This is Part 3 in this friendship series; check out Part 1 and Part 2.

When my straight roommate, Justin, learned I dealt with same-sex attraction, he almost ended the friendship right then and there. He saw my obsession with him and that I wanted him to meet all my emotional needs. I reassured him that I wanted to deal with my issues in a Christian way, and we agreed to keep talking.

He began to understand that I was not trying to do anything sexual with him, but I did have an unhealthy emotional dependence on him.

Justin kept spending more and more time with his other friends, leaving me totally alone, sometimes for days at a time. In his absence, I felt a building loneliness and deep pain over the loss of a close friend. I craved seeing him anytime I could, but it often felt like I’d never see him again.

In some ways, I almost made it seem he had died! I worried about Justin constantly, wondering whether he would make bad decisions or be hurting or needy. I cried often, but I kept taking my pain to God.

Even with a better understanding of my SSA, he just couldn’t take daily contact with me anymore. So, he told me he was moving out.

We soon moved into separate homes with different groups of roommates, and he would not answer my texts or calls. I knew it was over, but I had no idea how long the horrible inner pain over him would last.

In the following months, I thought through all that had happened in my friendship with Justin; clearly, I was the one at fault. I’d grown obsessed with him and had been selfishly demanding the kind of relationship where I’d have him all to myself.

I determined that I would not let this happen again with any friendship. Anytime I’d find myself demanding affection from one guy or feeling jealousy over his other friends, I’d take it to God in prayer and reevaluate everything.

Emotional dependency is so destructive. I hate it!

Believe it or not, though, this was not the end of the story with Justin . . .

Have you ever had a close friendship with another guy fall apart? Did emotional dependency contribute to the problem? Did the friendship eventually heal, or did it fall away?

* Photo courtesy sbrac, Creative Commons.

About the Author

  • The occurrences might be different but the outcomes are the exact same things. I’m not sure if I got emotionally dependent on him but I’m still trying to pick up the pieces of myself after a similar tragedy. He was technically the first man I desexualized. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.

    • I’ve had problems desexualizing guys too. It’s like I’m able to get guys to sleep with. But there’s no one I can be actual friends with. The guys I want to be friends with “break up” with me… what’s the deal with that?!

    • Don’t give up too soon! Healthy male friendships are possible and full of joy, even for guys like us who deal with SSA. Wait for Part 4 of this story.

  • I lost my virginity with my one and only boyfriend. Because I was confusing sex and love, I thought that we would always be together (the idea of marriage was far outside the realm of possibility). I kept myself for him and only him. Then I found out he was having sex with other guys (not just a few). I immediately became jealous and tried to insinuate myself between him and other guys. We would fight often. Finally I decided to get back at him by having sex with other guys. I pretty much became a slut, having written my phone number on bathroom walls and answering ads in the newspaper (yeah, I’m old). Nothing seemed to phase him, so we broke up, and shortly thereafter I moved away from the gay lifestyle. The all of a sudden he would show back up in my life at the most inopportune times and we always wound up having sex, me always falling for his line of crap and then feeling like a slut afterwards. The last time though (12 years ago) I was with him was after a fight with my wife. After it was over I told him that it could never happen again. He then let me know I was only good for sex.
    I was emotionally devastated. It was far worse than being offered money or the attempted rape. I had been confusing sex with love and now it had come to fruition. I thought I had nothing, as I viewed my wife as a means of an opportunity to live like a straight man. I wept for a while and then resolved to never be with another man again.

    • From talking to many guys with SSA, I would say that gay sex destroys a friendship worse than any other factor. It is rare to find a deep male friendship that stays deep very long after the friends start having sex.

