His question was an honest one. No ill intentions, no wild presuppositions. Simply put: a curiosity stemming from lack of education. More in passing than direct, a side statement within a side statement.
But it was still a question. And it had to be answered.
Why do SSA guys need strong male friendships?
My friend Mick made this question in passing, his phrasing more akin to: “I’ve heard SSA guys are more in need of strong male friendships.”
Perhaps I just turned his words into a question because I needed to answer it; doing so would allow me to point out, tactfully, a flaw within his statement. But first, I wanted to answer the statement straight on as it stood, hoping the answer would morph naturally afterwards.
“Strong male friendships can help SSA guys who have, for so long, felt less manly due to their attractions or perhaps felt marginalized for some other reason. Maybe the friend makes up for a lack of a male figure in his own life. Either way, the male friendship can help a guy understand that he is truly a guy, no matter what his attractions or interests may be.”
Mick nodded and opened his mouth to speak as I continued.
“Honestly, though, it’s the same way any guy needs friends.”
His eyes sparked a want for elaboration.
“Every guy, no matter what his attraction, needs a male friend. Truthfully, everyone needs close same-gendered friends. It’s no different than your attractions or struggles. We need someone else who understands.”
My friend nodded in agreement. Mick is smart; I think he got what I was saying.
However, his assumption or side statement or hidden question is a common belief. There’s this idea that SSA individuals are “more in need” of other people — particular straight people.
After all, aren’t opposite-sex attracted (OSA) individuals living the life SSA folks want? Even lots of SSA individuals who don’t want to have a same-sex relationship buy into this concept that some same-gendered OSA individual is the saving hero we need for our unwanted attractions.
We SSA guys often look for a Superman figure to save us and make us straight, it seems.
But that’s silly. Seriously, it is absolutely ridiculous how often we SSA folks chase around OSA individuals like they’re some pot of gold to be claimed. It’s not every SSA person — but I think many of us would agree we’ve believed this lie at some point in our lives. I have. My belief led to codependency issues, broken friendships, and a whole bunch of heartache.
Kind of a sucky pot of gold.
Every person needs someone else. We all need relationships and friendships with people of the same gender and the opposite gender, too.
We all need friends who are OSA, SSA, or anywhere else on the sexuality spectrum.
No matter who you are, you cannot live without relationships. We were created to be social creatures. Some of us need two friends; others need two hundred friends.
Either way, we need other people.
My friend Mick admitted that he has three close guy friends he knows he needs. I have the same.
Perhaps OSA Mick and SSA Dean aren’t that different at all.
Do you feel more relationally “needy” than other men? Have you made progress feeling less like an outlier and more like anyone else who needs strong relationships?
* Photo courtesy fouseyboy, Creative Commons.