Be the man

I’VE been weird places with my brokenness this year. Like, I have been interested, infatuated, one-sided emotionally interested in four guys this year. It’s crazy. I thought intensely desiring a guy would disappear as I got older and dealt with my issues, but it’s intensified. Yeah, yeah…if your memory stretches back four months you’ll know my last two posts were also about this topic. That’s because nothing frustrates me more about my battle and it is the hardest part of it to deal with.

So who was lucky number four; you ask? Well a couple of months ago I had to move house and I was looking to board somewhere as I hoped (and still do) to move to the city soon, which ruled out renting on my own. The people that responded to my advertisement in the newspaper were a married couple in their mid-40s with a big house and only a daughter at home. They also had a young guy boarding with them. Maybe I set myself up for it; I did start to wonder what the guy would be like and whether we would get on and what he would look like. I didn’t envisage how it would end up though. It was worse then I could have imagined and better.

First impressions were he was an average looking, nice late teenager. Three weeks later I was fighting to stop thinking about him. I don’t know what exactly clicked or reacted that set me off. We had a few conversations in those three weeks. They were nothing special. But he was busy; I was busy, so there wasn’t much more than that. Even though we used the same bathroom I hadn’t seen him shirtless or anything, so there was nothing that way either.

My guess is that I kind of set myself up for it with wondering too much what he would be like and hoping that we would get on and it would be a healthy male bonding experience for me. There’s nothing wrong with hoping, but I’m sure my brain could twist that into a ‘well if you’re not going to be mates, you might as well get some excitement by being infatuated with him’. Another thing is I don’t talk and spend time with a lot males whom adhere to cultural ideas about masculinity. This is a guy who plays football, seems confident, gets drunk on the weekend and has a large group of ‘mates’ he hangs with frequently. He seemed like he was having a pretty good life in ways I guess I felt I missed out on when I was 18. (Part of this is irrational. It’s the excitement of the foreign as opposed to the guys I’ve known for a while and are friends with).

Other reasons? I guess he comes across as kind of self absorbed. I don’t know why that should be appealing. But it’s one of his notable characteristics. He seems confident and also makes himself vulnerable. He talks deeply about himself quite easily…..what’s the point of writing all this down? I guess I’m curious as to why it happened, how it won’t happen next time, what’s happening inside me that I need to deal with.

To begin with I fought this infatuation well. ‘Dear God, this is my idolatry. I want to want you more than him, but I don’t right now please forgive me.’ Must have prayed that heaps for a few days. I also told a few people about the infatuation. My parents (that was a pretty good conversation in a way; they are people who absolutely care for me and though they don’t know the right responses to make they listen and engage) and a couple of friends. It was downhill from there.

I hated having an infatuation on a housemate, because you can’t get away from him. (It could have been worse thankfully he was away on the weekends and often went to his room and watched a movie). I hated it how my brain was trying to plan my morning around seeing him. ‘Okay, if we have breakfast at 7.15am and shower at 8.05am we might just catch him at 8.20am when he brushes his teeth’ or later ‘if you do shorthand practice at 7.50am you will see him walk to his room’. It was crazy stuff. Then I’m wondering whether I’m doing this cause it’s the best way to do it or because it increases my chances of seeing him.

I ‘loved’ having an infatuation on a housemate. Like, I actually got to talk to him and see him. Usually my infatuations are with guys in the distance. For example the infatuation went super strong the night we had a spa. There’s an outdoor spa at the house and I hadn’t had one, so I was going to have one and he said he would join. It was an amazing hour and a half of good flowing conversation, mainly him sharing things about his life, with a couple of beers. It, and the other couple of times we had spas, would literally be like a shock to me. I would think about them and what was said for a couple of days later. It would literally take those couple of days to recover. Here was a guy I liked sharing stuff with me, being friendly and having a pretty deep convo. It was kind of intoxicating. The convos were also unhelpful. Let’s just say the last one we spent half the time talking about girls. He said stuff that wasn’t healthy to hear and I asked probing questions I shouldn’t have. We also chatted about God, sin etc a bit as well.

