experience in dating doesn’t allow me to sympathise in any other way than the fact that I’ve grown to be independent and can’t imagine myself in a relationship..

    Twenty-five years of life have led me to this point, and even if for some unfailing improbability someone drops into my life, I would probably mess it up with my incapabilities of changing my way of living alone.

    I’m far too bitter and cynical for my age, but in some ways it’s made me stoic.

    oskyldig

    September 21, 2010 at 8:08 pm

  7. Do you know something? This could be me writing this very same entry. 31 and with well-licked wounds and unwilling to risk it again. It’s a good question to ask, do we put ourselves on the shelf?

    Probably not one to contemplate with a hangover though.

    Simon

    September 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm

  8. I came across your blog through a friend and it makes a very interesting read.

    The first is to state — your only 31, you have plenty of time to meet someone!

    I actually found someone when I stopped looking or even bothering. I actually took myself out of the game – now I didn’t go as far as a female friend who took herself out of the sex game for 6 months but I did take a break. No Gaydar, no other sites, no random pick-ups, if someone chatted me up with a clear interest in one thing – I said no. I even stopped dating people, so I could really clear my head and get out of the habit of looking.

    I go to a gay sports club – so did alot of stuff with them (and avoided shagging any new cute players who joined!) I holidayed by myself out of the gay hotspots – ended up at one point horse riding in Mongolia

    I rarely went to gay bars. So I was beginning to meet different types of guys with what the cliche is very non-scene – it was refreshing, I became refreshed.

    Coming up to two years ago (at the ripe old age of 33 – so yes I am 35!) I meet my partner Dan who is 31..we both weren’t looking. When I was out and about he was not the sort I go for..but very cute!)..we met on Gaydar one wet Saturday afternoon (though no one else knows – our cover story is we met in John Lewis).

    I think it was just timing..we both can laugh at our stories from Vauxhall etc and I even laugh more at him when at the gym several guys he has shagged say hello!).

    We both had baggage and have helped each other. Even to the point where 3 months in, drunk one night he broke my front tooth.

    This really drew out any underlining problems – we both had – it cost him a £1,000 pounds to replace it, me clearly stating any more the police would be involved and it taking him a while to get my friends on side.

    There was also my baggage – I think normally we all would say we would quit at these points.

    I knew there was something deep and well two years later we live together and happy.

    I couldn’t be without him and nor him me.

    So it does happen – however you have to make a choice in understanding that you do take another persons issues on and its deciding that you can put someone else first plus timing that will lead you to the relationship you deserve

    When I got back in the game

    tom

    September 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    • You’ve brought up a number of good points here. The main one being that people have to accept that with a relationship comes some degree of baggage. Most people are just not prepared to do that. Whether people’s reluctance to commit to this degree is a sign that even now relationships have become a by-produce of a society that looks for the easy way out and discards out of hand anything that it feels doesn’t work, or is to much hard work without even trying is open to debate, but for one of my countless sins I work in the family section of a law firm, so I see this on a daily basis. People just give up at the first sign of trouble – no one seems to want to stick to things anymore. Granted, I do appreciate that with that state I am to some degree generalising and probably doing disservices to the countless that manage to make a relationship work, but hell of lot can’t be bothered… I would also add that I think a lot of people have a very “Hollywood-chick-flick-romanticised” notion of what a relationship actually consists of.

      By the way I love the fact you can rib him about when his past shags say hello at the gym. I would say that’s a fairly good indictor of not only how comfortable and trusting you are of one another, but of the acknowledgment that each of you does come with a history and it is just that, history. I don’t know whether it’s just the people I attract, but they always seem uncomfortable when discussing aspects of my past in this regard, which is made even more amusing by the fact it is usually them who bring up the subject of how many relationships I’ve had; who I last slept with, etc. sometimes its not what they say, its how their faces change. Body language is such fun – gives people away all the time.

      anthony

      September 28, 2010 at 6:56 pm

      • Hi Anthony

        Everyone I believe if they have lived comes with some baggage – and I think your right, people want to have everything easy..well I firmly believe that life is not a chick flick. I also think people have a lack of self awareness..it should not be always what other people can offer but its also what two people together can offer each other

        I certainly would not put up with an abusive relationship but accept people have flaws

        Me and my partner are very different..he for example is 31 but looks 22, so tends to get that twinky chaser after him. When we first went out I think it was test of me but now he just knows I shake my head and laugh when people do.

