EXHAUSTED GAY RELATIONSHIPS AND FREE UNIONS

This post is divided into two distinct sections:
1) the first is dedicated to the distinction between the behaviors that that are indicator lights of exhausted gay relationships (that is, of the gay relationships that have lost the original momentum and the motivational drive of the early days but, despite everything, continue out of habit or out of reluctance to change perspectives) and the affective requests that can hide behind those behaviors;
2) and the second dedicated to the trend towards free relationships, that is, towards relationships without any legal constraint (without Marriage or Civil Union at the Municipalities’ Registry Offices).
The two arguments may seem somewhat heterogeneous but are actually deeply connected.
SYMPTOMS OF EXHAUSTED GAY RELATIONSHIPS AND AFFECTIVE REQUESTS
Interpersonal relationships, even the most lasting ones, over the years, inevitably face wear and tear. Many times these relationships were from the beginning without solid foundations, that is, they were relationships upstream of which there was no instinctive and conscious and above all mutual choice, sometimes they are stories that began, then interrupted, then started again, that for both partners are not an instinctive, at least potentially definitive choice, but one of the possible hypotheses on which a perpetual indecision remains. But even when a story initially has all the necessary requirements to last, daily life, or rather the transcription of the story from the lyrical level of falling in love (assuming that there was a real falling in love at least at the beginning) to that of everyday life brings out weaknesses and critical issues.
Symptoms of attrition are generally small episodes in which each of the two partners manifests forms of intolerance towards the weaknesses of the other or shows judgmental attitudes systematically avoiding any effort of understanding, classic are the behaviors related to the idea that the partner is not quick enough to understand, he cannot do elementary things, he always falls back into the same mistakes. Often the request to have time for oneself is an indicator of the wear and tear of a relationship. Behaviors become standardized, everyone knows exactly what to expect, the speeches are always the same, the mutual reproaches, more or less veiled, are repeated in substantially similar situations, it is as if a script was repeated, the partner person is considered to be lackluster and unattractive, not up to the situation, the talks that could stray from the routine are stopped in the bud and there is room for unexpected reactions, which then can be followed by an internal repentance which, however, is not manifested to the partner for reasons of pride, the insistence on keeping the point, not giving in, not leaving room for the partner is quite evident.
Even sexual behaviors become more and more standardized, partners no longer try to find a balance that can be satisfactory for both and begin to think that there can certainly be better alternatives than the story that is being lived, even if, in practice, those alternatives do not exist at all. Sex becomes a hurried affair in which everyone relates only to himself, and it is no longer accompanied by an emotional atmosphere full of desire as in the times of falling in love. The interest in the sexuality of the partner gives way to sexual selfishness that reduces the other to an instrument, an object rather than a subject.
This description of the characteristic signals of a worn-out relationship is however only theoretical because it is objectively very difficult to distinguish between such signals and the requests for greater emotional involvement addressed to the partner, and the risk that a wrong interpretation of those behaviors could undermine an important relationship, conditioned only by a communication defect, it is quite concrete. Formal detachment is often not a detachment at all but an affective request. The difference between the two situations lies in the absence of final declarations, that is, in always leaving a door open to the partner, in the case of an emotional request. I give a typical example. Two partners can also go so far as to say big words and indulge in forms of intemperance, but if after the reproaches, for example contained in an email, the email ends with a ILY (I love you) it is evident that the dominant dimension is the emotional one. If after the sprint of pride and the request for autonomy there is an attempt to go back, it is clear that the sprint of pride and the request for autonomy were actually affective requests, they were ways to elicit a response from the partner.
Even in the context of strictly sexual behaviors it is possible and often easy to confuse the characteristic behaviors of a worn down relationship with the requests for greater involvement by the partner. A very typical behavior characteristic of worn out relationships is the sexual unavailability of one of the partners, declaring himself tired, little interested in sex, stressed, etc. etc., or even simply the reduction of the frequency of sexual intercourse. Stress and fatigue can be real and not being episodically available to sexual contact can certainly have objective reasons. Obviously, if saying no becomes systematic it is a sign of rejection, if instead the sexual contact, when it is realized , is truly experienced as a form of deep communication, then saying sometimes no it is not an indication of a worn relationship. In general, it is not a sign of wear and tear of the relationship to try to correct the partner’s attitudes by demanding less artificial forms of communication from him. There are people who experience sexuality by mediating it with many words that can sound unnecessary and rhetorical to the partner, in cases of this kind, the request to avoid excessive words is not a refusal of the partner but an attempt to correct him.
Given these clarifications on the difficulty of discerning the signs of wear and tear of a relationship from emotional requests, we take another step forward. What do you do when you realize that the relationship “probably” is about to end? do you stop it immediately? Do you expect the other to do it? Or do you let the passage of time decide the end of the relationship? In any case, you have to think very well before taking action, because often creaking buildings, if properly renovated, withstand time and earthquakes, while new buildings poorly designed collapse at the slightest failure.
There are rare situations in which there are very few doubts and these situations are those in which we must move away from a violent partner or prone to emotional blackmail, or from a partner who identifies sex as a domain and as a reality completely detached from affectivity. But in all other cases, haste is often a bad adviser. It happens that, after instinctive and uncontrolled moments of reaction that lead to decisions that are as quick as they are little thought about, there are second thoughts and attempts to recover situations that are no longer recoverable. The one-minute outburst can lead to the immediate gratification due to the refusal of the other considered not up to situation but in the long run can trigger late and useless regrets. We should never forget that destroying is always much easier than building and that giving your partner one more chance is not a gesture of weakness but often exactly the opposite.
 
