Monday, May 16, 2011

Gay men and intimacy.... yes, no, maybe so?

Does ‘sexual minority stress’ cause gay men to fear emotional commitment and pursue open relationships?
 via the Good Men Project, by Joshua Matacotta

I worked with a gay male therapy client—let’s call him Jim—who came in for individual therapy because his partner refused couples counseling. He was distressed because he felt “strong-armed” into an open relationship, leaving him with a sense of insecurity and anxiety. I soon realized that one thing this couple didn’t try was having an open, heart-felt communication about their struggles with intimacy and trust.

There have been a number of studies suggesting that many gay male couples who negotiate open relationships report satisfaction and fulfillment. But for some, does the decision to open the relationship reflect mistrust and a fear of intimacy and emotional commitment?

While gay men desire and create meaningful, loving relationships, their traumatic experiences growing up in a heteronormative culture—like homophobia and rejection—lead some to refuse conventions in heterosexual relationships (monogamy, marriage, children, etc.).

Like straight men, gay men are socialized away from intimacy. Expressing a need for intimacy and closeness is often viewed as weak.  Sometimes, entering into a relationship with a man comes with worries about their promiscuitywill they cheat?

Gay men not only internalize negative cultural messages about being men—and about what it means to be gay. The fear about vulnerability might partly be due to shaming experiences during early development, such as bullying and harassment for not conforming to gendered expectations.

Read the rest.

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