Male-Bonding & Dating - Is it possible to have both?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 21, 2013 4:14 PM GMT
    I've been wondering lately if the search for an ideal masculine partner is hindered by my experiences growing up with straight friends.

    I've always found myself hanging out and having best friends who are other men, most often, straight men. With these friendships comes a sort of camaraderie and male bonding that I feel at home with. It's nice to be able to make fun of each other, play video games together, punch each other in the arm, be sarcastic and make perverted jokes.

    When it comes to dating other gay men, and I find that dynamic totally missing. While obviously there are going to be differences in the dynamic (I don't think of my friends in a sexual context), dating always seems to lack that essence of male bonding; the eventual ability to be a little rough on each other, but still have the mutual understanding that we genuinely like one another and enjoy the others company.

    There have been cases where I've met those who do act similarly to my straight friends, but the moment feelings come into play its clear they're very wounded and damaged, their blunt masculinity seeming more like an act to hide the emotionally stunted boy inside them. At the slightest invalidation they explode into a fury of pent up emotions, usually leading to some kind of erratic behavior.

    On the opposite end are men who quickly latch onto me and become clingy and sensitive. The initial confidence and masculine edge seems to diminish except when we're in public. There often seems to be constant physical contact and admissions of deep affection within the first few weeks of knowing one another. In these cases I feel like I can't match their emotional level or honestly express my attraction as it hasn't had a chance to grow to the same level as theirs. It makes me uncomfortable, and I feel objectified, as they barely know me and can only see my outer appearance. I become very aware of the disparate level of attraction, and I eventually disconnect emotionally and break things off.

    It seems like the closer I get to a guy the more he softens and loses any of that masculine edge that attracts me in the first place. I understand that intimacy and opening up will always be a revealing of our softer sides, the emotional being within us, the little kid with all his baggage, but do you think it's possible to have that as well as keeping the male-bonding in tact? Is it possible that this is completely my issue to work on, or is it a matter of me just not meeting the right guy?
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    Jul 21, 2013 8:25 PM GMT
    I can relate. I've always had good friends and those good happened to be all straight. I've never really had gay friends & don't know if I can find one with the potential to be as close as my straight friends are to me.

    I've always wanted to meet guys like my friends from college who were gay like me. Not necessarily for an intimate relationship but just to have someone to relate to me as a person & as a gay male. The latter which my straight friends can't really do.
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    Jul 21, 2013 11:19 PM GMT
    I think understand what you're saying.

    I do agree in regards to what you find attractive being partly shaped by your environment and the people you associated with growing up and at present time.

    Not to sound so cliche but maybe it just really comes down to you not finding the right person yet.
    It's hard I suppose because people will always put their best face forward. I guess the amount of time it takes to fade away depends on the individual person because I'm sure it fades faster on some than it does on others.

    Quick random question, are you searching for a relationship or a gay friend with the same friendship dynamics as your straight friends?

    Also, and this may just be me who thinks this, but I don't think someone developing feelings faster than the other person is necessarily a bad thing.
    Generally I'd think that people in LTR's would probably find that there was one person who fell faster than the other. Plus, how do you accurately measure the right amount to 'feel' for a person.
    I wasn't sure if you felt bad that you didn't feel as strongly as fast, or that it just comes across much too strong for your liking.

    I do however feel that it is probably a bad thing if the person who is developing feelings faster is exerting an expectation or pressure for the other person to feel the same way just as fast.

    I don't know if this is bad advice and please correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe just give them a bit of time. They just might be the type of person who gets a little 'lovey-dovey' at the start but slowly fades back to 'normalcy' the more comfortable they feel with you.

    Anyway after that long-winded reply (sorry lol), I do think you can have intimacy of opening up as well as the male bonding simultaneously. I suppose the degree of how much a person will do both depends on the individual as well as how much you are comfortable seeing at a certain point. There are the types of people who are happy to open up faster than others.

    From what you've posted, it sounds like you have experienced extreme cases of one-sidedness in regards to someone either developing feelings for you way too fast or someone showing a false facade of bravado much too strongly that it's obvious they are compensating for something.