COUPLE PROBLEMS AND TREND TO FREE UNIONS
The following analysis refers to the Italian situation and the reported data come from ISTAT, the Italian Institute of Statistics, but the discussion has a much more general validity and certainly applies to all Western European countries and also to North American countries.
In the heterosexual world, when couples are stabilized by the bond of marriage, especially when there are children, the problems related to the crisis of the couple can be truly enormous even from a legal point of view, for the custody of the children and for the economic aspects related to communion of goods, when the marriage took place under the communion of goods regime, or when family relationships overlap with legal relationships related to the ownership of the family business or professional studies. For gays, complications of this type are absolutely exceptional. These problems that could have arisen even for gay couples united by a Civil Union pact, in reality did not arise, because Civil Unions have a much weaker bond regime than that of marriage, because the Civil Union can be dissolved at the simple request of only one of the two contracting parties, which, it was believed, would have made the Civil Union a reality very appreciated by the population. In reality, Civil Unions, despite the very light bond regime, have been and still are a very little widespread reality and this not so much for the fact that homosexual couples do not yet have the social approval that characterizes marriage, but because, both in the heterosexual context and in the gay sphere the model of free relationships is increasingly gaining ground, that is, of unions absolutely without legal sanctions.
I quote here below a ISTAT Report of November, 20, 2019.
“In 2018, 2,808 civil unions (between same-sex couples) were established at the registrars of Italian municipalities. These must be added to those already established during the second half of 2016 (2,336), the year of entry into force of the Law May,20, 2016, no. 76, and during the year 2017 (4,376). As expected, after the peak immediately following the entry into force of the new law, the phenomenon is now stabilizing. The prevalence of couples of men is also confirmed in 2018 (1,802 unions, 64.2% of the total), albeit gradually decreasing (73.6% in 2016, 67.7% in 2017). 37.2% of civil unions were established in the Northwest, followed by the Center (27.2%). Lombardy is in the lead with 25%, followed by Lazio (15.1%), Emilia-Romagna (10.0%) and Tuscany (9.4%).The civil unions established in Italy in 2018 are 4.6 per 100 thousand inhabitants: ranging from 7 in Lazio, Lombardy and Tuscany to about 0.5 per 100 thousand in Calabria, Basilicata and Molise. The attractive role of some metropolises emerges with particular evidence. In 2018, in fact, 32.7% of the civil unions occurred in Italy were concentrated in the big cities: at the top of the ranking are Rome (290 unions, 10.3%) and Milan (257 unions, 9.2%) ; the share of civil unions of couples of men is particularly high in Milan (equal to 75.5%) compared to Rome (66.9%). Considering the incidence of civil unions on the total resident population, in 2018 18.7 civil unions per 100 thousand inhabitants were established in Milan, in Rome 10.1. Among the cities of the South, only Naples and Palermo show values above 1 per 100 thousand inhabitants.”
 
I would add that civilly united homosexual couples have an average age of 49.5 years if male and 45.9 years if female, that is, homosexual couples are non-young couples. If we consider that in 2018 there were 195,778 marriages celebrated in Italy and 2,808 civil unions, we immediately notice that the same-sex civil unions were just over 1,4% compared to marriages, even if in recent years the number of marriages has drastically decreased in favor of free unions, a phenomenon on which we must stop to reflect.
 
Also from ISTAT we know that:
 
“The comparison between the data from the 1991 population census and those from 2018 shows the profound changes that have taken place. Among individuals aged 15-64, in the face of a slight drop in the population (-309 thousand), married people decrease (3 million and 843 thousand less), especially for the benefit of single and unmarried people (+3 million and 90 thousand) and, to a much lesser extent, of the divorced (over 972 thousand more).
 
The decrease and postponement of marriage, in place for over forty years, partially offset by the growth of free partnerships, led between 1991 and 2018 to a sharp decline in married couples, especially in the 25-34 age group (from 51.5% to 19.1% men, from 69.5% to 34.3% women). Single people go from 48.1% to 80.6% and single girls from 29.2% to 64.9%. In the 45-54 age group, almost one in four men never married while almost 18% of women are unmarried. “
 
From the above data, it is clear that the model of the Free Union, that is, of the couple’s union, straight or homosexual, without any legal sanction, is spreading very decisively among the Italian population. Marriage, as far as hetero people are concerned, and civil unions, as far as gays are concerned, are seen more as a useless or even harmful bond, than as a protection of the couple’s relationship, whose existence can neither be protected nor favored by legal constraints of any kind.
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LOVE IN A NON-STANDARD GAY COUPLE

Hi Project, 
I read so many posts on the forum, especially the last ones, and in reading them I had the impression of finding in many guys a kind of resignation in accepting everything from the other (your partner or something more or less similar), something that often happened to me too and that, I must say, has led me to many disappointments.
 
I told myself that being gay is already a complicated and problematic thing, but being a gay like me, who in the end always adapts to the desires and needs of the partner, means to shoot oneself in the foot. I felt united to all those guys “no more boys and not yet men” who run after a beautiful and impossible companion because to put us in the same category there was the fact of being unlucky in the same way, and unlucky means without a pussy, and this says a lot.
 
[The original post is in Italian, in Italian “unlucky” sounds normally “sfortunato” but there is another word, very commonly used to express a quite similar meaning and this word is “sfigato” literally “a guy who as no pussy to play with”. In Italian “pussy” sounds “figa”. ]
 
But now, Project, I’m writing to you for another reason, I no longer feel like a weak person or a fool who accepts everything from his partner because he is unable to rebel! I no longer feel like a victim but not because I rebelled and changed my behavior, but because I realized that I was never a victim.
 
Things are not at all like I had begun to see them in recent times: I love him! I have loved him for years, we have been fighting and making peace for years but we are always here. Today my … I don’t even know how to call him, well, I’ll call him Puppy, my Puppy called me on the phone and we spent a lot of time talking, he told me about his boys (yes, it seems paradoxical but it’s true!), about his doubts, his fears and a thousand other things, then we disconnected because it was too late and after a few minutes he sent me a text message: “I love you!”
 
