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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First, I feel like I'm a bit young to be asking questions regarding love, but I've been through some things, and I would really like to get advice from someone who actually knows anything about homosexual relationships. So I've just started college, my high school "love" experience has left me terribly...scarred. And one semester into college, I've met another guy with whom I thought I was "in love," and it didn't end well either. Now I'm very cynical towards love, and I don't want to be anywhere near relationships, but the reason for that feels complicated to me. I want someone, but I can't seem to find the right type of guys (since I seem to always be falling for straight guys). Besides that, I've gotten to a point where I tell all my friends that I don't believe in romantic love, and I don't, but I want to believe in it. I feel so confused, and I don't know what to do. I know this is really a very ambiguous question, but if you could offer any sort of advice, I would appreciate it greatly.
My advice to you will sound simple: relax! You are too young to be worrying so much about love. You are now in one of the most exciting times of your life—college—where you have the opportunity to shape your mind and way of viewing the world. This is a rich time to gather knowledge, be creative, and learn all about various kinds of human relationships. You will encounter great mentors and collaborators. You will be inspired and encouraged. You will be disappointed by teachers, and by fellow students. You will have great triumphs and intense challenges. And all of this will help form you into the mature, responsible man the world is waiting for!
In the midst of all this, have some fun! Go out and date, play around, take care of all your needs, be silly and a little naughty (in a safe way). That is one of the perks of college. You don’t need to be in love. You don’t need to commit. That will come. Now is the time to try out different types of guys, different types of relationships, so when you are ready to make a commitment, you will know what you want. In this period of trying things out, many of them will go wrong or not feel right. Great. You now know what you don’t want for the next time.
So, if I were you, I’d give up the concerns about whether you will ever meet the right guy. Until you know really what the right guy is for you, you will always be searching. So, see your college years as one long, fun research project. By graduation, send me your thesis paper, which explains your well-researched conclusions of what the ideal partner for you would be, okay? Five hundred to a thousand words.
And here’s what I have to say about pursuing straight men: Yes, the idea of it is thrilling. Yes, it feels safe because you can pursue something that will never come to fruition so you never have to be vulnerable. And it’s kind of like thinking that you can run through a brick wall. The idea of it sounds exciting, but every time you try, you end up getting smashed full-force. So, go for the straight boys. Keep doing it until you are so bruised from the constant smashing against the brick wall, that you suddenly see how painful it is and maybe stop doing it. Some of us seem to learn that way.
I am 27 years old, and have lived a "mostly" gay life. I am out at work, and with my family. My dad accepts me (now) for who I am, but I haven't spoken to my mother in years, and assume that her feelings haven't changed. Those feelings aren't the most supportive. Because of my mother, I was raised pentecostal, and had a lot of religion instilled into me. Honestly, I do believe in Christ, and believe he died for our sins. And with that lies my struggle. I am completely torn between my Christian belief, and my homosexuality.
On another side, I had a period in my life where I had struggled financially, and was so enveloped in trying to save the shambles of my life that my boyfriend (who said he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me) decided to leave. At a time when I needed him most... how's that for love? Ever since then, I've found myself become more and more of a recluse. I find it extremeley challenging to connect with people, and when there is a chance that I could connect, I find a reason to stop it from happening. Like right now, I have plans to fly out to Seattle with a friend from high school, and over and over in my head I try to think of a way to get out of it, even though I want to go. I just can't put my finger on why I do this.
— Another Joe
Dear Another Joe,
We have some things in common that go even beyond our name. I, too, feel often the desire to be alone. I used to think that it was a problem, until I realized that when I got the impulse to be alone, that usually meant that I had some stuff to deal with that could only be done on my own, and in silence, without distractions. I used to get nervous thinking there was something wrong with me for wanting to spend some time by myself.
But, in fact, the thing that seems to you now like a problem may actually be a solution. It sounds like a deeper part of yourself is asking you to spend some time going within, doing some meditating, and contemplating some important life questions, or healing some hurts. Let’s see, I wonder what those could be? How about the pain and resentment you are still feeling about your ex? Or your mother’s rejection? Or your mental gymnastics about what it means to be a Christian and be gay? How about those for a start?
Joe, this is important: when the call to go within emerges, the healthiest thing to do is listen to it and find the time to be alone and do the contemplating, the healing, the nurturing. Not honoring this call leads to depression, to anxiety, stress and low energy, and also to a common problem amongst gay men—chronic isolation.
Taking time to be alone to heal, contemplate and nurture is healthy, and, when done in a responsible way, leads to growth and joy. When you have done the appropriate work, you will notice that the need to be alone fades away. When you don’t plan some time alone to do the necessary work, the need to be on your own will never go away and you will find yourself caught in the thick mud of depression and isolation.
So, find your balance, Joe. Take time to be alone to look at some important issues and also spend some time with people you trust. Take control of your time and energy.
Wishing you peace and resolution,
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 is currently writing a book entitled “Respectful Confrontation: the Path to Compassionate Engagement, True Power and Personal Freedom.” 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 leads lectures and workshops in Respectful Confrontation around the world. He currently has spaces open for new coaching and bodywork/erotic healing clients. For more info, click here.