Thankfully he’s leaving in a few days. The part of me that was sad about this has mourned. The other part is counting down the days and can’t wait to not have this interest taking up a lot of brain power. It’s the bigger part now. It’s possible I will never see him again; I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m going to take some good things away from this: the acceptance from a ‘guy, guy’ who I didn’t know three months ago, insights into the lives of younger guys and a first-hand knowledge the guys I envied five years ago don’t actually have it all.

It’s weird. I was totally wrong about him. He wasn’t just the confident and happy person I imagined him to be. He was also insecure, broken, frustrated and hurting kid. The funny thing is that I wanted him to bestow on me masculine acceptance, but he actually needed me to initiate a healthy form of masculine encouragement for him. Apart from the sin in my head and in my questions, this is the biggest thing I’d do differently if I could do-over the whole episode. Instead of hoping he’d come to me and be what I needed; I’d go to him and be what he needed. A more mature guy to come alongside him and cheer and fight. Instead of seeing myself as weak and him as strong; I’d see us as both weak and strong in different ways.

I welcome any thoughts or insights you have…

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8 thoughts on “Be the man

  1. I am always a little surprised when I hear people talk about expecting their struggle to diminish when they get older.   Why would you expect that chronological age would have anything to do with it?  It’s emotional age that counts.   And as far as this part of your struggle you’ve got a pretty good handle on some things. Your next to last paragraph says it all… “It’s weird. I was totally wrong about him. He wasn’t just the confident and happy person I imagined him to be. He was also insecure, broken, frustrated and hurting kid. The funny thing is that I wanted him to bestow on me masculine acceptance, but he actually needed me to initiate a healthy form of masculine encouragement for him. Apart from the sin in my head and in my questions, this is the biggest thing I’d do differently if I could do-over the whole episode. Instead of hoping he’d come to me and be what I needed; I’d go to him and be what he needed. A more mature guy to come alongside him and cheer and fight. Instead of seeing myself as weak and him as strong; I’d see us as both weak and strong in different ways.”We keep expecting and looking for guys to imprint us with something of their masculine identity.  We know we need someone to help us discover our own masculine identity, but we find it most powerfully when we do what you did for this young man.   There are two things here which are powerfully life changing for us, which build our masculinity.   1) Taking the first step to give another male approval and assurance of their own masculinity.  2) Being around guys who are just as needy and broken as we are.   This is the means to growing our own sense of masculinity.   One of the first and most powerful expressions of the masculine identity is “reaching out toward and into the world first.”   This is how God treats us…He reaches to us in our need, before we could ever reach toward Him.   This is perhaps the most powerful or masculine acts there is.    And like anything else if you want to build your masculine identity you have to work it out, just as you do your muscles if you want to build them.    This makes sense doesn’t it?The problem is we keep operating under the powerful but childish expectation that the men of the world give us; stamp; imprint upon us, their masculinity.   