Two men in love. How do they do it?

Discussion in 'Relationships, Discrimination, and Jealousy' started by headbang8, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. headbang8

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    It seems to be a recurring theme here at the LPSG. There are a great many “genuine” bisexuals whoc create mixed orientation marriages that work, and hats off to them. On the other hand, we’ve had quite a few men like Dee’s grad-student acquaintance in the "Complexities of Love" thread, who proclaim themselves bi. They’re turned on by men but find it hard to get their intimate emotional needs met, and take refuge with women.

    It really disappoints me to hear this, but it’s kind of understandable. Women drop into an easy, natural intimacy through their verbal skills: they talk about their feelings.

    In our hunter-gatherer/warrior past, men had a lot to lose from letting their guard down quickly. How do two men get intimate when their reptile-brains train them to lock antlers?

    Let’s start by talking to straight guys for a moment.


    Do you have male friends with whom you’d say you were intimate? Long-haul friends who share a history. The kind with whom you’ve spent quality time over the years, whom you’ve come to know and trust. Would you say that you knew them intimately? That they know you in ways, perhaps, your wife or girlfriends never will?

    My guess is that you probably have one or more of these friends. How do you express your intimacy? Women express their intimacy with each other by talking about their feelings; men express it, often, by doing stuff together. Sports. Drinking. Cars. Politics.

    My oldest, most intimate male friend is straight. We went to school together, traveled together. We’ve seen each other naked countless times. I’m godfather to his son.

    OK, we talk a lot--in fact, he jokes that he suffers from Nell's Disease, a genetic condition inherited form his mother which involves not being able to shut up. Thos who know us say that we rabbit on "like old women".

    But our emotional exchange is really more by osmosis. Our “stuff” is wine, cigars, and tinkering with cars. The bond is forged by what we do together and the experiences we share. We joke that sex is all very well, but the true test of intimacy is helping each other move house.

    Imagine for moment that he was bi. Might not sex be one more shared activity we could add to our wine, cigars, and inept motor mechanics? Well, yeah.

    Now if I were his wife (or, rather, his ex-wife—he’s between wives at the moment) I’d be far more worried about this kind of sexual exchange than a casual sucked dick in a back alley. Because it was using sex to create intimacy.

    In fact, his ex-wife WAS worried. Not about my sucking her husband’s dick—I suspect she would have felt relieved of the chore—but that he was actually closer to his male friends that he was to her. My observation is that some women grudge the time their partner spends with his male buddies as some kind of emotional infidelity. They’re probably right. I know more about my buddy’s sex life that even the people who participate in it.

    The Australian comedienne Judith Lucy once remarked that she would rather her husband had a quickie knee trembler with his secretary in an elevator than an intelligent conversation with a female colleague over lunch.

    My own relationship taught me a lot. Though my partner speaks perfect English (on good days), it's not his native language. How do we forge our emotional intimacy? Not through words. But through doing stuff together.

    Our stuff is incredibly varied--music, art, architecture. But it's shared rather than discussed. And it's as satisfying an intimacy as I've ever had.

    Of course, we still lock antlers from time to time. I challenge any couple to assemble an IKEA bookcase together and not end up at each other's throats. But the simple rhythms of our shared days communicate more of our feelings toward each other than anything we could say. I think James Joyce referred to these moments as the "little sacraments of everyday life."

    So, to the gay men who find it hard to gain intimacy with another man, here's a thought. Don't force it. It takes time for men to earn each other's trust. It'll happen through deeds, not words.
     
  2. DC_DEEP

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    It's pretty easy, actually. I view the "evolutionary" theories of emotion being different for men and women with very little credence. I think that men and women alike are equally capable of anger, or of love, or of jealousy. It seems to me that it all boils down to: how did you respond to the societal influences and pressures to be "gender-appropriate?" It never made sense to me that women were "weak and emotional" and men were "strong and unemotional (well, except for anger)". Once you are able to discard those silly Victorian values, and open yourself up to the joys of a solid relationship with another person, it all makes perfect sense.

    One example: When I was teaching music in the public schools, there was one boy in my class that decided to play flute. I overheard a couple of other students making fun of him, saying that he was playing a "girl" instrument. My comments to them were "I know how to tell a boy puppy from a girl puppy. Please explain to me how you tell a boy instrument from a girl instrument." They were speechless, and there was no further problem in that area. When you realize just how stupid and unfounded some of these ideas are, it is easier to let go of them.
     