        I think we communicate, we set out our boundaries and we know what buttons to push.

        I mean my partner when we met was afraid to tell me he had a breakdown from the gay -lifestyle he had and despite a high powered and very well paid city job was 26k in debt.

        I just took it on the chin and I think my patience he began to realise he didn’t have to act or agree with the lifestyle the ‘gay world’ told him to.

        Similarly after we moved into together a 18 months ago, I lost my job in marketing and it took me several months to get another one. Talk about stress and we only had been together a year.

        I was thinking why would he stay with me as we were stressed to the eyeballs re money and my low feelings of self worth but we got through it.

        Then he has recently gone to the Doctor and found out he has low -level bi-polar and was really upset that I would leave him. (I had suspected early on with his reaction to drink and his stories about sex and drugs).

        Of course I wouldn’t leave him cause the bad things are so outweighed by the good.

        We all have a past and things will happen in the future. But you know what gets you through – laughter..and boy do we laugh and take the piss of each other…I mean the sex can go now and then (and naturally with any of the above neither of us at points has been really up for it!)

        I always use a profit and loss account in my head when I meet someone whether a friend or a date — its do the good things out weigh the bad…

        does it matter if someone in the past had a drug habit, slept with 2,000 people in a year — its what happens then or could happen in the future

        And that is where I think gay men do themselves no favours..

        Its like why can’t I get a bf..well you can if you don’t act like the most perfect princess in the world

        sean

        October 1, 2010 at 3:24 pm

  9. Would you ever date another HIV+ guy if one were available?

    Ian

    October 16, 2010 at 12:46 am

  10. Hi Sean (btw its Anthony from the post above I have an account now),

    People in general do want it easy, sad but a fact. And not everyone, but the vast majority do seem too, as you make mention to yourself, have a very ‘chick flick’ approach to how a relationship should be like. Don’t get wrong, I love a good chick flick but I view them very much appreciating this is a reflection of a totally unattainable life… And personally, I’m glad of that! What makes life and people that bit more interesting, in my opinion, is the experiences they have and the flaws they develop. Perfection is a wonderful concept. But that’s all that it is. Yet so many spend their lives in pursuit of it.

    I also believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In you and your partner’s case – what hasn’t torn you apart has made you stronger. Yes a lot of what you say, from both sides, is a lot for anyone to take onboard and deal with, but then we’re back to my original point of people wanting the easy life when it comes to a relationship. If this is what people want, buy a dog. No hassle, no stress, no baggage.

    But, and there is always one of those, but from someone who doesn’t run from baggage however at times feels guilty when of sharing mine as I feel I’m offloading my problems onto others. I know, I shouldn’t – my friends do tell me off about this often enough, some people are the opposite and it becomes all about them and their ‘issues’ to the point it becomes a very one-sided relationship. I’ve dated a few who were and still are very much ‘me me me’ type people. These relationships soon burn out. In my case I’m not sure whether it was because I got sick of how self absorbed these guys where, or whether I was just exhausted mentally from giving and giving yet getting nothing back. Life is, after all, about balances. And as you rightly say, laughter. God only knows this last 12 months if I didn’t have the ability to look at the shit life flings and laugh I’d have cried myself to death. Well not literally. That’s not actually possible… but I think you know what I mean?

    Btw, the ‘perfect princes’ comment is hysterically inspired. So much so I’m going to use it next time I have to endure another ‘oh my god! You’re single?’ conversations. If for nothing else, the response I’m sure to receive from it will have my laughing hysterically inside.

    kidwithnoname

    October 23, 2010 at 9:56 pm

  11. Your Beautiful,Intelligent, what more can I say we all have baggage but we wear it well Babe…. Hang on in there ….Kyle

    fukkerkyle

    October 29, 2010 at 11:32 am


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