If he acts like a boyfriend, why doesn’t he want to be a boyfriend?

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There is more to this week’s Savage Love. To read the entire column, go to Savage.Love.

I'm a 29-year-old gay man just shy of five years sober. I've had to do a lot of work on myself in recovery to accept and love myself after being dragged to conversion therapy when I was a teenager by my narcissistic evangelical parents. I met a guy in AA in May who at the time was nine months sober. His sobriety coincided with him coming out. He's 27 years old and still unpacking a lot. He broke up with a girlfriend a few months before we met and I'm the first guy he's ever dated. I was initially hesitant about getting involved with him, given these parameters, but I went for it anyway. The first two months were great. We had great chemistry and great sex, we went on dates, etc. A month ago he hit me with, “I don't want to be in a relationship as I'm exploring my sexuality.” My initial reaction was to step back and assume this was the end. However, nothing changed. He continued to initiate affection and even threw me a birthday party at his home with decorations he bought. A week later he hits me with, “I’ve lost the romantic spark but I still want to hang out, have sex, and go on dates.” I'm mainly just thrown by the lack of alignment between his words and actions. Should I just accept this relationship for whatever it is and date other people? The sex is great, but I feel very romantically involved — four months in — and I’m not sure it's wise to get more involved.

—Behaves Like A Boyfriend But Excludes Romantic Stamp

Telling someone to disengage romantically is easy, BLABBERS. Actually disengaging romantically is hard.

I’ve heard from so many people over the years who were struggling to smother romantic feelings for lovers who did them wrong. People pining away for exes who fucked their best friends, emptied their checking accounts, and refused to respond to their texts. So, while I could tell you to adjust your romantic expectations downward while you keep fucking this boy, the odds of you being able to keep your romantic feelings in check — much less smother them — while he’s hosting birthday parties for you and sucking your dick are close to zero. If you keep seeing this guy, the emotional hits (“I don’t want a relationship,” “I feel no spark”) will keep coming.

So, what’s up with this guy? If he acts like a boyfriend and fucks like a boyfriend, why doesn’t he want to be a boyfriend?

Maybe he’s still exploring his sexuality — maybe it’s just what he told you — and he worries that labeling the relationship, e.g., becoming boyfriend official, is going to limit him. He is a recent refugee from Straightland, after all, and most residents of Straightland have no concept of romantic relationships that aren’t sexually exclusive. (Except for straight people who read my column and listen to the Lovecast!) Just because he’s out doesn’t mean he’s up to speed.

Or maybe he’s not gay.

You say he just came out, BLABBER, but you don’t say what he came out as. You also say the sex has been great, and I believe you. Guys sometimes discover they like having sex with men and then assume they must be gay; they see enjoying sex with other men as disqualifying where straightness is concerned. And so it is. But it’s not disqualifying where bisexuality is concerned. So, if this guy came out as gay because he thought he had to be gay because otherwise he wouldn’t enjoy your dick so much, his lack of romantic feelings for you — if coupled with ongoing romantic and/or sexual attractions to women — could mean he’s bisexual and heteroromantic (BAH). It’s a thing. BAH guys can confuse gay men; while some BAH guys don’t want anything to do with their male sex partners before or after sex, other BAH guys are open to being “buds.” These BAH guys — BAH guys who wanna hang out, go on dates, host your birthday party — not only confuse gay dudes, they sometimes break our hearts.

Or maybe this guy knows you could be boyfriends without being exclusive (maybe you explained that to him) or maybe he’s gay and not into you the same way you’re into him (also a thing, and a sad one). But whatever his issues might be, BLABBERS, you should see other people while he explores/sucks/fucks his way through those issues. And if hanging out with him right now is too painful — if seeing him hurts too much — don’t hang out with him, don’t socialize with him, don’t take turns sitting on dicks with him. He was honest and direct with you, BLABBERS, and you should be just as honest and direct with him. Getting the boyfriend treatment from a guy who not only insists he isn’t your boyfriend but also doesn’t have any romantic feelings for you — the gap you perceive between his actions and his words — is going to make you miserable if you can’t disengage romantically, BLABBERS, which you most likely can’t. Tell him you’re not angry, you don’t hate him, and you still like him very much. And that’s the problem: you like him way more than he likes you. As much as you enjoy his company, as much as you enjoy his dick, continuing to date or fuck him means feeding your self-esteem into an emotional shredder.

P.S. Congrats on your sobriety — and while I hope your parents apologized to you at some point, I’m guessing they haven’t, seeing as they aren’t just evangelicals, but narcissists to boot.


I’m a gay boy in the big city. I had a threesome with two married guys and it didn’t go well, to put it mildly...

Go to Savage.Love to read the rest.


Ask; [email protected]. Listen to Dan on the Savage Lovecast. Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage.

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About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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