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?

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  • Eugene,
    I have encountered some of the same kinds of things in friendships with other guys. Most of the time we talked and worked through the issues and some type of friendship was restored.
    I have had guy friends who are straight and ones who deal with SSA. The main difference I have noticed is that friendships form faster and get deep more quickly with SSA guys. I am normally introverted and slow to talk to new people, but at Revoice I acted like an extrovert and freely introduced myself to guys I had never met. I guess it speeds things up when you share so much in common.
    Because the friendship forms faster with SSA guys things can be more unstable. I try to take my time building a bond with SSA guys and move more cautiously, almost like I would with a straight guy.
    I took that approach with one SSA friend “Jeremy”. I have written posts about him and we have been friends almost 30 years. It can work!

    • You are very right Marshall! They form and get deep SUPER fast. It can be hard not to have it go so fast. Especially when you’ve spent most of your life friendless and suddenly there’s a whole buffet of brothers right at your doors step. I’m still learning what’s appropriate and what’s not. It can be a tough learning process but worth it.
      But yeah I find it SO much easier to socialize and make friends with SSA guys than straight ones. I was way more extroverted than usual at Revoice too!

  • I’m just now entering into the world of Side B friendships, but this post rings so true with my (admittedly limited) experience. Thank you for sharing, Eugene, and for helping me to feel like my own disappointments are normal.

    • You’re very welcome Aaron! Yeah I think its not uncommon across the board with Side B relationships. We’re all on the same bandwagon though, trying to learn our way through it since this is new.

  • I am very easy going, and it is very difficult to offend me. I tend to forget how sensitive other side ‘B’ guys are. So sometimes one will say or do something that to me is insane, and I wonder “Am I the only gay person who isn’t crazy?”
    The answer is no.
    Our thinking is different however. I can’t even count the times where somebody I know wants to die because of how they feel; I then always get upset over this (I am VERY sensitive to suicide, due to losing my best friend to his very topic). Almost always the situation is resolved the next day. My usual patent offer of comfort is to eat a pound of dark chocolate, watch “Rocky Horror” or “Annie” and move on. It helps me (yeah there are days when I am falling apart too).

    • I think we’re all crazy. lol Mostly in a good way though. One thing I’ve noticed is that so many SSA guys I meet are very child-like. That’s both in the best ways possible and the worst ways possible.

  • Just gonna say I really like the little cartoon at the top lol.
    And yes, friendships with other ssa people tends to have its own complications; not to say friendships with straight people don’t but they also have their own complications. I’ll also say in the few cases I feel like the issues are my fault. While at this point in my life I actually know a lot of gay/ssa people I do not always have any type of deep friendship with any particular person, if for nothing else but distance being that most of them are online friendships. They have become like family to me and being at Revoice really drove that home for me on a lot of levels. Anyway, over the years, the complicated friendships I’ve had have mostly been with straight girls because that’s all there was around me. The one time a few years ago that there was another queer person around and we really hit it off and got along great and connected deeply our leadership people got paranoid and I just did what I was told. I’ve come to realize how the constant vigilance over the years conditioned me to see close friendships in a certain light and that thought or conditioning was buried deep. Always cautious not to get “too close” whatever that means. I’m overly cautious about messing things up because of being made cautious and because I know myself. After Revoice I felt like I had a small panic attack. Like @@disqus_06UQNUvDS6:disqus said I felt uncharacteristically brave – though I didn’t introduce myself to strangers lol. But once I got home I over analyzed my behavior at the conference. I had made friends so easily. How? Why? Was it good? Was it bad? What will it be? What can it be? Did I jump the gun and get overly excited? My best friendships have also built up over time and I want to keep these friends so I need to be more conscious and intentional with my friendships and not just ride the roller coaster of feelings and excitement of finding people who “get me.” Am I going to scare off my new friends with what seems like crazy almost bipolar behavior? Gushing one minute and panicking the next and then finally finding balance.
    So all that to say this I guess, I’ve learned that I am overly cautious at times because this whole deep friendship with other queer/ssa Christians is very new for me even though I’ve been slowly but surely very involved with my community for 2 or 3 years lol. (I am such a slow processor). Caution is good at times, but I need the same amount of caution I would have in any friendship – not overly cautious with some and not cautious with others. Growing up for me in general has been about finding balance in my life between all the extremes. Also that I feel like I am relearning friendship because as an adult it is so different even though its the same, just when we were three no one cared when you gave your friends flowers and said “you’re pretty. do you like ice cream? I like ice cream. Wanna play?”

    • I’m so glad you liked my Bro White drawing. Little bit of trivia, the bird on his finger is a Sparrow (that found a home). 🙂
      I think you summed it up very well though! Finding the balance between being overly cautious and being over-excited. I know at the beginning I was definitely over-excited. Once you get liberated from society’s laws about how men should interact with each other you just want to explode love onto a person. And yeah, there’s that reality check where you realize they’re a flawed normal human being which can be hard to accept. The last point you made was so easy. As adults its much harder making friends. Then all of a sudden you meet these SSA guys who are pretty much like three year olds in that respect.
      BTW, it was great meeting you at Revoice!