  • All the time?!? This has happened with almost every friendship I’ve ever had. It’s happened so many times that I’ve developed defense mechanisms to stop myself from getting too close/ losing friends- having reasoned in the past that it’s better to have a distant friend than no friends at all.
    I have lived with this negative cycle, codependency, and my reaction against codependency for most of my life. The problem is that I’m too needy. So either I show how I feel and come off as needy and scare them off, or I restrain myself and come off as distant.
    It’s really hard for me to strike that balance- I can be distant and accepted, and lonely. Or I can be known, and then abruptly, alone. But I can’t seem to strike that “sweet” balance of being accepted, and known. I care deeply for people, and I just want people to care as much for me, as I do for them. I want someone who sees all of me, and doesn’t reject me.
    I think I have friendship PTSD, if something like that exists. :/ ūüôĀ

      • Tom, I know you have been through so much pain bcause of this. Keep trying to give instead of get and I pray you will have CLOSE friends too! This blog is just one example of the way you unselfishly give.

    • James,
      It may seem impossible for you to find a healthy, satisfying male friendship but I am writing these stories from my life so you and others can see it IS possible. There will be failures but don’t stop trying!
      Unselfishness is one thing that has helped me NOT to appear overly needy and scare guys away. When I think more about how can I help the other guy and less about what I need, things work much better.

  • Sorry about what has happened but I think you nailed it on emotional dependency. I once had a best friend in another state. We were very close and talked every day and shared many things. Intimate things on our hearts – and it was fantastic, loving, caring, and open. We would get together on weekends a few times a year and would also use face time so that we could see each other.
    I have two daughters who live in England and they come to visit a couple of times each year. When they would visit I would tell my friend not to expect to hear from me while they were here as it was my time for them. Since I see them so infrequently, it was my time to concentrate on them. After one of these visits, my friends therapist call me and asked what was wrong between me and my friend. I had no idea what he was talking about. Then the therapist said I had not called my friend. When I explained to him that I was with one of my daughters, that I told my friend not to expect to hear from me and WHY, the therapist said that at least I could have texted. It was from that point that I knew this friendship that I loved so much and gained from, had gone from a friendship to an obsession. An unhealthy obsession. From that point I had to end the friendship.
    It killed me to do that, and I have not had a deep friendship since then. What we had was unique until the obsession kicked in. My wife was supportive of our friendship but she also saw the obsessiveness of it. She let me figure it out. I would love to have another friendship like that. Our time together was fun, uplifting, encouraging, and male bonding without any sexual overtones. Did we see each other naked? Yes, so many times. Did we talk about men’s sexual health? Yes, and it was great to hear another mans perspective on what we were experiencing. There were no taboo subjects. After all, once you have been naked with another guy there is not much you can’t talk about anymore. It was pure friendship at the top of the purity level. I miss that. I just wish his therapist did not lead him down the road that lead to our friendship becoming obsessive on his part.

    • We all need close friendships like you described. I’m sorry you had to go through the pain of losing it.
      What helps me NOT let a friendship become obsessive is letting other guys in instead of wanting my friend all to myself.
      I currently have a straight guy friend who has called me his best friend in front of me and others. We have clearly expressed our commitment to each other by word and consistent action. We hug often. How is this not obsessive? Both he and I have many other friends. We are not exclusive. Also, I am seeking to be a blessing to him, not trying to get something out of him.

      • Hey! What you described is not obsessive because you allow others in as well. I think what you just described is a normal and healthy relationship. I have a couple of guys at church who I hug every time I see them. We rely on each other and text often when we don’t get to see each other. The healthy part of that is they have other guys they depend on, too, besides me. Just because you express a friendship commitment to someone does not make it obsessive either. Its biblical.
        I always look at the example of Jesus – he had 12 close friends (apostles), three of those he was closer to (Peter, James, and John) and one he was the closest to (John). It’s my goal to have three guys I can really rely on and one I rely on the most. That’s sounds like what you are doing with that one friend. And if there is anyone who can give the perfect example for friendship it is Jesus.
        Your friendship with that one guy sounds great!!