  3. madame_zora

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    Headbang, I think your outlook is very sweet. Emotional closeness can mean different things to different people, and why SHOULD gay men have the same kind of relationship that a man might have with a woman? Perhaps that is not really very appealing to them in the first place.

    That being said, I think DC hit it on the head. It's just societal programming that has us acting differently. I am most impressed with the younger generation, there seem to be quite a lot of them who don't seem to have the same hang-ups that people my age were raised with. It may be the one good thing that the lack of parenting of my generation provided! At least we didn't instill our fears and prejudices into them, we let the tv do it.

    Amoung the twenty-something guys I know, they are far more likely to say "I love that guy" and express emotion in hugs and even kisses than would be conceivable for someone my age. I also find them to be more communicative in general, once they find out that I think that's cool. I think young men are still very confused trying to figure out where they fit in in the world, should they be tough and "manly" or be emotional and "girly"? The fact that this is even a struggle is progress though, and I hope the trend continues. Change happens very slow.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    I have known a few strong (yet very feminine) women. I have known a few very emotionally open, yet strong and masculine men. Unfortunately, from my experience, the closer a person is to fitting the "stereotype" of his/her gender, the weaker they tend to be personally and intellectually and socially. "To thine own heart be true - and to hell with peer or social pressure."
     
  5. B_hungrick

    B_hungrick New Member

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    DC Deep, I can't believe how well you put that. Since I grew up in a feminist household, my parents didn't do the gender-specific behavior thing very much. I was encouraged to wear any kind of clothes I wanted, including skirts, & mix it up a bit. It's fascinating to think that stereotypical men have a harder time with integrity (my words), which to me means the same thing as being true to one's self. Though I do think it's more difficult to live a life of self-examination, that to just float along with the crowd. Great post!


     
  6. D_Martin van Burden

    D_Martin van Burden Account Disabled

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    I'm a little confused. At first, I expected this thread to be about gay male relationships, but the focus seems way more general than that. Essentially, how can we still be men, like masculine-type things, and yet be emotionally comfortable like Rick or HSB or whom have you. Is that right?

    I don't fully get it. I see that men are being encouraged to show some more emotional intelligence and display. The whole metrosexual thing complicates stuff. Girls can appreciate a man who holds their bras at Victoria Secret, let alone spray the sweet pea fragrance after a bath. A pink shirt is a must. Hug your friends. It's weird because even as we encourage formerly feminine qualities in our men, society still creates these God awful template representations of what men are supposed to look like.

    I'm in Generation Y, right? I'm pushing 26. And I'm doing fine with some hair color, but I still need that button down pink shirt, some gradient sunglasses, and if I could find a hair product or two, I should stick to it.

    Shouldn't I be more concerned about how to hug a guy friend if he's feeling hurt or upset? And if I do hug him, how high should my arms be? Should I hug underneath his or is it too much if I wrap 'em around his neck and shoulders? And I've got a male co-worker who runs up to me and pets my hair, which automatically has me purring. He laughs and I laugh. Is that acceptable?

    I don't know how they do it, not one bit. I applaud them if they do, and I'm flattered if I'm a recipient. And I'm still thinking about not only how good it feels to be "intimate" with a friend -- even if I'm still trying to figure that out -- but rather how that intimacy impacts or improves the friendship. Needless to say, if I feel like I can talk to my friend about a serious problem instead of football at least some of the time, then that just makes my heart glad. I feel like there's more to the friendship than the competitive, sports, uninteresting, beer-swilling stuff.

    ...not that there's anything wrong with it.
     
  7. 10.5andproudofit

    10.5andproudofit New Member

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    i'm definatly closer with my guy friends then any girlfriend i've ever had. i've hung out with the same best friend since 7th grade. thats like 9 years. no girl can hope to compete with that. same thing with my college roommate. i've lived with him for three years, and again no woman could compete with that. the only woman i think will ever be able to fill the same roll that these two guys do in my life will probably be the woman i marry, and thats how im guessing you determine it is the person you want to spend your life with, they fill a void otherwise untouched by any other person you dated
     
  8. B_hungrick

    B_hungrick New Member

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    I think Dee has said a whole hell of a lot in his post. Interestingly enough Jeff,alias HSB, & me know each other. We met when I was visiting NYC with my girlfriend about a year ago, so I definitely know where he's coming from. For some reason he & I just hit it off online first & then in person. He's like a younger brother to me so I think I feel protective of him & pretty close for an online connection. Maybe it's also about being open to each other. I think it's hard to be open with most other guys. It takes a while to establish the trust,but for some reason Jeff & I did it right away. As far as I'm concerned, just meeting a guy like him has been a great thing as far as LPSG goes for me.



