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Remind me to never have a random hookup…
June 19, 2014 5:07 PM   Subscribe

About a month ago, I hooked up with a classmate that I had met earlier in the semester. There had been a lot of tension between us since the beginning of the year, and it finally happened the last week of the semester. It was a Big Thing for me because it was the first time I had hooked up with a guy and outwardly acknowledged my bisexuality. It was great, but then the semester ended and we both went back to our respective hometowns for the summer. More details and questions inside...

We’re both in our third year at university. We had the chance to get together again a few weekends ago, which went pretty well. We had a really honest conversation and both agreed that it was more than just a random hookup, and that there’s definitely something more between us. But due to the fact that I’m not out, and that he had just gotten out of a relationship that he's still working through, and that it’s the summer, we found ourselves kind of at an impasse. We also got into a bit of a fight about whether or not I was being “true to myself” by keeping my sexuality a secret.

After going home, I thought a lot about things, and over the past week, I’ve talked to most of the important people in my life about what’s going on. They’ve all been so supportive and it’s been really wonderful. I’ve decided I’m not going to try and hide anything when I go back to school, and I’m not going to ask him to keep quiet about being with me anymore.

So…big steps! And I feel good about where I am personally. I think that things have a real potential to be good when we’re back at school. But I can’t figure out how to deal with the summer. He’s been hooking up with other people in his hometown, which bothers me even though logically it shouldn’t…we aren’t exclusive, and I specifically told him when I saw him that I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. But even though I know it shouldn’t bother me, it’s still causing me a lot of stress and anxiety. My theory is that the hookups stem from a mixture of not wanting to deal with getting over his past relationship/his feelings for me since there’s no progress that can really be made on that front over the summer, and perhaps him trying to make me a bit jealous? He definitely seemed upset when I told him a few weeks ago that I wasn’t ready for anything public and/or a capital-R Relationship.

This is also the first time I’ve been involved with someone I wasn’t exclusive with, so it’s new and frustrating. It’s great when we’re together, and then I get like this when we’re apart, because I think too much about everything.

Basically, I suppose my wall of text (apologies!) boils down to:

How should I talk to him about my changing feelings about us/being public now? I don’t want to ask him for—or imply that I was guilting him into—a change in our situation (i.e., being exclusive), since I understand that’s not really fair to do while apart, but he’s also been a big and supportive part of this process and I want to talk to him about it in some way. 

Should I mention how him hooking up with other people makes me upset? 

How do I manage my anxiety/stress over this situation until I go back to university?

Bonus: Anecdotal experiences about being “out” at university but not with your parents? (Mine are extremely conservative, and it would truly cause many more problems than it would be worth.)

Of course, any other insights outside of these questions would also be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Tell him. Maybe not for the reason of "guilting" him into a relationship but because you say he has been supportive and you could thank him for being the propelling force into you becoming more comfortable with yourself. Who knows, it might be the thing he needs to think about getting serious with you when you meet up again.

It sounds like you guys are talking during your time apart and you see him as a friend too. It would probably make him happy to know he helped you this way.
posted by kanata at 5:20 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


I don't really feel qualified to talk about relationship dynamics between guys for the most part, but literally everyone in my life knows about my sexual orientation except people I'm related to and assorted family friends who're more friends of the family than of me. I keep Facebook stuff walled off, and aside from that, it's never been particularly challenging. If you guys really might be angling towards a relationship, it might be more comfortable if it's just out-except-to-my-fundie-family. My standing rule is that I will come out to my mom as soon as there's cohabitation involved, and my dating life has had all kinds of complications, but that has almost never been one of them. Some reassurance that there is a level of "serious" which trumps the inconvenience of parental disharmony goes a long way.

