It’s no secret that I have written extensively on the joys and blessings of SSA (same-sex attracted) or gay-identifying or “Side B” friendships (that is, those who hold a traditional belief on God’s intent for sex, as opposed to “Side A” which promotes a more progressive stance).
Indeed, these particular friendships have been incredible and moving experiences that I would not trade for anything in the world.
But at the same time, let me be clear: maintaining Side B friendships with other guys can be HARD.
But don’t let that scare you. All relationships are hard in their own unique ways. Whether it’s a romantic relationship, regular friendships, or familial bonds, all relationships have their share of hardships as much as they do their fantastic moments. Even the very best marriages have their hardships.
I have undoubtably had my good moments — and bad ones — in many of my relationships with other Side B men. I click and connect with these men so much more easily than straight men.
These friendships do have their own sets of challenges, though. Some drama and anxieties have unfolded, though nothing truly terrible.
These men (myself included) tend to be MUCH more sensitive than the average man on the street. This helps me connect with them more easily, and yet it also creates caution: I must often be very careful in what I say or how I word my sentences in their presence.
Guys have sometimes gotten upset by something I said, leaving me scratching my head thinking, Really?! You were offended by that?!
As I examine these relational problems, let me say right off the bat that I have only been at this for around two years. I don’t have all the answers. During that tiny span of time, I have met countless other Side B men, gone on many adventures with them, and experienced a wide variety of ups and downs.
At the same time, I am still learning. These are just my candid thoughts on what I have experienced so far. Perhaps I’ll write another blog down the road with updated thoughts and feelings on these Side B friendships.
Let’s examine the dreaded “love bomb.” This happens when you (especially when you’re new to the Side B friendship scene) meet another Side B guy, and you both fall into a deep brotherly love. You gush about your love for one another over texts, call each other, or hang out often. You’re the closest as friends can be!
But then somewhere along the line communication becomes less frequent, and one person seems less up for hanging out and less willing to engage. Soon enough, you’re hardly talking and forget that the friendship even once existed.
One is left wondering: what on earth happened?!
Did I do something wrong? Did we not click as well as I thought we did? Has he simply grown bored and lost interest in me?
From what I’ve gathered in my own experiences with the love bomb, it’s almost never been my fault or by anything that I’ve done wrong. Its typically been the other person.
Why? Perhaps because they’re scared or insecure. They’re hiding behind walls of silence.
What are they afraid of, though? I’m only guessing, but I think it boils down to a fear of being hurt.
Perhaps I’ve unintentionally hurt some, and then they’ve kept their distance. Or perhaps they are afraid of further hurt down the line. In more extreme cases, they seem to struggle with sexual attraction they can’t quite manage, withdrawing from guilt and shame.
In other scenarios, guys have gotten angry with me over seemingly minor infractions. One little mistake, and suddenly a pit of drama erupts and I’m the worst person in the world. It gets seemingly unreconcilable from there.
Again, it leaves one wondering, what on earth happened?!
In both of these scenarios, the base issue really comes down to this:
We tend to over-idealize the other brother. Blinded in the exhilaration of finding a close friend after years of friendlessness, we view him as our flawless savior prince, here to rescue us from our sin and porn.
When we get to the disappointing realization that he is, in fact, a regular flawed human being in a fallen world, it can be a shock. Suddenly, our dream prince doesn’t look so magical anymore.
“How dare he not live up to my lofty expectations! How dare he not be perfect! He’s just a bad person. I don’t want anything to do with him anymore!”
I’m guilty of this. I’ve met many other Side B guys who also admit guilt over this idealization. And this is not exclusive to SSA folks; this can be a problem in heterosexual relationships as well. These attitudes can lead to emotional dependency and the hard disappointment of unmet needs.
There is no perfect person out there. There is no perfect relationship. The one who can truly meet all our expectations is Jesus. He is our real dream prince — not just a prince, but a KING!
But what is the biggest issue? COMMUNICATION. Lack of communication is a relationship-killer, no matter what the relationship. I’ve experienced others having a problem in our relationship but never talking about it. They keep it to themselves, go quiet, and never talk with me.
How is that supposed to solve anything? Sometimes I’ve had to pry the issues out of the other person, which is frustrating.
Yes, talking about problems in a relationship is awkward and hard. But in my view, all my relationships with my brothers are far more valuable than any earthly treasure, no matter how close I am with that person — yes, even more valuable than free tickets to Disney World.
A few hard conversations are more than worth it to preserve a brotherhood for a lifetime.
So tell us, Mr. Bromance Guru Eugene, is it possible to salvage your relationships?
Well . . . I’m working on it. I have much more learning to do and experiences to delve into. I’ve had just a couple experiences prying a brother out of his silence and getting him to talk about his feelings. We left those conversations being “just friends” as opposed to the close brothers we thought we were at the beginning.
Which is okay honestly. If they board my friendship wagon, I am grateful.
I implore my readers in “bromances” to work through the problems in your relationships the best you can and with reason. Don’t let emotions take over or assume the worst intentions in the other person.
And, oh yes, COMMUNICATE. Life is so much better with brothers. Who would want to give that up?
Have you encountered similar or different issues in your relationships with other men, particularly Side B men? What have you done to find and fix the problems? What’s worked, and what could you do better?