Someone on the Steve Pavlina forums wanted to know about male intimacy – I mean intimacy between two straight men. I think I have a few ideas I can write on the topic.
I believe it’s totally natural for men to want to hug, cuddle, touch, and be close to other men. I also believe men are trained not to, and any male who has not made a conscious effort to overcome his social conditioning, especially those who live in countries like the UK and the USA, is likely to be something close to a cripple in social and emotional health.
(Note: I wrote this article before I started my gender transition. I considered myself male at that time. While I believe that I really was a woman deep down, I think everything in this article still makes sense. After all, I was mostly commenting on male social conditioning, and as someone Male Assigned At Birth I knew male conditioning well).
When I came to Spain at the tender age of 14, I definitely was – in fact more than most Brits. I didn’t touch anyone except sexually (if I could) and related with my typically British sense of humour – something akin to playful insults. It’s what I knew how to do.
Slowly, I came to open up emotionally to become much warmer than most Brits. I hug people who I don’t necessarily want to have sex with, quite a lot. I also have a lot of sex with people, but that’s another matter. I have relationships with male friends in which I hug frequently and even say “I love you”. To be honest it doesn’t feel that different from the love I have with women, except that we don’t escalate into the penetrative. I feel it deeply in my heart chakra, and it feels equally good to give and receive.
I have a lot more to explore about social intelligence, something which I need to find creative solutions for as I’m highly sensitive and find it difficult to be in crowded areas or with people who have much negativity in them. Still I’ve gone a long way in my journey, and have crafted a non conventional social life I’m really very happy about.
By the way, you should know for this article that I *think* I’m bisexual (edit: several years later I turned out to be exclusively attracted to women); I have never been with a man so there remains that lingering doubt. So my perspective is unusual, but none of my male friends have sex with me, and I’m not particularly infatuated with them, so I think my advice can serve, just as a man can be simply friends with a woman who he doesn’t want to make love to for whatever reason.
I don’t like to label myself as feminist or anything else*, but I do feel like there are very negative things hammered into us as we learn our identities as either male or female. I do agree there are real differences between the sexes, but I also believe that 1) they may be fewer than most people think, or of a different sort to what they think and 2) whatever the differences, it’s absurd and destructive to *enforce* them. There is no way any person “should” be. Only the way that their soul calls them to be. Be it feminine, masculine, up or down or anything in between.
*Update: now I do.
I actually think that in a more advanced society where social pressure didn’t attempt to change people into its own vision of acceptable, there would be more clearly feminine men, and more clearly masculine women. The latter is a little more common nowadays by the way – it’s more “okay” for a woman to be muscular and competitive than it is for a man to be exuberant, soft and wear a dress. I actually wear women’s clothes sometimes when I am in company that would understand me, because for me it feels “right” when I’m feeling feminine. I’m not saying you have to though. Perhaps my whole point is you don’t have to do or be anything. You choose, no obligation.
Now, closeness and caringness has been dumped into the “feminine” box in our crazy society, and men who break the rules are attacked by their friends. But there’s good news. You can find better friends :p
Society has also decided that it’s a capital offense for men to appear to be in any way homosexual, unless they are. If you are homosexual you will generally be tolerated nowadays, but it’s a scary thing for a guy to admit that he is even so, and for a good reason; you may still be attacked. Those who aren’t homosexual or who choose not to express homosexual attraction try to avoid this possibility of attack as much as possible.
However, many people don’t WANT to attack you for stepping outside the “rules”. And they would also love for you to show them that it is safe to be themselves with you. These are the people who will most benefit you as friends.
Now I’m going to add to this. It’s OK to have sex with people.
It really is.
It’s OK to have sex with women.
It’s OK to have sex with men if you want to.
It’s also OK not to.
It’s OK to hug and touch because you want to hug and touch. You don’t need to get anything “out” of it. It’s love, expressed physically. And those guys who can’t comprehend loving for its own sake are dead inside. Their life is a constant torture, in fact, but they have GOTTEN USED TO the pain of not connecting with people and, with nothing to contrast it with, think they are not feeling pain. They call their state of constant dissatisfaction happiness, reassured by television and the messages of the authority figures in their society that they are doing right, while all the time they and everything else in this damnable matrix sucks out their energy until they die before their time and call it a long happy life.
Am I being a bit harsh here?
But yeah, it’s totally OK to love for the for sake of it.
Touching is love.
It’s totally OK to have sex for the sake of it too.
And it’s totally OK not to if you don’t want to.
And this applies to both sexes.
To have close contact with the same sex as a man, you’re going to have to break a few rules. You need to have male friends who will be open to sharing contact with you, and you’ll also find it helpful to have male friends who will help you feel comfortable in doing so as you learn; friends who already have no sense of discomfort with this intimacy.
I would recommend travel to open your horizons. In Spain, for instance, men are much warmer towards each other, and everyone is warmer towards each other, in fact. For the best experience in this regard, go to South Spain and avoid Barcelona like the plague. (Guess where I live. That’s right. Barcelona, HAH).
Some of the warmest people I’ve met, and the most open to man-on-man platonic love, come from Indonesia. I know a lot of Indonesians online and with more than one I have a deep love relationship including (virtual hugs) and “I love you”s. I plan on living there for a while, so I will update you on what I learn from the experience. 🙂
In general, breaking free from conformity is hard. It basically requires you to mix with non judgmental people, and to be honest – these are rare. I have very select friends because I am very very particular about expressing myself exactly as I am, no mask, no compromise, and I generally find my friends in the spiritual scene – reiki exchanges and such, as well as online. Look, too, anywhere where people mingle who have chosen to question the unbendable precepts of our society. I used to associate with anarchists for instance, and although angry, they are a surprisingly high consciousness lot.
The first step to breaking programming is to recognise it for what it is. The rest of it is basically pushing your comfort zone and getting used to new patterns. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s not that hard in the end. And it’s worth it 😉
Be who you are. 🙂
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