Why is this "straight" guy so fond of me?
August 16, 2014 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I have an overly close friendship with a straight guy, which is turning into a marriage in every way except sex. What could be going through his mind? Why is this "straight" guy so fond of me? More below.

I am a single bisexual guy and earlier this year, I befriended a straight married guy. We used to work in the same office building years ago so we usually nodded to each other when we met, every now and then, but that was pretty much the extent of our “relationship”. I always thought he was cute and he had a way of gazing at me that made me think maybe he thought the same about me. Then at the beginning of this year, I met him on a flight and I initiated the contact. We exchanged numbers, and I sent a first email. What were occasional and perfunctory emails at the beginning gradually grew into long messages, and within months we had become close friends. So close in fact that I fell in love with him, even though I’m not out to him on the “bi” thing as I’m worried about how he might react. He knows I’ve dated women in the past but it’s not an issue we discuss often. But this is not really the point. I know better than telling him that I fancy him and I am happy enough with just the platonic friendship.

My problem is that the relationship has grown so close that sometimes I almost gasp for air. He is very much a family person, and I am probably the first non-family member to ever enter his house. He has no other friend but me. We see each other every single day, spend most of our lunch breaks together during the work week and have spent many a weekend together, either just the 2 of us or with his family. Sometimes at the end of the workday, I would drive to his workplace, we would sit in the park and talk for two hours before going home. And most of the time, I have to remind him that he has a family and it’s time for him to leave. Once at home, he’d call me again to know if I’ve eaten already or what I’m watching on TV. We speak / text / email each other 10 times a day. At times, he calls me around 9 or 10 in the morning, angry that he hasn’t heard from me earlier. He is very protective and once told me that I should run all my major life decisions by him (business, investment, et al). He is jealous of my friends, of which I have many, and doesn’t like the idea that I have other friends but him. He recently had to go abroad on a business trip for a week and it was the first time in several months that we were going to be away from each other. He came round to my office the day before his trip and our “goodbye” was almost tearful. I told him I’d miss him and he said to me “like my father once told a friend, if you were a woman, I’d have made a pass at you”. It came as such a surprise that I was left speechless. And of course, he called me every day during his trip abroad. I am currently on a business trip out of town and he told me before I left that he’d have loved to be here with me.

This friendship has developed into a marriage in almost every aspect but the sex. Yet, my friend absolutely does not give off any “gay vibe” (and God, have I looked for signs!) and he has made homophobic comments on occasion. Obviously I like the attention and truly enjoy his company. But I increasingly feel that it is not a very healthy relationship for me, as it is preventing me from seeing anyone else. And since he is really not someone who verbalizes his feelings / emotions, there would be no point in asking him directly why he likes me. I started to put some distance (not returning his calls immediately, waiting up to a day before responding to his emails, not seeing him for an entire weekend), and he started sulking because I was neglecting him. Which sucked me right back into intimate mode. Something in me believes he is a deeply closeted gay/bisexual guy who is yet to acknowledge his inner feeling / sexuality and is in love with me. Another part thinks this is wishful thinking and he is just a needy person. I’m not even looking at having an affair with him, but I wish our true feelings could be in the open.

My main question is this: what could I possibly be to this guy that he wants me so badly in his life? What could be going through his mind? I can’t seem to think clearly when it comes to him and I could use some perspective. Ultimately, I’d like the friendship to be a bit healthier.
posted by Kwadeng to Human Relations (39 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This friendship is definitely not healthy. And if he is deeply-closeted and gay or bi, you DO NOT want to be part of him blowing up his family while coming out. He has a wife? Children? With whom you apparently spend time but who do not figure in your question at all. His romantic feelings for you are irrelevant until he has resolved the prior commitments in his life.

The program here is not "he comes out, we're together." The program is "he comes out, possibly after cheating on his wife with a man, and his family completely self-destructs in tears, recriminations, and years of therapy for everyone involved; if there are children there is a messy, ugly custody dispute; and everyone spends several years unhappy." If this guy is gay, that's something he has to work out for himself; do not be his excuse to cheat on his wife and avoid self-reflection. He will, as likely as not, blame you for the destruction of his family.

