22 October 2009

I've Got a Crush on You

Apparently, I'm sort of emotionally available in a way I haven't been for some time because I've been having multiple mini-crushes again, which hasn't happened in quite some time. Granted, they're just mini crushes, and none are even remotely entertainable as anything more *sigh*. But gay friendships have such...interesting dynamics (that's another draft topic I've never finished).

Scenario: you're a gay/SSA LDS guy, and you meet another gay/SSA LDS guy. You hit it off, conversation is good, he's attractive, funny, intelligent, has good taste, seems like a genuinely good and nice person, and...crap, you're crushing a little bit, and you suspect he may be crushing back a little.

Between mohos, it's sometimes a bit problematic. Crushing on a straight guy is much simpler: he's not going to return the attraction, so nothing is going to happen even if you do start crushing a little harder, and there's not much point in telling him about your crush because what's he supposed to do about it? Or in most cases of two gay men meeting and crushing, dating is an option for them. While that obviously requires some navigation, it's more typical of what happens when someone's interested in someone else. But when it's two gay guys who are LDS or otherwise not wanting a relationship or even hanky panky, what are you supposed to do with that? Do you tell him you're crushing on him or keep it to yourself? Or do you just avoid him altogether?

Option 1: Keep it secret, keep it safe. If it can't go anywhere anyway, or you're both trying to be "good" and not date guys or mess around, then what's the point in telling him you're crushing and making things potentially awkward? Why not just maintain the friendship, secretly crush, and not speak of it so as to not make a mountain out of a molehill?

Hopeful outcome of option 1: You remain friends, and nothing questionable ever happens because neither person has really admitted a crush, so nobody feels free to make a move that would get you both in trouble. The friendship continues blissful and crushy, and you become besties for life. Or at the very least, the friendship hasn't been made unnecessarily awkward or stifled by worries around what might be a passing crush.

Hazards of option 1: Let's be honest, how long can two guys crush on each other without them realizing it and opening up avenues of...affectionate expression crossing over into sexual? Really? And how likely is it that neither one will ever crush on someone else, leaving the other feeling dejected and hurt? Not talking about a crush isn't going to make it magically dissolve, and some pitfalls could be avoided by both parties being open and setting bounds. Also, I see SO many guys waltzing around their wards, the blogosphere, and support groups claiming to be good LDS boys who want to marry a girl but, in all of their denial, getting more stud action than any girl in their ward. In such cases, often nobody's calling a spade a spade because they just try to sweep everything under the rug rather than openly discussing it and owning up to what's really going on.

Option 2: Tell him. Just lay all the cards on the table. It can come in various forms. If he cuddles in, tell him cuddling can't happen because you're "not sure if you can maintain appropriate boundaries" (code for "I'm likely to jump you if you come any closer, you sexy beast you"). Another way is to flirt openly and shamelessly, exaggerating the crush into a comical parody of itself. Or you can simply say, "I have a crush on you," and maybe enumerate what measures you are going to take to guard against letting the crush get the two of you into a situation you don't really want.

Hopeful outcome of option 2: Communication is opened, and with all the cards on the table, you can openly admit you're crushing on each other, openly discuss that it can't go anywhere, and decide what boundaries are going to be necessary to keep situations benign, emotions in check, and hands out of places they shouldn't be. The friendship continues, and if someone begins to crush on someone else, you've been open all along and are discussing this and responding accordingly.

Hazards of option 2: Sometimes you think you're communicating and have things under control, but there are still misunderstandings and emotions out of control (I mean, did you read my little Lovesac story?). No guarantees. At worst, the openness is taken advantage of by whoever believes he has the upper hand, and he deliberately toys with the other's emotions and uses his affections. Besides, it is possible to talk a relationship to death or make things unnecessarily awkward.

Option 3: Turn tail and run! Don't even bother. If you're not going to pursue anything, and it's obvious that mutual attraction is a likelihood, and you're crushing, don't fool yourself into thinking you can "make it work". You can't. It's like Harry says in When Harry Met Sally, a gay man and another gay man can't be friends. Well, OK, so that's like the When Harry Met Sal version, but you get the picture. Sure, you might have this lingering crush and never "demystify" the object of it, but in these cases, it's best to leave well enough alone. Just don't even play with fire. It can only end in tears. It's all fun and games until somebody has to see the bishop.

Hopeful outcome of option 3: You're safe. No risk, no pain, no confusion. The crush wanes, you move on, and there's no friendship lost or made awkward because you never began one. No messy emotions, no boundaries crossed. You move on without regret.

Hazards of option 3: You wonder what friendship you could have had, whether you made too big a deal out of it and it would have passed, but you'll never know because you chose the comfort of safety over investing in a potentially beautiful friendship. You push people away whenever there's a hint of possible romantic or sexual interest, and it becomes a pattern of isolating yourself from people who could provide a lot of support and love, and you never learn to really deal with the complexities of relationships, so you're more likely to be caught off guard when a situation sneaks up on you.

I think different situations may call for different responses. I've tried all of the above, with varying results. Perhaps it's an art I'm still just beginning to learn. But I have to say, I probably most prefer and have most used option 2. I've been described as "forward", which is funny since I typically end up being all talk. I guess it's my way of defusing tension. It's frank, it's open, it allows for the friendship to develop with fewer walls of doubt or ambiguity. It's certainly not foolproof, nor is it guaranteed to save you from heartache, but it just feels right to me most of the time. ...but timing matters, too. I've decided to try not expressing my crushness until I know someone better, then reassess if the crush still exists after I've gotten to know them, if I get to know them. Sometimes, I enjoy the quirks of moho life.


Sean said...

Honesty is always the best policy. Being active LDS and gay is a bit of a pickle, because of trying to figure out what to do with the feelings if you agree with the church's position. Since after much study and prayer and all those things I think the church is wrong on this one and many other things and I can get past it. It did cause me to leave the church but it is the right choice for me. I would just like to think there is another guy out there for me who might be in a similar place.

darkdrearywilderness said...

Your plan sounds good...I think open communication and honesty is always good. I'm not very good at reading signs, so I hate when a guy just flirts but has no feelings to back it up. On the other hand, if a guy is crushing on me and I'm not seeing it, I would want him to tell me. That way both of us will know what's up, and if I'm interested I will let him know, if not then I will tell him I only see him as a friend (and then treat him that way, no awkwardness needed). I've always been an anomaly among gay guys, maybe I'm an anomaly among mohos too.

Max Power said...

I think you should just get a boyfriend. All the angst goes away. :)

Original Mohomie said...

DDW, an anomaly? In what sense? I don't think anything you said seems unusual. Of course, I've often felt a bit weird among homos, myself. :-)

Sean, good luck. I've wondered how hard it would be to find someone in a "similar place" if I took that route, and it seems a small pool to fish in. :-)

Max, ha, you would.