We all know the gay stereotypes right? The sensitive guy so in touch with his feelings that he connects more with women? The emotionally fragile guy who gets into the arts (bonus points if they’re into theater and show tunes)? The ones who cry or get upset and offended really easily?

Frankly, my experience with others has shown these stereotypes very true — including among yours truly. I’m certainly not saying that all gay or SSA (same-sex attracted) people are like this, as I’m sure there are some exceptions out there — though, admittedly, I have yet to meet them.

All my life, I have been very emotionally sensitive. Yes, my feelings get hurt very easily. From my blog drawings, yes, I’m an artsy type. I am a big follower of the arts and into movies and theater. Yes, I cry and get upset and offended easily.

Boom, boom, boom, and I fit the stereotype! Go me!

I guess this is inevitable as an INFP. I’m definitely on the “feeling” side rather than the “thinking” side. I don’t just feel; I DEEPLY feel.

Basically, the phrase “don’t take it personally” is not in my emotional vocabulary. Oh, how I wish it were. If I ask a friend to hang out and they say they can’t because they have perfectly understandable reasons, I still feel the sting.

Oh, I’ll completely understand intellectually why they can’t hang out. But my emotional side won’t want anything to do with it. It pretty much goes like this:

The Joys and Sorrows of a Highly Sensitive Man: cartoon

I’ve often felt it better to avoid any of the pain rather than take the risk of asking friends to hang out, even if there’s a chance they’ll say yes. It just . . . stings . . . if they say no.

The sad thing is, I really do want to be more socially proactive and involved. Taking the initiative, however, is just so emotionally draining, no matter what. I really can’t help it.

When I do socialize, even in the best social outings, I often leave feeling very exhausted and drained.

My fear of rejection lingers over me like a heavy haze, and it’s not just born out of insecurity. I have gone through long stretches where I did take the leap asking other guys to hang out. The responses I got were often . . . silence. Met with great indifference, flakiness, or as I’ve previously blogged about, flat-out rejection.

Of course, I’m not going to act like everyone but sensitive gay/SSA guys are fine with rejection, but it can be a knife to my heart, taking me weeks to recover.

No one likes it when other people get mad at you. I’ve always assumed most people take that in stride quite easily; I cannot. If someone gets mad and scolds me, it leaves me feeling terrible for the rest of the day and for days and even weeks afterward. It’s very hard to recover from.

Once rejection happens, it completely zaps me of energy and I’m pretty much dead for a long time.

I’ve often felt great shame over being highly sensitive. I thought I was the only guy who cried or got his feelings hurt so easily while the other men took life’s unpleasantness in masculine stride.

In the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been making friends with other men in this community, and I find I click with them much easier because they are often as sensitive as I am. That can be a good and bad thing.

On the one hand, I can relate to these men and click with them so much easier, showing and receiving empathy and affection from them; on the other, I often have to be careful what I say and how I interact with them.

Many times, I’ve unintentionally hurt others’ feelings by things I’ve done or said. It’s gotten to points where even I’m like, “Really?! You were hurt by that?! Seriously, get a grip!”

So, why does God inflict such a pain on me? I long for relationships and community, but reaching out to others is like walking barefoot across a field of gravel — for others, maybe more like a field of sand. Why does he have to make finding the simple pleasures of life so hard to get to?

Believe it or not, I see some pros to my sensitivity.

Joy #1 as a Highly Sensitive Man: Empathy

As already mentioned, I’ve enjoyed the connections made with other SSA/gay men. Since we have similar temperaments, we intuitively GET each other so much more easily.

It’s not simply because we have similar stories with sexuality; we get each other emotionally.

Whenever other guys tell me their stories, I can just feel their pain. And thus, I know how to comfort them and empathize deeply. I don’t even need to think about it; I just feel.

Joy #2 as a Highly Sensitive Man: Art

My deep sensitivity also often leads to my being a more effective artist. Creating a piece of art does require a bit of thinking in terms of execution and getting the technicals down. At the same time, though, it also requires pure emotion to get the feeling across strongly.

Art is something you can’t just think about; you have to intuitively feel it. Others have told me that my art strongly conveys my feelings and emotions.

Joy #3 as a Highly Sensitive Man: God

Lastly, I feel like my sensitivity helps me maintain a strong connection to God. No, I’m not saying that folks who are deep feelers have a closer connection to God than folks who are thinkers. I’ve had times on my own, off in a quiet place, where I can simply feel the presence of God.

It’s hard to explain. Just seems like the connection is easier at times.

So, yes, being sensitive is a blessing and a curse. Does the good outweigh the bad? I’d say so. It keeps life interesting and less bland, at least. I do thank God for my sensitivity — even with the hardships that come with it.

To those of you reading who can relate, you are not alone! Yes, there is hurt, but there is so much joy at the same time. It’s just a balance of keeping the good and bad in check.

Are you a highly sensitive person? How have you interacted with other highly sensitive SSA/gay men? How do you handle the harder aspects of your male sensitivity, and what blessings has your sensitivity given you?

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