After Brandon and Sarah got married, my friendships with them obviously changed. But they did not end! They regularly invited me to their home for dinner, and they continued to attend my church.

Although I never talked to Sarah alone anymore, Brandon and I still shared in depth about our struggles, hopes, and dreams. Our heartfelt male friendship continued!

Now, over a decade later, I am watching their four children grow up. They have a very happy marriage. Brandon still greets me with a warm hug, confides in me, and surprisingly even asks me for parenting advice!

What did I learn from all this? It took me years of thinking through all the events in my friendships with Brandon and Sarah before I finally understood the life-transforming lessons God wanted me to learn.

First of all, it is very desirable and even possible for me to have a decades-long friendship with a straight guy.

I’ve found a satisfying emotional bond and a two-way friendship with him even though my straight friend is married and I am not.

Even though I felt initially betrayed when Sarah broke up with me and eventually married Brandon, they did not actually betray me. They just made decisions that were painful for me at the time though ultimately best for me!

It took years, but I finally got what Sarah was trying to tell me about not hiding my feelings. She did NOT mean that I should give in to my feelings of same-sex attraction. She meant that I should never be tough and emotionally numb.

Instead, I should have my heart and emotions engaged in whatever I am doing, especially when relating to people.

I have taken my ex-girlfriend’s advice, and I am much happier because of it! As a Myers-Briggs personality type INFJ, it is natural to hide my feelings for fear that people won’t understand those feelings.

The reality is that putting my heart behind my words and actions will enable me to accomplish what really matters in life and, in the process, will give me more genuine friends than I thought possible!

I am also taking Sarah’s advice in one other vital way. I have decided not to start dating a woman unless my heart is fully in it.

Unless I have the kind of love for her that I think will sustain a marriage, I will not date a woman. Simply wanting to look normal and fit into society are NOT good enough reasons for me to date.

A “coincidence” happened about a year ago, though I wouldn’t quite call it that because I believe God arranged it. While fellow YOB author, Tom was wandering around the continent, he stopped by my town and we hung out at Starbucks. While we were talking, Sarah happened to walk in and order a drink. I introduced her to Tom, but she couldn’t stay to talk.

After she left, I told Tom our story, and he encouraged me to tell it some day. Well, I took Tom’s advice and these latest posts are the result!

Have you had a long-term friendship with a straight guy? How has this helped or hurt you? What have you learned from a difficult breakup with a woman?

* Photo courtesy joinash, Creative Commons.

  • I’ve had one very long friendship with a straight guy, it’s been long distance, so we sometimes go weeks with out talking. He has helped me grow in many ways especially in the area of learning to not be clingy, too needy. I do hate that it’s long distance because of the times I’ve needed someone to turn to physically instead of calling or texting. I’m grateful no matter what with God for allowing this friendship in my life. Recently I’ve been able to begin friendships with other straight men in my life. It’s still suprinsing to me that I can almost consider some of them very close friends. Apart from them my friendship circle is mainly female, I don’t have someone that has delt or lives with SSA close to me who I can talk to as a friend. Everyone I know who has or is still has been through blogs or online groups. I appreciate you guys sharing your stories an helping me understand my own path/life
    It’s also nice to find another male INFJ

    • I understand the pain in a long distance friendship when both friends want to see each other! I have local and distant friends, and both are important.
      Yes, being clingy, otherwise known as unhealthy emotional dependence, can destroy a friendship. Eventually I will be writing about when that happened to me.
      I need both straight men and men dealing with SSA as my friends. Straight guys seem to be tougher with me to help me out of my selfishness. SSA guys understand my sexual struggles in ways SSA guys just don’t.
      By the way, YOB author Tom Zuniga is also INFJ.

      • i’m trying to find ways to really connect with someone who deals with SSA, specifically someone not long distance. I’m sure there are some in my neck of the woods, just gotta keep searching. Hopefully soon I’ll connect with them.