  • This is a great post Marshall, and you have shown clearly what damage an emotionally dependent relationship can do. I think I personally had some ED at times, although nothing so severe as you describe: the smothering jealous kind of possessive relationship that drives others away. But, honestly, yours is not the first and only story I have heard from friends about ED (for men with SSA) and how the unbalanced relationships almost always self-destruct. That is why I think this is a great post. I am curious about resolving ED though. It is one thing to pray to God and vow not to have ED in another relationship again, but quite another to stop yourself from behavior which is deeply ingrained and that you have used to cope with relationships probably from an early age. I would think that therapy or at least a good life coach would have to come along side to help you recognize and work through your ED. Can you comment on that? (Or perhaps this question is addressed in the next post, because you have said that this is not the end of the story with Justin…)

    • The approach I started taking after Justin ended the friendship was to be unselfish, to seek the good of my friend more than my own good. Instead of trying to GET something out of him, no matter how needy I was, I tried to GIVE him what he needed. As a Christian, I saw that was what Jesus Himself did, so I am just trying to show love the way Jesus did.
      This unselfishness actually made me far happier than demanding a guy’s exclusive affection.
      I’m sure a therapist or life coach would help, but I really believe I have my answer already so I haven’t gone that route.

      • I am glad to read your reply! It is great insight to see what you have done that isn’t healthy, to look at Jesus through the word and to make lifestyle changes through the power of His Holy Spirit that moves you to be the man of God that you are meant to be. Wow! Great!

  • I can relate all too well to the death of one of my closest male friendships, Marshall. In my case, my friend battled with SSA, too, but we had never acted on our desires. In fact, I didn’t even know if he had any desires toward me. We rarely talked about our individual battles, but the fact that we each knew the other was struggling made our friendship stronger and helped us pray more effectively for each other.
    In this case, my friend isn’t good at communication. If he sees something, he makes assumptions and acts on those assumptions without ever asking even close friends if his assumptions were correct. I did go through a time when I was emotionally depending on him for things that I should have first been relying on my wife for (opinions, feedback, reassurance). After weeks of just shutting down communication, he told me what he saw. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, repented, and began to make changes. My wife began to become my primary source for emotional intimacy, opinions, etc.
    However, just a few weeks after that helpful discussion with my friend and the beginning of the changes in my dependency, my friend just shut down again, refusing to communicate or to explain what was going on. I didn’t know if he was hurting or if there was something new between us. It took about two or three weeks for him to finally tell me that he still though I was too emotionally dependent on him. In addition, he said he had talked to a pastor about it (about me), as well as talking to another of our mutual friends, who had never known about my SSA. To say I was hurt, broken, and feeling betrayed is all understatement–especially when he could have just asked me, and even gotten feedback from my wife that things had changed. Instead, he had assumed the worst, built an imaginary case, and betrayed one of the deepest confidences he could have. And then he refused to talk with me until after I had met with the pastor he’d brought into the scenario.
    Though I still hold his friendship as one of the closest in my life, there has never been the relief of an apology for the hurt he did, and there’s a massive “elephant” of artificiality between us that has replaced the joyous, unhindered brotherhood we once shared. I miss the friend I lost. He was trying to do the right thing; but his immaturity, his use of silence as a safety mechanism learned in a broken home, and the difficulty he has with trust all led to one of the largest, most hurtful experiences of my adult life.

    • Wow that is painful to read. But yet it is raw and real. While I love my wife and talk to her, as she has told me ‘I cannot affirm your masculinity’ which is so true. She does not know what being a man feels like. Thats why losing my best friend was so painful as he was able to do that for me. The relationship you had is rare but hopefully you can regain what was lost or perhaps God will send another guy to help fill that void.

    • I’m sorry you had to go through that pain of betrayal. People will always fail you in some way, but your response to it will make a big difference in how you recover.
      It sounds like you understand your friend’s weaknesses and you have an attitude of “forgive him for he does not know what he has done:” Determining to forgive is a giant step toward restoration. If you patiently “do good to those who mistreat you ” I believe that the two of you will eventually be able to talk things through and resolve much of the hurt.