I can tell you, Project, that I felt in seventh heaven, I don’t care that he’s no more my boyfriend, because after all he never was my boyfriend even when we were together, for me it’s enough that he loves me as he always did. If I continued to believe in him it is not because I was a weak guy or a loser who didn’t know where to head and somehow had to delude himself but because I loved him and I knew that he loved me too.
 
I have always known that he loved me, one can tell me: “but it is ONLY a friend!”. ONLY? But such a friend, a true friend like this is one who really loves you! I cannot say that we have been together for 14 years, because it wouldn’t be true, but we have loved each other for 14 years and this is very true. We know each other thoroughly and the contact between us has never been lost.
 
I’m not in love with the Moon, Project, but with a real guy who has so many flaws but he loves me like no one ever did. And I fell in love with him not because I didn’t see his faults but because I felt he really loved me in his own way. I don’t want a perfect boy, I want him, or rather I want him to be happy. Today he told me: “Many run after me but then nobody wants me as I am, they all tend to be possessive, you don’t, with you I can afford to be what I am.”
 
With him, in other times, I lived a couple’s life, then that phase was over but the loving has not passed, and I was so afraid that it would pass, but it did not pass! Project, you may find it absurd, but I feel like a happy man! I’m not alone, I know that he is there, with all the load of contradictions and melancholy that he carries with him, but he really exists. Maybe I see him more like the brother I never had than as a couple partner.
 
Actually, as he says, I’m not possessive but it’s something that comes naturally to me, I don’t feel like a renouncer or a weak screwed by a partner who takes advantage of the situation: none of this, Project, I feel happy! Many guys would consider what I wrote to be pathological, yet it’s all true and my happiness is true too. I would be upset if I lost him, if he forgot about me, I would be terribly ill if he judged me badly, but I feel him close even after 14 years so as I’ve never felt anyone else.
 
From the outside it seems that in my story there is no reciprocity because we no longer have sex together, but nevertheless there is a deep reciprocity and it has happened to me many times to feel important and even irreplaceable for him. Sometimes when he calls me he is anxious, then slowly he calms down and starts to joke a little, well, those are really wonderful moments!
 
Over the years I have also learned many things about couple life and about myself. With him I found a balance and an affectionate reciprocity (without exaggeration and without too many words), which I never found with anyone else. Today I feel really happy!
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MY STORY – CRISIS OF A GAY COUPLE

Let’s come to the topic, the one that is closest to my heart. You will be scandalized by what you are going to read, everything that is written is the pure truth, I never really told anyone, but now I’m really tired, I’m already sufficiently disgusted by myself, and I think I touched a point of no return, because I don’t deserve all this at all. I firmly believe that my story has really come to an end but I still cannot decide what to do.

My partner and I have been together for 9 years, until two years ago things between us were very different, I felt loved, courted, desired and well-liked. What I cannot feel now. I have loved my partner for a very long time, I loved him with an authentic and unconditional love, accepting his faults, his paranoia, his anxieties.

In July of 2102, however, everything changes. I find out that he frequents chats such as grindr, bender planet romeo and so on. I find out that he has met a guy. I’m very upset, my odyssey begins here. We talk about, I have to get the truth out of him with my teeth, he sees me suffer, he don’t seem to care so much. I want to save the relationship, he says he is so by nature. In the meantime, he loses his job. I see him becoming colder and more and more distant. In order to keep him with me, I went down to doing things that I would never have done otherwise, because they go against my nature, for example three-way relationships, I did it because I loved him so much and I thought that if I had accepted these games he would have understood the scope of my love for him and that the serene weather for us would start again.

It was not so but quite the contrary. Although I asked him to be honest with me, to tell me if he was dating other people, that I didn’t care and I could understand him after so many years together, he always hid everything from me. Two months ago, for a case that has nothing to do with all the story, we have had a very strong confrontation in which I slammed in his face all his indifference, the fact that I feel like a person unwelcome and hardly endured in his house, that I don’t feel loved at all, that I feel deeply lonely and sad. Something clicks inside me, however, in the meantime. From that moment on he starts telling me that he’s not sure he’s in love with me, he wants some time to think about it. These have been the most terrible days and at the same time the most beneficial and healthy of my life. In those days when he was clarifying his ideas I examined many times my conscience, I understood many things and above all I realized that I was wrong. I was wrong to base my happiness on another person, I was wrong to base my world on another person, I was wrong to go down to similar compromises just to be loved by him. And I understood a lot of other things.

I realized that I don’t like the cold and false person that he is now in my regard, that all this love that I feel for him is wasted and that he doesn’t deserve it. Once I was a happy person, always cheerful, sunny, optimistic. I had very few reasons 10 years ago to be happy but I was happy all the same. Now I’m not anymore. Controlling his phone I discover continuous betrayals while, even now, with me sex has been off limits for three weeks and even more, he was cold and detached the few times we did it.

I find condoms all over the place, hidden in the bedroom. Yesterday afternoon he even came out with a box of condoms, thinking that I didn’t know that they were there. I could not resist anymore and I sent him a message where I told him to have fun wherever he was. Naturally, he closed himself up again, but something changed in me. Whereas before I felt anxious and terrified at the idea of losing him, now I would like him to tell me that everything is over between us, that I have to leave.

I’m literally disgusted of what I did and accepted just to stay with him. In all this chaos there is another person, known by me on the same chats on which he is registered, a person I had met two years ago and who spoke to me about feelings, about things I would have wanted with my boyfriend and this person now contacted me. He told me again about the things that made me think if it is really worthwhile to still be tied to a man who says he loves me and who attributes all his shortcomings to the loss of the job but instead proves to be more than active sexually and more than available to a possible story with others.

Perhaps it would be better to turn definitely page, leave him, since he doesn’t want to take the first step. I feel that the feeling I feel for him is going away and that disgust and anger are replacing love. I told him that for how I am, for my way of being, I need to be loved both physically and psychologically. I also need sex, I admit it candidly, I have never betrayed him but I cannot go on like this anymore. In this relationship I see only mistrust, anger, disgust and indifference and at the same time I realize that two years ago I met this other guy who instead deserved everything that I could give him and if in two years I never managed to get him out of my head, it means that I felt something for him and now I’m hoping I can get in touch with him again.

