YOU DON'T KNOW ME...I DON'T WANT TO BE KNOWN

  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 1:33 AM GMT
    In the two years I've been single (after 16 years partnered) and the ensuing dating and (honestly) sport fucking fun I've enjoyed, I've developed a slightly reaching hypothesis based on some observations. I'm wondering if anybody else feels similarly, and I'm curious about guys' thoughts on this.

    Basically, it's that many of us develop a level of discomfort, even
    fear, of "being known" or "unmasked" that either prevents or disrupts our long-term emotionally intimate relationships.

    I believe that it adds to the desire to flirt and fuck outside the relationship. (Not relative to open relationships...okay?) It increases the desire to return to a place where you can be enigmatic and not be second guessed, where your vulnerabilities, liabilities, frailties, short comings and less desirable qualities simply don't enter into the equation because they're not exposed, yet, and so you can manifest yourself as something more ideal. It's a very powerful drug - to be desired and to be able to have someone think more of you than you think of yourself (or even, I suppose in some instances, as much as you think of yourself LOL). (This is NOT to say that this doesn't also manifest itself in open relationships - and I have NO interest in casting those partnerships as less-than. I don't think this is the "cause" - ouch - of a decision to have an open relationship, and I see no reason to turn this into a discussion of the validity thereof...Please!)

    It's a dilemma, for me at least, this deep and real desire to be known, to have someone completely understand and accept me in the face of the impossible or at least unreasonable task for that guy to not use that knowledge or apply it when objectifying me sexually and/or being objectified by me as our relationship matures and time passes. I simply don't believe it's possible to pretend that you're not unmasked, no matter how good the 'role play'. LOL It can feel very infantilizing to have someone more or less be "on to you" and can kill the thrill of seduction and, admittedly, diminishes power in the sexual tension that I like in man-man sexual play. Granted the tender and more intimate love is more rewarding, but there's something exhilarating about being able to seduce in bed as well, and that simply dissipates much as the limerence does once we are "known" and "know" each other.

    Anybody?
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    Aug 25, 2011 2:35 AM GMT
    It sounds like you're longing for what was lost. Think back to how your 16 year relationship started. Were you completely open then, or did you slowly open up over a long period of time?

    Also, people change over time. You might not be the same person you were 18 years ago.

    Just some thoughts...I'm not an expert on this.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    Oh, I'm longing for lots of things about the start of that relationship, and mourning some of what was never there to begin with, as well. But in truth, I've observed this 'fear of being known' and the subsequent desire to act on it outside of the relationship in other men, friends, couples. It's something I've concluded not solely out of my own feelings and experiences.
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Aug 25, 2011 4:08 AM GMT
    Perhaps the need to be "known" and to "know" stems from the need to have someone you can call "Mine." You would have intimacy and safety of having someone you can depend on.
    This person would just be there with you, and there won't be the loneliness that can come from being independent and romantically/emotionally uninvolved with another person.

    Other than that, some people need to love others so they can feel satisfied and feel as if they were contributing. Sort of like people get pets when they have no one else.
  • Jerebear

    Posts: 329

    Aug 25, 2011 5:20 AM GMT
    I've been in a relationship for over 8 years and I really dont feel like I have bene unmasked completely. I dont have a fear of it, I just dont think it will ever happen. He may know me well enough to know what I'm going to say or do in most situations, as I know what he would say or do, but he can never enter my motivations, and sometimes, even I cant. You can never be fully on to someone until you know why they do what they do.

    As for sexual tension, there's some dark places I've never taken him and some that I have, I havent found his limits yet. Most of the time I'm the same guy he goes to bed with every night, but sometimes.... icon_twisted.gif

    As for straying from the relationship. Of course I enjoy it when another guy shows interest in me, I cant help it, I'm a man and I was wired that way. But I consider myself extremely fortunate that I happened to find a lock for my key in a way. He just fits. Reality is that the grass is never greener on the other side; its just the same, only different, and I dont want different.

    I think intimacy fails more from breakdown of communication, and in those cases, the masks are fully on, and I dont think your theory could be applied here, but I can definitely think of a relationship of a friend of mine where your theory does apply.
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    Aug 25, 2011 5:31 AM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidOh, I'm longing for lots of things about the start of that relationship, and mourning some of what was never there to begin with, as well.
    That sentence just proved my middle paragraph/sentence. icon_wink.gif

    Every single second your mind changes. That's human nature. This evening, you are not the same person you were this afternoon...and so on and so on. As more people realize this, they will realize that every relationship is different...be it a sexual relationship or platonic.