Also, there is such a thing as a long-distance relationship, and summers apart are pretty much what that's made for. Physical separation does not preclude talking about feelings.
posted by Sequence at 5:33 PM on June 19


You know, it's perfectly acceptable to say to him, "Hearing about your hookups is causing me stress, and it would help me if you kept that stuff private while I figure my own issues out."
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:10 PM on June 19 [8 favorites]


How should I talk to him about my changing feelings about us/being public now?
Tell him about how you have come out to various friends, and that with the outpouring of support you are starting to feel comfortable with a more public relationship in the future. Don't mention anything about changing your dynamic with him, and if he asks you if that's what you want, don't commit to anything until you meet up at school again. Starting a long-distance exclusive relationship will be much harder than already being in an exclusive relationship and becoming long-distance at some point down the road.

Should I mention how him hooking up with other people makes me upset?
Well as your non-exclusive hookup buddy, no. He doesn't want or need to hear that. But as your friend, with whom you may end up becoming exclusive later, you can certainly say "you are free to do what you want but I prefer not to hear about it."

How do I manage my anxiety/stress over this situation until I go back to university?
Distract yourself. Find other things to do, other people to hang out with. (other people to do?) If you find yourself thinking about him, or the (semi) relationship, find a distraction and do something else.
Although it's cliche, tell yourself that if something is meant to be, it will be, and stressing over something that is destined won't make it happen, or not happen, any faster than it's supposed to.

Bonus: Anecdotal experiences about being “out” at university but not with your parents?
I did this, in varying stages, for 3 years. First I was out to only a few people. Then out to pretty much everyone on campus. Finally started coming out to friends back home, but not family. My university was less than an hour's drive from my parents' house. This was over a decade ago, so not ancient history. It was actually relatively easy.
Once I felt comfortable being totally out on campus, I would just make sure my friends knew that I wasn't out to family. They were all good about not saying anything revealing if they were around when my parents stopped by to visit, or when I invited those friends to parties back home over the breaks and whatnot. Of course, today there is an even greater culture of acceptance and people are (generally) coming out at a younger age - so you may need to be more up front about telling people that you're not out to family, as they may just assume you're out everywhere. I also didn't have Facebook then - so if you are active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc - make sure you raise your privacy levels or at least block anyone you aren't out to yet. It's a lot harder to police what your friends post and tag you in, and much easier to just block people who you don't want to see stuff. If they ask, just say you blocked some other people and they were somehow blocked too, and you'll take a look when you get a chance. They probably won't ask again.
posted by trivia genius at 7:22 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


How should I talk to him about my changing feelings about us/being public now?

Tell the man how you feel. If you sent him exactly what you posted, would he get it? You get to feel how you feel: and if he is challenging you and you say it to him, will he understand? I'd love it to hear that from a partner. I would make space for your uncertainty, just for example, so you could flower a little more.

both agreed that it was more than just a random hookup, and that there’s definitely something more between us.

Tell the man how you feel. If you agree on that then there's a spark that would be a shame to extinguish or neglect.

He’s been hooking up with other people in his hometown, which bothers me even though logically it shouldn’t…we aren’t exclusive, and I specifically told him when I saw him that I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet.

Would things change for you if he wanted to say "every time I hook up with one of these guys I fantasize about you"? Reticence isn't unique to you. It may be he is playing with you; it may be he is being painfully honest which is a really good thing to be and to do.

In my view, you are blessed with a partner who is honest and who you like.
posted by jet_silver at 9:08 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Since you mentioned parents, I just wanted to point out that Dick Cheney is extremely conservative too, but he's accepting of his daughter's homosexuality (in the best Republican tradition of being against something until it "happens" to/in their own family). I think not being out with your family could potentially continue to cause you stress and in fact prevent you from growing. If you can't be true to yourself with your own family, I think it's hard to have the deep level of being true to yourself that is needed to be emotionally sound and secure. I'm a parent, and as a parent I can assure you that parents love their children no matter what. Even parents of sociopathic killers love their kids. It's hard for me to imagine that your parents would love you any less if you came out to them.
posted by Dansaman at 9:59 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


Should I mention how him hooking up with other people makes me upset?