    All in all, I wish you all the best and hope this answer helped at least in some small way.
    I do understand that it's probably #TLDR so I do apologise for that, I'm not very good at explaining myself concisely so I just type endlessly until it eventually gets to what I'm trying to say ... like right now lol.
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    Jul 22, 2013 12:48 AM GMT
    Matt_TO83 saidI've been wondering lately if the search for an ideal masculine partner is hindered by my experiences growing up with straight friends.

    I've always found myself hanging out and having best friends who are other men, most often, straight men. With these friendships comes a sort of camaraderie and male bonding that I feel at home with. It's nice to be able to make fun of each other, play video games together, punch each other in the arm, be sarcastic and make perverted jokes.

    When it comes to dating other gay men, and I find that dynamic totally missing. While obviously there are going to be differences in the dynamic (I don't think of my friends in a sexual context), dating always seems to lack that essence of male bonding; the eventual ability to be a little rough on each other, but still have the mutual understanding that we genuinely like one another and enjoy the others company.

    There have been cases where I've met those who do act similarly to my straight friends, but the moment feelings come into play its clear they're very wounded and damaged, their blunt masculinity seeming more like an act to hide the emotionally stunted boy inside them. At the slightest invalidation they explode into a fury of pent up emotions, usually leading to some kind of erratic behavior.

    On the opposite end are men who quickly latch onto me and become clingy and sensitive. The initial confidence and masculine edge seems to diminish except when we're in public. There often seems to be constant physical contact and admissions of deep affection within the first few weeks of knowing one another. In these cases I feel like I can't match their emotional level or honestly express my attraction as it hasn't had a chance to grow to the same level as theirs. It makes me uncomfortable, and I feel objectified, as they barely know me and can only see my outer appearance. I become very aware of the disparate level of attraction, and I eventually disconnect emotionally and break things off.

    It seems like the closer I get to a guy the more he softens and loses any of that masculine edge that attracts me in the first place. I understand that intimacy and opening up will always be a revealing of our softer sides, the emotional being within us, the little kid with all his baggage, but do you think it's possible to have that as well as keeping the male-bonding in tact? Is it possible that this is completely my issue to work on, or is it a matter of me just not meeting the right guy?


    Well, the good thing is, if you feel this way, then someone else is bound to feel similarly. You just need to get out and meet guys that want the same thing.

    If I'm understanding this right, you want someone that can be both a friend and a boyfriend (mind you, I'm not talking about a fwb situation, but an actual relationship where you feel close enough to this person for them to satisfy you in both aspects). If so, then that's a normal thing to want, and I'm sure you'll eventually find someone.
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    Jul 22, 2013 1:10 AM GMT
    Phillips_73 said
    If I'm understanding this right, you want someone that can be both a friend and a boyfriend (mind you, I'm not talking about a fwb situation, but an actual relationship where you feel close enough to this person for them to satisfy you in both aspects). If so, then that's a normal thing to want, and I'm sure you'll eventually find someone.


    Oh my goodness, that is practically what I think I was trying to say but you said it in a much more concise manner.
    I wish I wasn't so long winded, it's embarrassing really.
    Obviously my intelligence is the problem here lol.

    Anyway I agree, I think it's a normal thing to want and it sounds right because I think that being a good friend and a good partner go hand in hand.
  • cowboyathlete

    Posts: 1346

    Jul 22, 2013 1:13 AM GMT
    I have a bad habit of falling for guys at my gym who turn out to be straight. I don't mean just in the looks department, but they are also nice, likeable, friendly guys. They are all fine with me being gay, but yeah just wish one of them would play for our team.
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    Jul 22, 2013 1:17 AM GMT
    #inlovewiththestraightguy
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    Jul 22, 2013 1:37 AM GMT
    Matiz said#inlovewiththestraightguy


    lol, I really don't think it's that simple, and precisely why I asked the question. It's not the fact that they're straight or they're "masculine", it's more about the way I can bond with other men at work, or as I did in my younger years, or in any social setting where sexuality isn't an issue.

    In response to those who replied above, yes, I am looking for a committed LTR with a man who I feel I can bond with in the same way I do with platonic friends, as well as in a physical and more intimate manner. And thanks for the replies. It seems like I'm not the only one. I like to check myself to make sure I'm not asking for the impossible or expecting too much. I've met a lot of great men along my decade or so of dating and I guess after a while it's easy to question myself if I'm looking for something that just doesn't exist.
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    Jul 22, 2013 1:56 AM GMT
    You're definitely not looking for the impossible. You just need to find a guy that you're compatible with in that way.
  • m4r593

    Posts: 2

    Jul 22, 2013 2:06 AM GMT
    I can definitely relate, budd. I have a budd and we do everything together, we punch easch others and play games and even tease the girls in our classes by wearing matching t-shirts (of all things).