    The most important thing is to be yourself...the "self" you are right now, and later. As you've already experienced, a true relationship will last through the changes of a person. That's why wedding vows say "for better or for worse."
  • swogdog

    Posts: 143

    Aug 25, 2011 5:54 AM GMT
    Are you saying you would kill for the thrill of first love, so to speak? Or, in other words, that you wish the "glamour" you cast on a someone would last even AFTER they've seen through it?

    Do you think what lies beyond the make-believe beginning isn't worth having? Like trading candy for gold maybe?
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    Aug 25, 2011 6:52 AM GMT
    Possibly, being "unmasked" is the opposite of fault. It is the realization that both yourself and your partner are human.

    I know what your getting at here because as men, we are born to be adventurous. Possibly, it is the adventure of discovering a new relationship that is missed but I think there are many ways to be adventurous.

    Perhaps, you should ask yourself where the fear is coming from to be "unmasked". No one on the net can do that for you.

    At any rate, very good topic. I look forward to what others will write.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 10:38 AM GMT
    I'm not in a quandary so much as a pondering. Until recently I thought that I had no fear of diving in and staying firmly planted in green grass on my side and my side alone, as it were. But I'm intrigued by my liking the more cavalier Casanovaesque route.
    The original observations were brought about by watching a very good couple I know, both highly attracted to each other, together ten years, and properly legally married. One has a tendency to stray 'over the fence' for sport and that is making the other very confused. He has no intention of finding new or better or even different, this isnt window shopping, and it isn't an addictive response or one of boredom. (Although it might be a power addiction) it's preventing a depening of the bond that the other one is craving, as the stray cat won't (read can't) engage in the more aggressive and objectified sexual behavior the one craves, but he will do it outside their relationship with strangers. I believe it to be a mild kind of panic and I'm truly curious about the pathology. It's almost as if he doesn't want to see his partner or can no longer see his partner as anonymously as he did at first, and he feels a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable now that he feels 'figured out'. I would have thought it would be even more exciting as they grew closer, but I admit that the more I thought of it the more I understood his fear.
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    Aug 25, 2011 10:55 AM GMT
    Man men, gay men especially since there aren't as many restrictions as heteros have (Women want sex and relationships, men just want sex) use sportfucking sex as a way of 'masking' a feeling of shame or guilt. "I can't be a bad person if I can fuck someone new every night"

    A great book on this that a lot of shrinks use for homework is:

    The Velvet Rage, Overcoming the Pain of Growing up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs.

    You will see yourself in the first chapter.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSW3Qj7D2-ZrnBA6SlfWQa
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 11:14 AM GMT
    Yeh...I think Velvet Rage and Downs in general is vastly over-rated. His view strikes me as reductive and sometimes too glib and the book and its author are terribly smug. I think it's more complicated and less obvious than Downs has concluded. I find him an ambitious academician with a very shallow view of masculinity who markets a blanket cure for the infomercial era of pop-psychobable. I don't buy it. He's a lecture circuit phenom and a second rate celebrity clinician, a ubiquitous type in the gay psycho-social scene who got noticed at the party, at best. There will be others.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 11:40 AM GMT
    I also continue to give a great deal of consideration to the power struggle two men engage in when in an intimate relationship.
    I believe men are very competitive by nature, and it's a good trait, a positive masculine attribute. I personally think it's very sexually alluring and seductive. Strength, power, control, the exchange of power, the shift of power, the dynamics that I believe draw men to competitive endeavors (sports, industry, etc.)
    It isn't a question of whether or not you can have deep, romantic, tender and vulnerable intimacy with someone with whom you're also engaged in a kind of competitive relationship, but how truly mind-blowing that can be, and often very hard to balance. Someone is going to come out 'on top', and there's not always going to be a willingness to be conquered or to surrender. That's the balancing act - figuring out who wins when and being good with that. It's not always going to work, every time (be it at breakfast or in the bedroom) and I'm not assuming this isn't a factor in gender-opposite relationships, I just believe it be particularly magnified between two men. Even more so if, as is often the subject of debate and eventual deteriorated debacle on this site, the desire is for being hyper-masculine and being attracted to similar or same.
    I've long held that the exceptional potential power of two men being intimate is what really threatens most people who get labeled as 'homophobic'....it's the H-Bomb of relationships, and once it's unleashed there isn't much that I can imagine that would be effective against that kind of will and power in politics, war, business, etc. A force to be reckoned with, and, as I've said elsewhere, not a genie you can put back in the bottle.
    The trouble is it often implodes because of how difficult it is to manage internally between parties.
    I think it's exciting, exhilarating, and unimaginably rewarding. In fact, I know it to be so. It's not easy, not always fun, sometimes very frustrating and confusing, but frankly that's a large part of the definition of anything worth while and certainly a huge part of the recipe for a good relationship regardless of gender pairing.
    Fucking outside the relationship - without agreement - is a way to at least always win, or always choose when to surrender. It's a relief valve, or so it seems that's one possible conclusion.
    I don't want to cast a pejorative light on ANY of these theories or actions. I'm simply working out some observations.
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    Aug 25, 2011 11:58 AM GMT
    Confusing topic. I'm not sure I really understand everything you're writing, what you write is difficult (maybe just for me) to fully comprehend.