Why all this? Has anyone been in such situations before? What should I do? Leave him with the risk of repenting then of having done it? Have I to know and attend this other guy? Doing so in spite of what my partner thinks and giving him back the favor? Have I to wait and hope that this phase passes and that he finally realizes all that happened? But how can he not notice it? I’m 35 years old, I am beautiful, physically and inside, I’m a profound, intelligent and sensitive person, I’m sweet. I am one who doesn’t hold back, when I love I manifest my love, I give so much in a relationship. I’m determined and reliable, a cornerstone in a history. If he has not yet noticed all this, it means that he doesn’t care at all.

Three or four people have already told me that they don’t understand how a man can get tired of a handsome and young and intelligent, sensitive and sensual man and what is worse, they don’t understand why I want to remain attached to a man who so clearly treats me badly and despises me. I don’t know, I don’t understand it either. I only know that I’m full of doubts and fears.

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GAY AFFECTIVITY AND DIVERGENT THINKING

It is not rare to meet gay guys in the chat who are experiencing situations of discomfort arising from the difficulty of creating a deep personal relationship with another gay for the persistence of prejudices linked to the traditional vision of emotional life.

The topic deserves a lot of attention because often the misunderstandings, the tendency to dramatize and the exasperation of the tones, deriving from the prejudicial assumption of positions considered uncritically intangible and, even worse, the tendency to invasive interventions not respectful of the person of the other, contribute concretely to increase the problematic dimension of certain facts, which could instead be easily understood by putting preconceptions aside. The standard psychological analysis of the meanings of behaviors, i.e. the analysis conducted on the basis of standard models, should be reduced to the advantage of a more genuine and human understanding, that is less tied to prejudices and models, more respectful of the other and at the same time deeper of being gay and of emotional relationships that can be created in this area.

If on the one hand the emotional dimension is fundamental and distinguishes us from the machines, for the other the emotionality, according to the standard vision, should be controlled to avoid giving rise to anxious phenomena that create discomfort and uselessly complicate life. It is difficult for everyone to maintain a true balance between rationality and affectivity but for gay guys it is not uncommon to get to the extremes of reasoning and to see things either in total white or in total black without any intermediate nuance.

Expressions such as “love doesn’t exist, there is only selfishness”, or: “everyone tells me to love me but they are just looking for something for themselves, because they are all selfish”, are complementary to expressions like: “I will never be able to fall in love with anyone because I’m radically selfish and I think only of myself “. In all these phrases a radical extremism dominates: either all or nothing, and since the existence of affects is considered only a fable, the apparently rational vision consists in taking note of universal selfishness as a rule of life.

At the base of all these reasoning there are very likely emotional disappointments or emotional needs that are not easy to satisfy with ordinary interpersonal relationships, not even with ordinary love relationships, because cohabitation in a couple has rules, requires forms of adaptation to the reality of the other, which is never the faithful mirror, moment by moment, of our desires, but the adaptation, for a guy who reasons in radical terms, who excludes any kind of compromise in principle, is a very difficult reality to accept. It should be added that for some guys the tendency to an abstract analysis of facts is dominant and proceeds relentlessly towards the demolition of the meaning of affective relationships, which are seen in abstract terms as forms of weakness and dependence on the other, things to which one must get used to resist.

Beyond these radical arguments, in these guys there is however a deep affective need, which manifests in behaviors that are in sharp contradiction with the logical certainties so strongly affirmed, but this need is fought as a form of weakness and slavery. Depending on the prevalence of the strongly repressed affective dimension or of the abstract rational one, there are strong swings in the mood that give those who experience them the sense of their unreliability and therefore of ineptitude to the couple life.

Often sexuality takes the place of affectivity and becomes almost a form of affirmation of one’s own freedom to act outside affective involvements. It should be clarified that situations such as the one described typically occur in moments of crisis in the emotional life, when a stable bond, lasting for years, is lost, the mechanism that leads to the end of the couple bond, that is the perception of the dissatisfaction, is lived almost with feelings of guilt but also with strong hesitations: on one side the guy want to close the couple relationship because it represents a constraint and a limitation of one’s own freedom and on the other side he perceives, even if in an oscillating way, the importance of that relationship that, theoretically, he wants to close and it is precisely on these oscillations that thought concentrates and suffering becomes more acute.

I omit the fact that emotional states so disturbed can create difficulties in studies, in relationships with friends and family and can start a series of chain reactions that can significantly worsen things. What can be done in practice? Frankly I asked it myself several times and I didn’t find 100% convincing answers. Given the coincidence of these emotional states with the moments of the couple crisis (the emotional states can be the cause but also the effect of the couple crisis), it would be spontaneous to think that the beginning of new emotional relationships can be able to catalyze a return to a less extreme affectivity. But it remains that the new relationships, which could start on the sexual level, could hardly take on an emotional dimension, given the strong resistance to affectivity.

I add that when sexuality becomes a way to make up for an affectivity that is hard to accept, sexuality is charged with valences that for the new partner are extremely difficult to understand and this doesn’t facilitate the new couple relationships. For a guy who tends to replace the affectivity, too often frustrated, with a sexuality at least abstractly non-affective, taking the initiative towards a new partner limiting himself to sexuality and avoiding true emotional involvements means being assertive, and leaving the other at the fist appearing of the possibility that the relationship also assumes an affective value becomes a vindication of autonomy and affective independence, even if anyway that it is a question of only theoretical autonomy and independence which, in fact, doesn’t alleviate the pain of detachment.

