Things with me have always been black and white. I rarely live in the grey. No wavering. Hot and cold people are at the bottom of my most despised list along with Trump supporters. I know immediately if I like someone or not. People do not grow on me. I have never said “OMG we totally hated each other when we met but now we are best friends.” This is true for friends, and it’s true for those who become more than friends.
When it comes to romantic interests and friendships; never will the two intertwine. Black and white. Told you. Now, like most gay men some of my friends began as a “trick.” The very first night we met we got horizontal and in the morning light we realized a romantic relationship was not in the cards. But we obviously liked each other’s company, and a friendship formed from there.
“Friends with benefits” do NOT work for me either. Blurring the lines often leads to hurt feelings on one or both ends. (Mostly mine!)
One specific time I tried blurring those lines did not end well. (Shocking, I know!) A few years ago on a sunny warm July afternoon in Asbury Park, I met Roger through a very good friend of mine. Immediately there was a connection. Roger was with his boyfriend Juan at the time, so this connection was strictly platonic. We bonded through a variety of shared interests, and his West Coast roots. Roger had lived in San Francisco, with me being a part of AIDS LIFECYCLE, we had dozens of very good friends in common. As time went on, Roger and I grew very close. From there a core group of six friends was formed.
While Roger and I had some things in common, we were very different. We communicated differently, we treated people differently and we handled stressful situations differently. To say that Roger was passionate would be putting things lightly…and nicely. Sometimes his temper got the better of him. When backed into a corner, he often reacted quickly and with venom. Hey, we’re all different! No judgments! Luckily at this point in time, I was never on the receiving end of these exchanges. Before he moved out of NYC, he told me in an email that I was a “really good person who will make a difference someday,” give or take a few words.
However, just a week before that a discussion about Prep and Truvada got SO heated between him and a dinner guest that I removed Roger from the dining room and told him to cool off in one of the bedrooms.
Roger didn’t move that far away and visited NYC often, so we still saw each other. There was an obvious mutual attraction. With him single now, more than once that attraction led to “something more.” We fell into an odd routine, one that wasn’t very sexual but more PG-13. Lots of hand holding and make out sessions. We also fell into a routine of arguing. These arguments were over pretty minor issues yet they almost always turned into blowouts. Roger went from zero to ten on the flip of a dime. Actually I don’t think he had a zero. Or a seven.
I didn’t know how to calm him down, and I never really approached a level ten in an argument. I tried to see his point of view but failed. As I mentioned above, we were different, especially in how we handled conflict. Looking back now it seems Roger thrived on conflict, almost reveling in it. I try to avoid conflict at all costs, ignoring issues, burying grievances almost to the point of catastrophe. I realized, probably too late, this was not a healthy relationship for me, and Roger and I grew apart.
We did still have a best friend in common and when Roger was temporarily back in NYC for work for a few months, we found ourselves together in random social situations. Roger asked if we could be friends again assuring me that in the months prior he had changed and wasn’t the same person anymore, “things would be different this time around,” he promised.
People are flawed. I am flawed. People fuck up. I fuck up. People can change. I can change. I have been given more chances than I deserve. So yes I did forgive him and yes we fell back into our old patterns, minus the arguments!
Things were going so well we began planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta over the Christmas holiday. I was tasked with finding our Airbnb. I sent him a few (10) choices, none meeting up to his high standards. My “instructions” became more detailed, “by the blue chairs.” I was told. Sent another group of choices, also none acceptable. (Truth be told, my standards of appropriate vacation housing are probably considerably lower than the average gay!) With me nearing my boiling point, I texted him telling him that this can go two ways.
One – when you ask someone to do something you let them do it and dont complain/find fault etc. or two you find and book our Airbnb. Two solid great choices! From what I have described about Roger, you can guess this did not go over well. Tee up a HUGE argument. The final text he sent me read that he decided this trip wasn’t going to work for him and he was cancelling it. No discussion. No trying to decide on a compromise. Nothing.
Relationship over for me. Time to move on. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, you get the idea. I knew at this point I was done, no more chances would be given. It was over. My ‘second chances’ limit for Roger had runneth over. We have not had any contact since his last text.
I really wasn’t all that angry with Roger. I was hella pissed at myself. People show you who they are immediately. I chose to not see what was right in front of me. Mutual friends insisted Roger and I would be friends again, “you will forgive him like you always do,” they said. I assured them that was not possible and they, like I, should move on.
This decision was cemented in stone, when the day after Christmas, a friend sent me a text. It was a picture of Roger. In Puerto Vallarta! SON OF A BITCH!