    All I would say though is that no one can ever be truly and completely 'known' by another.

    Also, just because you know each other inside out, it doesn't mean you can't have a very fulfilling and exciting sex life. Obviously there's times when I have sex with my partner and it's pretty much about scratching an itch for both of us, comfort sex if you like, and then other times it can be a proper dirty hardcore fuck session, with toys, porn and outfits. We can 'become' a different person almost, for the duration of our play, and it still feels like we just met.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 12:14 PM GMT
    PURE - I agree, nothing is precluded. You sound like you've found a way to keep things in balance. It's the management of it that is a curiosity, and I think its a question of how difficult it is to do so for some men. The latter is what I think spikes this hypothesized "fear of being known" I'm posturing on at the moment.
    Out of curiosity, how long have you and your partner been in this mutually monogamous relationship?
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    Aug 25, 2011 12:28 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidPURE - I agree, nothing is precluded. You sound like you've found a way to keep things in balance. It's the management of it that is a curiosity, and I think its a question of how difficult it is to do so for some men. The latter is what I think spikes this hypothesized "fear of being known" I'm posturing on at the moment.
    Out of curiosity, how long have you and your partner been in this mutually monogamous relationship?


    I don't think we do anything consciously to keep it in balance, it just seems to work out like that. We are not always 'in balance' between the two of us though, sometimes I feel very connected to him and in tune, and other times we might not seem to be in sync for whatever reason for a day or something.

    I think it's important to have your own interests and time apart, and it's important to make time for each other and do things together. I don't really understand the 'fear' of being known, like I said before no one knows absolutely everything about you and even then only what you choose to show them, I think intimacy in a relationship is important but I also think it's good to never stop figuring out your partner. I sometimes think to myself, he can be a strange one sometimes but if I had him completely figured out there would be no spark. We've been together about 4.5 years.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 12:31 PM GMT
    PURE - I agree we cannot be completely known. I'm saying we fear it happening, and that once you feel 'unmasked' or 'figured out' it can have an effect on the relationship.
    As noted previously, I also acknowledge that balance is not a constant.

    Have you been in a relationship with anyone longer than seven years?
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    Aug 25, 2011 12:52 PM GMT
    MCB, I think you touch on some important points. Here are some thoughts...

    I think, generally speaking, men like to be in control, and in that control, we like to control our image, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. Juxtapose this with our deep inner human desire "to know and to be known", we can sometimes experience some dissonance, as they are not always congruent.

    There are moments when we enter into relationships upon which trust encourages us to relinquish some of that control. And when we do, perceptions of self and the other shift and change. As perception changes, how we respond to those perceptions also change. The thrill is in continue along this journey, in trust and faith (provided both have similar values and vision for the relationship). However, there are times when the two do not share this adventure, for whatever reasons, prior emotional baggage, the stress of daily life, unmet emotional needs, lack of self-awareness, etc. etc. (ad nauseum)...

    Often times, then, it is fear that creeps in and robs the relationship of the safety and security net of trust that allows for "knowing and being known" to flourish. When fear takes hold and guides the "next steps" of relationships building, then we experience the breakdowns.

