There’s still a lot of things I don’t know, I admit. And I never want to stop learning..no matter how old I am. Today, I want to share some things that I wish my older self could have told my younger self about “straight guys.” At times, I still have to remind myself of some of these things because they still can go against my natural inclinations. Regardless if you are SSA or not, you may have felt the difficulty of relating to and fitting in with guys like I have. So maybe this will help you along the journey…
- Show Up and Join In
Girls and gay guys probably will give you a big greeting and welcome with hugs when you arrive somewhere. I don’t know about you, but I like feeling accepted and like I have a place to belong. The smile and hug are important to me. But most straight guys(there’s always exceptions)may not think to do this, especially if you’re new. Guys normally will expect you to join in and create your own place amongst them.
Little over a year and half ago, I moved to Virginia. This happened to be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I think it was hard because I knew no one here and started over completely. There were many months of countless lonely nights, even though I was surrounded by acquaintances that I work with. There was a group of guys that I met that live together. Early on, they told me that their house is always open and I can basically come over anytime I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated this gesture…but I didn’t trust or believe their words. Other than that statement, I didn’t see any real effort(action) to connect with me, so I didn’t really take advantage of it to be honest. I guess I allowed my insecurity and distrust of straight men get the best of me with this instance. Looking back, I see that this was actually an invitation to relate to me. But all I could think of is that I wanted my desire to be loved and sought out filled only in the ways that speak to me: hug me and let’s spend some quality one-on-one time together in deep heart conversation. If I had just joined in and not waited for them to approach me like I desired, maybe the opportunity would have been rewarding. But hey, you live and learn. So the natural thing that guys do where they just automatically join in or make a place for themselves…well, that isn’t so natural for me. It’s way more comfortable, easy, and less threatening to remain passive and wait for others to make a place for me. But I’m learning that doing that doesn’t embrace my true masculinity.
- Just Do It
For myself, it’s always been easiest to get along with females. I think one of the main things that contributes to this for me is the fact that women usually are more empathetic, feeling oriented, and conversation driven. When I think about hanging out with guys, I first expect to meet up for coffee(even though I hate coffee and will probably get a chocolatey drink instead!), to sit one-on-one, engrossed in deep conversation. However, generally speaking, this isn’t going to be the first thought to come to a straight guy’s brain when wanting to hang out.
“Men develop shoulder-to-shoulder or side-by-side friendships based on doing activities together as compared to women who develop friendships in which they interact more personally or intimately.” Geoffrey Greif from Buddy System
The best way to grow in friendship with straight men is to DO things with them. In the midst of the doing, there probably will be opportunity for conversation. I guess the “doing” helps unarm things? I don’t know. There have been many times where I’ve had to fight my urges to say no in order to push myself to say yes to an activity or sport that I loathe just so I can get that opportunity with a guy in friendship. When you think about it, love does sacrifice self for others. Most times, I’d say it’s worth it and I should probably do it more often than I do!
- What You See Is What You Get
Most straight guys talk very direct and blunt. They say what they mean or don’t say anything at all. There usually are no hidden meanings. I know for me, it’s easy to allow my thoughts to run away from me at times with interactions with straight guys. Because of insecurities, questions of intentions and interpreting actions or lack of actions can be dangerous. Many times, I have to tell my brain to just stop thinking so much, relax, and just enjoy the friendship for what it is. Don’t make things more than what they are and be present; this is always helpful.
In 2006, for a bit, I had a roommate that was at least 20 years older than me. We worked together in ministry in Arizona. At that point in my life, I still had a lot of distrust toward men and self-protecting walls up. God used this roommate to help chisel away at some of this in my heart. At first, this was so strange but he enjoyed walking around the house when he brushed his teeth. This was never a quick thing and he always would try to carry on a conversation with me while he brushed. After time, this became “our thing”…where I learned to translate his muffled words pretty accurately. I have never been a morning person, nor do I like having to face people first thing. It usually takes me at least an hour to get beyond my introversion and wake up to care to try to carry on a conversation in the morning. Well, you guessed it! My roommate WAS a morning person…so yet again, he would always try to talk to me first thing. Eventually he learned my habits and we learned to communicate to one another with simple gestures, grunts, sighs, and sounds. That way, he was able to get his needs met by conversing and I was able to get my met because it was very minimalistic.
I share about this roommate just to show that I came to really appreciate him because he didn’t try to put on a facade and just was him around me. Whether through one sound in the morning or muffled wet words at night, he just was. And if I’m honest, I miss having that kind of constant companionship with a guy, just enjoying being dudes.
- Expect Differences
When building any friendship one should eventually expect differences..this should be no surprise to also occur between an SSA male and OSA male. In conversation, there will most likely be interruptions, disagreements, contradictions, and challenges in dialogue. I could go on and on about differences like what each may find are fun as hobbies, how each talk, attractions, etc. But the point here is to always look for commonalities because these are what really help to build memories and strong friendships. If you look hard enough and long enough honestly, I bet you’ll begin to see some. So my advice, don’t give up!
- It’s All Just For Fun
Between straight male friendships, there seems to always exist some level of joking around and rough-housing. It’s how they show affection and that there’s comfortability and closeness established. For the SSA guy, this can easily be misunderstood and received as rejection. If you missed it, I shared a personal story about this here: My Problem With Nudity. That physical dynamic can definitely be hard to enter into for a SSA male. I know for me, instead of wanting to show my affection through those means, I gravitate toward caring physical touch or an emotional connect. I didn’t grow up with brothers so I never felt included when guys rough-house. I always chalked it up to being immature and juvenile and that I was “too mature” for that kind of display…while all the time inside something screams, wanting to join in but not knowing how.
Robert Lewis says that male “friendships are maintained at a physical and emotional distance because men fear emotional and physical closeness, which they link to homosexuality.”
LEAVE A COMMENT
Are there other differences that you notice between straight guys and gay or SSA guys? Have you found these things mentioned to be true? What helps you to relate to straight guys?