  • “Emotional dependency is so destructive. I hate it!” Amen brother. I hate that I have this emotional black hole with its own irresistible gravity that drags me in, and what’s frustrating is that I’m usually blind to it till it’s too late. I can’t ever seem to figure it out before the crash. And when I do, knowing and saying it was all on me doesn’t help restore what was good in the friendship. But I do know this, Jesus came to heal and save our souls. And withdrawing from being fully engaged in friendships isn’t the answer. You go on, which means finding the grace to do truth and love in all things with others.
    I’m still working thru a crash with a straight Christian friend of about 3 years. Looking back, I had made it more than it really was, but what it was, was still good. And when he said some totally innocent thing, it unleashed some past buried thing that he didn’t know about. The more I tried to escape the past thing and explain, the deeper the hole and the worse I made it. The only way I saw to stop dragging the friendship down the black hole was to pull away, which now seems pretty blind. Fast forward to today, and we’ve made contact but things are different and may never be the same. But who knows, maybe the friendship can survive and go deeper and be better than what it was in an honest way. That’s my hope. I’m looking for God’s grace to fill in the holes and help me stand and follow Jesus and become a better man.
    I love your stories Marshall where you find the way forward and friendships get past turning points and become better. I’m hoping that’s what happens with Justin.

    • You said, “withdrawing from being fully engaged in friendships isn’t the answer. ” I couldn‚Äôt agree more. The only way to deal effectively with a problem is to face it, not withdraw!
      Keep loving others like you do!

  • I have much experience destroying friendships with other men. Because I wanted….something… so much from them. Acceptance,love, admission to the man club. I wanted them to take care of me, be my big brother. As soon as someone showed any interest in me, I squeezed the life out of them.
    After awhile I realized I wanted something from guys that they couldn’t give because they didn’t have it. Straight guys are trying to figure it out just like I am. There was no way for them to plug the gaping holes in my heart. I kind of stopped trying for a while. Gave up on ever having guy friends.
    But along with that came freedom. I stopped trying so hard. Quit trying to act more manly around them. And once I stopped trying so hard, the miracle happened. I started making friends with regular straight dudes. They didn’t even care that I wasn’t into sports or whatever. And bigger miracle, in my current circle three different guys told me I’m their best friend!
    So guys, don’t give up on being friends with other men. I think if we quit looking for them to fulfill some kind of unmet need within ourselves, a true friendship can really happen. And because I think us SSAers tend to be more sensitive, we can be the kind of loyal friend many guys are looking for.

    • Charlie, yes! There is no reason to put on an act to try to be some version of a manly man that is not the real you! It only gets in the way.
      I have found the same thing as you. I make friends better when I just try to be myself while loving and being concerned about the other guy more than my own needs.
      Yes, straight guys DO appreciate warmth and glad loyalty that we can give. One of my best friends is a rather unemotional, ENTJ / Enneagram 8 alpha male type. He has responded to my affection and commitment with surprising love and respect, even though I can’t compete with his masculine traits.

  • These posts literally almost brought me to tears. I thought I was crazy, but I’m not! I had a situation with my former roommate that was almost exactly the same as Marshall’s. He made me feel the exact same way Justin did… and then I told him about my SSA and he moved out. I was absolutely devastated, and nobody understood why (including myself). He and I are still not on good terms, it has been almost 2 years now. Since he left, I have never had such 1) an obsession over someone, and 2) such intense hatred for someone. I am still recovering and trying to work things out with myself, but it’s still hard.
    My question is this: those emotions we have over other men friends, and the holes we want them to fill – how and with what should we fill them?

    • I can relate to obsession and hatred for a person, but I haven’t told them yet (you can see my above comment if you really want to know about that).
      I guess, and this is just my thoughts, these “holes” are really just idols. Our hearts love to take things, people, religion, even good things like how to not struggle with sin, and make us obsess over them. Our biggest obsession should be Christ.
      We are all tempted. Hard. And the Bible makes it clear that even when we are saved, that doesn’t end until we get out of our disgusting flesh and reunite with him.
      So, you may always feel tempted. You will obsess, too. The only escape from it is Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I probably don’t read His word nearly as much as I should. And that’s the only medicine I know of that actually works. And as far as hatred, our greatest commandment is to love. Forgive your friend, and I know that it’s easier said than done, but it still NEEDS to BE done. I won’t be a hypocrite either; I have the same problems! I will be trying to follow the same advice. Read, love, forgive. That’s what Jesus did. Confide in Him.
      The only way to fill our holes is with a fire for God, a passion for His word, and a love for your fellow brothers and sisters of His creation.
      I will be praying for you.