Even if he is not closeted, he is controlling and overly demanding, and this relationship sounds really unhealthy. You need to distance yourself and not allow yourself to be pulled back in.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on August 16, 2014 [42 favorites]

Something in me believes he is a deeply closeted gay/bisexual guy who is yet to acknowledge his inner feeling / sexuality and is in love with me.

You know, this might be true, but consider that it doesn't mean you would necessarily have a good relationship. You could be writing all of this about a guy you were MARRIED TO and I would still be thinking "whoa, this dude has very bad boundaries, that's not behavior I'd accept from a partner."
posted by clavicle at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2014 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Heterosexual men are strongly discouraged from having close friendships with other men for fear of appearing gay. It's tremendously psychologically hurtful, as it leaves these men with no ability to make deep emotional connections outside of their romantic relationships with women--which are of a different nature than friendship and not necessarily of the same stability. Platonic friendship has a vital emotional and psychological role that many men are denied due to internalized homophobia.

What I'm saying is it's possible this guy is gay, but it's also possible that you're satisfying that subconscious need for an emotionally close friend that he's simply not able find anywhere else. And it's quite possible this is reaching the level of codependency because he doesn't find this anywhere else. I think you should absolutely set boundaries with the dude, making it clear that you care about him but need time for your romantic life.
posted by Anonymous at 10:47 AM on August 16, 2014

My main question is this: what could I possibly be to this guy that he wants me so badly in his life?

You feed his ego and do what he wants. Gay or straight, this guy sounds like he's more about control than affection.
posted by headnsouth at 10:49 AM on August 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

If your friendship is as strong and as close as you've described, it will be able to withstand the aftershocks of you asking him to explain where he's coming from and you setting boundaries. If it isn't, the friendship wasn't really there to begin with. Win-win situation either way.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:50 AM on August 16, 2014

I wish our true feelings could be in the open.

Why assume his aren't? You've acknowledged the possibility ("[maybe] he is just a needy person"). It could be that simple.

Irrespective of whatever feelings motivate his behavior, the behavior demonstrates that he's needy. So there's fact #1. You also wrote, "He has no other friend but me." That's fact #2. Maybe he expressed himself in terms of a "pass" because that genuinely is something his father said, and he doesn't have a ton of modeled experience on how to conduct friendships. The interactions may seem marriage-like to you, but maybe you're simply seeing what this person looks like in a friendship. It could be why he has no close friends, because there's this mismatch between his perceptions and others'.

My personal advice would be to walk away and who cares whether you ever understand the mechanics of the thing. You know it's unhealthy, and that would be sufficient for me. But that's a personal thing. Many people thrive on understanding these dynamics, and if you can pursue that without doing yourself harm, then good luck!
posted by cribcage at 10:54 AM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

It does not matter what his sexual orientation is. If he was "in love with" you, it would still be wildly unhealthy because he has a family and a marriage. That is some incredibly destructive wishful thinking right there on your part. You should not want love so badly that this would be okay with you.

I personally do not think this relationship will survive any attempt at setting boundaries, and in fact I think it has the potential to become dangerous when you try to extricate yourself (THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO STAY THIS IS JUST A WARNING TO STOP BEING NAIVE). Someone who becomes angry with you for not checking in by 10 am does not have a reasonable healthy set of expectations for your time and attention. That is abuse. That is why he is "with" you, because he can manipulate you to his liking.

I think you'd be best served and safest unpacking this with a therapist.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:56 AM on August 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Lots of good advice so far.

I know you mention that you'd be worried about his reaction, but I find it odd that you're looking around for "clues" to whether he might have a same-sex attraction to you without being out to him yourself. It strikes me as a bit of a double standard for some reason, and for all you know he's got the exact same speculations about you rolling around in his own head. Clear communication on both sides would do wonders to clear up any crossed signals.. Why not just come out to him, without making it about him in any way, completely leaving out the fact that you're in love with him and suspect he might reciprocate those feelings. Just tell him you're bi, see where that leads.. seems to me that you'll either get the answer you seem to want, or be rid of this toxic, unhealthy "friendship".