Part of the sin of homosexuality is that instead of finding our own masculinity is that we attempt to take it from someone else; we want it to rub off when we’re naked in bed with him.   God created Chris to have his own masculine identity, and you can’t take from another man’s identity anyway.   Chris’ masculine identity may be different from the 18-year-old footballer, but it’s the masculine identity God intends for Chris;  it’s all Chris and not dependant upon any sexual fantasy or act.   God simply doesn’t want you to go on denying the wonderful masculinity He’s given you by coveting some other guy’s.  Don’t get me wrong other men do help us, they plant in us and water us, not unlike a farmer does his crops.  But the growth is in God’s hands.   You have to plant and nurture those masculine characteristics God desires for you to have.   Just as you did for this young man, you have to take the first steps.  All the materials are there Chris, you simply have to be open, willing, and obedient.   I think you’re growing more than even you know.    Now as to the infatuations themselves, well, I have a two post about  this subject here:  http://the-strugglers-place.xanga.com/690977992/toolbox-17-part-i/ and here:   http://the-strugglers-place.xanga.com/690977206/toolbox-17-part-ii/   See, just as our bodies hunger for food, so our masculine identities need food.   I’d think this would be something we’d naturally understand, but I guess people really don’t.   You have deep emotional needs as a male.   So the feelings of attraction to other men is completely natural, just as the feeling of hunger is natural when you need to eat food.   The problem is we allow/force that natural hunger to take on an unnatural sexual context.   So instead of “feeding” the natural hunger, we change the nature of hunger pangs.   I call it the “dinner bell”.  When we’re emotionally hungry our masculine souls only know how to tell us one way of our deep emotional need or “hunger”, and that’s through sexual desire.   So when our souls are hungry, we experience it as “sexual desire”, because that’s the “dinner bell”, hunger pang; hungry sensation, we’ve given our souls to use on us.   So now we “naturally” experience the soul’s hunger or need as sexual.   What we have to learn to realize is that since we disconnected our natural “dinner bell” or “hunger pangs” and replaced it with an unnatural one we need to learn to disconnect the “dinner bell”, or to reinterpret those feelings back into the natural desires we started out with.   What at first appears to us as “sexual” is just the soul ringing that “dinner bell” telling us we need to feed our souls.   Another problem is you’ve spent so much time feeding your soul sexual garbage that you’ve now developed a taste for it.   The way I learned to handle this was through prayer.  Right where I was, standing there with the guy I was feeling infatuated with, I’d be saying in my mind, “God what is really going on here?”   “God what is the real need, that is being covered up by sexual feelings?”   “God would you strip away the sexual lie, and reveal to me the real underlying emotional need?”   Sometimes it would take a few days, but eventually God would bring me the understanding I needed.   Once I had the right answer, I’d take time to “feed” myself the good and proper emotional food I needed.   It’s made all the difference in my life.    When I started doing this the infatuations got weaker, less frequent, and I’d only feel the “pull” toward the other guy for a matter of hours usually, but never longer than a week.   After the “pull” of infatuation left me, I’d always, always, laugh at myself and wonder what I ever saw in this other guy.   There was never a time this didn’t happen.   I hope what God’s taught me is helpful to you in your journey. Lonnie          

