Welcome to "Ask Joe," our RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe—concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.
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I find myself split at times, because I have a wide range of interests—from theater to chemistry, architecture to history, art and MMA. I find it hard to connect with other guys I meet because it seems they can only speak to me about a certain subject. I’ll ask them if they are reading anything currently and some say, “Books?” So I don’t know what I may be doing wrong, if I am finding them at odd places or something. Also, it is hard for me to meet guys at the gym. I see them staring at me while I workout but I don’t know if it is a sizing-up stare or if it means they find me attractive. I also think it's strange that some find me hard to talk to or intimidating. I act normal. I say "hi" to people I see frequently and I also smile, so I don’t know what this “intimidation” is about.
Do you have any advice on making a connection?
Thank you for your letter. You sum up so eloquently what many of us suffer from in our modern, urban life—particularly that of an intellectual gay man. You think too much!
When you experience your life, yourself and the world from your thoughts and opinions, it becomes very frustrating, and lonely. When you spend your time compartmentalizing and judging, you shut down your ability to connect from a deeper level, where you really engage with life instead of observing it and taking distance from it. When you experience your life as an observer, others may interpret that as intimidating and find you hard to talk to.
You say you are split. I would agree. You are split from your feelings, from your joy, from your creativity, from your curiosity, from your heart and soul. No, you can’t expect someone to have all the interests you do. But there must be some common ground. Instead of seeing where they are lacking (intellectual judgment), be curious and find out more about them. I have friends who I can talk “books” with during a nice quiet dinner and that is so satisfying to me, but I would never go out dancing with them. And I have friends that I love to go to a ballgame with, laugh, goof around, and that is also very satisfying to me but we never talk about books or politics. I don’t expect them to be other than they are. And I feel loved, supported and nurtured by all of them.
You notice that guys are checking you out at the gym. Great! Get past your need to figure out what their reason may be for looking at you (this is where you get mentally stuck) and tap into your feelings. Does this guy turn you on? Would it feel good to reciprocate his advances? If the answer is yes, then go and engage with him. If you don’t take action, you remain a prisoner of your own intelligence and mental sophistication.
I have learned from all my travels around the world, that everyone has a story to tell that is beautiful and unique, and hearing their story opens my heart, teaches me something new and makes me a richer person. Get past your way of viewing people according to your own codes and compartments and see them for who they really are. You will be surprised, you will begin to feel the world in a deeper way, you will find deeper connections with others and you will feel deep satisfaction.
Get out there and do—don't think,
I am a masculine 45 year-old male who has lived my entire adult life as a heterosexual. However, there has always been a bi-curious side to my personality that I have never shared with anyone. Even though my bisexual tendencies are undeniably evident to me, I have never acted upon those feelings with another person. Lately, though, my curiosity has been getting the better of me.
Since I am not comfortable with frequenting gay establishments, I have established non-descript profiles on social networking sites in hopes of forming friendships with other bisexual men. What I have encountered are mostly gay men who are extremely aggressive. They want facial pictures and in-person meetings immediately! This makes me extremely uncomfortable because I am still trying to come to terms with my own sexuality. I am not used to people be so sexually forward, especially not people of the same sex. Ultimately, I'd like to have a bisexual encounter if for no other reason than to see what the experience would be like. However, I am extremely nervous and uncomfortable about approaching people and with the thought of having sex with another guy, primarily because I am afraid of how I will feel about myself afterwards. I'll sometimes catch a glimpse of a nude man in the locker room and feel completely turned off at the sight of him. I really could use some advice on how to come to terms with this confusion. Could it simply be that I'm just not ready to fully explore that side of my personality. What advice can you give?
There is no opportunity to move up for the forseeable future and no other departments have been hiring since I started working there so it seems I'm stuck, for the time-being. The past couple years I have worked for lower pay and have worked awful shifts because I knew I was lucky to be working but at this point I'm almost unbearably frustrated and would like to try to make this situation work rather than leave, but I wonder if that's even possible now.
I would recommend you make a decision about whether you want to explore your desires or not and then just do it. As far as I know, no one has been struck down by lightning for engaging in an innocent, consensual, respectful sexual encounter. I’m sure you’ve thought about it enough. Just do it. It's only sex, after all, and It will not change you for life. Try to let go of the labels—having sex with a man won’t turn you into something you aren’t.
The only question that needs to be asked is, “are you attracted to men?” If the answer is “yes,” then the next questions is ” do you want to act on it and actually fulfill your desires and needs?” I always advocate for fulfilling your desires and needs, as long as it is done in a mindful, safe, and respectful way. Maybe you need to do it once just to satisfy your curiosity. You may discover that it is not as special as you are making it. You may not like it. You may even find it… gulp… normal.
I think it is great you are already looking to find ways to connect with men. And surprise, dear man, you are discovering, as women experience all the time in the hetero world, that men can be pigs. Keep trying, set your boundaries, just be clearer on what you are looking for, and don’t say yes until you find it. There are great, sensitive, sexy men out there. I would suggest you find some clubs and organizations for bi men. You may find someone to date or have sex with, or you just may find friends who resonate with you in ways that other people in your life don’t.
So, take it slow, but do your best to follow your desires and your heart. You are an adult man. Trust that you can take care of yourself and not lose yourself in the process.
Go out and have fun,
About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit www.joeweston.com.
Joe will be offering a monthly class in Oakland, CA: Full Body Meditation, combining different physical disciplines as a preparation for a successful mediation. Check here for details. He is also leading a Respectful Confrontation weekend workshop in Vancouver, BC, Canada from June 11 - 15, and offers a 25 dollar discount to RealJock readers. For more info, click here.