In my experience you absolutely should not hide something like this from your partner, even if you're not exclusive. He's not doing anything wrong, but you still have feelings about it, so you should tell him that it makes you jealous, and you'd rather not hear about it.

Bonus: Anecdotal experiences about being “out” at university but not with your parents? (Mine are extremely conservative, and it would truly cause many more problems than it would be worth.)

My best friend was out at uni/to other friends but not his parents for a really long time. He even left the country for a couple of years to avoid dealing with it. When he eventually did come out to them and his extended family (probably five or six years after he had been out to the rest of the world), they ended up being really supportive. Of course, there are still the well-meaning but micro-aggressive comments, but no one has been upset or confrontational to him, and now they invite his long-term partner to holidays and trips.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 1:29 AM on June 20


With regards to having the conversation:

If you're upset that a random hookup who turned into kind of a Thing (I've had a few of those myself) is hooking up with other people, perhaps non-monogamy simply isn't for you. That's fine! It's not really for me either, while lots of people I know are totally fine with it--one pair to the point where it's totally cool for either of them to bring a hookup home while their partner is home. There are a multitude of options from totally monogamous to totally not, and it sounds to me like you lean towards the former, rather than the latter. He seems to be the opposite.

I guess what I'm saying is it sounds like you two are, even if there's a shared chemistry, not exactly right for each other that can lead to a whole lot of pain if you force it to work. Plus it sounds like he's got a lot to process (so do you) in terms of relationships, and pretty much the worst way to process them is by doing so in a relationship, most of the time. (Not that running away from the issues by having lots of no strings sex is particularly healthy either, but maybe that's what he needs to do to gain emotional distance and the desire will fade.)

Probably the best way to handle this is to say "I've realized I'm less comfortable than I thought I was with you hooking up with other people. That's not your fault and I'm not criticizing you for what you want to do. I think it would be a good idea to put Us on the back burner until we're back in the same city again. I don't want to deny you what you want, and I still Like you, but perhaps we should wait until we're physically back together and see where things go from there."

That's if you want to put your romantic life on hold for the next 2ish months. Only you can make that decision.

My guess (which may well be wrong) is that you're a bit more into him than he is into you, and when he's back in town it'll be over. Again, I could be wrong, but that's usually in my experience how these things go, especially when you're young and just coming out. (Congratulations on that by the way. Bet it feels nice to have that weight off your shoulders, yeah?)

I think this just isn't going to work out for the two of you. I hope I'm wrong, but I've been dating guys and watching guys date guys for the better part of two decades now and this is a really familiar scenario to see. (I am a guy too, if that helps inform where I'm coming from).

But there really are plenty of fish in the sea, and being on a university campus means there are lots of boys in the same boat as you--just discovering who they are and what they like--and I'd wager they'd be a better match for you, as you'd be in a closer mental space than with someone who is apparently totally out.

You've said you're not ready for a relationship. Probably a good idea to stick with that, at least for a little while. He is obviously not ready for a relationship if he hasn't put his last one to bed. I'm sorry. But I wish you the best of luck, and again, congratulations on deciding to not hide anymore. It's amazingly liberating.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:18 AM on June 20


He’s been hooking up with other people in his hometown, which bothers me even though logically it shouldn’t…we aren’t exclusive, and I specifically told him when I saw him that I wasn’t ready for a relationship yet. But even though I know it shouldn’t bother me, it’s still causing me a lot of stress and anxiety.

Jealousy is a feature, not a bug. Its designed to function in ways to protect our investment in relationships and evolved to assist in reproductive success. Although those things aren't at play here, the system is still installed and working.

Acknowledge those feelings and feel them. Then let them go.

Who knows about this fall? Just keep light contact and explore what's in front of you!
posted by Ironmouth at 11:42 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


If your parents are paying for school, and you'd have to drop out if they decided to stop paying, don't come out to them until you won't be dependent on their help to graduate.
posted by yohko at 10:02 AM on July 10


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