     
  9. D_Martin van Burden

    D_Martin van Burden Account Disabled

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    I'm glad to hear that. When I went out to San Francisco back in November, I met up with a member who offered some good travel advice and sightseeing tips. I got a little tired of my colleagues, so he offered to meet up at my hotel and take me around downtown Van Ness to a few clubs and bars. We met up the next evening for some more sightseeing, which wasn't really all that much considering I circled the entire city via streetcar, tram, and bus all that afternoon.

    I wouldn't call it "brotherhood" just yet, but John and I really hit it off. Heh. In retrospect, I laugh because you don't exactly know to what extent you bring up dick-related things with someone personally from the LPSG. We said our peace, and just hung out. Damn good thing. The man knows his liquor and his Thai food, and being a guy with crazy hair myself, I liked the long mohawk/ponytail thing he was trying to pull.

    I don't have a great traveling budget, but I told him that if I were in the area again, I wouldn't hesitate to look him up. I also offered my digs if he were to come out East. We exchange e-mails and we talk on the phone every few weeks, just to say hey and joke around. For what it's worth, I'd say that we clicked rather well -- that it was nice to meet a local of the town 'cause that positively accentuated the trip -- and on some level I call him a good bud.
     
  10. headbang8

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    Dee,

    I think you've reached the nub of the problem. Whether it's intimacy between friends or intimacy between lovers, the models men see for intimacy are feminine. That is, open up and talk, because sharing your feelings brings you close. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    But you ask a more fundamental question. What's the point of intimacy? Here's my take on it.

    First, intimacy makes us feel safe. Someone who knows me inside-out is not just a friend, but a useful friend. The family members who know us best, can read our feelings and share our history, are likely the most loyal and supportive. If you live in a small community where everyone knows who you are and knows your business, and assuming you all get along, there's a great sense of security. Maybe stifling boredom along with it, but...

    And the partner(s) with whom we're most sexually intimate play a role in helping us frame who we are. Our "significant other" becomes part of our own identity, in a very practical sense. I've been in my current relationship for about six years now, and its the closest and healthiest of my life. And in many ways--socially, financially, sexually--I've become "we" rather than "me". My future has become our future. A shared identity that's bigger than the sum of its parts. That's a natural part of high-order intimacy.

    So think about it. He has to be a pretty good male friend to become a part of who you are. In my observation, that's why intimacy with male friends often comes from sharing the stuff that forms part of your own individual identity.

    Your sporting team. A passionate pastime. School or military service. A distinctive sexual taste. Or even membership in the LPSG.

    Women, on the other hand--and here comes one of those generalisations--use different things to define their identity. In my observation, networks and personal relationships move centre stage. As does talk.

    Women share "intimacies" freely...that is, personal details about themselves, their lives, their feelings. It affirms them. That can be healthy. (It can also be pretty emotionally reckless, IMHO.)

    Of course, men can adopt a women's strategy to gain intimacy with friends, family and lovers. I have male friends, both straight and gay, with whom I've come to know, trust and love simply through candid talk--and that includes one or two from the LPSG. It's satisfying, enriching and rewarding.

    But it's rarer for guys. And there's nothing wrong with that!

    In answer to your question, Dee: how do you gain intimacy with a male friend if social mores don't tell you how to hug him? The answer is, you don't have to. Do anything that feels right. If a gentle hand on the shoulder, Knicks tickets, a game of touch football, ten beers, or a blowjob works better, do that. It's just as legit.

    Maybe hugs come later in male realtionships than in female ones. Not a bad thing, IMHO. Men are more cautious about intimacy; maybe they feel it costs them more. Again, not a bad thing. IN my case, don't become an intimate friend until you've earned my trust.

    I think women and pro-feminist males might do well to recognise that men and women can express love and build intimacy in different ways. Emotionally healthy men DO get intimate. Whether the peculiar character of their intimacy results from social brainwashing or a functioning Y-chromosome is immaterial: they often do it without talk, and just get on with it.