Here then the value of simplicity returns to emerge. Those close to guys who live in these situations, that are not rare at all, cannot attempt to reason, because in strictly logical terms the abstract reasoning “aut-aut” has all the appearance of absolute plainness, such as: “absolute determinism is a physical datum, so we are rigidly programmed!” To rebut this statement in abstractly logical terms makes no sense but the weakness of this statement lies in the fact that it is abstractly logical, if determinism was or rather was perceived as absolute, the products of the human mind would lose all moral value.

So, putting aside the logical tools, which on the other hand are just those who in these guys tend to devalue the emotional life, the only thing that really makes sense remains just a “weak” affective presence, that is a presence that doesn’t question the absolute freedom of the other, that doesn’t oblige him to any choice or to any coherence. It should be clarified that these guys, who at least in certain phases, present real problems of social maladjustment, are however carriers of an autonomous and divergent thought that is often absolutely original and coherent, in other words, maladjustment derives from the fact that emotional relationships and affectivity of these guys doesn’t conform to the standards, this on one side causes suffering but for the other, when a serious human contact is established, it allows to discover completely new and unprecedented horizons of affective life, not reducible to the common denominators that generally govern affectivity. In other words, the suffering of these guys coincides with the effort to create their own autonomous and original system of thought, much less conditioned by standards and preconceptions.

It is a very difficult work of self-preservation, which impinges upon preconceptions and standard models of behavior and which tends to avoid caging the guy in those standards. Talking with these guys destabilizes the interlocutor because it puts him in front of a truly autonomous affectivity and rational thought.

Maintaining these levels of autonomy is difficult because socialization, which tends to stabilize affectivity, also tends to standardize it and to bring it back to accepted behavior models. The effort to give birth to a thought and affectivity really independent without superstructures produces suffering and a sense of isolation, but allows, when it allows it, unique forms of exchange and dialogue. There is an attitude that generally infuriates these guys and it is that of the paternalism of those who think they have understood everything and have the right recipe for all situations. Paternalism means substantial misunderstanding and underestimation and even a pathological evaluation of the efforts that these guys put in place to remain themselves and not end up being standardized, losing their individuality which is an absolute value.

With these guys, dialogue can only exist on an equal footing, that is, only if the interlocutor honestly accepts to confront himself trying to open himself to things that at first he doesn’t understand at all. Simplicity, that is the ability to get involved without reserve, is then the first characteristic to create a profitable dialogue. Who has in mind to solve the problems of the other without understanding his effort, the suffering and the research work that is in the mind of the other, will deny the other the contribution of a constructive confrontation and to himself a very important possibility of human growth.

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A NORMAL GAY

Hello Project.
 
I was intrigued by your forum that seems to play a different music from the usual music that I find in the chats and on the dating sites. I’m over 45 and I have had my experiences. Fortunately I didn’t compromise my health, but it is not a coincidence because I have been always very careful. I cannot even say whether I’m declared or not, I know a lot of people but not all of them know about me, for example at work I think that nobody knows and the same in my family, because I live on my own.
 
At my age I got tired of the gay world. A little it is for the fact that when you’re not young you realize that things are changing but not so much because the younger guys steal you the scene but because you reaches saturation. The gay world as I knew him is made of chats, clubs, evenings and you can imagine of what else. At the beginning a lot of curiosity, you meet a gay guy, get to have sex with a guy, then you realize that the guy sooner or later will go his way and that there is nothing stable, that you are alone one of a long series and you’re not the one that matters to anyone’s life.
 
Then another guy arrives and more or less the script repeats, then another and so on, these are stories that last a few months, when it’s all right, and then end and you realize that in these things at the end there is very little spontaneous behavior and that everything is in some way preordained. A friend with whom I complained about these things told me: “but it is normal that it is so”, that word “normal” applied to the life of a gay man, sounds to me very strange. I don’t want a normal life in which a routine is repeated for which it is normal to know a guy and have sex with him the same evening but it is just as normal that it ends up in a few weeks.
 
I thought that basically it is considered normal even that someone takes HIV and unfortunately I have seen them. I was really shocked but I realized that my friends assumed that these things should happen, for them it was normal. So many times I felt stupid when I wanted to try to understand something more without taking everything for granted. For me, being gay had to be transgressive, even risky, but it certainly didn’t have to involve classification into other boxes of normality. If I’m looking for a guy and I hope it’s for more than for a few weeks, I feel not normal, because it’s normal that things should not last long and it’s stupid to expect the opposite. It’s terrible to think how much gays get caught up in the usual routine, gay life becomes a play in which the roles are already written.
 
One day, I remember it well, in a club where I used to go often I was introduced to a guy who was considered there as the best the most handsome, we talked a bit then finally he made me the usual proposal and I said no, he looked at me as if I were a moron who was throwing away a rare pearl. Project, do you imagine the stories they did when I required that they always used condoms? Well, they took me for stupid without any remedy and when someone insisted and I said no, they grimaced as to say that I was completely out of my brain. I have often felt very heavily influenced by so many rituals and clichés that I did not understand, as if the manual of young gay marmots existed. I will not tell you about the question of sexual preferences for this or that practice, all ritualized as if sexuality were that, all divided by categories: bear, sado, etc. etc. … There was some guys, we can say normal, but they didn’t last long there, in a short time they turned into standard gays of this or that category, or disappeared at all and didn’t show anymore.
 
Personally I think I have attended the most stereotypical gay environments, there were certainly different environments and, let’s say, more free, but I have seen above all conformism, or rather homologation and then fatalistic abandonment to life as it comes.
 
On your forum I see different things, I suspected that there were, but reading I could understand that they are in places where I have never gone and that I naively considered less free than those I attended. I think that today I wouldn’t be able to live a non-stereotyped life or maybe yes but I think I would limit myself to a few friendships to talk a bit. I realize that I am too old to change the road and frankly I wouldn’t even try, but I’m pleased to know that what I have tried to consider as normal gay is, in practice, a very niche reality.
 