    I think there are perks of having straight besties around to keep you company.

    Regarding Gay guys, what works for me is to be harsh on them. Treat them as if I wasn't interested and yet at the same time try to roughen them up like I'd do my straight friends. If they crumble and turn into mush then they are not right for you and you should move on (if your looking for a gay bro/friendship). If you find that guy who can roll with the punches and react to your masculine behavior, then you've found a legitamate friend.

    This tactic works for me and I have no regrets in the people I befriend.

    Good luck to you, dude.
  • shawn06

    Posts: 337

    Jul 22, 2013 2:34 AM GMT
    I get what you're saying, but when emotions get involved sometimes men do seem a little less masculine. But that's the difference between straight friends and your bf, they can be masculine and still want to show you that they like you which you may be perceiving as "clingy".

    I'm the same way, except I consider myself a little more laid back. Everyone I've dated has been masculine, my longest relationship was with a guy who liked to wrestle and play fight all the time and it was probably just a way for us to get tension out (we were also friends before dating). But there comes a point when emotions get involved and you have to be able to accept that from them. I'm not saying put up with the guys who are claiming love after 3 weeks of dating, but after some time you will end up actually caring about one another and it will be much more than a bromance.

    But I know your frustration, I've been told time and time again that I seem emotionless just because I don't show my emotions in the same way they do. Try just giving people more time and learn how to disconnect emotion and masculinity. If you started dating one of your straight friends (not fwb) you would be surprised how they may turn out to be that way as well.

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    Jul 22, 2013 2:43 AM GMT
    Matt_TO83 said
    lol, I really don't think it's that simple, and precisely why I asked the question. It's not the fact that they're straight or they're "masculine", it's more about the way I can bond with other men at work, or as I did in my younger years, or in any social setting where sexuality isn't an issue.

    Congrats for not being in love with your straight friends.
    You want what you have with your straight guy friends and sex and a relationship. If you can't get one of your straight friends to switch, then you have to find a guy who acts just like your straight friends who also wants sex.

    Matt_TO83 said
    It seems like the closer I get to a guy the more he softens and loses any of that masculine edge that attracts me in the first place. I understand that intimacy and opening up will always be a revealing of our softer sides, the emotional being within us, the little kid with all his baggage, but do you think it's possible to have that as well as keeping the male-bonding in tact? Is it possible that this is completely my issue to work on, or is it a matter of me just not meeting the right guy?
    Find a guy who is unwilling to open up to you. Problem solved.
  • starboard5

    Posts: 969

    Jul 22, 2013 3:26 AM GMT
    Wow, there's a lot in your post. I'm just going to put down some random thoughts that popped up as I read. No saying there'll be anything coherent in this:

    If you're (unconsciously) basing your model for a partner or boyfriend on the straight guys you grew up with, you may be constantly setting yourself up for failure. We're not straight men, and there are obvious and subtile differences.

    Often, I find it easier to be around straight guys. It feels less complicated because it almost always is. All the attraction stuff (is it mutual and/or who is more attracted, etc.) is automatically off the table. I've decided that, for me, part of my feeling this way is a result of my own issues. Try to check in with yourself honestly and see if you have a discomfort with intimacy.

    On the topic of intimacy: our style of it is in large part something we learn from our families. Everyone is different in this regard. Also, a lot of guys, particularly straight guys, confuse intimacy with sex. They are not the same thing. A counselor once told me the definition of intimacy is "the sharing of self." With that understanding I can say I have a straight friend who has been intimate with me more times than I can count, but if I told him that, he'd totally balk. I've noticed over the years that straight guys often want intimacy with another guy, but when it starts to happen, their brains signal sex, which is the last thing they want, so they get confused and retreat. They can only be intimate indirectly, usually through a shared interest that gives them an excuse to be close. Women get intimacy; they share it directly.

