Lovers and Other Strangers

My bullying best friend After 13 years without a serious boyfriend, I have been dating Charlie for the past five months. My straight world of family, friends, and co-workers seem supportive. While I have gay friends, I am only close to a few of them, and Bill, the gay friend to whom I have been closest, has reacted mostly with snide comments and a streak of competitiveness. Odd, since he has been in a relationship he seems happy with for the past year. Bill has little interest in meeting Charlie, and the few times he asks me a question about what we did over the weekend, after a short time he acts like I am “bombarding him with stories.” Charlie lives 50 miles away and we only get to spend weekends, holidays, and vacations together Bill has a need to control his social interaction, and we typically only do things one-on-one, and never far from his home. Bill and I get along well in so many areas, and have a lot of the same unusual interests, but the controlling behavior and the odd competitiveness make me wonder if I should just keep him away from Charlie for as long as possible. Keeping Charlie and Bill from meeting wouldn’t be all that difficult, but it seems so… unnecessary. Your perspective would be most appreciated. Re: My bullying best friend At first I thought this was the classic case of the guy who’s in love with his best friend and is stinking jealous now that his buddy has a new beau. That happens all the time with gay men, where two best friends for all practical purposes fall in love––except for actually having sex, even if a sexual tension does exist between them. They get their emotional intimacy from one another while getting their rocks off with one-night stands. The moment one of them meets someone he might actually get seriously involved with, the other one becomes as angry and heartbroken as a jilted lover, and gets lots of attitude about the new boyfriend on the scene. This can even happen in the case where, as with your friend, one of them already has a boyfriend. Some guys set up some rather interesting dynamics in their lives, for all practical purposes having two boyfriends––the actual boyfriend for sex only and the best friend for emotional intimacy only––and when the best friend suddenly gets involved with someone, it throws everything into chaos for them. But the more I think about it and read your letter, the more I’m convinced this is not the case between you and Bill. The tip-off in your letter is when you describe Bill as needing to “control” his social interaction. He seems to want everything and everyone to revolve around him and doesn’t want the people in his life––friends, boyfriends, whatever––becoming too involved with other people. I don’t think it’s the case that he’s actually jealous of your boyfriend as much as he sees Charlie as a direct threat to his fragile little world. He’s not afraid of losing you, but rather of losing all this focused attention that you’ve placed on him. There is a big difference between those two things. Basically, he’s not in love with you––he’s in love with himself! I’m not sure talking with him about it is really going to do the trick. Call me crazy for making such broad assumptions based on just one letter––you did, after all, ask for my opinion––but it doesn’t seem to me that he wants this relationship badly enough to want to save it. He only wants it completely on his terms. Still, you probably should go through the motions and talk with him, tell him that you’re tired of his mocking attitude toward Charlie, that Charlie means a lot to you, and that you’re not putting up with it again. Just don’t be surprised if he says fine, and let’s you go on your merry way. Subject: Money Matters I’m single, in my 50s. I’m always worried about what will happen to my money when I die. I’m in fine health, but I think about this often. I’m not a millionaire but have amassed a substantial amount of money. I don’t want my family getting a penny of it. We don’t speak at all, haven’t for many years. I want to give everything to my best friend, who is of the opposite gender. We’re both gay and have been close for 27 years. The question here: Should we get married? Re: Money matters Fascinating question––and mysterious too, since it’s impossible to tell whether you’re a man or a woman from the e-mail. But I guess that doesn’t really. I understand the reason for getting married. Even with lawyers and wills up the wazoo, it’s often hard for unmarried people of any gender to leave their money to one another and be absolutely certain that family members of the deceased individual won’t have a legal right to claim any of it. That is in fact one of the many reasons why gay activists are fighting for same-sex marriage, so that members of gay couples can leave their money to one another without fear. Once you and your friend are married, theoretically, that would supersede your family members claims to your estate. I guess at your age there’s little chance you might go straight and actually want to marry someone else––though anything’s possible (just ask these freaks in the “ex-gay” movement!). The only real concern would be this: If one or both of you met someone of your gender and settled down, are you sure that the marriage would remain just a piece of paper, or would it create some kind of barrier for you or your partners? I think that’s something only you can answer.