      • I didn’t mean to imply that anyone particularly acts like 3 year olds, I meant that children understand the simplicity of making friends and no one complicates it for them, but good point either way lol. and yes it was nice meeting you too

  • Hey Eugene! This was a good and important post. I love what you say about our one, true prince (King); it is so true. And I had to giggle at your description of the love bomb. I have certainly experienced all of that. The present love bomb is different, I think because the communication has been so deep and difficult at times. No expectations of perfection this time, just an appreciation for what our perfect and generous King is doing. I also resonate strongly with what Ashley is saying about constant vigilance. I have come to understand that my heart truly is deceitful above all things, but I am also learning that sometimes what appears good actually is good and that this sometimes deceitful heart is actually aligned with the generous King.

  • Friendships? Hard? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
    Oh, except that I do. Very much so. In many ways the big “shortcut” to intimacy with other guys in this community is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that we get to get so close so quickly. And a curse in that it also expedites the coming conflicts. Communication and healthy expectations are key. It takes two to tango. And it’s so difficult. If Jesus is the center, I have to believe it will all be worth it.

    • Oh so true Tom. Its so much easier to make friends with Side B guys. And yes, often times we’ll jump right into the cuddling even if we’ve known each other for only a few weeks. On one hand I guess its great for the short term but for the long term its harder. Its all still pretty new to me in the grand scheme of things so I’m still learning.
      Heck, this is pretty new for all of us. I don’t think celibate intimate friendships between Side B guys has really been done much in the history of mankind before. At least not en mass. *queue Also Sprach Zarathursta* So it’s a learning experience for all of us. Takes some trial and error. All we can do is ask God to show us the way.

  • (omg the drawing……..nice)
    I think the “love bomb” freaks me out. It feels like things are moving too fast and I’m committing myself to a pretty unknown situation. I don’t think I’ve ever let it play out as fast as it could; I’m usually riding the brakes. I think sometimes this has turned into holding people at arm’s length unnecessarily, but on the flip side I’ve yet to be hurt by an SSA dude. I guess the only thing I’d change is that I wish my restraint was exercised more out of wise prudence than fear and excessive self-policing like @ashleylavergne:disqus mentioned.

    • Yeah I relate to this so much. There have been some occasions where I have put someone at arm’s length because I felt like I hadn’t known them long enough. Yet it sort of back fired because I think they took it that I didn’t want to cuddle because I found them unattractive or something. Other times I’ve gone overboard with cuddles and they get freaked out and back off. Such a hard balance to maintain.

      • I Cor 13 says that genuine love is patient and not self-seeking. If someone is not patient and demands affection right now, it is probably not genuine love. If someone is a real friend they should be willing to wait and more concerned about the other’s needs!

        • Yes, very true Marshall! It can be hard to reel in that selfish side that is like “give me cuddles now!” But a lot of the time I do feel a real strong pull to help other people in ways where I’m giving.

  • One of the things that has been hard for me in life has been, a number of times, is people wanting a relationship with me. They showered me with attention, and in one occasion, gifts to try and win me over. While I appreciated it, they moved things so fast…when the only thing I would have enjoyed was being a friend. When they found out I was only interested in friendship and nothing else…they got angry and that was it! I hate to cause hurt to anyone in any way, but there was no time to even build a friendship.
    I guess any kind of relationship is not perfect in this world…but the thing I have been trying to learn is to be a servant…to do for others without expecting anything in return…leaving all of those things in God’s hands. Talk about dying to self…it’s a life-long process that I will never get perfect…

    • Oh yes, I’ve had that happen to me before. Sometimes I’ve met people online and they immediately jump into the “OMG YUR MY BESTIE!” band wagon after only like one chat or two. I can tell they’re desperate, and I don’t blame them but it puts me in an awkward spot.

  • So true. I refer to the “love bomb” as the “infatuation stage” where it seems that God has finally sent you the best friend you’ve always wanted and needed, a man who seems perfect for you and can meet all of your needs. I’ve been there SO many times and I’m frustrated that I seem to fall into this pattern over and over. It’s almost a crush but typically not a sexual lust situation. Making friends with other “side B” guys has been an incredible experience that has lifted me out of depression and shame in a way that can only be understood as a miracle from God, but it certainly isn’t easy. Everyone comes with their own quirks and baggage, myself included! But I believe it’s worth the struggle; the knowledge that I have others on my same path who support me and fight at my side to come unto Christ is an irreplacable strength!

  • So I know this post is a couple years old but I wanted to comment on it as well.
    I had a Side B friendship that didn’t go so well.
    We were friends for a few years before I finally ended things, but communication played a major part.
    They could be pretty rude and I never said anything out of fear of losing the friendship. Sometimes I wonder how things would have went if I spoke up sooner, but even though I started communicating more towards the end he never seemed to really try and change.

    • I can relate with this story. I think I was so desperate for friendship, especially male friendship, that I was willing to let rude/hurtful things he said to me slide for the longest time. I’m conflict-averse, but man does early and often communication go a long way.

  • Thanks for the article it is as you said. The only thing I dislike is this wording of side A and side B as if for Christians side A or B are equal options. You stated that side A is a “progressive stance”. According to the Bible side A leads only to eternal destruction.

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