I would like a gay life on the model of the person not on the model of the stereotype. Project, what was it for to have had so many guys if they all left? It’s not their fault, they did exactly what I did, they integrated into what they thought was the gay world and they assimilated a way of being, because being what you are it’s bloody hard.
 
Project, in the environments I attended I didn’t find bad people but only people, so many people, who desperately tried to fill the solitude with a little sex. In many of the guys I’ve had, I’ve really mirrored myself, when one doesn’t find love, when one doesn’t find respect, feels no loved by anyone, he looks for something that fills the void and begins an endless race to chase a dream of love embracing a guy he will lose after a few days.
 
I felt so many times the despair of the guys with whom I have been and sometimes I even tried to go further but I ended up not being understood anymore, they looked at me as if I wanted to invade their lives while they were there just for a moment. I felt very often the lack of communication and the desperation of many guys, who in the end were experiencing what I was experiencing. How much better would be even a simple friendship that lasts, that accompanies us for a longer stretch of road. I don’t want to be a normal gay anymore, I just want to be myself.
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GAY SEX FOR NOT THINKING

Hello Project, thanks for the Monday chat, it helped me to recover a bit of courage and also to scale back a lot of things. How much it would be easier if there was no sex! Perhaps without sex all this would not exist, the fact is that sex still weighs like a boulder. It is not easy for a forty-year-old to try to build an affective life, I know that very well, but anyway it is certainly discouraging.

Whenever I can create a good friendship, inevitably, when one begins to put sex in the middle, I can no longer manage anything. It only happened once to me to live a story that had little to do with sex, but then also that story is over, perhaps, because there was no real sexual attraction.

As long as we stayed on the level of friendship, with that minimum of sex that came spontaneously, but just like tenderness, it still worked, then we said that it is not so that it should work, that ultimately we ended up being a big burden one for the other and then we stopped contacting each other, because if there is no sex a story is useless! It is paradoxical that I am the one who says it, and I say it with bitterness, because I have never had fixations on sex.

I need to begin from loving each other, and then maybe the rest would come, but obviously it doesn’t work that way. And then my whole story has been a follow-up not of failures, because this is not what this is about, but attempts, half stories, stories started with a long string of ifs and buts.

I have nothing to reproach the guys I’ve been with, they never cheated on me, they told me from the beginning that they didn’t know if it would last. I still love the guys I fell in love with, they’re poor guys like me who go above all in search of attention, small moments of happiness to make up for what they’ve never had from the family. If there is a constant element in the stories of all my guys is the bad relationship with the families and for me too it works like that.

Then, of course, if you have not been accustomed to caresses, to the small attentions of those who love you and have always thought to save yourself, not to be crushed by a family that doesn’t do anything to understand you, then it is obvious that you grow up bad, that you grow up with a kind of anxiety of revenge inside. In some way you must also revenge! But you cannot love, no one has taught you it, sex is for you just a way of saying that you exist because you do what others do, but such a thing is crazy.

Then obviously on sex you end up betting everything. If you’re not beautiful you go into a crisis because you think you’ll always be alone because you’re not beautiful, because you don’t even know that feelings exist. And what did you learn in the family? You have learned only the desperate egoism of those who try to survive and not to be annihilated.

Project, there will also be families who accept you and love you even if you are gay, I read the stories you publish, but I think that that those are exceptions and that the family life of a gay boy is actually much more squalid. One of the guys I had, felt almost poisoned by his family, he said the most terrible things about it, I don’t even know if they were real things but his reaction when I tried to talk about family was exacerbated, almost furious.

I’ve always wondered why sex ends up having such a huge meaning for us and I think it’s at least partly a way to fill a void, an emotional void, a kind of inability to create real interpersonal relationships. When my stories ended I always tried to maintain a minimum of relationship and, if possible, to remain friends, and I almost always succeeded. I’ve never hated my ex, I’m an ex too. I see them a bit like guys who, like me, don’t even know what they want. Sometimes I find myself cheering for them when they enter into stories that they think are finally good. The logic is a bit to think that “at least he can build a piece of happiness”.

Who teaches us to love each other? I believe nobody does it, and you spend the years making mistakes, falling in love, if this word makes sense, with other desperate people like you who don’t know what to do with their life, you fall in love just because they are desperate like you, you feel it above all when they are taken by melancholy and discouragement. You realize that sex is useful not to think, you realize that you are not able to give anything these guys because you can’t change their life, as you can’t even change your own life.

Why should sex be a kind of drug not to think? When you turn 40, you start budgeting. I learned a lot from my love stories and now of the melancholy and the angry reactions of the guys I understand many things that before I hadn’t understand at all, now I see things with the disenchanted eye of the mature man, but I still carry inside myself a huge desire for love, the more that desire grows the more I realize that it will end up unfulfilled.

Gil

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GAY SEXUAL EDUCATION

Acquisition of basic concepts: male, female, couple and family
 
This chapter is dedicated to sex education, with particular regard to the sexual education of gay boys. All education, and therefore also sexual education, aims to convey systems of values and to distinguish between right and wrong, moral and immoral, normal and not normal, basically, the sexual education can be taken as a guide  to distinguish what is to be accepted from what is to be rejected. Here I will use the categories of normal and non-normal.
 
Before sexual education in the strict sense, there is a phase of acquisition of concepts that will be taken as fundamental postulates, as obvious and indisputable structures of society, and in this sense will be considered normal. This phase begins very early; the contents transmitted include the difference between boy and girl, the behaviors assumed as typical of the boy and of the girl, the idea of the family, like father, mother and children, and also the idea of couple. And it is precisely through the acquisition of the concept of heterosexual couple as a normal thing that the discrimination of homosexuality begins.
 