    I bet if you were to closely question the wives/long-time girlfriends of straight guys you know, you'd find stories about how "unmasculine" these guys can be. Having an "emotionally stunted boy" inside you isn't limited to gay men. At all.

    Overall, I'd be inclined to say you just haven't met the right guy yet. You are very good looking, and your writing is articulate and gives the impression that you're intelligent and well educated. When you bring that much to the table, it's not going to be easy to find your equal. Not trying to blow your head up, it's just the truth.

    Just be sure you're not setting yourself up for failure in some way.

    Best to you; I think it will work out. You're coming into what I think are the best years of a man's life.

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    Jul 22, 2013 3:34 AM GMT
    I had what I would guess is the opposite experience.I hated my father and had zero father/son bonding with him.I was closer to my mom but have had an extremely volatile relationship with her.I had zero interest in women since I was a kid although I do have a great friendship with a lady for 20 years who is like a sister to me.I like hangin with gay men and feel no need for back slapping or hugs from straight men.I would rather dance with the gay boys lol.Ryan.
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    Jul 23, 2013 2:25 AM GMT

    Matt_TO83 said
    It seems like the closer I get to a guy the more he softens and loses any of that masculine edge that attracts me in the first place. I understand that intimacy and opening up will always be a revealing of our softer sides, the emotional being within us, the little kid with all his baggage, but do you think it's possible to have that as well as keeping the male-bonding in tact? Is it possible that this is completely my issue to work on, or is it a matter of me just not meeting the right guy?
    Find a guy who is unwilling to open up to you. Problem solved.[/quote]

    I had to laugh out loud at your post, cause I can totally see how some may think that's what I'm after. However, that's not what i'm looking for, and it's made it apparent how difficult it can be to describe the nuances of relationships without talking to people face to face.

    It is apparent to me that when I do get closer to a man that I want him to open up, be soft, to be able to express our feelings and let down our guards to show our weaknesses. I want and crave this. On the other hand, I also crave doing this with a man who I can also bond with on a surface level as well. A bromance (I can't believe i'm using that term, but whatever...) that turns into a serious intimate relationship.

    That said, it's difficult for me to go there soon after I meet someone. I want time to enjoy each others playful, strong side. When someone I'm dating opens up and becomes attached very quickly (within a 3-5 dates) it doesn't seem authentic, or genuine. In cases where it has felt genuine, I'm not really ready to act in kind. I'm left feeling like I'm not even an equal partner in the relationship.

    Examples include men who start to complimenting frequently, who want to have frequent, near-constant contact. I'm happy with just sitting on the couch beside them and watching a movie, feeling like we're doing something together. They don't need to wrap themselves around me like an octopus just because we happen to be sitting on the same couch.

    As starboard5 said, how we relate often comes from our upbringing and how our family expressed their affection towards one another. I did grow up in a family that wasn't very "touchy-feely", so I want times where physical touch is involved to mean something.

    Oh and don't worry starboard5, I know straight men can be emotional and gentle and big old pussies as much as anyone can be ;) Often men sell themselves short by trying to pattern themselves after the straight bravado image that other men and the media try to shovel down our throats. Most straight men have a very big emotional side to them, whether they show it to their buddies or not is the question.
  • tuffguyndc

    Posts: 4437

    Jul 23, 2013 2:41 AM GMT
    buddy, i know exactly what you are talking about. i keep wondering if that is possible to have too. i feel like most gay guys either want to sleep with you or not be around you at all.
    i only have a couple of gay friends and the rest of my friends are all straight. i do wonder if it is possible to have both.
  • LEANDRO_NJ

    Posts: 1116

    Jul 23, 2013 2:42 AM GMT
    Why is it that most people think that gay couples all they do and share is sex, their soft, or feminine side only? my bf and I not only share our softer feminine sides, but we also make equal time for some guy to guy male bonding, without it being sexual at all! for us there is a time to act as lovers and a time to enjoy some non sexual male bonding as well! BUT we are both quite aware that we are also in a loving relationship, and not just a friendship!
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 23, 2013 2:43 AM GMT
    I have some great gay friends. Some may look at me with some appreciation, but I think it is genuine respect for what I have achieved in my life (and I of them). Sure, I have some that are a little flaky, but some are very solid and am pleased they are "real" friends.
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    Jul 23, 2013 2:33 PM GMT
    So, reading this thread is kind of reassuring. Cause I'm about to start dating again soon for the first time in a while (but now, men this time) and I've been wondering whether it was possible to have love and intimacy but at the same time keep some of the more rugged and fun elements of a guy-guy friendship and bundle all of that in a relationship. Judging from the posts on here, seems like it's definitely possible (and yet another of the things that's makes being gay so exciting).
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    Jul 23, 2013 2:45 PM GMT


    I have always considered Bill, as well as being my lover, my best friend. He feels the same way. It seems odd that it wouldn't be that way. I guess for some people it isn't.