The thing is though, he is the one with a lot more to "lose" if he acts on any kind of desire he might have toward you.. do you really want to be the catalyst for the destruction of a family? If he really is gay, he's got to sort his family situation out for himself.. please don't press him to take any sort of action based on any end result that you might desire.
posted by wats at 10:58 AM on August 16, 2014

I am not accusing you of doing anything wrong, because I think you expected a friendship and ended up with something significantly more, but you should probably take a good long look at this dude and your relationship to him and realize that you are already having an affair with him. It may not involve sex, it may not be physical, he may not even be capable of recognizing it, but what you are describing is an emotional affair, through and through. To say that he would rather be spending time with you, traveling, than at home with his family and spouse, is just one of the things you've listed that, if you look closely, is very much clarifying his priorities. If I were married and found out my spouse had this level of contact, intimacy, and reliance on another person, I would be furious.

Don't get me wrong, friendships are wonderful and men are often barred from them and it's important to encourage them, and lots of folks have a close partner that they work with and share an emotional bond within within the realms of the workplace, but what you have described is not a friendship or a work spouse. As you have already insightfully hinted at within your question, it is a relationship. And currently you are a not-unwilling-but-also-not-quite-consenting participant, in this weird grey area where you are facilitating his emotional affair but allowing him to sidestep the guilt because you are male and it's not open sexual infidelity (which is what I think most people conceptualize as "cheating".) It speaks volumes to your character and strength that you've realized this and realized you need to step away.

Once at home, he’d call me again to know if I’ve eaten already or what I’m watching on TV. We speak / text / email each other 10 times a day. At times, he calls me around 9 or 10 in the morning, angry that he hasn’t heard from me earlier. He is very protective and once told me that I should run all my major life decisions by him (business, investment, et al). He is jealous of my friends, of which I have many, and doesn’t like the idea that I have other friends but him.

I don't mean to be harsh here, but you need to back way, way, WAY off of this friendship, like, right now, with an eye towards abandoning it all together, and it may be helpful to spend some time thinking about why you are so attached to this man and what drew you in (maybe with the help of a therapist.) I recognize that this may be a difficult thing to unpack and examine, but imagine you have a female friend. Now imagine she tells you her boyfriend is engaging in these behaviors and she doesn't know what to think. What do you think? What do you tell her? Do you recognize what this behavior is, at its core? Because it's controlling and, to be honest, it might be a ramp-up to more outright abuse. I have no idea what's going on with this man or why you are catching this instead of the more usual targets (wife, children), or maybe you're all getting it and his need to control is just so strong you've gotten caught up as well. But these are not things friends do. These are things that an abuser does, often in the early stages, often to see what kind of reaction they'll get. If you think that's not what's going on, I strongly encourage you to speak with a therapist about this relationship, and get some neutral, informed, and constructive feedback on what might be going on between you two.

I'm sorry. In your question I read a strong desire for emotional intimacy, and love, and acceptance, all of which are normal and natural and important parts of the human experience. I wish you all those things and more. They are waiting for you, out there somewhere, in the form of a person who will not make you play sideshow to his marriage, who will openly and honestly engage with you, who will provide you this kind of support and closeness with joy and compassion, and who above all will not expect you to sacrifice your time, your life, or your prospects for happiness for them.

This man is not that person, and he never will be.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2014 [44 favorites]

My problem is that the relationship has grown so close that sometimes I almost gasp for air.

He is very protective and once told me that I should run all my major life decisions by him (business, investment, et al). He is jealous of my friends, of which I have many, and doesn’t like the idea that I have other friends but him.

But I increasingly feel that it is not a very healthy relationship for me, as it is preventing me from seeing anyone else.

You are right, this is not a healthy relationship for you. It's unhealthy because of the way he treats his family (keeping his relationship with you secret from them, which is also not good for you), and it unhealthy because his behavior towards you is abusive. He is with you because he can control you, that is the primary reason. Please take care of yourself, and stop seeing him. If you feel that he might become violent if you stop talking to him, consult with a domestic violence agency.