The couples that appear in the comics of Walt Disney are always heterosexual: Donald Duck and Daisy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie, Horace and Clarabelle, etc. etc. and couples are presented by insisting on different attitudes of the male and female. Daisy is flirtatious and vain, Donald Duck is confusing and clumsy. Minnie is attentive to beauty and self-care, Mickey Mouse is concerned with investigating and solving police cases, but inevitably Donald Duck is in love with Daisy and Mickey Mouse with Minnie. The child, well before being able to understand what falling in love means, assumes that it is normal and obvious that a couple is formed of a boy and a girl. These messages, subliminal and pounding at the same time, constitute a substantial educational push not to heterosexuality in itself but to consider heterosexuality normal before knowing what it is about.
 
School books and heterosexual culture
 
The transmission of messages that underline the normality of heterosexuality continues to adulthood through many ways. Whoever has a school book in his hands that speaks of literature will notice that the point of view of the book, while having all the appearance of objectivity, is in all cases the typical hetero point of view. It is enough to say that the stories of love that we are talking about are, except for very rare exceptions, heterosexual stories and in the very rare cases in which stories with homosexual background are mentioned, which in the ancient world were not very rare and therefore cannot be omitted at 100%, the way to deal with the topic is substantially different from that used to describe heterosexual stories. Examples of couples of famous lovers, such as Paolo and Francesca, Abelard and Eloisa, Lancelot and Guinevere, and down to Renzo and Lucia and up to the contemporaries, are always made up of heterosexual couples. 
 
Sexual education through films and television
 
Even on television there are basically only stories of heterosexual love or passion. The appearance of television series centered on homosexuality, like the famous Queer as folk, is something that is spoken about a lot, almost an event, because it is absolutely exceptional, and we must keep in mind that in these series, homosexuality is presented as a social phenomenon perfectly structured in itself and substantially separate from the ordinary hetero world, the normality of gay reality is not at all emphasized, just the stereotype is stressed, that is gay reality is presented not in its complexity and its ordinariness but through a particular gay reality very ritualized, that one represented by the mass media, which is objectively only a little section of gay reality but risks to be mistaken for the real gay world.
 
Basically, given the general invisibility of the most relevant part of the gay world, i.e. of undeclared gays, the images of homosexuality that can be found in the cinema, on television or in comics (where they start timidly to appear), are only those of the gay visible world, with its collective rituals and its stereotypes, they are images that are very far from the real life of the vast majority of gays and, moreover, for show needs they are presented with particular tones and with a particular underlining.
 
Gays almost never appear on TV as ordinary people who one can meet in everyday life. Except for very few exceptions,  the idea of gay presence in society as a normal component of society itself still has no place in cinema and literature. The images used by advertising are often full of sexual allusions, even very explicit and they are almost always allusions to heterosexual sexuality. The very rare images that allude to gay couples or to contents referring to homosexuality are often the cause of scandal and are remembered above all for their exceptional nature and for the controversies they have provoked.
 
Sexual education and sport
 
Also sport helps to underline the idea of heterosexuality as normality and therefore of homosexuality as deviance. Discussions on the presence or absence of gay players in the national team or in other teams are very indicative of this trend. Coaches and players are quick to point out that there are no gays in their teams, which is like saying that there are no pathological cases and that everything is normal.
 
Religion and sexual education
 
The attitudes of total closure of the Catholic Church with respect to homosexuality are well known. The Church doesn’t limit itself to reaffirming the centrality of the heterosexual couple but states a prejudicial sentence and without appeal against  homosexuality. The official documents of the Church, beyond impromptu interviews with apparently conciliatory tones, are and remain among the manifestations of the more radical intolerance towards homosexuality.
 
It could be objected that the television series, the comics, the attitudes of the Church or those of the sports world are not true forms of sexual education, it remains the fact that all or almost all the messages to which the boys, who are growing, are exposed, are messages endowed with a communicative power far superior to that of any form of classical sexual education, and contain repeated and concordant underlining of the normality of heterosexuality and therefore of the non-normality of homosexuality.
 
Parents and sexual education
 
The condemnation of homosexuality is implicit but it is and is understood as very clear. It should be added that, in all this, the attitudes and expectations of the family have enormous weight. Parents hardly worry about the possibility that the boy can be gay and behave with him by taking absolutely for granted that they are dealing with a heterosexual boy and therefore they always believe they are legitimized to project their expectations into the boy and to direct him in the direction that, in good faith, they judge the most appropriate for the boy himself.
 
Sexual education: taboo and scandal
 
Sexuality, all sexuality, is still affected by a category of religious origin, that is, the idea of taboo, of the forbidden, and therefore of the transgressive. Of sexuality one can also speak but always in general terms, by categories, never explicitly and with reference to oneself. Sexuality, in other words, is not considered a normal topic of conversation, it is something that should be omitted, at least for good education. The idea of the taboo implies that of the scandal, the idea that one can create a scandal is very significant, because scandal means publicity and also money, so newspapers, magazines and gossip blogs put the sexuality of a person on the streets when that sexuality turns out to be not normal, especially when it comes to conjugal betrayals or homosexuality.
 
Building one’s own concept of sexuality
 
Naturally, the boys, with the maturity, gradually build their own idea of sexuality and, if they are gay, specifically of homosexuality, which progressively detaches itself from the concepts learned in a subliminal way in childhood and early adolescence. In other words, with the passing of the years boys open their eyes and realize that the reality of sexuality, in general, is very different from ideal models, that the model of marriage as a natural love union of a man and a woman if it’s considered for what it really is, shows all its fragility, so much so that in Italy the majority of marriages don’t hold up over time and that, as regards homosexuality, in particular, reality is totally different from how it is represented.
 
Repressive sexual education
 
The weight of the internet in this path towards awareness is often decisive. It is much easier to talk seriously and without sexual taboos with a 35/40-year-old man than with an 18/20 year-old boy who is still deeply conditioned by behavioral patterns and interpretation patterns of external origin. There are still many young people in their twenties who don’t have a realistic idea of how others experience sexuality. I would add that there are twenty-year-old guys who are literally terrified by the idea that something of their sexuality can be leaked to their parents.
 
