Something Different

Before I proceed with this post, I felt the need to give a bit of context. If you’ve been a reader of my blog since its formation, you will be familiar with the posts, To The Straight Guy Who Doesn’t Know I Like Him and To The Guy Who I Have Fallen in Love With. Well, this post is also about him, however unlike a conventional post on this blog, it has come directly from my notes app, without any editing or adding of images and so on. I wrote the note back in December and finally had the courage to publish it in full.

So. . . I’m a 22 year old postgraduate student, who is satisfied in most parts of his life. I have a great set of friends, I have a good social life and I keep active. I’m academically gifted and am on the right trajectory to get a good job in the near-future, however something has changed recently. I’ve started to develop feelings, pretty strong ones at that, for a straight friend.

It all started in the first week of my time at the University which I am doing my MA at. I decided that it would be best for me to get involved in some sort of social activity, to expand the pool of people I knew at University — which made playing tennis the natural fit. It was something I had done since I was a child and played weekly throughout my time as an undergraduate.

At this university, the courts were quite far out from the main campus, meaning the first week it was quite difficult to get there. I got off the bus at the university sports complex and a few others got off as well, who were going to play tennis. One of the guys there turned around and asked if I was going to play, to which I replied “yeah”. The walk from the bus stop to the courts is a good 5 to 7 minutes, even more sometimes because you have to walk over the Rugby and Football pitches, which are typically muddy.

I spoke to him for the whole time on the way to the courts, it turned out we knew a few of the same people, especially since the University I am now at is in my hometown. We bonded over that and it was nice to meet someone else at university who was really friendly.

When I got to the courts, there was about 20 others there. This was a stark contrast from my days as an undergraduate when there was half a dozen of us playing on a good day. I started hitting with some of the other guys, and girls, who had shown up to play.

After warming up, the student who ran the tennis programme at university, had the idea of putting us in pairs, to let us get to know one another better. We all had to put our rackets in a pile and he would pick two out at random and that would mean you were a pair.

A few pairs had already been made and then my racket was picked, shortly followed by this other guys. Of all the people who showed up to tennis, I was paired with the guy I had already been chatting too.

We started playing some matches and to be honest, he was a pretty good player. I could relate to some of the issues he had though — he is quite a skinny guy, meaning he had to rely on spin and technical shots rather than overly powerful ones — I’m very similar in that regard. Our game clicked and we were pretty successful as a tennis partnership.

After the end of that session, I proceeded to leave the courts and walk the same way I went in (I also noticed that me and him had matching tennis bags). However, he told me of a different route, a shortcut that he normally takes. I followed him over the other Football field and over this gate that led into the woods. We spent most of the time talking and this is where I started to reveal more about myself.

In a roundabout way, I told him that I was gay, I was instantly met with the response “I have a girlfriend”. At the time, that didn’t mean much to me, barring the fact another cute guy was straight. Plus, I had been used to that response from men, as firstly most men are in fact straight and secondly, it’s a polite way of saying that you’re not interested.

The next two weeks, the tennis social event had been postponed due to bad weather. I was disappointed, but what do you expect from the UK in Autumn and Winter. The next time I went to tennis, I bumped into this guy again. . . albeit when I was already on the court, as I was far earlier than he was.

We did similar mini-games that are classic of tennis. However, a key difference was that we were able to choose our pair. Me and this guy somehow ended up in a pair again. I was pretty happy, I mean he was better than most of the other guys there. . . plus we had pretty good levels of communication, which are essential when playing doubles.

After finishing, we went through the same secret route and chatted again. I got to know him better in those first two sessions than I did anyone else at University, even those on my course. Especially since, we both walk the same way and get the same bus, which means we spend up to 30 minutes talking in a one-on-one situation.

The week after, I went to tennis again and who did I end up being paired with, you guessed it. Our games clicked and we were successful once again. The tennis had been cancelled again for a few weeks, due to the weather and also because of reading week. 

The week after reading week I went to the same Saturday tennis sessions, however this time he was not there. Only in retrospect did I realise that this is significant. I paired up with someone different, someone who hadn’t attended any of the events so far this academic year. He is a really attractive guy, who I have since found out is either gay or bi. However, it was not the same, I desired the guy I met on the first week.

I started to develop a crush on him, I mean he is really handsome. He is about 5ft 9, pretty skinny, has this thick black hair, which is slightly messy (but you can tell that he has deliberately done it that way) and these utterly adorable round tortoise-shell glasses that really suit him.

Developing a crush on a guy like him was different for me. Trust me, skinny Asian men, even those with a London accent (he grew up in Haringey), is not my normal type. I typically go for Arab/Middle Eastern Men — however, this is not really important in the grand scheme of things.

Over the weeks that me and him had been talking, I started to learn quite a lot about him. His father is an academic at the university in London where I nearly did my MA (He has followed in his footsteps by doing the same degree as his father, even though he is not overly happy with his course), I found out his grandparents struggled to get back to Hong Kong (where his family originate from) because of the ongoing violence with the mainland, I’ve also learn that his girlfriends sister’s boyfriend is from Bermuda but somehow has an American accent, which he finds funny. He even told me about the fact he was going go-karting, as well as how his graduation project is going to be a handheld coffee machine.

