I may have mentioned once or twice (okay, so in a five-part series) that I’ve long had a thing with nudity. It’s been a long and complicated relationship with nudity, and it’s led to some more painful areas.

I was living far away from home in another state working a temporary job. It was late spring, and I was feeling very glum and lonely. My roommates for the fall semester didn’t take too much of a liking to me and had all moved out to live with people they liked better.

Therefore, I was dumped in an apartment with strangers who kept to themselves most of the time. I wasn’t making any friends at my job. I wasn’t making friends anywhere.

I desperately ached for a close male friendship, a brother with whom I could be vulnerable and intimate.

My longings for vulnerability and my desire to express that in mutual nudity led me to another website for skinny-dipping. It was Christian-based and explained that nonsexual nudity among men extolled godly virtues. I liked a lot of what I read on it enough to lead me to join its online group. This guy, Robert, posted about being in a nearby city, willing to go to Korean spas (where nudity is required) with a friend from the group.

I messaged Robert my interest to meet him; he responded right away and we exchanged phone numbers.

We messaged back and forth about how modern men are now ashamed to be seen naked by their male peers when in previous generations it was no big deal. Both of us agreed that vulnerability was beneficial for relationships, especially male relationships.

We seemed to be clicking! Robert suggested doing a camping trip at this remote lake where we could get away with skinny-dipping.

Wow, I thought. This guy really gets it! I think I’ve found the perfect new friend.

We scheduled a time to chat on the phone. He rung me up and we beat around the bush for a bit until Robert confided with me that he had an attraction to men. Robert assured me he had no plans to act out on his same-sex attractions, and he gave me the whole “Side B” spiel.

He explained that he came from a cold, unaffectionate family where nudity was strongly shunned. I listened and thanked him for telling me his story.

I felt we could be vulnerable together, so I let him in on my story, too — that I was also attracted to men without wanting to act on my same-sex attractions.

“Oh . . .” he said. “Well, in that case, I need to think about it. I’m still leaning toward yes, but give me time to think it over.”

“Okay, no pressure!” I said. “Take as much time as you need to decide.”

We had one more phone call before the ultimate third chat arrived. When he answered the phone, I began telling colorful stories about my work before he abruptly stopped me short.

“Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately,” he said. “And I’ve decided this isn’t the best thing for me. I’ve been reading this book that says it’s better to be intimate with people you’ve known a while rather than someone you just met. And I agree with that. So, at this point, I don’t think we should get together.”

My heart dropped. “So . . . you’re saying no to the trip then?”

“Yeah, I’m saying no to the trip.”

“Okay . . . I respect your decision. Did you, uh, still want to keep in contact?”

“I’d rather we . . . didn’t.”

A bowling ball dropped from five stories landed on my stomach. How could this actually be happening?! What did I do wrong?!

We hung up and I lay on my bed sobbing uncontrollably for a solid hour. I slumped onto the floor defeated, my spirit too crushed even to move and pull myself up.

The next morning, I got sick and puked my guts into the toilet. I spent the next few days at work trying not to cry.

So, what’s to be learned from this? I’ve talked to a lot of people about this rejection, and they’ve all said they don’t quite understand the rejection and couldn’t see anything I’d done wrong.

I’ve often been quick to place the blame on myself for my social failures. But I eventually reached a place of not blaming myself for Robert because nobody else could see where I went wrong — not to mention Robert’s vagueness about why he was cutting off the relationship.

Maybe he had a sexual agenda and lost interest when I didn’t catch any hints? Or maybe as another Side B guy, he thought the relationship was getting too sexual for him and had to cut it off to stay sober. Perhaps I simply wasn’t his type for friendship.

Or maybe he really was a cold, heartless person. Who knows.

How do you handle male rejection? I’ve pondered.

Firstly, realize that rejection is a part of life and bound to happen eventually.

Recovery is a long, slow, painful process. It’s best not to instantly judge that you or the other person is at fault for the broken relationship. Think about it and talk about it with your friends before jumping to harsh judgments.

Secondly, forgive as Jesus would.

I must confess, I still feel I’ve not forgiven Robert and the pain he put me through. Sometimes I wish I could go where he lives and beat his rejecting butt. But I know that isn’t right, and I’m still trying to find peace.

And lastly, keep trying for friendship!

A few months after this ordeal, I did find a group of close male friends to invite to Korean spas, and this has been immensely healing. After Robert’s rejection, I honestly thought I was done and would never find such friendship.

But God heard my prayers and they were answered.

Whatever happens afterward, never give up!

Have you ever been rejected for a male friendship? How did you handle male rejection? Did you overcome the rejection or do you still wrestle with past rejection?

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