Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why I'm Single - The Tragedy of Ungrateful Greg

So why am I Single Again?

So at the end of Grindr Survivr, I said that I found a really great guy – let’s call him Greg.  This was true.  His personality was the BEST I've ever met.  When Greg met my family, my sister said “You guys have your own little language.”  And it’s true.  We were so in sync about so many things – whether it was references to Drag Race, Paris is Burning, Rick & Morty or Family Guy, it’s like we’d speak the same language by constantly referring to characters, cut-aways or random phrases that aren't that funny to outsiders but would be hilarious to us.  I enjoyed Greg's company and his companionship more than anyone else I've ever dated.  

But my career was struggling.  My own writing career wasn’t exactly taking off.  I had some successes.  The Huffington Post made me a contributor, and a few gay magazines had asked me to write articles on gay dating and app culture.  Grindr Surivr got picked up by two gay book stores, and it’s done very well for a self-published book which hasn’t had any marketing efforts or the strength of a publishing company behind it.  But I can’t pay my bills with all these minor successes.  My savings were almost gone, so I had to take something soon

And out of the blue one day, I was offered a job, a very high paying job – but it was literally on another continent.  But the job was an amazing opportunity.  My family began screaming in unison “You have to take it! You have to take it!”  My mother was particularly consistent at nagging me.  “Your career has flat lined.  Your writing isn’t going anywhere.  This is a huge opportunity for you.”  Her advice wasn’t wrong, but something in my gut told me not to take this job.  I asked Greg if he would consider moving with me, and he said definitely not. 

I was a bit shocked about how quickly he rejected the idea.  But he had just gotten a new job, and he didn’t want to be far away from his family.  Again, that probably told me that he really wasn’t that committed to being with me.  But I thought his argument was reasonable – especially considering I didn't know if my new job would work out.  So that was that.  We tried to make the most of our final weeks together.  I really didn’t want to leave Greg.  I honestly could see myself marrying him one day.   

But right before I left, I did something monumentally stupid.  Greg came from humble beginnings but had put himself through school.  But he still had some outstanding debts, and even by working a full-time job, he just couldn't get his head above water financially.  In my rose tinted glasses of loving him, I wanted him to have a good life, so I paid these debts off.  Don't worry, it wasn't "that much."  But it was enough to sting, let me say that.  I figured that he had been an amazing boyfriend to me for over a year, and he deserved a gift that would help him get his head above water in life.  

Keep in mind, before this time, he had NEVER done anything to make me feel used or that he was scheming for my money.  His track record was clear and pure.  I felt guilty for what I was putting him through by leaving, and I really did love him and wanted him to have a great life.  And he had offered to take care of my flat for me in my absence, as I was going to be sub-letting it for a few months. (So in theory, he might pay me back somewhat in that respect)  

(You guys have no idea how humiliated and vulnerable I feel right now admitting that to my audience.  Me… The Grindr Survivr… The man who sees through people’s bullshit.  The great relationship expert.) 

By the way, there was part of me that was screaming “Don’t you do that for him.  This is crazy! He’s going to take that money and spend it on another man.  You’ve been used and abused before.  You’ve already lavished so many gifts on Greg, why give him more yet again, particularly since you won’t be around to reap the benefits.”  But I loved Greg, and I thought that Greg loved me.  

I’m not going to lie, I believe I had a slightly selfish motive in this.  I knew I could never use it in an argument with Greg, but I had hoped that if he saw this act, his last memory of me would be doing something to help him for the next few years.  He’d see that I was totally willing to invest in us as a couple, and that I was going to have his back no matter what.  I was hoping it would prove that I was such a sweet and thoughtful boyfriend, no one else could ever measure up.  So if I ever returned from my new career, and he wasn’t dating someone else, we might get back together one day.  

Of course, Greg acted exceedingly grateful at the time… He even said "Yeah, I'd probably break up with someone for you."  

But you know what happened next, right? 