In some circles, even today, gay guys suffer real forms of violent repression that unfortunately leads them to make choices that over time will prove devastating for their emotional life and for their personal balance. I happen to talk to guys over 20 who have never before had any chance to talk seriously about their sexuality. Talking with these guys allows us to understand the depth of their discomfort and the need for them to be reassured in order to be able to look at the future with concrete hope.
 
To get out of certain environments and earn a true autonomy it takes a huge effort and guys are often completely abandoned to themselves and discouraged in their every attempt to emancipate themselves and to build a better perspective. Very often families or are totally incapable of realizing the difficulties of their sons or are inclined to consider as a priority the traditional way of life to maintain a reputation at least apparent in front of the people. In some circles, even today, a 20-year-old boy he cannot afford not to have a girlfriend if he doesn’t want to be substantially marginalized. The state of suffering caused by these situations is really heavy. Here not only is there no sexual education to freedom and responsibility but there is a real form of educational violence that doesn’t propose but imposes coercive behavior patterns through very heavy forms of masked blackmailing. This imposition attitude is opposed to that of complete indifference which is instead characteristic of environments that are considered more open and free.
 
Risks of obscurantism and prohibition
 
It should be emphasized that, for the boys, talking seriously about sexuality and clarifying their doubts in this matter is fundamental and the absence of any form of comparison ends up inducing them to seek answers away from the daily dimension, in environments that seem the most suitable to acquire concrete knowledge on the subject of sexuality and in particular of homosexuality. I speak primarily of the pornography, which presents models, apparently gratifying and simple, endowed with a force of persuasion well beyond that of words.
 
Obscurantist or prohibitionist attitudes regarding sexuality have effects that are exactly opposite to those envisaged. If the parents, the school, the Church and the sports environment consider sexuality to be a taboo, the boys will go in search of spaces where they can obtain information in a clear way and can even live their first experiences, through the internet, first of all through pornography and then through erotic chats and dating sites. The huge number of people who use these sites is largely due to the absence of any form of sexual education at the family or school level, as well as, obviously, to the repression of sexual spontaneity.
 
Pornography on the net
 
In the past years pornography on the Internet was presented with criteria of strong aggression and in very stereotypical forms, access to the sites was generally paid and the presence of dialers to charge the user very high telephone charges was a deterrent that helped to keep the vast majority of kids out of those environments. Today things have changed, the free porn sites, which are financed exclusively by theme advertising, are many and recently the blogs created by individual users to collect photos from the web and to republish them, are widely spreading. this is the phenomenon of re-blogging, which has a particular meaning when it comes to erotic sites (these sites are not are about explicit pornography but show content vaguely related to sexuality, such as nude photos or short movies taken by a candid camera, with some sexual implication). The re-blogging has led to the creation of sites that have nothing to do with the old heavy pornography, that was present on the Internet years ago, these sites are managed with good taste, sometimes they have no commercial purposes and it is not surprising that they have a public in progressive increase. Even these blogs with an erotic theme, however, inevitably present behavior patterns.
 
Pornography and today also the re-blogging of erotic content constitute for many gay guys the sexual model of reference, somehow a true sex education. It should be kept in mind that the boys’ approach to pornography starts very early and that the first contact usually takes place between 13 and 14 years, so at an extremely receptive age compared to content related to sexuality.
 
The use of pornography is closely connected with masturbation and is, above all for straight boys, a topic of discussion with peers. For them, talking about these things with their friends is still possible and not risky, for gay boys it is easy to realize from the speeches of other boys that the sexuality of those boys is another and it is easy to deduce the wrong conclusion that there is something wrong with gay sexuality.
 
For a straight boy the messages coming from pornography are filtered through the speeches made with friends and have a less important value than for a gay boy, who on those topics generally doesn’t have the possibility of interpersonal comparison. I would add that the first sexual relationships of heterosexual boys are generally considerably more anticipated than the first sexual relationships of gay boys and present themselves as a sort of license to adulthood, for gay boys instead, masturbation on the basis of pornography replaces sexuality lived with other guys for very long periods and ends up consolidating the models offered by pornography.
 
Sexual education delegated to Church and pornography
 
In social contexts, such as the Italian one, in which moralism dominates and in which sex is the most widespread and rooted educational taboo, there is no serious form of sexual education given through institutional and lay channels, that is, not affected by prejudices of religious origin, which means that the sexual education of boys is almost totally delegated to the Church and to pornography.
 
Although the conditioning weight of the education given by the Church is still significant in many cases, the element that really dominates the sexual education of boys in today’s Italy is certainly pornography via the Internet. Given that in fact a very delicate educational task is up to the pornography, let us ask ourselves if it is really able to perform such a task by showing the true gay sexuality as it is actually experienced, or if pornography shows something substantially different from reality, in particular, let us ask ourselves if and how gay pornography influences the true sexuality of gays, beyond the fact that it represents such a sexuality more or less correctly.
 
Hetero-gay and gay-gay models of male-male relationship
 
Let’s start from the definition of heterosexual male (hetero) as a male person who falls in love both on an emotional and sexual level with women or girls, and of homosexual male (or gay) as a person, always male, who falls in love both on the emotional and sexual level with men or guys.
 
According to the common notion, an emotional or sexual relationship “male homosexual” or, briefly, “homosexual” is a relationship “between two male persons”, but it is clear that, in fact, the situations that can occur are two and are clearly different from each other. If the relationship is created between two gays we will talk about gay-gay relationship, if it on the contrary it is created between a heterosexual and a gay we will talk about a hetero-gay relationship. It should not be surprising that hetero-gay relationships exist, because a heterosexual, who “falls in love” affectionately and sexually only with women or girls, can nevertheless, for various reasons, build also sexual relationships, generally without a true affective component, with gay guys, the phenomenon, indeed, is and overall has been quite common, as we will see in the section on gay sexuality. Historically, hetero-gay and gay-gay relationships were born in very different eras and have been structured according to very different models.
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