I decided to write to you because in the last two years and in the last one in particular I think I have entered a kind of vicious circle from which I cannot really get out. I don’t even know if being gay is among the causes of this malaise, and if so, how much it can weigh in the overall budget, but my self-esteem is really very low.
I am almost 30 years old, I don’t work, or rather I have done only occasional jobs to have some pocket money. I just graduated with excellent results, which I would not have expected, albeit with a lot of delay. My dream would have been the world of scientific research, which still fascinates me, but when I try to get to the bottom of certain scientific issues, I realize that I lack the basic tools, maybe I expect too much from myself, but there are guys even younger than me that possess those instruments, at least so it seems, and therefore I don’t see myself really suited to that world, even if my professors tend to push me in that direction.
In reality I have a weak will: I start something and then I leave it in half, my friends, the very few I have, or rather the very few who can stand me, say very positive things about me but I am convinced that they do it to pull me out of depression, which I think conditions me very deeply even in emotional life. I have never been able to keep a guy for more than a few months, sooner or later we get to the critical moment and they all leave with more or less credible excuses, someone stays but defiles a lot and prefers to keep a relationship not very engaging. What they really think of me they don’t even tell me but I can deduce it from their behavior.
I’m not the classic handsome cover boy, I’m not at all, in fact, some of my ex boyfriends listed me things that don’t go well in me on a physical level, I don’t hide that this fact has influenced me and pushed me for example to do some training at the gym, or to be careful about the diet and other similar things, but then all these things were useless, because I think that my ex have gone away mostly because I tend to depression. Sometimes I thought that something in me doesn’t go well at psychiatric level, this idea scares me a bit, but it has been with me for some time.
I cannot say I’m totally alone, I still have some friends, but I should say that more than friends they are guys who fell in love with me, even though I didn’t fall in love with them, and they tolerate me for this, they comfort me, they listen to me but I always have the doubt that they do it even, if not above all, to act like the good Samaritan, that is in practice because they are sorry for me. Frustration is a daily exercise for me.
With my parents the relationships are only formal, after all they are good people who made many mistakes, mostly out of ignorance, with them I could never talk about myself, they are convinced that I am strange, but now they accept me so and they don’t even try to have a minimum of dialogue with me and basically they have never tried it. It worries me that I have no dreams for my future, that is, there is nothing that I really want.
Sometimes I think the reason for all this state of things is the absence of a job, which, if there were, would take me to a very different atmosphere and I think more positive, but for now I don’t see serious job prospects before three or four years and frankly I regret having to depend on my parents until almost 35, but I think there are no alternatives. The lack of work, however, is only the fuse that has detonated the bomb of frustrations accumulated over the years, I would say since I was a child, gay, of course, but not only, gay with some interest for mature men and then even more conditioned and marginalized for this, even by other gay boys.
My interest in mature men is not exclusive, I am also interested in some of my peers but, what is worse, I am never satisfied by anyone, there is no one who ever seemed to me my ideal companion, and then I tried to keep multiple open relationships at the same time and you can imagine with what results. Some of my ex, in the end accepted it, because obviously they love me despite everything, the contacts with them have not been lost, but have become weaker, because even if they don’t say it, it is clear that they would seek an exclusive relationship with me that they will never find.
Years ago I was very fragile emotionally, much more than today, and the first failed romance put me in terrible situations, today I began not to give too much weight to these things but, of course, this is possible only living the relationships much more superficially. I am surprised by some of my ex who have not disappeared and still love me even if they have a life now very far from mine, sometimes I don’t know whether to believe in their declarations of affection and I think that such declarations can be devices to regain me, even if all this probably makes no sense.
Sometimes I feel resentment against the world, feelings of frustration, of absolute uselessness, honestly, perhaps today less than a few years ago. I lost some time at university because I was overwhelmed by my emotional problems and the sense of defeat and disengagement got the better of me. I often wonder what future I will have and there I see the deep darkness, the confusion is total.
It has often happened to me in the last years of university to go for exams in full awareness of having understood little or nothing at all of the subject I had studied and still obtaining excellent results, completely unexpected. Some professors made me compliment on a personal level, even though I clearly said that there were many things that were not at all clear to me. I really don’t know what their compliments could refer to, because for me the study is yet another and perhaps the most important source of frustration.
Sometimes I clash with certain books, which I would gladly cut to pieces, because I feel that there are things that at most I can guess but that are not at all clear in the strict sense of the term and there the frustration is really heavy, I fill in whole notebooks with calculations, I do computer simulations but sometimes I still cannot have clear ideas. With these premises should I enter the scientific research world? I don’t know what to think.
Project, every now and then I read your sites, which are interesting but also discouraging, it is true that you don’t have to tell fantastic stories and you have to present things as they really are, but many stories of those that I read on Gay Project don’t encourage at all, though honestly, reading, I realized that maybe I’m not the only loser in the world.