Three weeks after I left, Greg got drunk and picked a fight with me via text.  He threw the mother of all tantrums (he had never done any of this before).  He was legitimately hurting in my absence, but he was expressing it in the wrong way.  He came at me in drunken anger, so I gave it right back to him.  At first, he kept telling me how important his career was to him, and how he wouldn't have given it up for me.  So I said "Fine, I hope your career keeps you warm at night when you're all alone."  
He then said, "I'll find someone to do that."  
I then said, "That's fine, because I'm on a date now."  

The fight continued to escalate, and Greg then decided that he was going to cut off all communication with me.  At the time, he said he needed some distance to get used to the fact that we were broken up, and that I would be dating other people.  (This should not have been a surprise, as we had perviously agreed to be officially free to see other people once I got on a plane and move thousands of miles away).  But I thought this was a total over-reaction.  I told him it was a casual drinks thing, and that it certainly would not lead to anything serious.  But he said he didn't care.  He just felt the need to cut me out.  I asked for how long, but he didn’t have any idea how long that would be.  I sent him a few follow up emails, because he had blocked me via text.  And he later admitted, our argument was a fig-leaf to push me away, so he could kill his feelings for me. 

Wow.  Here, I had taken him on expensive holidays, given him an Apple Watch, bought him an Amazon Alexa Echo, and literally paid off his debts, and the instant his feelings became inconvenient for him, he cut me off in order to kill the chance of us ever getting back together – this was the EXACT OPPOSITE REASON I DID ALL THAT NICE SHIT FOR HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE!  Every nice thing I did for him counted for nothing.  No gratitude, no graciousness.  In one fail swoop, Ungrateful Greg was out of my life.  It was quick, out of the blue, and I felt like I had just been told my best friend had died -- or rather I was dead to him. 

Funnily enough, when he told me he was cutting me off, he never offered to give me the money back.  Not once.  So does that make him a hypocrite?  You decide.  Where were his mighty principles when it came to his money?  I don't think Greg thinks of himself as a user: but who does?  People accept gifts, make promises, and when they change their minds, they come up with reasons as to why they were justified.  Greg probably viewed the money as alimony: he was in pain, and he deserved a divorce settlement.  I lost a lot of respect for him, but what he did was human nature.  We've all come up with good reasons as to why we're good people, despite doing bad things.  We've all gotten ourselves into an awkward situation and been slimy on the way out rather than dealing with it powerfully.  Greg is no saint, but I want to acknowledge his humanity and I can't paint him to be a cartoon villain that I thought he was a few months ago. 

My Psycho Boss

What’s worse, I moved to a place where I had no friends and no family, and I found my new boss was a complete neurotic psycho.  She was just like Miranda Priestly from the Devil Wears Prada.  She was selfish, petty, neurotic, paranoid and a massive micro-manager.  Now the Devil Wears Prada is fun to watch, it’s a fucking nightmare to live.  I didn’t sleep more than four hours for the first two weeks of the job, because I was so traumatized.  I had no time to make friends or date anyone seriously, because I was working 60 hours a week and most Saturdays.  So I had moved away from Greg for nothing!  I had lost a man I wanted to marry for a job that I hated from day one.   

But the good thing about having a psycho boss is that you get over your relationship issues very quickly.  I had no time to worry about a broken heart, because that psycho witch kept me busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest.  But obviously, I couldn’t continue this way for forever.  After three months, I quit and returned to my home to the big city. 

Although I didn't have much time to worry about Greg, when I did, I was still fuming, because I felt like he sold me this image of a caring man and what I got was a ungrateful user (at least that's how it felt at the time).

