I’ve had a straight friend, Mark, for a long time. Our relationship has been a blessing yet a struggle. He’s a fit, athletic type into playing fantasy leagues and water polo. He’s also somewhat of a nerdy type into technology and computer science. I’m not athletic and much more of a right brain, creative type.
I guess our friendship is a case of opposites attracting.
I’ve known Mark since first grade. We were just general acquaintances throughout our elementary years up until middle school; then, we suddenly connected in a class we shared. We joked and goofed off together so much that it drove the teacher crazy, and we received many a scolding.
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t have a single class together in high school, and we drifted apart somewhat. He went off to college for four years, but when he graduated and got a job in town he suddenly started showing lots of interest in hanging out with me.
Really? This fit, masculine, athletic type guy wanted to be friends with me? Virtually no one else had ever reached out in friendship like this to me.
We hung out together, saw some movies, and hiked as we clicked! We joked about things together, making each other laugh incredibly hard. We went on so many adventures, and slowly I began to realize I loved him.
Finally, God had given me a brother who I’d never had. I’d never felt this way about another man before. I didn’t want our times together to ever end; it was a dream.
However, a harsh awakening awaited me.
I did have some attractions to him — not in the sense that I wanted to have sex with him but for the titillating prospect of seeing him naked.
Mark had a rigid adherence to stereotypical male friendship molds. After a while, I got tired of our chats centering on some pop culture related thing and surface-level stuff. I wanted to go deeper and be vulnerable with him.
But whenever I tried to steer a conversation a deeper way, he always responded in stony silence.
He was never physically affectionate either; we’d never even hugged. I wanted to touch him not out of a sexual desire but from a longing to connect with him as love with a brother. I dreamed of a day when we could embrace and confess our brotherly love for each other.
I put my hand on his shoulder once. He brushed it off.
Then came the nightmarish prospect of his getting a girlfriend: a scary scenario that sent me into deep levels of dread and pessimism. He’d get a girlfriend one day and forget all about me, I thought. This made me cling to him even tighter as I pestered him with texts to hang out every weekend.
Over-attachment reared its ugly head. On Facebook, I noticed his friending some girls — to which I coyly asked how he knew them. Much to my dismay, I also saw him hanging out with other friends without me. It came to a head when I saw he’d gone to a pool party with a bunch of friends without me.
I finally called out my friend, and he brushed me off as being nosey. I went into some of the ugliest, darkest, most pessimistic places my mind has ever gone. I was paranoid.
I got driven into being overly attached to Mark. He was literally the only friend I had. I reached out to other guys in my college classes just to have any sort of emotional support outside of Mark but was greeted by nothing but indifference and painful rejection.
Mark grew visibly annoyed and tired of me. He became even less touchy with me, if that’s conceivable. If we sat together on a couch watching TV, he insisted I sit on another chair instead.
The all-time low came with his constant insistence on sitting one seat apart at the movies because, “We’ll have more room that way.”
This sent me through the roof with frustration and agony.
I couldn’t even sit next to my best friend.
We drifted apart for a couple years, seeing each other considerably less. In this drifting I found YOB and began some new friendships with guys in this community. Mark noticed photos of our meet-ups on Facebook and asked me who these other people were.
I finally decided to come clean to him. We went on a walk, and I spilled my guts about same-sex attraction and my involvement with YOB.
“I’m attracted to men,” I said, and he audibly gasped.
After I finished telling him my story, he suddenly began crying. I never thought I’d see my straight friend cry.
He began apologizing for all the times he’d acted like a jerk while I’d been struggling. “I’m such a jerk. I’m sorry for being such a jerk.”
“You’re not a jerk, Mark. You’re my friend.” I rubbed his shoulder as he cried.
“Okay, you don’t have to keep doing that,” he said.
To which I pulled my hand away.
Since then, things have been better. Although he still sticks to his emotionally non-intimate ways with lack of physical affection. This is still a source of annoyance for me and quite a contrast from my time with other brothers with whom I cuddle and spill my most intimate details.
Nonetheless, I still hope for a day of better intimacy with him. To this day, he hasn’t ever gotten a girlfriend.
At the end of the day, I guess I do still love him. Why not?
Do you share or crave moments of vulnerability, physical touch, and healthy intimacy with your straight friends? Do you desire more touch with straight friends than you currently experience?