    Control is a powerful thing. We choose to whom we give it. In open relationships, we usually maintain it. In a monogamous relationship, a couple can share deeper, more intimate levels of this mutual exchange of give/take. With two men, this can be tricky. However, not impossible.

    Letting go of the need to "look good" for oneself and for another is a powerful step toward being more authentic, to each other, to oneself, and ultimately, to the world. It's a hard thing to do, but I think the journey to maturity requires that we move in that direction if we really wish to live fearlessly in life.

    To be fully and completely known is very empowering, as it is the embrace of another's love.
    To know someone fully and completely, making the effort at every turn, is a self-less act of love.
    To commit to this is why I believe a monogamous relationship is the best "crucible" for this to happen. Too complicated and superficial, otherwise.

    (speaking from 17+ years of relationship...)
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    Aug 25, 2011 1:00 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidI'm not in a quandary so much as a pondering. Until recently I thought that I had no fear of diving in and staying firmly planted in green grass on my side and my side alone, as it were. But I'm intrigued by my liking the more cavalier Casanovaesque route.
    The original observations were brought about by watching a very good couple I know, both highly attracted to each other, together ten years, and properly legally married. One has a tendency to stray 'over the fence' for sport and that is making the other very confused. He has no intention of finding new or better or even different, this isnt window shopping, and it isn't an addictive response or one of boredom. (Although it might be a power addiction) it's preventing a depening of the bond that the other one is craving, as the stray cat won't (read can't) engage in the more aggressive and objectified sexual behavior the one craves, but he will do it outside their relationship with strangers. I believe it to be a mild kind of panic and I'm truly curious about the pathology. It's almost as if he doesn't want to see his partner or can no longer see his partner as anonymously as he did at first, and he feels a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable now that he feels 'figured out'. I would have thought it would be even more exciting as they grew closer, but I admit that the more I thought of it the more I understood his fear.


    This story of the couple you know is confusing because, at least to me, it is not obvious, which one you see as having the fear of being "figured out". Is it the "cat" or the other one that desires his partner to be more sexually aggressive towards him. I would guess though, without knowing the specifics, that they established their particular roles early on and now, both of them would like a change to versatility but breaking that comfort zone is too great for the "cat".
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 1:01 PM GMT
    Thanks, Terra, VERY much where I my thoughts were going. I believe and agree. It's a real challenge.
    I have a question, though, about your last observation. When you say "look good" are you talking about physical looks (cosmetic appearance and body condition) or "appearances", as it were?
    I think that there's an obligation to keep physical at it's best, without going to the extremes of cosmetic surgery or drugs, and accepting the aging process (within reason, that is to say that if you can work out and stay in good shape and take care of your skin with a little extra effort, etc then you should). I find that it says "I care about being attractive to my partner, and would like as much in return." I don't see that as problematic, but perhaps you disagree.
    I think it's disrespectful to get fat or lazy or let yourself deteriorate beyond what is out of your control. I think it's lack of self-respect and lack of empathy for your partner. (I'm gonna' take a shit-load of heat for this......icon_rolleyes.gif )


    Alexander, it's the straying cat that I think is fearful. Sorry, I'm a horribly tangential writer and rambling is my forte. My apologies.
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    Aug 25, 2011 1:04 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidI have a question, though, about your last observation. When you say "look good" are you talking about physical looks (cosmetic appearance and body condition) or "appearances", as it were?


    MCB, no, I'm not talking about physicality necessarily. I'm referring to how we present ourselves by what we say, what we do, etc. We create an image of ourselves that is likeable, loveable, trustworthy, etc. Not unlike how we "design" our profile pages for such sites such as these, but not limited to superficiality.

    I do agree, however, we do need to take care of our physical bodies, for when we are in a committed relationship, we are not our own. We belong to another as well. No man is but an island ;-) Caring for oneself in a relationship is an act of love for the other as well.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 1:08 PM GMT
    TerraFirma said
    MuscleComeBack saidI have a question, though, about your last observation. When you say "look good" are you talking about physical looks (cosmetic appearance and body condition) or "appearances", as it were?


    MCB, no, I'm not talking about physicality necessarily. I'm referring to how we present ourselves by what we say, what we do, etc. We create an image of ourselves that is likeable, loveable, trustworthy, etc. Not unlike how we "design" our profile pages for such sites such as these, but not limited to superficiality.

