Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Relationships

The further I go in my journey, the more I realize that life is all about relationships. Being lonely sucks. Loving and being loved by lots of people is much better. Who knew?

I was thinking about this because of a recent post by Samantha Stevens, as well as conjecture about the status of David and Jonathan's relationship in the Bible, as well as the discussion of Lincoln's relationship with other men. I still hold to the idea that social influences have affected my sexuality and I wonder if difficulties in relationships have been central to the whole issue.

I can think of lots of great and fulfilling relationships I've had in my life. My relations with both parents have always been above average, I think. And I've never been at a loss for friends of some sort or another. However, I think I just have a particularly needy personality... the kind that needs more than just a few casual friends and an above average connection with family members. And I haven't always gotten what I need emotionally.

I suppose there are two ways to address an unmet need. You can reduce the need itself or you can satisfy it. I think over the last several years I've done a little of both, but it's not yet quite enough. Getting married was a risky way to accomplish both at once, I suppose. Loneliness is much less of a factor than it has been, but it's by no means gone.

I find myself trying to gratify my hunger for connections in some indirect ways. I think it may be one of the reasons I'm always looking for approval of some sort--awards, recognition, good evaluations... favorable comments. ;-) And more relevantly, I think it's part of why my brain now thinks it needs to own another man in some physical way.

Now I have enough life experience under my belt to see how my relationships have played out. The exposition is done, so to speak. I make lots of quick friends and then have trouble staying in touch or "letting them in" more than a little... which leaves me pretty lonely. On the relatively rare occasions I have really let some man in and become emotionally tied to them in a more significant way, things have become sexual (short of sex, but still sexual). How this has happened, considering the men in question have nearly all been straight is really baffling. It's been more than once, and even if they're gay, it's been a pattern of me being unable to have fulfilling and intimate relationships with men without sexualizing them (and them reciprocating to some degree).

Lincoln, I think, was able to be intimate with men without being sexual. David of the Bible was too. But, the difference between them and me is that I'm gay... and what I mean by that is that I tend to flounder in that circumstance where they thrive. Not that I support the culpable connotation of it, but I am without natural affection. I either defensively disengage from deeper friendships, or I make them sexual in my mind where it is unnecessary for them to be so.

6 comments:

Chris said...

Completely hypothetical question --

Suppose you were in a relationship with a man that was both emotionally and physically intimate. If you were committed/connected to a man in that way, would you be able to form relationships with other men that were only emotionally intimate?

I'm not encouraging you to pursue an intimate male/male relationship -- just thinking out loud about how excluding the possibility of physical intimacy with any man impacts emotional intimacy with all men.

Enduring Eric said...

Thanks for this post, I needed it today. I have been feeling a bit lonely lately and I can identify with what you write here about needs, relationships and desires. I hope you are well. I'd love to hear from you, please contact me. :)

agirlwho said...

I have asked myself if I could exist in purely emotional relationships without ever having a close, sexual relationship with someone. I know this is a little different that what you are analyzing, but I see what an important aspect physicality is in romantic relationships and that it also isn't everything. Lately I have felt especially blessed not to sexualize the men around me, I am still attracted to many, but I don't feel like I am constantly checking them out and waiting for their responses. In return, I feel less judgmental of myself. I don't know exactly why I feel this way, but I know it is a blessing. I don't know how much wisdom I can impart about this subject, but I think that attraction is something that can facilitate our desire to be loved, but it doesn't always take us to that place. I think you are an incredibly strong person to have chosen the life that you did. I hope that the Lord will bless you with greater feelings of contentment and peace.

santorio said...

"social influences have affected my sexuality"

some may view this perspective as a denial of your "real," innate nature as a gay man, so that it becomes temporary and therefore changeable [if not in this life then in the next]

but i think it is healthy and productive to view our sexuality as multifaceted, to explore what part is nature and what part nurture. i've seen too many people reject change because they perceive some part of themselves as immutable. the consequences have been tragic.

change is good

-L- said...

Chris, my detailed answer just got deleted by the Internet demons, but the short answer is that I don't really know. The issues I describe may be typical in a larger sense of people being reluctant to let people in or being tempted to be promiscuous. There may well be a "letting go" once a person has de-mystified a full relationship. I'm not at all sure though, and I think I'm making pretty good progress toward letting go through the ol' cognitive therapy laden blogging.

Chris said...

L, thanks for your reponse, even if the longer version was lost to internet demons. I'm genuinely interested to hear about your progress on insights on this front.

I've never been big on the whole nature/nuture distinction for the causes of homosexuality, but I certainly believe that environment influences sexuality to some degree--particularly learned expressions of it.