I need more male friends

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(This may seem an odd post to follow my last one about my increasing comfort with being alone and not being so desperate in seeking friendship, but both are true. If I had have felt this desire eight years ago there would have been an emotional desperation in it whereas now it’s more an intellectual acknowledgement.)

In the past couple of months two female friends have asked me out and I sense a third would if they didn’t already know about my same sex attraction issues. It always feels uncomfortable in terms of the non-reciprocation aspect of my desires and awkward in how to kindly say no. You may be thinking ‘come out and your problems are solved’, but working at the school I do means this is not a viable option and I generally don’t feel the need to tell everyone about it.

To me part of the solution, unfortunately, seems to be to reduce the amount of time I spend with females.

Somehow most of my ‘local’ friends; the type who ask ‘are you doing anything tonight?’ or for lunch an hour before it happens are mainly female. I genuinely enjoy their company, but I wonder whether I’m leading them on somehow or it’s entirely helpful to be spending significant amounts of time in their company.

It wasn’t always like this. I remember times in my life where I would go weeks and months without having any female only (and me) social occasions. There were times where I lived with guys, worked with guys and hang out with guys on the weekend, but I’m at a different stage of life now.

My closest male friend is about 2.5kms away, but he’s married with two girls and we rarely spend time together that doesn’t involve his whole family as well. My other male friends, and God has blessed me with many, live an hour away or interstate or overseas. My female friends tend to live within an hour and are all single which increases the amount of time they have available to hang as well. In some ways this highlights the fact that my male friendships are supported by intentionality and effort whereas female friendships seem to happen because they are here.

Most of the time I enjoy friendships with either sex equally. It’s great to sit down and chat and make jokes and get my female friends to laugh in front of a fire on a winter’s afternoon and it’s enjoyable to hang out and do stuff with male friends. I do notice the absence of male friendship and conversation if I am without it for a while though. I just get on better with them and it feels easier at times. One aspect of my new workplace that is different is that I share an office with mainly females whereas last year it included an extroverted male. I saw him earlier in the week and it crystalized one of the reasons that working this year feels slightly less enjoyable than last year in some ways.

I guess the solution to this is effort on my part in being involved in local things and taking opportunities at church that involve working closely with others. Do what I should be doing anyway and see what happens.

It also, to some degree, highlights an issue that perhaps the church can do something about in regards to same sex attraction. As I get older and more and more of friends are married with children, my available social outlets will diminish. It seems that couples or families are less likely to feel the need to text someone to hang out, which puts me in the uncomfortable position of doing more and more of the initiation. I’m not going to go ‘oh this is horrible’ and get a boyfriend, but I think it’s a reason that some people use and it would be good if the church was such a great family itself that it removed the plausibility of this excuse.

Later thoughts partly inspired by http://spiritualfriendship.org/2013/07/16/what-does-genesis-218-really-teach/

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I’ll stay home tonight

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I’ve been unsocial lately. I’ve preferred to stay at home and read (or something similar) rather than initiate social activities or make phone calls or write emails. This new state is most obvious when I see how long it’s been since I’ve texted certain people or messaged others on facebook. I have still accepted invitations when others initiate such as the five social events in 3.5 days I have coming up next week.

I write about this as it feels as if this ‘change’ in my life has arrived unannounced.

Back through my teenage years and early 20s, I felt as if I was never social enough. I didn’t have enough friends or weekend plans or skype time or receive enough text messages. To combat this problem I would always be on the look-out for the next appropriate opportunity to initiate these things.

A niggling part of me, perhaps the part that remembers all the effort I used to invest in having opportunities to socialise, feels disconcerted by this turn of events and wants me to do some social things soon such as texting all the people in my phone contacts who I could conceivably send one to or inviting people over for lunch.

I’m not exactly sure what brought this on. It’s true that usually on weeknights after work I don’t seek company as I’m an emotionally drained introvert following non-stop interactions all day, but even after 2.5 weeks away from a classroom of teenagers I’m still enjoying my own company. Perhaps I’m aging and becoming less inclined to explore new relational landscapes. Perhaps I’m content with doing my own thing and there are plenty of these things to do. Perhaps I’m embracing my introversion.

Regardless, there has to be some kind of balance as losing contact with people and becoming a hermit is not a particularly healthy option although a beachside house nestled among the trees has a certain appeal. It’s also not a good idea to be physically present without trying to talk to people or care about and love them.

Overall, I sense it’s a good thing. Some of my ‘socialising’ and attempts at connection five years ago was driven more by a desperation to feel as if I met a certain standard of how much seeing people an early 20-something should do. This in turn led to valuing the event or the text rather than the person themselves, which wasn’t always the best thing for my relationships. Hopefully this new indifference to socialising means my interactions themselves will be more wholesome and better for the other person.

A few weeks ago I had lunch with a couple of friends and then we moved across the café to sit in front of the fire and talked for a couple of hours. It was wonderful to be me and enjoy them. Sometimes it’s worth going out, but the ability to be comfortable staying home means when I am out I’m freer now.

The green, green grass of home

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The two great desires of the human heart seem to be the call to return to what was, the place we came from; the place that formed us, and to go forward into the unknown with all its promise and opportunity.

Returning to my parents’ farm where I grew up for the three weeks of the winter school holidays, has me pondering the desire to come back. I’m here to work on their property with its beef cattle and I’m loving the fresh air and flat expanse of land that makes it easy to catch the sunrise and sunset on the horizon. I’m loving their warm house with the open fire and frequent roast meat and potatoes along with the choc chip cookies fresh out of the oven. All this is creating a longing in me for something intangible and I start to think about how happy I must have been as a teenager to have all this here. Then I remember the exhortation in Ecclesiastes to “Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this”.

Of course, the truth is that being here as a teenager wasn’t all sunsets and green grass. It was hard.

And, so, my current appreciation for my parents’ home and all its benefits is in fact informed by all the experiences I had away. Being away healed my relationship with my parents, it matured me so that I can think about life in a right and truthful way, it made me appreciate choc chip cookies as my healthy lifestyle means they’re not a big part of my life now, and a huge term of teaching tired me out and made me ready to enjoy a change of scenery, but also ready to continue to work hard in a more physical way.

Those desires to return to go forth are part of life, but it’s wise to think about them in a proper perspective and take heed of the wisdom available in God’s word.