    I do agree, however, we do need to take care of our physical bodies, for when we are in a committed relationship, we are not our own. We belong to another.


    Ah, yes, then, yes 100% I fully agree. This letting go of our 'packaged and presented' image is exactly where I think the panic ensues for some guys. This is a much better description of what I'm calling "being known". I find it thrilling to get to see that person, and know that the presented version is still a part of them, and I think - this is something Dan Savage touches on in his famous "price of admission" lecture - we should not dismiss or diminish that image in our partner, but keep it in mind and realize its a part of them, and to at least make the effort to continue to believe in it. Would you agree?
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    Aug 25, 2011 1:16 PM GMT
    MuscleComeBack saidAh, yes, then, yes 100% I fully agree. This letting go of our 'packaged and presented' image is exactly where I think the panic ensues for some guys. This is a much better description of what I'm calling "being known". I find it thrilling to get to see that person, and know that the presented version is still a part of them, and I think - this is something Dan Savage touches on in his famous "price of admission" lecture - we should not dismiss or diminish that image in our partner, but keep it in mind and realize its a part of them, and to at least make the effort to continue to believe in it. Would you agree?


    I agree that's where panic starts with most people, esp. for those who have "put their faith" in the image they have created. There's always that deep-seated fear that someone is going to see through the "glaze", "see the cracks", "catch you in a falsehood", etc. It's not a very powerful place to come from when entering a relationship or continuing anything serious for long-term.

    I partially agree with the last statement. I'd add this important caveat that one should better commit to the ever-changing revelation of that "image", that as your partner gets to know him or herself, that image may or may not change, and that it's OK - that is, we don't grow afraid, esp. when we see something we don't like, or are unfamiliar with, or even reminds us of something in US that we haven't yet dealt with (after all, our partner mirrors us at times).

    It is fear, I believe, that drives us all to FLEE.
    Unconditional love will commit to stay and be... and embrace.

    (Note: These are all very Christian principles and values, btw, for those who think Christianity is worthless.)
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 5:44 PM GMT
    A lovely analogy, Anitjock, but in 'truth' we have to accept our carnality as a central part of our humanity, and the act of focusing on any one aspect of our dimensionality should (and I believe largely does) lead one naturally to examine all aspects of the self. Some people hate having light shined anywhere at all.
    It's the lack of attention to any one aspect - the 'avoidance' of shining light on it, if you will, that I think is far more likely to trip one up.

    Keep in mind, Camus is always at war with himself - between his more altruistic or humanistic nature and his rejection of social absolutes. I sometimes find that a rather passive approach to problem solving. Or at the very least, very, very French. icon_wink.gif
  • rock924228

    Posts: 431

    Aug 25, 2011 6:13 PM GMT
    Nothing wrong with the "unknown" in an ongoing relationship....I feel that is what supplies the continuing "spark"....and never-ending search for the "known" just to be surprised by an unexpected outcome. It's the give and take. Hopefully My Man will continue to be interested in finding the "known" of me, as I do him. It's the willingness to work together on one huge adventure.
  • MuscleComeBac...

    Posts: 2376

    Aug 25, 2011 6:14 PM GMT
    It's a lovely existential pondering, Antijock, but in truth has nothing to do with the subject at hand, which is clear and present and part of an exploration of real time and real thoughts and feelings that are relevant.

    I confess that no matter how much one has explored conscious and subconscious possibilities, the notion of divorcing oneself from your sexuality seems monastic, and has the lingering aroma of an agenda.

    This thread is an attempt to contextualize an observation of something specific to the connection between desire and partnership that includes sexual relation. Tangential musings of the nature of sex as separate or 'a sideshow' pull focus, frankly.

    No matter how high a spiritual plane you may be modeling, in truth, you can't get there without having first trekked properly through this one. It's deserving of focused conversation that doesn't dismiss it for lack of a presumed higher spiritual truth. Nobody evolves simply by being told "evolve" or "there is more - move past it." It doesn't work so conveniently.

    In truth, if you are past this, or feel that you are at least, then you should know that hypotheticals such as the ones you pose are irrelevant. The challenge seems petty and very easy - and, oddly, very competitive. icon_wink.gif