    It really disappoints me when women patronise men as they go off to bond over some male activity, but regard their own gossip over coffee as emotionally nourishing. Even Madame Zora, bless her, as wise and enlightened a woman as you'll find anywhere, referred to the relationship I have with my stogie and carburetor buddy as sweet. Well, it's more than sweet--it's emotionally nourishing. And it's intimate. To dismiss that is misandry of the most callous kind.

    I did originally intend this to be a thread about gay relationships. But it's broadened to talk about how men, in general, become intimate with each other. That's not a bad thing; gay men will be happier if they realise one is a subset of the other.

    And let's get back to the thing that prompted the thread in the first place. Your online grad-student pal is like so many others who have posted here. They call themselves "bisexual" because they can't imagine emotional intimacy man-style. When, in fact, it's been staring at them in the faces of their closest male buddies.
     
  11. headbang8

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    DC DEEP, I love you madly, you know that. And I fundamentaly agree with you. But I think we have to be careful not to confuse gender traits with gender stereotypes. Not to stigmatise the legitimate traits of each gender. And especially not to blame gender stereotyping for just plain being emotionally fucked up.

    Are men more emotionally "open" than women? It seems not. Is that "bad"? Not necessarily. I think that some measure fo emotional reserve benefits both sexes; you don't leap to express every emotion you feel at the moment you feel it. One is sensitive to one's audience and their feelings.

    Does that rob you of joy and spontenaety? No. Does it mean that you're fucked up and repressed? No, though the fucked-up and repressed may share some of the same characteristics, superficially.

    If as woman is spontaneous in talking about her emotions as she feels them, is she more morally virtuous (or less fucked up) than the more reserved man? No.

    If that emotion is anger do we perceive it differently in men and women? Yes, and that's often unfair--male anger is stigmatised more heavily.

    I think we need to be careful not to confuse the typical with the stereotypical. Stereotypes need to be unlearned, but seldom does one change one's type. And one of the greatest differences in types is that of gender.

    Two of the most reliable typological differences between men and women are verbal skills, and spatial-motor skills. Is it social conditioning that makes women lean to the former and men lean to the latter? From what I read in the lay press, these differences seem pretty solidly innate.

    Yet, in a stereotypical way, I am constantly bombarded by the pressure to express my emotions in words, lest I be thought a tight-assed, repressed basket-case. Hey, I'd rather tell my boy I love him through a playful tussle on the living room floor than a greeting card with some "You make me complete" bullshit written inside. He prefers it, too. And I put it to you, this is not because 1) I don't want to show how much I love him, or 2) I'm emotionally inarticulate.

    My point in this thread is simply that gay men fuck themselves up by expecting the emotional communication between two men to be the same type as the emotional communication women engage in.

    Since the feminist revolution, men have surrendered power (at least to some degree), but it seem sto me taht women have not surrendered the emotional agenda to men in the same way. Just MHO.

    And it leads a lot of young gay men to call themselves "bisexual", and assume that they'll need recourse to women for emotional support. My advice is this--read your partner like you would read any other man. Open yourself up to his masculinity, and the emotional connection comes if you don't force a D&M every other day. You'll know if he's "emotionally open" to you--men do, naturally.

    That's being true to thine own self.

    And another thing that helps you be true to yourself is, alas, age and experience. You and I are about the same age, are we not, DCD? As time wears on, I find it easier to get impatient with those living in what the existentailists used to call "bad faith". Oh, well. They'll grow up eventually.
     
  12. B_HungSpermBoy

    B_HungSpermBoy New Member

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    I don't think that just "talking" makes us intimate with other guys. I do a lot of things with my best buddy,Mike, & that includes listening to music, going out to clubs, playing soccer & other sports together & sometimes just hanging out, saying absolutely nothing to each other. I really enjoy just BEING with him. It's like we have this accepting sort of energy together. If we want to talk, we talk. If not, we don't. We don't have to say "I love you", all the time or something. The love between us just is there. We don't have to prove anything. I think this is a real intimate relationship whether we hug or not. Yeh, we hug sometimes,but it's not like we're trying to figure out why we're close. We just are.





     
  13. B_caneadea

    B_caneadea New Member

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    ___________________________________________________
    Thanks, Dee.
    When I read posts like this, I feel that there is hope for all straight people to be able to realize the stupidity of acting the way "society" dictates you should act. So many men need love and affection (I'm not talking about sex here) that they are not getting simply because they are afraid of what others will think or say if they express those feelings.
     
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