  • I really need help, and prayer.
    I recently spent a lot of time with a group of friends of mine, one of whom happens to be the first person I’ve ever had feelings for. As a friend group, this really brought all of us closer, and we really had a great time.
    But towards the end of our time, I started getting extremely upset. Here I was trying to just spend some normal time with my friends, but I couldn’t stop thinking about one of them. It just tormented me to be stripped of the normality of friendship and have non-stop warped thinking. I got really depressed.
    On the last day of out time together, I got really angry. I was enraged that I couldn’t enjoy normal time with my friends without feelings constantly getting in the way. I came very close to just ending my friendship with him, with no explanation. But I knew I couldn’t do that. For one, he was one of my few close friends, and losing that would only destroy me more. Plus, I didn’t have the heart to do it. People have done that to me before, and I know how much it hurts. I couldn’t possibly do that to another person.
    The problem was that I felt bad about being friends with him without him knowing how I felt. It made me feel guilty.
    It was like a switch flipped. Why don’t I just tell him then?
    My mind raced. I have only come out to 4 very close family members, all very recently, and all of them had differing views. They all agreed I shouldn’t tell my friends, much less that friend.
    But coming out had been easier than I thought.
    And of course, I thought, my friend is unsaved, so there’s no way he could understand my struggle from a godly perspective. I’m only risking bad things happening with no real chance at reaping benefit.
    But then again, if I struggle with it, people are bound to find out. I am going to be publicly shamed at some point. So I thought that it was going to happen, I might as well be open to it.
    So there I was, sitting next to my friend, my mind racing. I couldn’t believe I was here.
    “If I knew something that could destroy a friendship (I didn’t mention that I was referring to myself), would you want me to tell you?”
    He paused for a moment. “Well, that depends. Are you referring to (lists other people in our group)? As long as our group is good.”
    “No. But that’s not what matters. It’s nothing-”
    “Just tell me.”
    Ironically, he was thinking that I was letting on that someone else secretly hated him. I wanted to calm him from that. So I told him no one hated him and it wasn’t really a big deal, and that he shouldn’t worry.
    “OK. Then I don’t care.”
    Unexpectedly, this made me very angry. Of course he would care if he knew what I was talking about. So I told him that actually, it WAS a big deal, and that he was probably going to be very angry with me.
    He wanted to know what I was talking about, but I knew the time and place was wrong. I told him we should meet. He wasn’t happy about that. He wanted to either know right then or me to text him later. I couldn’t do it.
    He seemed to lose interest after that, saying he would “see what he could do” about meeting. But he let me know he probably wouldn’t be angry, then following it with, “but then again, I don’t know what you are talking about”.
    So now, we might be meeting, and then I’ll have to do the unthinkable. Somehow, I’m supposed to tell my unsaved friend that I have feelings for him.
    I am really scared now. I don’t know that this is the right decision, and if he decides to terminate our friendship and tell his family/my friends, I will be devastated. I really pushed myself into this situation and I don’t know if I’m ready for it. Heck, I don’t even really know how to bring it up. Any advice and lots of prayer would really help.

    • I’m praying right now, Fred. No advice, but lots of prayer.
      I am in Mexico right now on a missions trip, and a lot of great ministry is going on. In the midst of it all, I have my silent struggles with some of these fine-looking men. There have been a few times this week that I have gotten really upset like you. Why can’t I have normal ministry time with out this old problem coming up. If I begin to struggle any more today, I will think of you and pray some more. It would be nice to interact “normally” without my baggage, but the baggage does keep me dependent and crying out to God for help, as long as I don’t get too angry and spiral out of control. Blessings on your decisions and the rest of your day.

      • mistaken identity
        A lot has happened in the last 22 days since I wrote this. A lot. I almost dropped telling him altogether, but decided to go through with it. We are meeting this week to talk about it, and there’s no backing out now. Thanks for the continued prayers and I’ll let you know!