Oddly enough, a week after I handed in my resignation notice, Greg randomly messaged me on Instagram.  I looked at that text the way a mongoose looks at a cobra.  He reiterated the fact that he needed time to get over me but that he wanted to be friends.  In fact, he kept over-emphasizing “just as friends.”  I asked my sister about this, and oddly, she defended Greg.  "A user wouldn't be trying to be your friend after the fact.  And why wouldn't you be his friend?" she said.  To date, my sister has been Greg's biggest defender.  She thinks he acted immaturely, but she felt his actions were understandable.  She didn't view his actions as ungrateful, but rather an immature outburst of someone who was in pain.  I trust my sister's advice more than anyone else, so I wanted to weigh things up carefully.  In my anger, it's easy to point fingers.  But in my blog, I at least want to attempt to be balanced.  My blog isn't just about bitching about gay guys who are ass holes.  It's about encouraging gay people to grow.  

But I was still hurt and fuming.  Greg had allowed 10 weeks of hatred to fester in my heart.  And now, all of a sudden, he wants to be "friends"?  I'm supposed to forgive and forget everything?  Seemed suspicious to me.  Did Greg know somehow that I was about to quit my job?  I wasn't sure...  Was this a plan to get me back?

So when Greg said "let's be friends", I kind of gave a noncommittal answer, like “I’m still really hurt by what you did, but we can chat.”  My gut instinct was to tell him to “fuck off!” And block him.  But again, I that was the old temperamental Andrew.  I was trying to be more “enlightened,” having written a book and all that.   Why would he want to be friends with a guy who was thousands of miles away?  Why would he want to be friends with an ex, who he might not see again?  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Was he secretly hoping we'd get back together?  

But if I’m honest, I took his texts as a sign of hope that we would get back together.  And I know that was foolish and naïve of me, but you had no idea how lonely I was in this new job.  Despite having turned in my notice, my boss was determined to squeeze every last drop out of me before I left.  In fact, she RAMPED UP the work load in the final weeks, and I was working even longer hours – often 15 and 16 hours straight.  So, in the midst of that pain,  I allowed myself to fantasize about getting back with Greg.  That glimmer of hope was a crutch I leaned on during a very difficult time in my career.  I'd imagine coming home to him and us chatting and laughing.  I'd have a real partnership with him again.  Those little fantasies got me through some nasty spots with my boss. And they did make me experience a small amount of genuine happiness.  

Cat Got My Tongue 

So when I finally came home, Greg did not call or text.  [Ouch] But he still had keys to my flat. (He, of course, never checked up on my flat.)  So I picked up the keys one afternoon.  Our conversation was awkward but blessedly brief.  It took every ounce of strength not to curse him out in public.  But he acted like nothing was wrong.  He just exchanged a few pleasantries and went back to work. 

Perhaps, I should have felt proud of not tearing him a new ass hole; I kept my cool and composure.  But I also felt cheated.  This was my one chance to at least get some stuff off of my chest, but because I didn’t want his first interaction with me to be a massive fight, so I held my tongue.  I didn't want to risk looking desperate, so I said nothing, passing up my probably only opportunity to have him give me real answers to my face - rather than glib, childish text messages that he likes to send.

So I called my sister and asked for her advice.  She said, “You have to meet him and talk to him to see what he’s up to.”  Her theory was that he was probably dating someone, but he wanted to keep me on the side “as a friend,” or a back up rather, if the current relationship didn’t work out.  But she said that I’d have to meet him in person and ask him straight up: "Greg, what are you after? " 

I was furious.  Here, I lavished affection on him, he cuts me off, and now I have to make the first move to at least talk so I can get all my feelings off of my chest.  GRRRR!  There is no justice in relationships!!! FML!!!  But my sister convinced me that was the only way to do it. 

So I bit the bullet and texted Ungrateful Greg.  I just told him I wanted to meet for a drink and talk for a few minutes one day just to clear the air.  Guess what he said. 

“Well, I’m always up for alcohol, but let me get back to you when I have some free time.” [Greg's job is 9-5, and he doesn't have that many friends] 
I asked, “Well, I’m free Tuesday and Wednesday next week.” 
“I’ll get back to you when I’m free,” he said curtly.  And that was that.  Nothing else.  
Right, so to recap, We dated for fifteen months.  I told him I'd marry him.  I introduced him to my family, and he introduced me to his. I took him on two holidays and showered him with gifts, and now, all I am to him is a "Don't call me, I'll call you."  So I can just suffer in silence in pain, until "Master Greg" decides that he's man enough to answer a few basic questions that anyone in my position would like to know. 