However, there is one thing that has never appeared in our conversations which is his girlfriend. I mean, if I were straight and had a stable relationship, I would not stop going on about it (maybe he doesn’t because of his reserved nature). Literally though, we’ve spent hours talking over the weeks and she has never appeared in our conversations. . . only ever in reference to someone else. All I’ve learnt is that they’re on the same course. . . that is it. I briefly saw a photo of her, but not enough to gather what she actually looked like.

I just find it odd that he has never mentioned her directly. Maybe I’m a guy who overshares and to be honest when we’re together, he doesn’t get much chance to talk. I do the whole talking too much thing because I’m so nervous. However, it is something that I think about more.

For example, when I was talking about my previous encounters with men, he seemed really curious about gay dating, especially gay dating apps. Maybe he was just genuinely curious or maybe he was just being polite, but it’s something that when I think about, it stands out just that little bit more.

The same can be said about his naivety over the whole top/bottom issue. I mentioned it in passing and he genuinely did not know what it was, I know its not something that straight people probably think of, I mean why would they. But, come on, its pretty self-explanatory. Part of me is starting to think that he may have been playing dumb — although there is no way to prove this theory.

Back to the crush, although I think it has developed into something more significant than a crush. I know that sounds odd for someone to say about a person I only met a matter of months ago, however I got to know him really quickly through talking pretty intimately and closely for a whole term.

There’s something different about him. He is not like any other man I have ever liked before and I don’t mean because of the aesthetics and his sexuality. There is a different emotional approach I have taken to him, I genuinely care for him. When I wake up in the morning, he’s the first thing I think about. When I fall asleep at night, he’s the last thing I think about. I think about him a lot in the day as well.

An example of this was at tennis the other day, I was hitting balls with this other guy, I couldn’t see the guy I liked anywhere, I felt down, but suddenly he appeared and this huge smile occupied my face and did not leave until I was no longer in his company.

The other day for example, I was playing Badminton and I was thinking about him, like properly. Everyone else on the court was playing a normal point, but not me, I was totally out of it, looking into space thinking about this guy.

What also makes this unique is that I feel there was a ‘moment’ recently. When we were leaving the courts, he impulsively decided we should sprint across the Football field. I mean it was really muddy and I’m not the biggest fan of getting messy. However, because he suggested it, I was in. We sprinted across this field and we got to the other side, where you have to climb a gate. There was a moment when we both stopped and looked at one another. Nothing was said, he climbed the gate before me, then I climbed it and briefly got stuck. 

I know it’s not much of a ‘moment’, but something felt different about it, something like a spark which had erupted out of nowhere.

I’ve dated and crushed over other men. However, I’ve never actually cried about them. There have been two significant men in my life so far. The first is the guy I crushed on when I was in Year 11 at school and got outed over. It was a pretty bad experience, I told friends that I had a crush on a guy in my English class, then they told other people and in a matter of weeks, the whole school found out that I was gay and had a crush on this guy.

That guy from my school never spoke to me again and it destroyed me, however not once during that experience did I actually cry or express sadness or upset.

Similarly, last year, I dated an Erasmus student for about three months. We developed quite a strong bond, we are still in contact now. We got close, we had sex, I saw good and bad in him, he probably saw the same with me. However, when he left the UK, I didn’t ever cry or get upset in the slightest. Of course I was sad, but never did I cry.

However, with this current guy from the tennis courts, I genuinely get upset about him and the way I feel. It hasn’t just been the once, it’s been on multiple occasions, in one case I burst completely into tears. I’ve never had such strong emotions for another guy, this is completely new for me.

One side of me says, nothing will ever happen, I mean the guy has a girlfriend and from the outside, he seems pretty comfortable in his sexuality and who he is.

The other side of me has suspicions. I mean, I hate to stereotype, but the guy has an exhaustive collection of knitwear in a wide variety of colours (which I approve of), ranging from black and green to a purple hoodie. Also I’ve seen the guy outside of the tennis scenario and some of his clothes are quite out there — especially the mustard down jacket he wears — although this could just be a guy with a good dress sense, who is metrosexual.

However, he is really clean and well-groomed. I mean most other men on campus are not up to his level (even the other gay guy at tennis is scruffy, only the guy I like looks perfect on the courts). He never looks phased, he is always smart, clean, tidy and polite. Not many straight guys are like that, trust me.

The question now is. . . where do I go from here? I know that the crush is not going to subside in the short to medium term, the signs that there is something up with him keep appearing (although I fear that I’m seeing things that I just want to see). Should I just sit it out and hope my feelings go away or should I at least talk to him about it, be honest and hope that he takes it in a good way and is supportive of me.

I don’t want to risk losing something that could be a pretty good friendship, how often do you find a friend that shares your favourite hobby and is actually really good at it. Yet at the same time, I don’t want to not say anything and live to regret not making my emotions and feelings for him clear to his face.

At least if I let it out to him, I can finally move on.

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