  • Marshall, I appreciate you opening up and writing about the dreaded “R” word (relationships). It’s encouraging to read about your long term healthy friendships.
    I am also an Ixxx personality type (i forget the exact one). And default to holding back emotions. Ironically I am in sales – selling to engineers. And am pretty good at reading them. I ask a few questions and then let them tell me how to sell to them. My current manager I think has figured me out – a little at least. He is an Exxx something for sure – but goes out of his way to affirm me. Even noted once that I am “passive aggressive” – and my quick reflex was “oh, you noticed?”. It’s almost like he truly likes me. Which then makes me worry that I will disappoint him. He knows nothing of my last of course – but he seems “in tune” with me. Except for the “best salesman we have” stuff. Lol.
    I’ve had many other male straight friends too. One guy was best man in my wedding 24 years ago – we met at work and fished together. He was married, I was single. Once his kids got older he spent more time with them. And I got married. He moved away and then back, but we never re-connected. I didn’t tell him my past either – but
    He likely found out some because he later worked for a company that I used to – and my step brother had “outed” me there. I also think him moving away was kind of an abandonment thing with me – and I just “cut him out”.
    Woman? Oh my – so many painful experiences. My marriage included. When I look at them I often conclude that I really had no business (emotionally) being with woman. And certainly not marrying one. God seems very loud and clear on that point.
    Jim

    • I’m sorry to hear about the pain in your marriage. I can only imagine how difficult it is to be influenced by your wife’s negative emotions.
      People will always fail you in some way but if you love God first and people second, friendships can be a great blessing!

  • The story just keeps getting better, Marshall. I love that change in perception from “They betrayed me” to “that was painful but ultimately for my best.” I think so many of us fail to grow because we resist that truth. I saw my son come to the same conclusion last year. It was a terrible year for him. His vibrant health deteriorated, and he was truly betrayed by a young woman and a minister who we thought was his best friend. But he is able to say now that it was all ultimately for his best. God took him off a path that was truly destructive, though he almost died in the process. He is a brilliant and talented young man and seems to be on the mend. I am in awe of his many gifts and watch it all gratefully, but I think his mom and I are most pleased with his flexibility in seeing the pain as God’s deliverance. He obviously could not see it at first, especially when he was physically suffering. He might end up in the pharmaceutical industry some day as he is a biochem grad student now. I think you two also share the same sound thinking on marriage.

    • Thanks for those compliments!
      The only way to accomplish what matters in life is to face mistakes and painful circumstances, then learn from them and live accordingly.

  • I’ve had a lot of straight guy friends over the years. I used to go through this negative cycle with them- I would open up a little, we would open up to each other, we’d become close, then, inside, I would feel dependent on spending time with them. Then eventually, probably because I seemed clingy, we would drift apart.
    Eventually God showed me that guy friends were idols- that they weren’t going to fill the need that I was looking for- close companionship, affirmation, and love. He also showed me that, yes, I can enjoy emotionally intimate times with them, and that sweet time is a gift from God- but it won’t take the place of God filling that need in my heart.
    For me, guy friendships have become temporary. They are always a little sad feeling. I don’t know if it’s the past experiences, or my personality, but now I error on the side of withholding emotions so that I don’t drive guys away. I say to myself, “Self, don’t drive the guy away. it’s better to be shallow, than lonely.” So I try to be what the person across from me wants, make the conversation about them, and I find myself hiding.
    I have been hiding to protect myself. But God doesn’t want me to hide. He wants me to be a whole person to the people around me. I’m trying to take God’s lead as I rediscover myself and give myself to the people in my life.
    So, who knows?! Maybe this will result in more satisfying, authentic relationships with guys.
    Wow this post turned out a little more sad than I had intended. But, it’s a part of me. So there you go guys! Thanks for sticking it out and reading, anyways.

    • You write helpful, valuable things, Josh. Thanks! God has been nudging me on the hiding thing too for a few years now.

    • Josh, I think you will find deeper and more enduring friendships with other guys as you stop hiding and instead show your feelings to the ones you trust. If a guy seems to be drifting apart from you, ask him why. You will find it is worthwhile to talk it through with him.
      That is exactly how I have maintained my friendships. I ask questions instead of remaining silent and assuming.

    • I resonate with this so much Josh. Seriously, you wrote words I feel could’ve come from my own mouth. There’s this danger of opening up with expectations attached – something I’ve only realized recently. In previous circumstances (with guys in general) I would open up as a means to feel emotionally connected with that person and also (selfishly) to try to ensure that person would stay in my life. But, as you said, clingy-ness ultimately drove all those friendships apart…except one. One friend took a break but re-initiated the friendship after a year or so. This was the friend I had a deepest brotherly connection to (which, truthfully, I sexualized in my mind), and the one I had wronged the most. To me this shows that God is able to redeem circumstances that I mess up in the worst ways.
      I want to encourage you to take the risk of not shutting out other guys because of past experiences – let authenticity be a more than just a show (“one sided sharing in a friendship isn’t a truly authentic friendship”). Let the experiences you’ve had inform your future decisions, and push you to pursue healthy male friendships. If there is some reason you feel you can’t (as there was with me), talk to God about it. It may not be verbally to him, maybe in a journal, or in a song, etc. But express that to God and try to be open to whatever answer he might give. He may show you grace in a way you thought was impossible – like my straight (and now married) guy friend giving me a second opportunity at healthy friendship.
      I believe God desires EVERY man to have healthy friendships with both sexes, so we can have perspectives different than our own that reveal more of who He is.
      Josh, thank you for sharing, and Marshall, thank you for being willing to tell your story so that we feel we can share our own. 🙂
      (Also, I was an INFJ in college but now seem to be an INTJ. Crazy how personality traits can slowly shift over time!)

