I believe that the most common issue facing gay men is a longing for connection. The ironic part is that many of us are also afraid of connection. Sometimes that fear is concern around where things will lead. Other times that fear is around what the other person thinks of us.
I know for myself that my mental noise around my own adequacy gets in the way all the time. I keep playing those same old, tired message that usually revolve around the belief that I’m not good enough. When I succumb to this belief, there’s no way I’m going to connect with someone else because I stop myself before I even get started.
Another issue is not having practice establishing and breaking connection. Establishing connection is not that easy. It’s funny, here in San Francisco, I really notice how far people will go to avoid eye contact in public. Out on the sidewalks everyone has earbuds on or is talking on their phone – many times just to avoid contact with other people! We don’t have practice at establishing connection.
Many gay men have also lost the art of connection in public. Of course the bar scene isn’t for everyone, but it does offer an opportunity to practice connection. The art of flirtation is an exercise in connection. It offers us a way to practice connecting with others – sometimes from a distance. Now that many connections are formed on line, I think we’ve lost the art of in person connection.
Then we don’t know how to break the connection. It’s as if we think that if we connect with someone we’re going to be together for a lifetime. Of course, that’s all make up. Breaking connection is hard, but with practice we can learn how to do it.
I personally find the most difficult part of connection to be staying present during the connection. Our minds are always wondering. We’re thinking about what’s next or what previously happened, or other things we have to do. When we’re in these other places, we not present to what’s going on in the current moment. A key to staying in connection is to be present to the connection.
I’m going to be exploring all these themes and more in upcoming posts about connection.