        • Praying now, Fred. Let us know what happens. May God direct you and give you wisdom and courage.

    • Praying, Fred. No advice, as I can’t speak to the exact friend and situation you’re in. Pray you say exactly what needs to be said: nothing more, nothing less. Let us know how it goes, okay?

      • Tom, my comment was taken down as spam. Was it too long? Can you fix it? It was really helping to see the replies. Thanks!

      • Tom
        A lot has happened in the last 22 days since I wrote this. A lot. I almost dropped telling him altogether, but decided to go through with it. We are meeting this week to talk about it, and there’s no backing out now. Thanks for the continued prayers and I’ll let you know!

    • It’s always hard to come out to a crush. I’ve felt and done that in the past. I told myself that I couldn’t be honest, a real friend, unless they knew they whole me. Which is true. But often what happens is that the guy friend, if I mention being attracted to him, thinks I’m hitting on him.
      I think what’s happening is that I’m telling him because I feel the pressure, and I want to release the pressure. It feels really good to tell him, it’s very freeing, liberating. But once I tell him, he feels the pressure. And that pressure strains the friendship, and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. And so some distance between you two grows.
      The best route to preserve the friendship is to talk about how your attracted to guys, in general, though you don’t identify as gay. And if he asks, say that you’re not attracted to him.
      The reason why i say that is because you want him to know you, as a person, understand your internal world. You want him to care for you. Sharing your attractions, in general, does that. Sharing your specific attractions is less “sharing”, and more “burden shifting”. It’s kind of a selfish act, it’s like blaming someone.
      No matter how you cut it, it’s hard. Sometimes I can’t deal with the pressure, and I just need to tell a guy that I’m hot for him. That’s ok too. Because the chips fall where they fall, and sometimes that results in a better, more honest friendship. And sometimes the friendship falls apart. Either way is ok. You need both experiences in life.
      I’ll be praying for you man. Let us know what happens.

      • I will definitely let you guys know how it goes. Thanks for the prayer!
        After reading your post, I think I have to come into agreement about it. However, I don’t know how I possibly could talk about I this way. Considering I kind of freaked out about it and made it into a big deal, especially saying it involved him directly, I don’t know if there is a way I could tell him without also telling him or him knowing that he is that guy.
        Here’s what I think I’ll do. I’ll try to mention it like you say, not letting on that I’m talking about him directly. If he (and I’m sure he will) asks about my feelings towards him specifically, I will make an in the moment decision with prayer. Because I think even if I say no, he’ll know based on what I’ve already said and call me a liar. But we’ll see. This definitely helped! Thanks!

          • That is the best thing I could ask for! I am extremely nervous and am starting to doubt my decision to tell, but God will be with me either way.

          • I’m hoping that after talking with your friend he tells you it’s ok and you”re still friends. However it turns out Fred, hope that you come out stronger, that in this hard thing you find God leading you thru. Along with others, praying for you.

          • bluzhawk
            A lot has happened in the last 22 days since I wrote this. A lot. I almost dropped telling him altogether, but decided to go through with it. We are meeting this week to talk about it, and there’s no backing out now. Thanks for the continued prayers and I’ll let you know!

          • Gotta think he’ll admire your courage if you’re honest, I do. Thanks for the update Fred.

          • James
            A lot has happened in the last 22 days since I wrote this. A lot. I almost dropped telling him altogether, but decided to go through with it. We are meeting this week to talk about it, and there’s no backing out now. Thanks for the continued prayers and I’ll let you know!

  • Having a heartsong can help deal with things. The link is to this song called “Daniel’s Joik” by a 26 yr old Swedish guy whose best friend Daniel was killed in an accident. In his Sami culture a joik isn’t so much a song about someone, instead it’s more a spiritual expression of that person, and what he’s singing isn’t so much words but emotions. It’s only 2 minutes long but someone looped it to 10 minutes. I have the longer version on Spotify but this stripped down version is better. Listen and see if this doesn’t take you to that place of dealing with lost friendship.

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