I stole too much time, I leave you my cell phone and my mail, if you like, we could get in touch by chat.
yesterday I had the pleasure of talking a lot with you and many things have clarified, but let’s go step by step. I state that I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist nor anything like that but only a person who has been in charge of gays for several years and for many hours every day, but I happened several times to come into contact with people who also had serious psychiatric problems, because this is part of the lives of both straight and gay people. In these contacts I have been able to see closely what it means to be depressed with a depression diagnosed by a psychiatrist and to understand how much depression can weigh heavily on the quality of individual life. I have also seen people with forms of reactive depressive neurosis, which in conditions of strong and prolonged stress may show something that can sometimes be confused with manifestations of major depression, but in these cases I have also noticed that the elimination of the stress condition caused a progressive elimination of the reactive depression.
I talked a lot with you (several hours) and we didn’t talk about depression if non at the beginning, but then the conversation followed other paths. I noticed that at the beginning you left me a lot of space and I talked freely, then, gradually, you began to enter the discussion, clarifying and pointing out many things. When we broke up, the climate was absolutely relaxed, even optimistic, about professional prospects and many other things. All these things make me think (I repeat, I’m not a psychiatrist) that what you call depression is in essence a form of reactive anxious neurosis, probably long-standing, but frankly the word depression seems to me more an exaggeration than anything else.
And there are several reasons that lead me to think so. Let’s start from the first, that is, relationships with friends. In your first e-mail you described your friendships or as attempts to not get lost by guys who fell in love with you while you didn’t fall in love with them, or as a way, by your friends, to get in the role of the good Samaritan towards a weak friend. From what you said to me, however, the situation is very different, because, as you have explicitly admitted, your friends love you and despite your behavior, sometimes neurotic, consider you a person of considerable value, not as a scholar but just as a man, firstly because you don’t let friendships fall, call your friends on the phone, if you have not heard them for a few days and talk to them with the utmost sincerity. All this shows considerable attention to others as well as to yourself.
And even the relationships with your ex boyfriends, except for very rare exceptions, are of affection and respect. That is, the substance of the relational structures of your personality is very solid, I would say much more solid than that of many people who believe they have many friends while they don’t even have a single true friend. And, I stress it, to create friendships like those you mentioned to me, whether or not they are with ex-boyfriends, it takes a truly remarkable ability to perceive and follow one’s own and others’ emotional needs.
Now I come to some weak points: I notice that even if your ex boyfriends tend to maintain good friendships with you, you say you never found the one who could be the ideal guy for you, so it’s likely that your dissatisfaction comes from a sexual contact that is not really involving, you try to change partners but then tend to keep the old relationships and in the end it has always been this way. You say that your partners are looking for the exclusivity of the relationship but with you they will never be able to find it, which means that it is the monogamy itself that seems to you unsuitable for you.
I add another thing, in the mail you talked about attraction to men older than you of several years, but in your personal history you have never experienced intergenerational relationships, indeed you have carefully avoided them, it is not unlikely that your avoiding this particular form of sexuality is at the base of a not indifferent stress. You yourself have experienced the intolerance that many gays have towards people who live intergenerational relationships.
It is no coincidence that with your ex boyfriends you have talked about everything, but not of this particular aspect of your homosexuality. With them you say you have removed it out of necessity but this made difficult for you the relationships with those guys, just because they were not 100% clear and there was still something unsaid. This fact was probably the root of a sense of guilt that you never got rid of. I don’t know if your exs would have reacted well, some maybe not, but you didn’t verify and you took for granted a rejection reaction.
I observe, incidentally, that you have never even mentioned this or that sexual practice, and this also leads me to think that your discomfort, which has led you to a certain polygamy, does not concern what you do in couple life but with whom you are in couple. I would add that the reduction of family relationships to pure formality, which may also be a common occurrence for gay guys who grew up in substantially homophobic contexts, is a particularly accentuated feature for guys who experience sexual interest in adult men, because in these cases homophobia of the family would present itself in an extreme form, only the presence in the family of another homosexual person, even of a homosexual woman, can allow to relieve the pressure on the gay boy interested in mature men. In a situation like yours, your attitudes are defensive reactions that are more than understandable. In practice you have never had the opportunity to build something that was actually satisfactory for you and this only accumulates stress.
I would like to add an observation. The humanistic type of study generally is not very stressful, on the contrary the “very serious” scientific type of study can really lead to moments of crisis. I’m not talking about the study of the average student, but about the study of the scholar, the scientist who wants to understand going all the way. Here frustrations can be very deep and are often underestimated. It is evident that you tend to consider yourself inadequate and to demand from yourself levels of understanding that are far beyond common standards. If your teachers push you to scientific research, it is clear that they see significant potential in you and also your expressing doubts and your always believing inadequate are just the sign of your predisposition to research. Doubt is the true soul of research and leads to an increasingly aware knowledge.
In a nutshell, I think you are a truly remarkable person at all levels, who must only gain more self-confidence. Try to achieve what you really want, both professionally and in emotional life, with no prejudicial preclusions of any kind, and try to talk with your ex boyfriends about what you really are, because I think they would not marginalize you at all and dialogue with them could become even deeper.
A big hug.
If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-gay-guys-facing-stress-and-depression