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 am newly gay, having begun my reprogramming process several months ago. I am healthy and in my fifties, yep, better late than never in finding my true self!
But, before I started the process I could get an erection quickly and easily. Now not so much. I feel stuck in between hetero and gay. When I find the chance to play with a gay man I just can't get it up. I think it is more mental than physical? I have been checked by a doctor and I am okay physically. I have not found a man that excites me emotionally? Maybe I haven't progressed far enough yet in my process?
Your thoughts? And, yes, I fully understand that being gay is about attraction and love more than sex.
—Stuck in the Middle
Congratulations for having the courage to speak your truth and be who you want to be. What a great time to begin this process. I have many clients in their fifties who are just coming to this same place within themselves. So many exciting, vital men of that age. Take your time though! You have a lot of ground to cover and have plenty of time to do it.
Your situation is actually quite common. There are many reasons why you may not get an erection when you engage erotically with men. Far too many to mention in one letter, but let’s take a look at one. You say you are healthy and vital and in a good place with who you are, so I doubt you are having any physical issues. I would imagine that the main cause of not getting erections might have to do with anxiety.
And that makes sense. There are so many new things you suddenly have to deal with and address. Things you may never have considered or have any kind of reference for. And since you probably don’t know the gay world too well, I would imagine that you are still trying to figure out how that world operates. Not to mention some possible concerns about sexual practices, performance, hygiene and, of course, health questions.
I would recommend you see yourself as a teenager in terms of how much information and experience you have. This is not an insult. On the contrary, this can help you get into a fun and playful attitude about how to live the rest of your life! Be curious. Make lists of questions, read books, ask questions. Find mentors and teachers you can trust who can guide you through. This is a great way to jump into the scene in a safe way and not find yourself on the periphery feeling alone and frustrated.
Give yourself the space to explore and have fun! Try things out and find out what turns you on. Start with massages, or just kissing, maybe even erotic massage or any sexual activities that feels right. Isn’t that how we did it as teenagers, with boys or with girls? Well, maybe not all of us, but some of us? There are also qualified schools and practitioners who teach techniques in self-pleasuring and safe sex practices.
When you know what turns you on, when you figure out what feels right to you, when you can get to a place where you feel at home in this new world of yours, I would imagine that you will have ease getting erections and opening to deep levels of erotic pleasure. And by the way, there are plenty of ways to experience sexual bliss without getting an erection!
See this as a time of research and experimenting. No need to do it right, no pressure. Enjoy it while you can! What comes next are all the issues and worries about all the stuff that comes with emotional involvement and intimacy….
Much joy to you,
I am currently in a relationship with my boyfriend. We have known each other for almost six months now. From July 1st to August 21st we dated. From August 21st to now we have been exclusive. We have had great times. Chemistry was there and still is. We have also had our rough times. As of late it seems like one thing after another. We had an issue with him not liking me going to a concert with a very good male friend of mine. My friend is 32 and I am 24. My boyfriend's last boyfriend cheated on him at a concert. Saw it first hand when his boyfriend was making out with someone else. The way he was talking to me the whole day before the concert was like he was expecting to not hear from me after that night and was getting ready to break up with me. We got past that, but then he started doing the same thing again—acting like I was about to break up with him. This time I figured it was over seeing me texting, though he denied it at first. When he finally admitted it was all about the texting, I was upset with him for lying to me—but I forgave him.
I had a big sit-down talk with him about how I am happy, but I am not satisfied. I explained it in such a way as to promote growth in all possible ways. When we were done he said "I didn't realize I was doing so much wrong." That was not my intention and I explained that. And I had another sit-down talk with him recently about how I feel like he might not have heard me on a few things the first time. He heard me this time. But even after that he keeps doing the things that I told him bother me.
Part of me feels like I am wasting my time. But at the same time I am happy. Does that mean I am actually satisfied, but just really annoyed? I just don't know. One can only dive into one's own heart and mind to a certain depth, so I was hoping you could go a bit deeper.
—Up and Down
Thank you so much for your letter. Letters like yours let me know that there is hope in the world for relationships and intimacy, even for gay men! With everything you say, I think you handled it all beautifully. You could open to his love, and feel happy and good about what is going well. You can also recognize where there are challenges and address them without letting them build to resentment. You were able to recognize your needs and communicate them in a way that your partner could hear it and seems like it didn’t put blame on him. This may have been an uncomfortable thing to do, but by doing this you have dodged the way many relationships go bad and eventually end.
It is already brave of you to confront him in a clear way and get through. It’s another to keep doing it. To ask someone to take a look at their own patterns and maybe change them is a big thing for most of us. Not impossible, just challenging. It’s even harder not to fall back into the old pattern. It should be expected. To change habits takes time. This is where it’s important to be persistent and keep asking for what you need. Eventually he will get it and take on a new habit.
Just remember that his issues stem from his ex, not from you. He just keeps getting triggered. You may want to suggest he do some of his own work around his pain around his last boyfriend—he may need to talk to someone. That experience left him with issues around trust and abandonment.
If you say you are happy with him, keep with it! All relationships take work. It is possible to be both satisfied and annoyed. That’s what it means to be human. See your relationship like a garden and you are both the gardeners. You don’t just get to smell the pretty flowers. You have to get into the dirt, do some work, keep at it every day to be sure that the flowers keep growing.
Keep up the good work,
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 supports others 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 various 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 Training in Oakland on February 5 - 7, 2010 and he is offering a 25 dollar discount to RealJock readers. For more info, click here. Joe is also co-leading a retreat in Costa Rica called Sacred Elixir for Men: learning the healing power of yoga and intimate touch. For details, please go here.