264. mesmerism


old-mesmerismI promised you more details about my sex life in the last post, and here it is, in two parts.

Part I

Like many gay men, I hate my body. It’s not that I’m overweight or even ugly. On the contrary, I’m still relatively slim for my age and level of physical activity (if you call pacing exercise), and objectively speaking my visage is not unpleasing. Yet still I’m not sure if I meet the standard of what other gay men are going to find attractive and desirable.

This is a game I can’t figure out the rules to.

This issue with being uncomfortable with my body goes back to early childhood. As a boy, I didn’t like going around without a shirt—I didn’t want anyone looking at me, thinking I was skinny, pale, or funny-looking.

There was also a degree of cognitive dissonance because I was aware that other boys—other men—thought nothing of displaying their bodies.

So what was wrong with me that I was so inward-looking?

I recently finished watching the Netflix series Stranger Things. One of the things I came away with was reflecting on the friendship between the four main boys. As a homeschooler, I had no such close friendships at that age. The only other contact I had with boys my age was at church, and that was limited—maybe once or twice a week.

Aside from my father, who I had a pretty distant relationship with, my journey through puberty and adolescence was a lonely one. There was no one else to normalize the changes my body went through, from hair appearing on my face, legs, and chest, to my voice deepening, to the hurricane of male teenage hormones and emotions.

Although I read and studied about these changes, I resented my body for dragging me into this new and confusing experience, especially given the conservative Christian community this took place in. The gist of the advice I received was basically: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” For me, the only gay in the village (even though I didn’t know it), this was even more lonely once I figured out why I wasn’t interested in girls like the other guys were.

So I’m envious of guys who can go around shirtless or wearing just hot pants, seemingly without a care. They don’t seem to worry about what other people think, and I can’t help wondering how my life might’ve been different had I had close male friends growing up who could’ve helped me acclimate and integrate fully into my adult male body.

(To be absolutely clear, this isn’t gender dysphoria. It’s more that I feel like an outsider, a pariah, or out-of-phase within my own body.)

As it is, I can’t wear shorts without feeling anxious.

Even short-sleeve shirts are a challenge.

Part II

As I’ve written about in several other posts, sex is something of a psychological minefield for me these days. Again, I’m definitely not asexual.

Rather, to quote U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

In addition to Stranger Things, I’ve also been watching season 2 of Showtime’s series Penny Dreadful, and just got to the episode where a character is tormented by visions of her dead children clawing their way out of their graves, beckoning her to join them in death.

Curiously, this scene actually helped clarify what has been happening to me mentally in past sexual encounters for me over the past few years.

In the years following my breakup with my first boyfriend, I transformed myself into a bona fide slut. At one point I was using three different hookup apps to find guys around me to have sex with. In the back of my mind though, I was hoping that at least one of them might turn out to be boyfriend material.

If you kiss enough frogs.

Following the catastrophe with Seth, I literally tried to fuck him out of my system, and over the course of just a few months had actually grown tired of sex. Bouncing from one guy to the next was not only exhausting and degrading: it was depressing.

Once I’d called it quits with Jay, my last boyfriend, nearly nearly three-and-a-half years ago, dating became an exercise in futility. With a trail of failed relationships, the chances of anyone deciding a gay thirtysomething was worth it seemed remote when there were more cute, fun, flirty guys around.

Either during or following my last couple of sexual encounters, the ghosts of all the past guys who I was attracted to and who rejected me came crawling up out of the recesses of my subconscious to remind me of how undesirable I am, how unattractive I am compared to other guys, how once sex happens the guy bails, how much of a fucked up fixer-upper project I am, and how no one has the time or patience for that bullshit.

Remember that cute blonde, Chris, how you went out a couple times before you let him fuck you, and afterwards he couldn’t wait to get rid of you?

It’s not as if I haven’t had enough sex—some of it good, even fun. As I get older and know myself better, sex is just one dimension for me of knowing someone.

Unfortunately, as a demisexual, there needs to be a solid emotional foundation of trust first before adding any kind of sexual element.

Yet all gay guys these days seem to want to do is jump straight to having sex, because for most of them it’s just a fun romp. And me being the one who is different, I don’t know how to negotiate when I know someone well enough to trust that they aren’t just going to bail on me once they get what they want from me sexually.

Ironically, I’m actually as celibate now as I was prior to coming out.

So those are the gritty details of my sex life.

You are welcome.

5 thoughts on “264. mesmerism

  1. Violet

    Your perspective makes much sense to me since men are your chosen mate…indeed, I bet almost all women would see themselves in your story. I don’t know a single female who feels good about her body, and all of us had to navigate men using us for sex and dumping us the second they got it. I hope knowing this will help you feel a little more normal…these are simply the status quo experiences of dating men. The unfortunate thing is you have a smaller dating pool to pull from so your dog:good man ratio is likely to feel even more pronounced.

    I wonder if at this time it would be worth it for you to gain some comfort in being alone (this does not mean you have to give up looking for a good man). It only means finding a different perspective to view yourself in the world, to feel ok with yourself, until your good man comes along. Hell, I’ve known multiple people who married in their 60s-70s-80s and even 90’s…surely being in your 30’s is NOT washed up! However I do want to acknowledge that being in your thirties and never married is difficult and it definitely feels like you’re an outlier…my husband and I married in our thirties though, so I see the hope for you.

    • David

      Thanks for that note of encouragement, Violet. 🙂

      I guess one thing I’m worried about, aside from the much smaller pool of eligibles, is that the older I get the harder it will be to adjust to living with someone. I have housemates now, but that’s not the same as sharing space with a partner. By the time a compatible guy does come along, we’ll probably both be so set in our ways that living together will be virtually impossible.

      It seems my lot in life is for everything to have several greater degrees of complication. Blërg.

      • Violet

        I found adjusting to living with my husband in my 30’s was a bit of a challenge…it can’t be denied that we do become more set in our ways as we get older. You are also correct that living with roomies is in no way comparable to living with a significant other. Please know this issue is something which *can* be overcome. While certain habits of my husband’s will always drive me insane, we have managed to find a living arrangement we can both live with. Being single for so long can make you appreciate a companion more, and in some ways, you’ll be more motivated to compromise. I agree the change is probably easier if you’re younger, but don’t lose faith in your ability to adapt….especially when you find a man who well suits you.

        I must admit my own bias here; as someone in a long-term relationship which has survived an extraordinarily trying situation (I’m disabled and have a young child with a different disability), I have a bit of envy of those who have the freedom of singleness. I guess this is a case of the “grass is always greener” syndrome. Too bad there’s no way to have our cake and eat it too…you can’t have the benefits of being single and the benefits of a partnership at the same time. Blerg.

    • David

      Believe it or not, the titles of these posts are related to the content itself. As a skeptic, I relate very much to the historical concept of mesmerism and how it was eventually debunked.

      The tendency to look at the world in black and white is one that I’m aware of. It’s a holdover from my evangelical days, and tends to make itself known when I’m feeling stressed, threatened, or overwhelmed, which I have been as of late.

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