To repeat: his behavior is abusive. It is not healthy for you. Take care of yourself, and do not continue to see him.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:10 AM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

That you're so close and he's up in your business about everything but yet you don't feel comfortable being out to him says everything to me: this isn't about anything mutual, and it's not about meeting your emotional needs. People who are actually your friends don't make you play guessing games about what's going on.

Get out of this situation and meet someone who communicates and who you can be yourself with. This guy is weird and controlling and also married to someone else.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

My main question is this: what could I possibly be to this guy that he wants me so badly in his life? What could be going through his mind?

Yeah, see, those are the wrong questions to be asking. How about: What is going through your mind that you allowed this to develop to this point without mentioning that, you know, you are bi and this totally could be a "if you were a woman" type of relationship? And what do you want so badly that you would let this man put you in this position of being "obligated" to spend all this time with him, to the point of excluding the possibility of a real relationship to anyone else, while he is married and not sleeping with you and, even if he were amenable to sleeping with you, hey, you would still just be a cheap-assed affair on the side?

I kind of don't have any problem with you being this close to another person, whether there is sex or not. But the issue is that things have been arranged such that he still has the other things in his life that matter to him (like a wife and family) and you have been maneuvered such that you can't arrange for another intimate relationship and he doesn't really want to share you with your other friends and all that.

I actually tend to like (for lack of a better word) "possessive" people who will spend a lot of time with me but that only works in any kind of a healthy manner when they understand that is a two-way street. If you meet his needs, he meets yours. This arrangement of a) he is not a sexual partner and you aren't even comfortable telling him you swing that way and b) he isn't even leaving you time to look for a sexual partner, much less time to have one while c) he has a wife and is no doubt having sex with her on a regular basis -- that's a problem.

I am not sure exactly how to handle it but I think I would put some very serious thought into how to effectively and diplomatically communicate that a) dude, I am bi b) dude, you are taking all my time and leaving me with no time for anything else so c) either leave the wife for me or let me go. You can't have it both ways.

And I am sure that will shock and piss off a lot of people but I put that last point that way because, most likely, he absolutely won't be willing to leave the wife for you. I basically said that exact same thing to a heterosexual male friend of mine (I am a heterosexual female) who wanted too much from me, did not want it to be an affair and also wasn't making it genuinely a two-way street. I told him, at a time when the choice was simply ridiculous and a no-brainer, that he had to choose between me and his wife. So, he chose his wife. Duh.

Because if you try to negotiate for a "healthier friendship," that shit will never happen. That just leaves him an opening to keep imposing excessively without giving you something of appropriate, corresponding value. (And it won't be entirely his fault -- you pretty obviously want something from him but are not willing to really say "hey, look, let's have an actual affair.") So that's why I would frame it as, basically, "Dude, I am bi. I think I am in love with you. Leave the wife or let me go."

And I think you can do that without accusing him of being abusive. Whether he is or is not an abusive person, things will go better if you don't make that accusation. So I would try very hard to frame it as "yeah, I know you didn't know this but I am bi and, as for our relationship, one thing led to another and I didn't intend for this to go this way, but, now that it has, I feel it is time to resolve it before it eats any more of our respective lives."
posted by Michele in California at 1:26 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

RUN! I understand your fascination with whether or not this dude is secretly gay, but no matter what the answer is your actions need to be the same. GTFO.

This man is breaking serious boundaries as a friend AND a husband. He's showing you that he's not equipped to give you what you need in any capacity; as long as you're "friends" with him, he will take up a disproportionate amount of space in your brain. There is no middle ground here.

Time runs out: use it to find someone who is deserving of your attention and available to receive it.
posted by jessca84 at 2:05 PM on August 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm a woman so it's different but if someone was treating me like that I would actually be afraid of them I think. That's obsession, not friendship.
posted by fshgrl at 2:44 PM on August 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

Somewhat in defense of the "friend," he may be either a deeply closeted gay OR a completely straight man who has found the love of his life in another man whom he will never, ever, ever have sex with. This may be why he is getting angry over stupid shit -- because he needs you in ways he thinks he should only need his wife and it's a problem for him.

