It’s Not That Big a Thing / You Never Call, You Never Write…
Dear Dr. Hurd,
I’m in my early 20s, and I’ve recently come to terms with my sexuality. In the months (well, years) leading up to this revelation, I have perused my share of gay, uh…literature…and noticed that many of the men depicted therein are quite, shall we say, “gifted.” To make a long story even shorter, I am not similarly “gifted.” I haven’t had a lot of experience, but I suspect I’m just average. I’m paranoid about hooking up with somebody, as I assume many gay men look like those I see in the literature and that I won’t…measure up.
Dr. Hurd replies,
Too bad. In the pursuit of what you see as perfect, you’re prepared to give up all kinds of experiences and interactions; sexual and otherwise. You said you’re not really “gifted.” Compared to what? Compared to a sophisticated and savvy industry where the “gifted” people are hired to perform in movies or pose for photographers? Is that really a fair comparison? Don’t you think most other people are in the same boat when comparing themselves to what you see in your…literature?
Sometimes it helps to write things down. Write what you feel you stand to lose by exposing yourself to another in that way. Then write down what you stand to lose by never taking that risk. It might be a helpful exercise, because “risk” doesn’t only mean fear of something bad; there’s also a risk of never having anything happen at all.
It sounds like you’re focused on situations where you’ll be judged primarily by your endowment. That’s probably true if you’re trying out for parts in adult movies, or looking for short-term affairs with people you barely know and who might consider size a primary factor.
However, other choices are possible. You don’t have to go through that sort of stress right away, or even at all. Why not try dating someone who’s not in a rush to get into sex? There are plenty of opportunities to do so. Sex and pressure never go well together.
Lastly, consider talking this out with someone you trust. Seek out someone who’s able and willing to guide you through this candidly. Most likely it will be a professional counselor or therapist. (Third time is usually the charm when selecting a therapist, so don’t give up too quickly.)
Don’t let this issue fester. There are too many opportunities for intimacy, deep connection, and just plain fun to risk letting it all go.
Dear Dr. Hurd,
What is it with people who don’t call after you go out with them? I was always taught to be polite and at least acknowledge a person—even if you really don’t want to go out with them again. But it seems to me that not calling is just plain rude. Are gay people that afraid of confrontation—even if it’s just a friendly call? I don’t get it.
Dr. Hurd replies,
A gay issue? Definitely not. This is an across-the-board issue. Most of the time, people who don’t call back are actually nice people. Because they’re nice, they don’t like the experience of hurting someone else’s feelings. Granted, it’s a contradiction in terms in that they hurt your feelings either way, and I’m not justifying anything. It’s just the way it is.
Many people fear a horrible reaction when they reject someone. What they fail to consider is that most normal people don’t react hysterically when they’re rejected. They might feel crushed or embarrassed, but on the outside they hold up pretty well. Yet oddly, people don’t expect others to react similarly.
Another big factor is that many don’t have the verbal skills to let someone down easily. All they’d have to say is something like, “We’re not a good match, and I’ll explain why I think so, if you’re interested.” They assume it will all be harder than it really is.
I recently spoke to a woman who told a guy after two dates, “You’re honestly not my type. I prefer someone with a more muscular build.” Yes, she agreed they got along well and had a number of important compatibilities. She emphasized she just wanted someone different physically.
Did he like what she had to say? Of course not. But her forthright attitude worked, and he later started working out because she had a good point. And he’d feel better about himself if he improved his appearance. Her forthright honesty did him a favor and increased his confidence and his chances of finding someone else. I agree with what she did, as you probably would, but that sort of honesty isn’t a popular practice.
For that and other reasons, I advise not spending time on this. When someone doesn’t call you, they’ve already communicated what’s most important: They’re not interested. Life goes on, and there’s no rational reason to allow this to deter you. Disappointment and rejection are normal and natural. Mutual love is a rare and special thing; don’t let somebody else’s fear of confrontation discourage you from seeking that out.
Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D., LCSW is a psychotherapist and author. His office can be reached at 302-227-2829. Email questions or comments to Dr. Hurd.