Monday, July 18, 2011

Email from a gay guy with a 'Type A' personality

A few weeks ago, a reader sent me the following email:

Dear GB

I'm 21 years old and I'm gay. I have been out of the closet for almost 3 years now. I'm a full time student in London, but also need to work full time as I have a small but time consuming PR company. I'm a classic type A personality and am 95% extremely satisfied with my life to now.

But I could really do with your advice about sex and sentimentality.

I've tried relationships a few times in the past but they're not for me - they consume too much time and energy and generally I end up resenting and disliking the person I'm dating very quickly.

Cruising, one night stands and plain old sex is way easier and much less complicated. So over the last 3 or so years that's what I've done - and I've tallied up an impressive count of notches on my bed post in doing so.

Up until recently I never minded this - I always maintained that I was simply liberated and could do what I pleased with whom I pleased. However over the last 4 months or so I have started to have severe doubts and insecurities about my sex life.

In some of your earlier posts you talk about hugging and comforting complete strangers with whom you've had sex - the story about the guy whose boyfriend left him to live with the lesbian mother of his child comes to mind. To a lot of people this would seem normal, kind and compassionate. To me it's alien and disconcerting. I don't even like to make eye contact with the person I'm having sex with - it seems way too intimate to me. I can't bear the thought of actually hugging them.

I've been able to have great interactions with people based on sex. Equally I've been able to have great interactions with people based on my sentiment towards them. But I've never experienced them both within the same relationship.

I'm worried that I seem so incapable of forging any connection with a potential suitor other than sexually. Whilst I'm content to sleep around at 21 I doubt I'll be happy to try and do so at 51.

I don't think I'm emotionally closed off or anything - I make new friends very easily and have a very open relationship with them. This is the only thing I just can't seem to get to grips with.

Do you have any advice GB? Am I just reading too much into it? Please don't let me become the guy in the corner of the club who looks like he used to be hot, but now just creeps the fuck out of everyone.


The impression that I get from this reader's email is that he is indeed a 100%++ type A personality. Although I think that the type A versus type B personality theory is too narrow to be taken seriously, it's clear to me from his email that the idea of a type A person was almost designed to describe this reader! The title of the email that he sent me was "sex and sentimentality", a perfect title for what he had to say, and the contents of the email are also perfectly focussed on describing his issue with a view to getting some help. And his last paragraph, painting a picture of what might become of him, was an amusing way to end the email :-).

The first thing to say is that I'm worried in case the reader needs professional help. Although he says that he doesn't think he's emotionally closed off, and that he makes new friends very easily, it could be that a lot of those friendships are quite shallow. Or given his type A personality, perhaps he only makes friends when he thinks that the person will be of some use to him. Indeed, the lack of emotional connection with people that he has sex with seems a bit extreme to me. As a banker, I myself am far more of a type A person than a type B person, but nonetheless I feel emotionally connected with other people far more than this reader does. As a result, I find the reader's behaviour hard to understand. So it's possible that he should talk things through with a psychologist, e.g. it could actually be one of those situations where there's something in his childhood that makes him behave like this. That's all the more true if I'm wrong and that his friendships are not shallow or not usually related to how useful the person may be to him, because that makes his feelings about his sexual partners even harder to understand.

It's true, though, that this lack of a broader interest in one's sexual partners is not exactly unknown when it comes to gay men hooking up with each other. My post titled 'Do you have sex or make love?' discussed that, and pointed out that even before online cruising, guys were still connecting with each other based only on finding another gay guy who could play the right role (e.g. top or bottom, etc). However, as the reader suggests, I'm sure that it is the guys who stay in that mode for too long who end up being the creepy guys in gay bars and clubs.

Maslow's pyramidSome aspects of what I wrote when I got an email from a gay guy who works in the City might be applicable to this reader. Looking at Maslow's pyramid, it seems to me that at the moment this reader is near the bottom of the pyramid, focussing on safety issues. He could be so completely driven to succeed in his studies and with his PR company that he simply has no mental bandwidth for deep emotional connections and relationships. If so, when at some stage he feels secure enough to start trying to move one level up the pyramid to the love/belonging tier, then it's possible that his problem will correct itself. Indeed, perhaps that's the reason that he sent me this email, because he does feel ready and because of his prior focus on career he's not sure how to go about it.

Something else that I said in the post for the gay guy who works in the City was that he should try and become more altruistic. That might help this reader too. If he could force himself to spend time helping other people in some way, then perhaps that may help him develop the emotional and compassionate side of his personality.

Looking at it another way, for the reader to have a PR company when he's only 21 years old and still a student seems quite exceptional to me. Perhaps his problem with relationships is simply the flip side of what he's been able to achieve elsewhere in his life. To some extent the business world where achievement is everything is quite cutthroat and ruthless, so maybe he just finds it hard to turn that side of his personality off when it comes to boyfriends and relationships. To a hard headed businessman it might like seem like a waste of effort putting energy into caring about another person, but as one's life progresses and one suffers occasional setbacks, having a boyfriend who really cares about you and who can help you recover is priceless.

Does anyone else have any thoughts for this reader?


Mind Of Mine said...

I would consider myself to have a Type B personality and I share the same issues with intimacy. I often can not make eye contact with someone I have had sex with and I really can't wait for them to leave once we are done.