That's what I'm worth to him now: a "don't call me, we'll call you" type of thing.  When just months ago, he was confessing his undying love for me.  And in theory, he cut me off because he was so incredibly heart broken by my leaving... And now I'm not worth a 20-minute talk in the middle of the week?  Fuck him!  I honestly felt that our history would have at least entitled me to a 20 minute meeting to get some things off my chest, but no such luck. I deleted his number on the spot.

Right before I left five months ago, he gave me a card, and it said this on the inside.

Wow.  2018 isn't half way over yet, and yet none of these promises hold any meaning for me any more.

So with regards to meeting up with Greg to talk, I told him off!  I told him that I get that he was over me and us (and I suspected he had a new boyfriend) but after all we had been through, and all my feelings for him, I deserved an opportunity to speak to him and vent.  He relented.  But it was another dagger to my heart.  I had to bully this Ungrateful Greg to even hear me out.  He admitted he was hesitant to meet me, because he knew it was going to be an awkward and unpleasant conversation.  He said he needed a bit of time to brace for it, as it was likely to unearth some uneasy feelings for him, which he wasn't keen to bring back up.  But he agreed, eventually...

We met, but I could still tell he was holding back.  We had a frank discussion, but his demeanor was cold.  He was resolutely against getting back together with me.  I could feel his cold resolve.  He didn't have to say anything mean or cruel.  Who he was being in that moment devastated me.  Everything I had done for him prior to our argument, everything we had said and felt, none of it mattered to him now.

Would You Still Be Friends with Greg?

However, he reiterated several times that he wanted to be friends.  For what it's worth, I think this was completely sincere and genuine on his part.  But for me, what did he add to my life as a friend?  I loved his personality above all else, but now, I see him as someone who is emotionally distant, weak on communication and is someone who makes false promises and he doesn't really care that I'm in pain.  And I get I'm probably bitter, but that's how I see this situation.  How can you build a friendship on that kind of quicksand?

I left more upset than before.  I hadn't really prepared for that feeling.  I honestly just felt that if he saw me and spent some time with me, he'd feel something for me.  But I was wrong.  And I just wasn't ready to believe that he was completely over me at that time.  He just didn't love me any more - and I'm still not sure why.  Frankly, I don't think he is sure why.  I was both devastated and still uncertain.  This was the worst of all worlds.

Was Greg Merely Ungrateful or Trying to Escape the Pain?  

I still needed answers, because I just couldn't process how he could be so cold towards me, when only a few months ago we were talking about marriage.  So I messaged a mutual acquaintance of Greg and myself, who had known Greg much longer than I had.  She told me that Greg was in far more pain before my leaving than he let on.  He had been in tears on several occasions, agonizing over leaving me.  He had seriously considered moving with me, but he thought the risks were just too great.  He couldn't date anyone after I left, because he was so depressed - yes, he was free to do so, but he just felt he couldn't because he was in so much pain.  And so when I told him that I was on a date (despite the fact that he had started the fight), he suddenly felt like he had to "get over me" by any means necessary - and the only way to do that was to cut me off and try to kill his feelings.


That was heavy.  To me, Greg's pain couldn't have been that bad.  He wouldn't consider moving with me, and I was still willing to talk to him, and I was totally open to getting back together with him if my new job didn't work out.  And he never told me he was in that kind of agony.  I wish he had.  I don't know what I would have done, but I would have done something to alleviate his pain.  I think in my head, I had been trying to argue away his pain for months, and I never really acknowledged it.  Moreover, I dismissed his pain and just tried to demand that he resurrect this feelings for me.  That's not how it works.  I don't think anything can be done in the short term to make things right.

