In my last blog entry, I wrote about how Valentine’s Day makes men who feel isolated by their SSA frantically search out love. Some, as I have before, turn to their fantasies in pornography and find “relationship” there. I suggested we turn toward the world around us and thank God for whomever He has given us in community.
The problem that arises from becoming deeply involved with the people around us is that men who are looking for companionship often don’t set many boundaries before they set out. Besides respecting woman who we may pursue romantically, men who struggle with SSA also have to establish healthy boundaries with the men in their lives.
Valentine’s Day, as I mentioned before, is a day that promotes and pushes romance and can leave many men seeking it in the wrong ways. Porn becomes a convenient way of finding potent, though disillusioned, feelings of intimacy. What about the men around us though? Are we making an effort to guard their integrity? Do we choose to look at them with pure eyes or give them the respect of space and privacy when needed?
I ask these questions knowing that for many of you, the men around you are unaware of your same-sex attraction. I’d encourage you to be open with the men you spend time with. Failing to do so, especially with the men who you go deep into friendship with, can be dangerous for both hearts. Not knowing that they are vulnerable with someone who is attracted to them can make men feel duped. Not being transparent with good friends can leave us who have SSA feeling dishonest and misunderstood.
Here are my suggestions for some boundaries to establish this February:
- If you’re going to be alone with someone of the same gender, they should know about your SSA. Of course, do I think you need to bring up everything about your SSA when you give someone a lift to the gym? No. But, if you’re going to stay at someone’s apartment and it’s just the two of you, maybe it’s a conversation worth having.
- If you’re attracted to men who you keep accountable in areas like sexual purity, consider whether that is a healthy decision or not. Of course, if you back out of accountability, you shouldn’t just dump them. Be honest- they’ll most likely respect you all the more for showing such concern for them. If keeping them accountable honestly has no effect on you, then keep it up.
- Don’t just keep physical boundaries. If you feel like you are constantly seeking comfort or validation from men around you or one particular guy, then consider that you may be attracted to them and you may owe them your honesty about your SSA so that they can care for you responsibly. This also pertains if you are the one who is always seeking to care for the men around you- be careful you aren’t looking at them affectionately in a way that could be damaging if they knew about your SSA.
These are just suggestions and I would love to have some comments to hear what people think and how they have established as boundaries with the men around them. Either way, I think transparency is more often than not a good thing.
Valentine’s Day can bring up a lot of seeking for love and affection, validation and care. When you’re in relationship with the men around you, be sure to respect them by being open with them about how you’re really feeling. You may find that rather than putting them off, your friendship not only becomes healthier but much, much stronger.