    -a bit confuzzled by this topic
  • mitshoo

    Posts: 76

    Jul 23, 2013 5:56 PM GMT
    Matt_TO83 saidI've been wondering lately if the search for an ideal masculine partner is hindered by my experiences growing up with straight friends....When it comes to dating other gay men, and I find that dynamic totally missing... dating always seems to lack that essence of male bonding; the eventual ability to be a little rough on each other, but still have the mutual understanding that we genuinely like one another and enjoy the others company.


    Maybe your search is hindered not by your experiences with straight friends, but by your ideal? I'm just going to say it - you kinda seem to be saying you want a straight boyfriend. This is pretty normal. A lot of gay guys do. I had issues with this myself, and some times I still do. For me (and possibly for you and many others) it really came down to a desire for a bad ideal of masculinity. In particular, like this:

    There have been cases where I've met those who do act similarly to my straight friends, but the moment feelings come into play its clear they're very wounded and damaged, their blunt masculinity seeming more like an act to hide the emotionally stunted boy inside them. At the slightest invalidation they explode into a fury of pent up emotions, usually leading to some kind of erratic behavior.

    You have come very close to answering your own question with the paragraph above. We have a messed up view of what it means to be a man - the messed up part being that guys should be immune to feelings, particularly feelings of vulnerability. So, men are never really taught how to handle or express their emotions in a positive way. And we equate this emotional immaturity with being a real man. Since gay guys on average are more expressive, we equate gay guys as being less of a man and it puts many of us in the dilemma you are having right now. The reason they act "similarly to your straight friends" is because they have the same problems that I expect your straight friends do.

    When I was in high school, I was all "Feminine guys suck. If I wanted to date I girl I'd be straight hur hur hur" and then I grew up. I realized I was focusing too much on whether or not guys bought into the emotional immaturity I mentioned above, rather than how well I get along with them or how they make me feel. And I realized I was just trying to salvage my own sense of self of being a guy despite my sexuality. But I realized there is no conflict, and proving to others how much of a guy I am is a bad goal anyway. After that, all the bro talk just seemed really childish and was kind of a turn off.

    And just a few more thoughts I want to address:
    It seems like the closer I get to a guy the more he softens and loses any of that masculine edge that attracts me in the first place. I understand that intimacy and opening up will always be a revealing of our softer sides ...

    And this one:
    It is apparent to me that when I do get closer to a man that I want him to open up, be soft, to be able to express our feelings and let down our guards to show our weaknesses. I want and crave this. On the other hand, I also crave doing this with a man who I can also bond with on a surface level as well. A bromance (I can't believe i'm using that term, but whatever...) that turns into a serious intimate relationship.

    The thing is, a dating relationship IS different than a friendship. It's really confusing for us gay guys, and I still have problems sometimes myself, but you are either looking for a "straight-acting" guy who acts like one of your buddies to have sex with, or you are looking for a relationship that is qualitatively different from friendship. It is precisely that softness and openness, and the ability to get hurt by you, that makes a guy your boyfriend (when he could shrug it off if a dig came from somebody else) and not a regular friend. Either you want that, or you don't.

    I know you said in a later post that it isn't masculinity that you are worried about, but rather the way you bond. But isn't that the same thing, really? Isn't the way we bond exactly how we enact masculinity? And isn't the way we bond exactly what makes a friendship a friendship versus a relationship?

    As far as bonding is concerned that sounds to me like a matter of having common interests. As far as the issue of intimacy is concerned, I know what you are talking about when you say guys cling too fast. That is just how some people are. And I agree with your distrust there. It seems fake somehow.