And let's be honest, when we're in immense pain, we don't give a fuck about anyone else's feelings.  We just have to survive.  And that's what Greg did.  He survived by killing off (emotionally) someone who loved him a great deal.

But I'm sorry, I think his cavalier attitude towards telling me he wanted to be my friend while resisting giving me an opportunity to reconnect with him smacks of ingratitude - not because of the gifts, but because he casually crapped all over someone who loved him and wanted to work past things.  Maybe I've harped on the gifts too much.  But it's hard to explain to people how much your heart is broken: it's easier for people to grasp that if you spent a lot of money on someone, then you must love that person.

Also, Greg never told any of his friends about the money I gave him.  That needled me as well.  I know for a fact he justified to everyone that he had to cut me off to deal with the pain he was feeling.  But why omit the key fact of me paying his bills?  I'd assert that it was because most people might call him out for being a hypocrite.   It's a lot harder to bash your ex-boyfriend if people know that you're debt-free because of him.  I'd guess most would say "Wow, I think he deserved a second chance."  But Greg didn't have the balls to do that.  He kept the money, and hid the truth from anyone who might tell him off.  Is that shady or what?

My Conclusions: Survival Won't Bring You Love

This story is a tragedy more than anything else.  I don't think Greg wasn't trying to be evil, although many would see his actions as those of an ass hole.  He was trying to survive.  The problem is trying to survive gay dating won't get you a loving relationship.  (I recognize the irony given the title of my book, Grindr Survivr How to Find Happiness in the Age of Hookup Apps - but Grindr Lover or Loving Grindr would have sounded ridiculous as a title))  Survival will get you survival. 

What Greg doesn't realize or appreciate is in that moment he wasn't just killing off his love for me, he was killing a piece of himself.  I can't read his mind and I don't know what exactly he thought, but he probably thought something like "I will NEVER get hurt like that again."  Maybe he thought "I will NEVER let anyone hurt me like that again."  That's killing a piece of yourself that's willing to take risks.  And how do you guys think Greg will go into his next relationship?  Will he go in fresh and ready to find love and happiness, or will he go in jaded, cautious and bitter (although he has no logical reason to be)?  Moreover, what does this say about Greg's character?

Can we say that Greg is someone who can weather the storms that will inevitably hit a relationship?  Is he someone that another man can rely on?  Or will he jump ship at the first sign of trouble?  If he read this, he'd probably deny this, but what do his actions demonstrate about his commitment to his boyfriend?  Where are Greg's commitments when it comes to finding happiness?  Does he take big risks for love?  Or does he run and hide and/or play it safe?

Perhaps, I harped too much on the gifts.  For months, I did feel used.  But I recognize that the pain isn't coming from the hole in my bank account.  It's coming from the hole in my heart.  I'm pissed because I took a massive fucking risk and got humiliated.  I lost something I treasured, and it's not coming back.  And I am completely powerless to do anything about it.  That's the real reason I'm pissed off.  Anything other than that, is just me trying to convince strangers that I'm right and Greg is wrong (and while that may be the case, depending on your point of view) that does not make a difference for any other gay man (including me).

In my core, I believe this situation could have been avoided if Greg had been openly communicating with me and had been open to working things out rather than killing them off.  But we've all acted rashly in the past.  We've all hurt people who've loved us.  The problem is life rarely gives us a second chance: and Greg crapped on his.  That's why he's ungrateful.  Not because he didn't kiss my feet for paying off his bills, but because he - to this day - is actively killing off the love and relationship I was trying to create with him.

But I want my readers to ask yourselves...  How often do you meet someone who will fight like hell for you when most people would say you're in the wrong?

And I don't mean that flippantly.  Ask yourself - how many men have you dated that would fight for you, in the midst of an argument where most people think you're wrong?  Think of their names.  See their faces.  How did you treat them?  How did things end?  What would they say about you if I asked them to tell me about you?  Would they call you an "Ungrateful Greg"?  Would they call you a user?