It makes zero difference. Zero. The solution is still "Look, dude, it's me or your wife and I am 99.9% certain the answer is not me. So, hey, it's been nice knowing you. Have a nice life. K? Thx. Bye."
posted by Michele in California at 3:24 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]




Gay or straight doesn't figure into this.

He's totally using you. He's not capable of pleasure, joy, love, or affection the way that you are. He's not like you at all on the inside.


Please please get away from this guy. Don 't be surprised if he stalks you. In fact, please take precautions before you start to pull away from him. Expect shenanigans from him, take steps to protect yourself mentally and physically.

In short, he likes that he has you enthralled, but he does not share your capacity for emotion.

Got it? RUN!
posted by jbenben at 3:36 PM on August 16, 2014 [21 favorites]

I am usually one of the less nervous / disengage / "gift of fear" quoting folks around here and my advice on this is to RUN FOR THE HILLS. Oh my God. This guy is not right in the head, and sounds dangerously obsessed, and not in a sexy way.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:51 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Whoa... This friendship has not "developed into a marriage". This is not what a healthy marriage looks like - it's not what a healthy anything looks like. Another vote for running far and fast, and with some safety precautions in place. I ran from someone who got violent with a lot less creepiness than this guy...
posted by jrobin276 at 3:54 PM on August 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is a huge, huge, huge thing with lesbians and bisexual women with straight friends, but I can totally believe it also happens with men in a similar situation: You, being a man who is interested in men, are looking at men in the world as potential partners, and are therefore sort of extending out these little tendrils of, "I would like to make an emotional connection with someone!" Of course, for you, that idea of emotional connection is something that one would make as a prelude for other sorts of connection. The problem: There are people in the world who are not interested in you in those other sorts of way, but they're also wandering around in the world wanting emotional support from someone. Some of those people are missing that support in their romantic relationships, some are having trouble making romantic relationships with the appropriate sex, some just are way needier than usual, whatever.

Those people will catch hold of your desire for emotional connection and will grab on tight and will certainly make you feel like you're having the sort of connection that goes with a relationship... but it's not. It's just a needy straight guy who's getting what he wants out of you, while you're not getting what you want out of him. It would be all fine if it was enough for you, but if it's not enough, eventually you have to bite the bullet and move on.
posted by Sequence at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2014 [15 favorites]

Best answer: I think you're asking the wrong question. You're wondering what's his deal. Well, what's yours? Why are you doing this?
posted by sm1tten at 5:24 PM on August 16, 2014 [8 favorites]

Let me put it to you this way....

Even if he were single, even if you were already romantically dating each other - this would STILL be a super creepy & unhealthy relationship you've described.

I, too, think he is mentally unhinged.

What you've described is not how sane or safe people relate to others.

I know it's so weird for you, because in the beginning it felt like you were building a true connection with this person. Thing is, real connections don't feel so overwhelming and obsessive.

I strongly suggest you exercise caution as you extricate yourself. He's NUTZ.
posted by jbenben at 6:33 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a guy. A straight guy. I love guys. I value friendships with guys A LOT. Deep friendships, too. I tell guys I love them, because I do. I have deep emotional connections with a number of men. It's great. I tend to understand guys a lot more than I do women. I have yet to meet a guy who has ever made a doily, for example. I have yet to meet a woman who has ever even *tried* to write something in the snow, when taking a leak outside; it is in fact the rare woman who will even take a leak outside, in my experience of them. Which is limited, for whatever reason, but still.

So anyways, I love guys. And they love me, too. Straight or gay or bi, who cares? Sexual orientation isn't a big deal to me -- split or sprout, if you're lucky enough to find love in this son of a bitch, I'm all for it. What does it matter? I don't think I've ever had a man *in love* with me, none have ever told me if they had, but if they were close they'd know I'm straight anyways, and if ever they felt any of that they held back; it would have just been awkward. Not dangerous, like this guy you're tangled up with could be dangerous. Just awkward. I've been hit on but not in decades, I'd tell them "Hey man, just not my deal."

