After going to the same exact gym on a near-daily basis for seven years, Paul, a 22-year-old pseudonymous college student, was used to seeing the same cast of characters. “You’d get like the group of women doing cardio, people on their weight-loss journey and the occasional group of guys lifting in the back,” he tells me. “But honestly, it was usually pretty empty.”
But since he had a busy schedule filled with college classes, a day job, working out and spending time with his girlfriend, Paul hardly had time to notice other gym-goers in the first place. That is, until about seven months ago, when he noticed someone slouched over doing kickbacks near the free weights.
“I knew something was immediately off because I got butterflies in my stomach when I saw him, like I was nervous to even look at him,” explains Paul, who previously considered himself straight. “But I remember it being a wave of ‘oh my god he’s gorgeous.’” Per his daily routine, Paul returned to the gym the next afternoon and saw the same guy again. This time, however, Paul shrugged off the butterflies. “Something just came over me, I guess,” he says. “And so, I walked over to see if he needed a spotter.”
It just so happened that the new gym-goer did need a spotter, and a budding gym bro-lationship was formed. “We mostly talked about video games and music — he introduced me to artists like Slayyyter and SOPHIE, and I loved them,” Paul says. “Then we started talking about whatever was going on in our lives.”
After about two weeks of consistent gym hangs, Paul and his new gym buddy had a heart-to-heart. “My girlfriend had just broken up with me,” Paul says, “and he just kind of casually talked about how he and his last boyfriend ended things.”
Weeks turned into months, and the two became “really close friends who could sit there and talk about our mental health and emotions.” “He was really comforting to be around, and he’s really funny. It was like no matter what, he could make me laugh,” Paul continues. “It didn’t take long before I realized that I was head-over-heels for him — I wanted to be with him all the time.”
If he’d been “trying to ignore those feelings that started when I first saw him,” Paul came to the realization that he’d fallen in love with his gym bro. “I quickly started to piece together that it was the same feeling I get when I look at a really pretty girl, because bruh, he’s fucking beautiful, and those feelings weren’t going away,” he explains.
Unfortunately, this realization made things a bit more complicated. “It started to impact some of our workouts — like the amount of times I had to force myself to stop staring at his thick ass,” Paul laughs.
“I was thinking about him all the time,” Paul continues. “Whenever I went to sleep, I imagined him there snuggled next to me. I wanted to text him all the time. And I wanted to kiss him.” Still, he didn’t know how to make a move. In a moment of frustration, he turned to the subreddit for airing frustrations, r/OffMyChest, to vent. “I (Male 22) fell in love with my gym bro (Male 24). Problem being, I thought I was straight,” he wrote. “I guess this is me coming out as bi. I met a beautiful guy at the gym, and we became best friends. I love his personality, he makes me laugh nonstop and ngl he’s mad thick. I wanna ask him out so bad.”
“I was kinda hoping this entire situation was gonna be some unknown little post on Reddit and then it low-key went viral,” Paul says. “I feel like the whole world’s watching me now, and it’s genuinely scary as somebody who mostly wants to stay private.”
As overwhelming as all the attention has been, the initial commenters did give Paul the courage to ask his gym bro out on a date. “Basically the only reason I even ended up having the courage to ask him out was because of all the random ass support my post got,” he says. “Everyone was telling me to ask him out, so I did.”
After Monday’s workout, Paul waited to the end of their sets to walk with his gym bro to the parking lot. “My nervous ass just blurted out, ‘I really like you.’ Then I stumbled on every word and low-key embarrassed myself until I could eventually speak again,” he explains. “I came out as bi and wanted to see if he’d go on a date with me. I deadass felt like I was gonna have a whole ass panic attack. He responded by saying he thought I liked him because he caught me ‘respectfully’ staring at his ass a lot. But he told me he tried so hard to avoid me those first few days because he thought I was ‘unbelievably cute.’”
And with that, the two gym bros hugged it out. “His hug was so warm and comfortable, and I felt so, like, whole,” Paul says. “Then, not gonna lie, I did sit in my car for a whole five minutes sobbing to myself.
“But then we were texting nonstop last night, and I apparently made him cry because he’s been wanting to go out with me too since we became friends,” Paul laughs. “We’ve got a date this Friday — nothing fancy, we’re just going to Applebee’s cause we’re broke college kids. I’m extremely nervous for it, but I’m also really excited to see him.”