Would they call you a cheater???

(That one hits close to home for a lot of you homos)

Now ask yourself, how often does the universe send that kind of loving person your way?  Once a year?  Once every five years?  10 years?  Once or twice in a lifetime?  If the universe gives you that kind of person, and you remain closed off, what kind of person does that make you?

You tell me.  What kind of person kills off someone who loves them like that?  Think of some adjectives.

Now think of times where you have made those kinds of monumental fuck ups!  Yes, you, bitch.  You're no saint - and I'm not either. Where have you monumentally fucked up a good thing?  Where have you chosen the easy way out rather than take a risk on love?  Where are you now?  Are you happy as a clam in a loving relationship, or is your ass lonely and single reading a blog on gay dating apps?

Hmmm...  It's easy to point the finger at a stranger.  It's harder to reflect on yourself, ain't it?

Communication is Key! 

But I said this before in my book, but it's worth repeating for my readers.  Learn from the mistakes that I and the people I discuss make.  Communication is Life!  Silence is Death!  In silence, no one is heard and nothing is resolved.  His feelings for me were killed, and I was left feeling used and tossed aside.  In the long run, are either of us better people?

Another reason silence is dangerous is that people only tend to heed their own counsel or talk to people that will just agree with them all the time.  That's also the kiss of death for any relationship reconnection.   Everyone comes up with excuses, so they can sleep at night.  Everyone will tell half-truths to themselves so they can feel justified when they do terrible things.  People concoct all sorts of strange stories for themselves, in part, so they can deal with their own pain and their own embarrassment of what they've done.  This opinion my seem reasonable to them (the way Trump voters convince themselves they're not actually racist), but if it's never tested in real communication with someone who will give the person the truth, all kinds of craziness can be justified away and shrugged off.  

Relationships End: 
I also need to acknowledge the truth about relationships ending:

Nothing You Do During a Relationship Will Be Appreciated After the Relationship Has ended

And knowing this, any sort of attachment, or hope that the other person will read your mind and magically give you what you think you're owed  ain't never gonna' happen.  Sometimes, after a break up, you can communicate powerfully, and resolve things.  But some times, there's too much hurt.  But in this case, I honestly feel like if Greg had just stayed in communication with me, we could have sorted everything out and built a life together.

Take Responsibility: 

I freely admit in my whinging over lost love, I'm also forgetting Grindr Commandment #2: Blame Yo’ Self!  So I need to practice what I preach.  I didn’t force Greg to take that money.  And I knew in the back of my head that things would probably end badly once I was away.  No one forced me to move away, despite a lot of family pressure.  I chose the shitty job that both destroyed my career and my relationship.  And I certainly should have asked Greg about his intentions and feelings long before I returned home. Me trying to play it cool only spectacularly backfired.  I should have been open and authentic with Greg.  And as for right now, what I’m really mad at is the fact that I took risk after risk, and it didn’t pay off.  And if I stay cold, frozen and bitter, who am I hurting?  Not Greg.  Just myself.  So yeah, I need to vent, I need to lay in the pain for a while. But if I don't emerge, then what the hell am I writing for?  I can't afford to be one of these old bitter queens... 

Maybe one day I’ll find someone who’s willing to take a risk on me the way I’m willing to take a risk on them.  In fact, I need to stay confident of that fact.  I need to demand it of the universe and stay open to it when it comes knocking.  

But in the mean time, I’m here to find love and read gay guys for filth.  But oops, no one loves me right now, so guess what that leaves you (my readers)?  You bitches better buckle up and get ready.  New Commandments are coming, honey!  We’re gonna’ get all down deep into your shadiness.  You know why, because you’re a shady bitch!  Yes you!  And me (And DEFINITELY Ungrateful Greg, of course)  We’re all shady bitches, and this stops us from creating a strong gay community and it stops us from having relationships that give us love and happiness.  So let’s get to it.   


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