One guy I really loved -- I expect he's dead, we were close friends early to mid 80s, HIV hadn't yet exploded as it was just about to, and this guy was totally enjoying all that Houston had to offer him - this one guy, I really loved this cat, he was super-cool, we'd talk about it all the time, the differences. He was from a small town an hour northeast of Houston, up in the piney woods, and it was for him an emotionally healthy choice to stay closeted while living there, as it almost certainly would have hurt his emotions to have had the living dogshit beaten out of him every day if anyone had known. So, he had a pickup truck, dated some gals, went to the prom, played sports, etc and etc. A Regular Guy. That bastard -- he told me to remember back to when I was just *dying* to see all these girls in high school, he laughed at my jealousy as he told how wonderful the locker room was for him then. What a prick! The day he got out of high school he high-tailed it for Houston, began his real life. We were good friends, always lit up my day to see this guy. Fun, he was fun, and we had fun. I loved this guy.

But everything with my friend was face up on the table, no cards face down. You don't have that honesty with this guy, you're hiding the most fundamental fact of your life from this guy, you're sublimating it, to him and to yourself, and you are in fucking love with him. Fuck. Talk about a wrist-slitter. Man. It's a bad scene, looks to me, same as to everyone else here.

And no matter what turn you do decide to take you're screwed, blued, tattooed, because you've got your heart in this, and it's about to feel some pain. I'm thinking you're in denial about just exactly how deep your heart is in this thing, truth be told. Seems to me that the reason you've not already pulled away from this -- and I damn sure don't blame you for this -- is because you don't want to fall into the world of hurt that's waiting for you on the other side of waving him goodbye.

I'm sorry that you're in this mess. I'm sorry that you're going to have to walk out of it. But I think that you'd best do so.


All due respect to Michelle in CA -- and that's a lot of respect, too -- but I can't think of a worse thing to do than tell this mope you are A) bi-sexual B) in love with him. Do you remember that slick Brit flick The Crying Game, remember how Our Hero reacted when he found out that the gorgeous, fragile, vulnerable woman he'd fallen for was not quite who he'd thought she was? Our Hero was repulsed, and he puked, and while he eventually Allowed His Heart To Grow And LoveTM, that was in a flippin' movie, and perhaps not what really happens when people find out that people in their lives are not who they believe them to be.

This guy you're tangled up with could very well go off violently, even without any mention of sexuality and/or love. This clown could go off just from you stepping back. Add sexuality and love to that mix, it could become unstable and explosive as nitroglycerin. Damnit, be. careful.


Get thee to a therapist. Pronto. Get support in leaving this relationship, which is a relationship, as you, not to mention everybody else here, have pointed out. Lie, if you have to -- tell him you've found some woman who really blows your skirt up, and you just can't be apart from her for even a minute. Do anything you can to break this thing apart, while keeping yourself safe.

Sorry, truly sorry you're having to walk this maze. Don't do it alone, no kidding, get some support, find a good therapist, get in that chair, get comfortable, then spill the beans. Cry in there, in that therapists office, each tear shed in the presence of an understanding, compassionate heart is pure gold, it's the best salve that there is to spread onto a heart as it heals.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:42 PM on August 16, 2014 [9 favorites]

This relationship is not "like a marriage". It is like emotional infidelity. It's like a co-dependent bundle of crazy.

You are not out to him - which means you are fundamentally dishonest about who you are.

His request (demand) that you channel all major life decisions through him is psychotic on his part.

What is he getting out of it? An ego trip? Entertainment for his boredom? A sense of intimacy? Avoiding intimacy with his wife and family?
posted by Gray Skies at 10:40 PM on August 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is reminding me a lot of my experiences with a friend with (undiagnosed, but almost certain) Borderline Personality Disorder, and the experiences a few friends have had with a partner or friend with borderline personality disorder. The need for constant contact, the attempts to control friendships and finances are very familiar, but what really brought it home was the incredible intensity of the friendship, and the weird sexual undercurrent. If this is the situation, and you do want out, learn about how to leave a relationship with a person with BPD, it can be a difficult and lengthy process.
posted by jaut at 11:15 PM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will say, based on what you described, this sounds way too intense and close to be a "normal" platonic guy friendship, especially in light of his comment about how if you were a woman. The fact that he makes homophobic comments is less confirmation for me that he is straight and more confirmation to me that he would have a big problem accepting if he is gay.