    So my advice is this: realize that the way you bond is exactly the same thing as the relationship itself. To bond, pick common interests. Don't get too hung up on how soft a guy is being, because as his boyfriend, you are the one guy apart from the rest of the cold world that he is supposed to be able to let his guard down in front of. And you should feel as free around him. Make it clear that you don't require a lot of snuggling for intimacy (because others may need more) because that is important in a relationship. And continue to be wary of guys that want that too soon. But don't expect relationships to be the EXACTLY the same as friendships. Because they are not. I'm not saying don't hang out with them and bond, I'm just saying that there are other things that come with the package and make it not a friendship, but a relationship.
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    Jul 23, 2013 6:12 PM GMT
    Do you honestly think a guy who is developing romantic feelings for you is going to sit on a couch with you and not want to touch you? Have you looked in the mirror? I have personal space issues of my own, so I think I understand what you're saying. But it sounds like what you're looking for will be quite difficult to find.
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    Jul 24, 2013 3:56 AM GMT
    Hmm, it seems like it's a split. Those who think it's possible, and those who do not, most of whom seem to blame it on internalized homophobia.

    I should have never mentioned the word "Straight" on these boards as it seems to create a knee jerk reaction. I'm simply trying to state that in platonic relationships, there is a certain kind of bonding that's available with other men, and in my experience within relationships, it seems rare to find men that want to bond in that way.

    To be clear, my intent is not to date a straight man. I'm friends with straight men at work and that's just enough for me, lol. I loathe porn where they "turn" straight men. I do not have crushes on straight men. I am well, well beyond that stage of my life. I've been dating gay men for a decade and I have been in several LTR that ended primarily due to other factors, such as distance, a partners issue with clinical depression, etc. I've had a lot of very positive experiences with men, even though they didn't work out. I do however notice a trend in my relationships and perhaps identified a relationship need I hadn't quantified before.

    I feel like there are tiers of intimacy. We have surface level layers of male bonding, a second layer of platonic love, and then a third tier of a deeper, more intimate love and with it comes sexual expressions of affection. I wonder why we can't expect to have all three with that special man in our life who matters most. Why can't we still be able to joke around, and just be together without always having to hover between expressions of the second and third rung? Isn't it sometimes nice to be able to just be together and share things that don't require physicality to bring validation?

    I love the idea of spooning until we both fall asleep, but I REALLY love the idea of playing video games and eating cheat food until 2 am, sharing stories of our childhood and THEN falling asleep huddled together, feeling each others warmth.

    Perhaps the biggest issue for me is that when someone becomes heavily affectionate in a short time frame, it makes me feel objectified, not loved. I'm a complex guy with many layers, and when they try to rush to the bottom rung too fast, I feel like they're missing out on my complete person. That it's more about 'having me' than knowing me.

    I want a love that burns slow and long. That builds with shared bonding experiences, that grows deeper with time. I think that a big part of that is exploring all levels of affection with a man, and not just the deepest level.
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    Jul 24, 2013 4:24 AM GMT
    I hear ya 100%! I usually tend to get along better with st8 guys. I have never fit into the "gay" community, despite being open about my sexuality since I was 15. Much of my attraction to men is the lack of a male figure, my Dad wanted nothin' to do with me combined with a horrible step mother.

    Around 17 I found that I could get a "fix" for my lack of male bond'n via sex with other men. I'm 35 now and it's takin me all these years to just get comfortable in my own skin.

    I often wonder how many str8 guys suffer from the same feelings of inadequacy and yearn for real male bonding due to lack of a paternal figure.

    In a few years it will get very lonely as many of your "bros" will marry and have children.
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    Jul 24, 2013 4:38 AM GMT
    You want your lover to be your best friend? No, you're the only one.

    Seriously, though, welcome to relationships. They're messy and inconvenient, and they won't always conform to your ideal pace or nature.

    Mitshoo's post was exceptionally good and thoughtful advice. The one thing I would caution you to consider is that people require different levels of intimacy. The level you require is on the low side. But don't assume there is something wrong with a guy who needs more. If there's too great a difference, you may not be compatible. But if the gap is manageable, perhaps you could reconcile it by talking openly with your partner. If you're compatible on many other levels, it's worth a try.

    Especially if you happen to be the more masculine partner, you can expect this to occur often. I don't think you're one of those destined-to-be-alone-forever guys who refuse to compromise. You recognize that compromise is the essence of successful relationships. Right?