  • Really, no, I haven’t had any long-term friendships. I do have friends I have known for most of my life, but really we’re not all that close. I definitely hope that long-term real, deep friendships are in my future, though. Thanks, Marshall, for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’ve been able to maintain your relationships with Sarah and Brandon!

    • I pray you will find deeper friendships with other guys. As I said other places, open up, share your feelings, and ask questions when things are going bad.
      This is risky but worth it!

  • After a bad homosexual relationship some 39 years ago, I decided to live a straight life, so all my male friendships since then were with straight guys. It was healing for my soul. It has been in the past 3 years that I have added same-sex attracted male friends (some gays, some ex-gays and some with unwanted SSA) into my complete community of male friends. All of them are valuable to me. I found a lot of brotherhood from my straight friends through the years. My friends with SSA have helped me to understand myself better and to move forward as a Christian man.
    Yeah, I went through a soul wrenching break up with a woman about 40 years ago. It was right up there in the top 5 most painful things emotionally that I ever went through. It was grief that was hard to deal with, because when someone dies, there is a sense of finality that helps you make peace and with a break-up there is the constant reminder of the lost love walking around and no way to avoid the pain that comes. But as with all things painful, there are good things that God can do through those experiences. Most of the times I have grown closer to God and learned the most are the times in my life that were most painful.

  • Hey Marshall, I’ve always appreciated your posts. Of all the authors you most represent peace to me. You have found resource in Christ to navigate emotions in relation to straight guys. Sometimes SSA is this trap and I get in this tailspin not able to find my bearings in Christ. It’s really frustrating, just being friends should be the most natural thing but SSA intrudes on something really good and it feels like I’m hurting my friend being me. You scramble out of that hole but you’re never back where you were and everything’s changed and that tailspin makes you feel like the worst friend. And the screwiest thing is that all of it seems to be missing the mark.
    I don’t know if any of this resonates with you. In your answer below to Josh, you say to show feelings but feelings are the trap of SSA for me, not for anything physical but for deeper friendship that I’m not equipped to navigate well. Marshall, guess I’m asking what resource you’ve found in Christ in order to be a friend emotionally to straight guys when it’s emotions that screw things up.

    • Bluzhawk, Thanks for the encouragement about peace.
      The main resource in Christ I depend on is unselfish love. I seek to be more concerned about my friend’s needs than my own. I seek to love, give, and serve, demanding nothing in return. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t.
      I think of one friend whose “love language” is words of encouragement. When I show him love I don’t think about how much I want him to hug me, I think of ways I can tell him things that will encourage him. I know that he in a way desires respect more than sentimental feelings, so I told him “You have my deepest respect! As I have gotten to know you I see even more clearly that you courageously live what you believe. I want that courage, too!” He melted inside. He has been a close friend ever since.
      I hope this example helps.

      • That’s a great example of being there for your friend. And unselfish love, man, that is the point. I’ve been blessed having received this from others and blessed giving it, and loving others where the good of the other person is all that matters is freeing.
        It’s not that or wanting things, doesn’t SS make you question whether your love is genuine? Or whether you’re just friends cause you want something out of it? SS stuff arises unwanted when things are going well and casts everything in a selfish light. SS deceives and corrupts the heart, how do you find peace that love is genuine, the love of Christ?
        I guess this struggle for a pure heart is hard for all of us at some time. And I’m probably my own worst enemy navigating SSA and fellowship with guys.
        It just seems like you have navigated better than others. Hey man, you don’t have to comment. I’m hoping you’d point to Jesus anyway, that answers are found in Christ.

  • Marshall

    Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. I seek to do that with great joy, because He is better than everything we give up! Also I want to love others in an unselfish way as Jesus taught. I currently do my best to live out that kind of love with 15 other friends on a farm near the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I love talking about what really matters, and seeing a friend's heart turn from pain to joy, from fear to peace, and from despair to hope! My writing tends to focus on the topic of friendships with other guys. I have never married and am currently the oldest author on YOB.

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