All that said, you can't really help this guy accept himself or see what's there. He sounds so closeted and self-loathing he might just get upset at you for any number of reasons. It's just not a good or healthy situation for you. Even if he did accept himself (which I very seriously doubt), you would get to be part of either the mess of destroying his family or the mess of having a a gay love affair behind his family's back. You don't want to do either of those things. This guy has issues. And his possessiveness is not normal either. If he's this bad when you are platonic friends, just think how controlling (and abusive?) he would be if you are lovers.

You need to move on. You can tell him why or not, that choice is yours (I would think about him reacting negatively and angry though since this guy is such a self-hating homophobe). But you do need to end this.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:24 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

You sound like a really sweet, sensitive and conscientious person. This person, whether gay, bi, hetero or whatever sounds really obsessive and unhealthy. AND, he has a wife and children.

Please, just take care of yourself. You deserve a happy, healthy relationship and a good life.

This person sounds fucked up and manipulative/controlling. Who cares why. The bottom line is it is not healthy and it is not something you need in your life.

You are so much better than that. Please honor yourself. I'm so glad you wrote your question and recognize that it's not right. Run, and have a good life with someone healthy and who deserves you.

Waste no more time on this messed up person. You deserve better.
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 1:47 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

A lot of men want deep, meaningful relationships with other men, gay or straight. Thankfully, not many are this needy and controlling.

So in many ways his sexuality is a red herring. It might be fun to speculate about, but practically, neither outcome changes things. Anyway, if he's closeted, he is so far back there that he's having tea with Mr. Tumnus.

But your sexuality is relevant, I think. As men we're used to other men being distant and combative instead of expressive and affectionate. Combine that with the excitement and yearning for male affection when you're a queer man, and the guardedness, paranoia, fear, scrutiny of symbols, heightened attention, and reluctance to talk openly that all comes with being closeted, and you have a potent emotional stew that makes you very susceptible to this kind of manipulation, especially from someone you see as having the conventional trappings of masculinity. I speak from some experience when I say that this situation can make you easy to exploit.

Don't let this stop you either from being friends with straight men or from finding lovers. But you should find people in both categories who will truly respect you as an autonomous person.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:18 AM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you run the dramatics are for sure going to escalate. Look up the grey rock method of dealing with narcissists and their ilk. You need to get boring to him.. so he doesn't get a feed. He will HATE you pulling away but less so that if you outright draw a line. Gameplaying and awful? Kind of but with some personalities alas normal rules don't apply. He is a risk to you but highly seductive in some ways.. where else can you get the needs he meets for you met (allbeit in a less intense way?) Intensity and intimacy are different but often confused.
posted by tanktop at 3:55 AM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am not sure exactly how to handle it but I think I would put some very serious thought into how to effectively and diplomatically communicate that a) dude, I am bi b) dude, you are taking all my time and leaving me with no time for anything else so c) either leave the wife for me or let me go. You can't have it both ways.

I will just put some additional emphasis on that piece of what I said above. And, yeah, blurting "I'm bi and in love with you" is not going to meet the criteria of effectively and diplomatically communicating that you can't have it both ways. It is, however, the "backend" info you need to keep in mind. Because talking about this guy as a friend and saying your friend seems to be possessive and have poor boundaries and blah blah blah like this mess is all his fault is a) not doing him any justice and b) not a realistic assessment of the dynamic here.

(I am not much in agreement with the folks saying he is simply a psycho controlling abusive narcissist. He is kind of operating with some heavy major info being actively denied him. And, personally, I would be, yeah, trying to get that puke in reaction to the revelation response a la The Crying Game -- that would kind of be my point. But, you know, if you can't do that without it also escalating to physical violence, then it isn't the way to go.)

So try not to take my comments overly literally like you are in kindergarten and this is the script you should follow. Because that wasn't at all my intent.
posted by Michele in California at 1:26 PM on August 17, 2014

And, personally, I would be, yeah, trying to get that puke in reaction to the revelation response a la The Crying Game -- that would kind of be my point.