But then on the other side of that is that I sometimes crave close human contact, a hug or other form of embrace from a lover.

Any advice for me?

GB said...

Do you feel guilty about having gay sex, Mind Of Mine? That might be one reason for your behaviour, and in that case simply becoming more comfortable with you sexuality would probably help :-).

GB xxx

Mind Of Mine said...

Hi GB,

I wouldn't say I feel guilty, I just find cruising, one night stands and sauna's more convenient.

I am very comfortable with being gay,

Gaynonymous said...

I think at your age just 21 you should be out the enjoying life! There is way too much pressure on the youth of society these days and aslong as you are being careful, sex is a great way to ....let off steam. There is no rush to meet someone and settle down afterall there are plenty of fish in the sea and how are you supposed to find the right one if you settle for mr right now. However you do seem to have some intimicy issues and perhaps talking to a professional would help you deal with these.

jim said...

its hard all this who am i, am i doing it right, what shall i do next, the bottom line is, your young your having fun and as long as you dont lead anyone on your probably one of the most sort after guys around, in time you may feel you want to settle but even if you dont its your life and you need to run it how you want? but please be careful because even if you dont want something longterm now, you dont want to ruin a later change of mind, dont regret doing something now, just be safe, you can get condoms for free but if your a busy man and just dont have the time look here

miamigay said...

I am old and wealthy. Many years ago I was a personal friend of Liberace who went thru life as "A" gay, person or whatever. Life was like picking apples from a tree. As he grew older he wanted to settle down, but simply couldn't because he had never learned how to pick the right apples. Being quick and fast works well when young, but fails miserably in later life. I always told Lee to stay with someone long enough to know at least something about them. We all knew his end. At the end he told me, "I finally found a loving sincere person, but only at the end." Think about it Mr. A gay, love may not tick to your clock.

Gay Guy With 'Type A' Personality said...

Goodness, a lot of split views here. Thank you all so much for your comments. To be honest I agree with all of your points, perhaps I am putting unnecessary pressure on myself to 'grow up' in a romantic sense. Maybe I should just relax a little and stop worrying about it.

However - Miamigay, your point perfectly verbalised my fear. Love might not tick to my clock. Right now, love is not a priority at all, however similarly to Liberace it might be in the future. However unlike Liberace I don't want to be incapable of developing a mature relationship if/when that time comes.

Finally, GB thank you for your advice. I'll be honest it wasn't the easiest medicine to swallow, I can struggle to appreciate constructive criticism even when I eagerly ask for it! However I have taken on board everything you've said. I think there's a level of fact in all of your points - it has been pointed out to me that I seem to have a lot of so called 'shallow' friendships.

I honestly don't know which of your points best suit my predicament but perhaps speaking to a professional will help me work that out.

Again, thanks everybody for your comments and help - I'll be sure to check in in the near future x

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Anonymous said...

I'm about 23 and almost the direct opposite of you regarding intimacy: I have an ongoing thirst for intimacy and often end up having a hug and a chat with people even at saunas (to the annoyance of other people at the sauna...) Furthermore, I only enjoy sex if there's a certain intimacy.

I've found that:

1) The love / tender care that breeds intimacy doesn't arise instantly. You can't want to look into the eyes of someone who you just met. You develop this caring by communicating with the person for a while.

2) Clubs, saunas, and online dating aren't (usually) the right ways for finding guys with whom to become more intimate. As you rank people by their looks, you may be disqualifying those with whom you'd have a personal connection. And then, it's hard to initiate a conversation and eventually find points in common. I'm currently living through an exception to that rule, but only because after seeing the guy naked we dated in a more normal fashion and I came to understand, and later care for the guy. Slowly discovering what he could offer me made him more valuable in my mind.

So go meet gay people in a social setting (LGBT soc?), find someone you fancy intellectually, someone who you find nice to be around, and sufficiently good looking, and then don't bed them - try to get to know him first! It might help.

Tack Black said...

While all of this is very interesting. Pigeonholing yourself as a personality type is simply an attempt to control things. The world is out of control. So called type A's are about as good a classification as a virgo.

What you are looking at here is control. To be intimate you must first admit you are out of control, and/or include the other person as 'in control' of you. Your Type-A'ness, is a distraction. You spend all of your time working to fill in the time. If a relationship exhausts you, your intimacy muscles are weak. Will-power is a muscle, and when it is stretched to its maximum, you will betray your-self.

But kudos on asking for help! You've made your first step into a larger world.

Liam Houghton said...

I'm very similar to "Type A guy" (for lack of a better name).

21, been out for a few years, and been a full time student in London for last few years too.

My course has been so intense, and my eagerness to succeed has meant that any opportunity to forge a relationship was lost.

Now that I've just graduated having achieved my First, I feel I can look around for opportunities. However it is easier said than done. Having been out of the loop for so long it's not so easy to meet guys who've been in the field or 'on the scene' - it's hard to tell who is genuine and who is not. I think it's much more a gay problem than a straight one.

I think love is important, and I have learnt that it can be really bad to put it to one side for so long. I'm a very independent person however I've glimpsed circumstances where sharing your life with someone makes a world of difference to your subconcious happiness. Even if, like me, your life is already extraordinarily busy.

If you'd ever like to chat about it, I'm very happy to do so.

Best wishes.

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