Love you but can’t say it
IT’S SO complicated. As I write, I recall my first girlfriend in seventh grade. For three months I kept our relationship from my parents, who of course later said that I was too young for romance. Despite their disapproval, she and I stuck with each other (secretly still) until the early part of our first year in high school. We called it quits—amicably—because, as I see it now, we got bored with each other. She then joined the volleyball team, and I tried out for the basketball team (I made the cut only in second year when I reached 5’9” thanks to a growth spurt).
Two years later in junior year, I had my second GF. A transfer student from an all-girls school, she was a head-turner. I wasted no time in courting her, and in less than a month she was mine. Some months into our relationship, our teachers and classmates were saying that we were being too intimate (read: PDA) with each other. The principal eventually called our parents, who made us put an end to us. Man, was I angry at being prevented from loving her. Maybe it was a good thing that she and her family migrated to Europe as soon as summer vacation came. That helped me get over her.
My third and last relationship with a GF was the most intense. We met when we were college sophomores: She and I were invited to be models in a fashion show staged by fine arts students. Being in a relationship with her, I went through a wide range of emotions and experiences—highs and lows, sparks and pfffts, pleasant and unpleasant (during major arguments), and pleasurable sensations. She brought out the man in me. She made me grow, figuratively and literally.
It was in our third year in college when she became uncomfortable with my requests for more frequent intimacy (once a week, at least). She said I was pressuring her and started saying “no” to me, and this drove me mad. This resulted in our worst fight, which led to our breakup. I was devastated: I cried, and I felt like I was in limbo without her. But I managed to pick myself up within that semester, just barely passing my subjects. I have remained “single” since then.
Considering my past relationships, plus the many hours of viewing adult flicks online for female anatomy appreciation, why am I now suddenly in love with… a guy?
Because of his irregular schedule, he was put in my section during major classes last January, the start of the second semester of our senior year. At first I found nothing striking about him, except the fact that his face was recognizable due to his appearances in TV commercials. It was a few weeks later, when it was his turn to deliver a report in class, that my interest in him started. As he spoke, expounding on his topic with the mastery of a seasoned college professor, I listened to him keenly. Much as I tried to convince myself that all he had was a nice private-school accent and correct grammar, but really no depth at all, deep inside I felt that this guy was a cut above the rest. The alpha male in me felt insecure and threatened, for I thought I had met my match—a tall, good-looking guy who spoke good English and who seemed mature and intelligent. These were the same qualities that females (according to them) liked about me. “Magkatipo kayo (You’re much alike),” as one female classmate candidly told me out of the blue.
I observed him secretly as the days went by. Like an envious jerk, I rejoiced over the little flaws I found in him—crooked lower teeth, four small zits on the face, and, and—nothing else. On the other hand, there was no stopping him from letting his appealing qualities shine through—his calm and relaxed demeanor, his agreeableness, the slight air of mystery about him, and his unassuming nature.
Uneasiness crept upon me when he began associating with the people in class, including my three guy friends, my barkada. I felt that he was encroaching on my territory. Soon enough, he started joining the four of us at lunch or in drinking sessions after our evening classes. Consciously, I became guarded in my actions. I talked less, laughed less, joked less, and took part in the conversations mostly as a listener.
I hoped that during those times he would expose an off-putting trait. But the opposite happened. He revealed himself to be a really nice guy, and I liked him more and more. Hence, I let my guard down and treated him as I did my three friends.
Since then, amid everyone’s hectic preparations for thesis defense and submission of final requirements before being green-lighted for graduation, I have been finding ways to be near him and to strike up a conversation in a “Yo, bro!” way. I also made him feel that I was available for him every time he approached me just to talk. But I made sure I concealed my eagerness by maintaining a straight face.
I never saw this coming—feeling this way for another guy. Several times lately, I’d stop whatever I was doing and ask myself what’s going on with me. And I’m worried about what this says about my supposed heterosexuality. I never thought of myself as gay. But the fact remains that I am happy and inspired every time I am with him, especially when it’s just the two of us together.
Unlike with my ex-GFs, I will never dare admit my feelings to him (or to anyone at all), especially since he is a straight NBA-minded guy who regards me just as a barkada, or a very close friend at most. I dread the thought of him finding me out. But at the same time, I often wish that somehow, in some way, he would reciprocate my feelings—a wish that makes me feel both blissful and sinful.
Though I now admit to myself that what I’ve been feeling for him since March is love (after weeks of denying it and overrationalizing my feelings), I still sometimes wish that I could just switch it off permanently.
Now so many thoughts are making my head spin, one of which is the wrongness or unnaturalness of having affections for another guy. But while I worry a lot about my identity now and question who and what I really am (or have become), my feelings for him have intensified.
Keeping everything locked up inside, I’ve become increasingly restless and paranoid about the whole matter. So let this piece be my outlet. Hiding behind a pseudonym, I need to shout this out loud. Here I go…
Yo, bro! I care for you! I love you! And it’s killing me that I can’t say or show it to you!
“Locked Heart,” 21, recently graduated from the University of Santo Tomas. He says that apart from using a pseudonym, he has changed and excluded certain details in his narrative to hide his identity.
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