That reaction, from a guy like this, could put the OP in physical danger. I would be wary of playing with matches near this particular fireworks factory.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:03 PM on August 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

OP, the advice to make yourself boring and unappealing (physically unattractive, specifically) to this guy is spot on.

Anything else is dangerous and drama-filled.

Sort out the rest in therapy. Stay safe.
posted by jbenben at 9:16 PM on August 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all for your meaningful contributions. It forced me to think long and hard at the issue and why I was subjecting myself to this. Although, I may have made him appear to be a freak, I still think of my friend as a very decent man who just doesn't know how to manage friendships and set personal boundaries, especially since I had kept an important piece of info to myself.

I finally told him yesterday evening that we would no longer see each other because I was in love with him and we both needed space. He said nothing, wished me well and left. Out of guilt / regret / God knows what went into my mind, I texted him this morning to say hello. He called me right back to tell me to stay away from him and that I should never contact him again, lest he becomes violent. I just said I was sorry and he hung up on me.

Now I'm more of a wreck than I care to admit and I feel miserable, but I understand (at least I hope) that time will ease the pain.

Thanks again.
posted by Kwadeng at 7:11 AM on August 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry to hear that things ended on such a sad/angry note.

I do believe, however, that what you did is that absolute best thing you could have done for the happiness and mental health of your future self. Congratulations on taking active control of the situation, and you've got all my best wishes for finding new (healthier!) friendships and relationships to fill in the void that you're feeling.
posted by aimedwander at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2014

I think you are probably kind of looking for love, which is a totally okay thing to do, but it doesn't work well to let a hetero man get overly close to you as your solution to a need for close, intimate human connection, especially without cluing him that you are not hetero.

I think you handled it really well. But, yeah, don't contact him again.
posted by Michele in California at 9:36 AM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sadly, your update sounds like the opening scene on what can turn into a True Tragedy when he comes back to you with some bullshit excuse to re-establish contact.

This is a familiar formula for drama. It ends badly for you. You won't see it coming, tho, because you still think he is "decent."

It sounds like you're gonna fall for it when he tries to pop back into your life. He did a great job of setting you up - especially letting you know he'll physically abuse you after you "make up" with him. You see, then the violence won't be his fault. He warned you! You accepted it!!

(The violence, btw, will be a backlash and/or stand-in for sexual intimacy. But that's for your future therapist to explain...)

Fellow MeFite, you've done the wrong thing by confessing your feelings and amping up the drama.

I know. You'll be *so happy* at first when you receive his call/text/ping to re-establish contact.

Just know it's all bullshit drama-making.

Be worried about the eventual fallout at your job, too.


Here's hoping you block him on phone, email and social media, get yourself therapy and support, and that you find a way to ignore him when he (eventually) shows up at your job looking for you when he can't get your attention any other way.

I'm telling you all of this now in the hope it inoculates you from the manipulation, drama, and unmitigated trouble heading your way.

Please Stay Safe
posted by jbenben at 12:30 PM on August 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

In response to your last followup, this guy sounds like a psycho. It's good you told him the truth and now you know this won't happen. Move on with your life.

And stop rationalizing. "I made him sound like a freak, but he is a very decent man." He said he would become violent if you contacted him again. He is not decent. He is a freak. Be glad to rid your life of this abusive asshole.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

He called me right back to tell me to stay away from him and that I should never contact him again, lest he becomes violent.

I'm going to trot out the Mefi perennial favorite advice: believe what people tell you about themselves.

Stay safe. We're all rooting for you.
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:32 PM on August 18, 2014 [8 favorites]

He's psychotic, homophobic and dangerous. He is a freak. Jbenben is right. You need to let go of your illusion that he's decent. He's not. His last words to you should have made this clear.

The advice to also steer clear if he contacts you in the future is also on the money. Do not get sucked back in. He is dangerous. Work with a trained therapist to help you stay strong and move forward.
posted by Gray Skies at 6:34 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry you were on the receiving end of such an outburst from someone you love-- but I think you were right to sever contact. I also think you're right that time will indeed ease, and heal, the pain.

(Changing your mobile number and/or email address wouldn't be a bad plan at this point.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:06 AM on August 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

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