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Ask Joe: Advice on How to Make a Connection

By Joe Weston

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.

Write to Joe:
Reaching Joe couldn't be simpler: just email your question to Your identity will be kept anonymous, but do note that questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Hi Joe,
I meet guys all the time and they tell me I'm sexy and all that, and then I never hear from them again. OK, so normally it's online. I just can't seem to "keep" the guys I find. When we do meet, it normally goes pear-shaped, like I clam up, or I say all the wrong things and I never hear from him again. I'm approaching 34 and I want to settle down into a relationship. I feel like a need plastic surgery or a make-over or to go sky-diving, just to gain confidence, or come out of my shell. Is this crazy?

I'm afraid of rejection. The amount of guys I could've had if I wasn't so shy! Thanks,
—Sky Diver?

  Hello Sky Diver,
Stop beating yourself up! Are you shy or are you just not connecting with the guys that are right for you? If you think you are shy then, yes, it would be good to do something about helping you come out of your shell and develop more self-confidence. But I doubt you need plastic surgery or a make-over. You are fine the way you are—what you need is some way to become convinced that you are okay, that you are enough, and that you are probably a really good catch for the right guy. By the way, we are all afraid of rejection!

But it also sounds like you are setting yourself up for rejection. What kind of guys are you going for? My guess is that you are looking for the ones who are really only interested in hookups or temporary connections. If that is the case, then examine the reality. You are hoping your encounters with these guys will turn into something it isn’t. That is not common sense and is a perfect way to continue to wound yourself. So, here are some tips about how to gain more self-confidence. Get a life coach, take a class in public speaking, think of things that you’ve always wanted to do, a hobby or sport, and go find a club where you can do that. Think about what really holds meaning for you, what you really value and find ways to make them happen.

And when you are looking for a guy, think about what your needs and criteria are. Think about it: if you are only basing your criteria on their exterior, then chances are the encounter you have will be superficial. Think about your own personal values and life philosophies. Wouldn’t you like to find a guy who shares the same values as you? If you know what you value, then you can find groups or organizations that resonate with those values and see if you meet any interesting guys. This is a more stable way to connect with guys that could end in a lasting relationship.

So, take some time to see if you can expand your list of what you are looking for, like age, type, and most importantly, interests. You may discover that you start meeting guys who “get” you so you won’t fumble over your words.

Have fun exploring!

Hi Joe,
I'm turning 27 and have been out for nearly three years (two to family), but my life hasn't really changed for the better. I still live in the city I grew up in, but my old circles of friends have broken apart as people move away. Before coming out, I had friends and a religious community, so I wasn't ever alone. Now, I find myself sad and lonely most of the time.

  I've never felt like I could really enter into the fun parts of gay life. The couple of gay friends that I do have won't go out to clubs, party or meet new guys with me. I just want to have fun, make more friends, and have sex more regularly. The only guys I've ever hooked up with have been from the internet, and it's usually once every few months and not guys I can relate to on a peer level (they've been a lot older than me). I feel lonelier now than before I came out, because I don't have a community to belong to anymore, and I've always had the hardest time making friends. To top it off, I'm very good looking, and I think gay guys assume that it works well in my favour. Getting eye'd up in the street when you feel like the loneliest person in the world, though, is just about the best way to feel like pond scum.

I want to be accepted and welcomed by the gays of my age group, but I feel as isolated as I ever did amongst straight guys. My 20's will be over soon, and I'm missing out on the best years of my life. I didn't have any fun in my teens and my 20's are passing in the same way. I thought I was making big steps with coming out, but it didn't seem to get me anywhere. What can I do?
—Out in the Cold

Dear OITC,
Sorry to hear you are finding it hard to transition into the next phase of your life. This is something that happens to a lot of young people, gay or straight, when they feel they aren’t connecting with people they can relate to. And I think it is great that you came out and are living a lifestyle that suits you. But, coming out isn’t like being handed a membership card to some exclusive club. I find that gay people have just as much trouble making community as straight people; maybe even more so.

You seem to understand the odd paradox of the loneliness of big cities: So many people, but very few of them connecting. And I can imagine that feeling like people are only seeing you for your good looks and not bothering to get to know the person underneath makes it even harder. We live in an odd culture where we feel safe keeping a distance from others. That is easier than actually doing the work of engaging with someone and opening up to vulnerability. And many of us don’t realize that lusting after someone is not really connecting with someone. In fact, it is just the opposite.

It’s hard to give you specific advice because I don’t know what city you live in, but I would imagine that there must be some peer groups that you can get in touch with. Most large cities will have centers where young gay people meet. Or there must be forums on websites where young gay people communicate with each other. This would be a good venue to at least find out how others are managing this same dilemma. And, who knows, you might make some friends! Or how about finding ways to connect with young straight people? You could have fun with them too. And they may know young gay people they can introduce you to.

And you seem like a smart, aware guy. If you can’t find any groups like this, maybe the city you live in is waiting for you to start one!!!! Start a blog. Go to the local gay centers and see if you can start a group. Tell your story! It has to start somewhere. Yes, it is hard to find connection and happiness in the big city, but you can’t be the only one out there. That’s not statistically possible. Use your creativity, desire and energy to make it happen. Take initiative. Explore all avenues. Go to church and go to clubs, go to cafes and keep chatting on the internet. You will eventually find guys your age who share your values and interests, and who also know how to have fun.

And, by the way, I found that I started having fun when I turned 30! So, you have plenty to look forward to.

Be bold,

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 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.