Why falling for a straight guy was the best and worst thing to happen to me this year
Previous New Year Resolutions of mine have included reading more, learning French, and maintaining a solid skin-care routine. But as we cross into a new decade these things seem nothing but frivolous. Because this year, my only resolution is to learn how to get over him.
My cowardice has got the better of me – which is why I and the people involved in this story will remain anonymous. Perhaps next year my resolution can be to work on my openness – but until that day comes you’ll have to use your imagination.
A quick summary of my teenage years involves using straight men as a way to validate my sexuality. Because being gay was only okay if it involved people who weren’t.
I came out at a young age and people correlated that with self-acceptance. They demanded confidence and resilience while all I possessed was internalised hatred towards both myself and my sexuality.
The first ‘straight’ guy I loved asked if he could keep our relationship secret. I said yes and a year later he cheated on me. Through a series of other unfortunate events, I ended up sexually regressing. I withdrew myself from any situation that involved men and took a step back into the closet.
I was gay, and open about it. That I could not reverse. But I didn’t act on temptation, didn’t allow myself the pleasure of sex or intimacy or romance.
I’m not sure what broke the walls – if you’re thinking some Knight in shining armour knocked them down you’d be wrong – but three years later, aged 19, I found myself dating an openly gay man (plot twist).
There was one evening where I rode the train to his. We toured his city, walked through the Cathedral where he grew up, spoke about poetry while stood in his favourite bookshop, and flirted over Thai food.
That night he took me upstairs, undressed me, pressed his lips against mine and pushed my body into his bed. I slowly sank into his mattress, feeling the springs below gain tension – preparing themselves to pop back up and reject me.
I looked up as he towered over me. This is it. I’ve done it. Someone who accepts me for who I am. Someone who loves me and who I love. That’s when he froze, his jaw locked and his face contorted.
“I don’t think I can do this,” – those famous last words.
It took several months to get over him. After crying on the train home my father picked me up and asked what had happened. To this day he still looks at me differently, knowing that something happened one night that changed his son forever. And I don’t think I can ever tell him it was because I gave my everything to a man that wanted absolutely nothing from me.
I fought to not sexually regress again – which ironically resulted in a string of one night stands. I was trapped in a cycle of giving my body to others to prove that someone, somewhere wanted me, even if for just one night. Some experiences were fun, some not – and I’m still trying to process how ruthless men can be when they have zero regard for anyone but themselves.
So how did it happen? How could I be so stupid to fall for a straight guy, when I knew its inevitable ending would break me. How can I say falling for him was the best thing to happen to me when it was so clearly one of the worst?
Because the truth is: I would do it all over again. Because falling for him, the start of Summer, his body more toned now, his hair slightly longer, was heavenly.
Getting to know him, his weird humour, his inward smirk, the lines that cut through his face when he laughed. All of it felt more like a privilege than a bad idea. Loving him was like first listening to a song – and the more I memorised the lyrics the deeper I got.
I hate to say that this time was different, but I quickly convinced myself so. Every time I glanced and saw you looking at her, I tricked myself into thinking it was me that had caught your attention.
When we walked side-by-side I wondered whether you were aware of our closeness as much as I, and if I wasn’t so afraid of losing you I would try holding your hand and telling you that it fits so well.
Summer was soon ending, and as the nights drew shorter there seemed to be fewer excuses to see you. It had also become apparent your interest lay in a girl – which led to the ultimate act of self-sabotage.
I told him I liked him while stood in the bathroom. Pinching the bits of skin I could grab until they were sore. He said he didn’t find me attractive and I cried. It was over. If I had kept my mouth shut at least I would still have hope. But you know what they say about hope: it breeds eternal misery.
The hardest thing came next: telling you that I needed space. As much as I valued our friendship, I needed time for this cut to scab. I needed you to become a scar in the same way that all the other men had. So I could see the mark you’d made but no longer winced whenever I touched it.
But nothing healed, and when you messaged me drunk, sat in a bar in London I immediately pictured myself there. Because I am forever waiting, my life on hold just in case things change.
Months later and I’m sat across from a date in a bar. I’m a thousand miles from home and the humidity is strong. He’s talking to me about his life and I find myself talking with you in my head while sipping vodka and diet coke. I nod and laugh when I think I should. But what I’m actually saying is let’s go to Italy like you wanted. I can write, balcony doors open, white linen blowing in and out of the apartment. Let’s play cards together and lay in the sun. You can practise your Italian and teach me piano. Tan your arms and your chest and your legs. Hold me when things get too much. Fuck me just once and I will show you that everything I am is yours if you want it.
We finish our drinks and my date – David? No, Michael?- asks me if I want to come back to his.
Now I’m back home and it’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve somehow crept back into your life. Your name has made it back in the calendar and even though I shouldn’t I feel like it’s June and there is still hope.
I didn’t spend the countdown with you because I don’t think I could enter the New Year with you if I cannot end it with you too. I also feel sick at the idea of you kissing someone else as the clock strikes midnight, and I’m still nauseous knowing even if your lips weren’t touched you probably hoped they would be by someone else.
Yet after several hours and several bottles of wine – we’re stood outside. I’m wearing your coat and you take your glasses off and put them straight back on three or four times.
I offer you a drag of my cigarette and you accept knowing you will not enjoy it – and as the smoke hits your lungs you cough and hand it back. I know I shouldn’t be searching for metaphors all the time. I know that loving you isn’t one big poem, and this is clearly not a fairy-tale ending, but perhaps there’s some meaning to it. Even if you wanted me, you cannot handle it. Your body rejects me. It is unnatural and foreign and even if you have the slightest temptation you can’t actually commit. And here I am, unashamedly and irrevocably addicted.
You tell me things I don’t want to hear and apologise. “I know that’s not what you want to hear.” You then ask if I’m happy and I tell you I don’t know. “It’s tricky isn’t it.” We walk inside and I take your coat off because I’m tired of being consumed by you and I don’t know if I can say one more word without tears streaming down my face.
The truth is I don’t know how I can get over you. I don’t know why I don’t want to get over you when it is no longer fun feeling like this.
I owe you a thousand apologies. I’m sorry if I’ve undermined our friendship by telling you these things, and I’m sorry that I’ve put the weight of my love onto you when I know you cannot reciprocate. I’m sorry that despite it all I don’t think there’s any way of getting over you. I’m sorry that in this piece I have gone from laughing to crying to loving to hating you. And I’m sorry that perhaps you’re feeling exactly the same way but just not with me.
So maybe my New Year Resolution is to get over you, maybe it’s to want to get over you.
“The heart was made to be broken,” – Oscar Wilde.
An anonymous submission to Means Happy