  2. tough situation. i’m dealing with something similar. yet, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for both of us. i’d say see him leaving as a blessing so that you can focus more on the Savior, the Redeemer, the Prince of Peace.

  3. I appreciate your open, honest post, and I appreciate Lonnie’s response to you. I am glad you were able to learn from the experience, and I hope you can use what you’ve learned to form meaningful connections with brothers in Christ. Thanks again for your insightful post…I know many people are nodding and seeing themselves in your courageous words.

  4. @Such_Were_You – Hey Lonnie, thanks so much for your long reply and great advice. I’ve read it a few times now. I just got to keep at it; doing all the stuff I know I should. One thing I was wondering is why I seem to have a pull towards self-absorbed kind of people? It’s like something of their careless attitude and immaturity is attractive to my subconscious. Thanks for the links to your past posts. I have read them again. I’m ready to intensify my fighting.Chris

  5. @Chrisjb7 – You know this is a question which has plagued me over the years.   I feel like I’ve got some of the pieces to this puzzle.   First, We are drawn to men who are not unlike the most important men in our lives, when we were children.   I don’t know your dad, or the males which were most important to you, but I’d bet my life that in your early childhood the most important males in your life were self-absorbed and emotionally distant from you.  The most important male(s) may not be that way now, but during your early formative years this person(s) was self-absorbed and emotionally distant.   You had emotional needs that the important male figure(s) should have met, but didn’t.   So it would be natural to be attracted to the type of person, who is similar, emotionally, to the person, who didn’t meet your needs in childhood.   If you can get a guy, like the  most important guy of your childhood, to “accept, affirm, and love you” then you feel it will fulfill you.   Unfortunately, we can never get this kind of person, male or female, to ever truly love us.  Part of maturing is learning that this desire of ours for a guy just like “dear old dad” isn’t healthy.   We need to find people who are actually nothing like dear old dad.  Men who are emotionally healthy, and able to demonstrate real love understanding and acceptance.   Now if your dad has changed, and is healthy, loving and accepting then you may begin to draw on that.   Though I do have a suspicion that this kind of thing may not be easy or even possible.  We have spent our entire lives in the relationships we have with our dads/important males, and the dynamics of that relationship may not ever allow us to form healthy relationships.  It may be necessary to form relationship with healthy males outside our family first, so that we form completely new relationship dynamics.  Once we learn to have healthy relationships within a family outside our family we may then be able to form new healthy relations with our families.  At least we can hope.   My father never became a healthy kind of person, so I’ll never know.  Second, we are able to recognize the same kind of emotional brokenness we suffer with, in other people.   The fact that this 18 year old, you talk about in this post, is straight has nothing to do with anything.   I’ve learned that sexual brokenness is the same for all human beings.  If the most important same-sex person in our lives isn’t able to connect with us, then it leaves us susceptible to sexual brokenness.  The orientation thing is a matter of depth perception.   You are sensitive to what you’ve suffered, and when you “feel” it in another person, it draws you to that person.   I always know when I’ve met another person who is/was sexually broken.  I’m drawn to them like a magnet.  It’s kind of like what is known as “gaydar”.   The difference is I realized it wasn’t just gay people who put off the “vibe” sexually broken people put off.  “Straight” people can have the same brokenness, and I feel the same emotional draw to them.   Years ago I’d have said it was sexual, but now I know that it’s not sexual at all.  I’m just drawn to broken people, who tend toward sexual brokenness.  You have to learn to reinterpret that feeling, so that you can begin to see how you can reach to them and help them the way you did the young man you talk about in your post.   Does that answer your question, or have I only added to the confusion?Lonnie 

  6. Yeah it has answered my question. I wasn’t expecting that answer though it makes sense. I guess my dad could have been interpreted as being self-absorbed by me when he was watching TV or reading the paper instead of giving me attention (obviously a selfish desire on my part as well). The guys have been infatuated with lately have tended to be a bit younger then me and I guess that makes sense that people older have worked on some of their issues so don’t have that brokenness in the same degree or as obvious anymore.It’s an interesting thought that I am still looking for love from whoever I didn’t get it from years ago. I guess with this guy my interpretation has been that he was here, masculine and I guess the other factor is the brokenness I sensed. The thing with my dad is a lot of it was my interpretation of him. I wanted a more active, initiating kind of love rather than his providing food and clothes love. We’re better these days. We can talk for 20 mins on the phone or in person. I hugged him a couple of months ago and he responded with this wonderful huge and tight, just long enough hug. I love my dad. And I’m okay with the fact he wasn’t what I wanted him to be when I was five-years-old or whatever. Sad for him and his issues. Sad for me. But the world is broken and I can’t demand perfect things from sinners just as people can’t expect too much from me. I’ve had a lot of older guys come into my life over the past four years or so who have had a presence and that is obviously God working.  Do I think this guy is sexually broken? For sure, but I wouldn’t say he is broken in ways that are unusual for his generation. Hmmmm.

  7. @Chrisjb7 – That my friend is a very mature attitude.  Build that attitude by continually drawing close to God, and always pursuing His best for you.  I’d give you a big hug if I could get at you. 

  8. I’m sure that you are stronger for what you experienced, especially since you recognize your areas of weakness!  I think that whoever you feel called to come alongside of, will be very privileged to have the benefit of your helpful friendship!David

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