03 July 2011

How not to become the next boy-renting NARTH officer

Hey, listen, it's time to stop fooling yourself. When you're cuddling compulsively (e.g. you can't seem to get enough or are fighting a persistent urge to rip off clothing), that cuddling is most likely a substitute for sex. Sorry to break it to you, but when cuddling is about natural affection and trust in a secure friendship, it's not something you do in lieu of prohibited naked fun. And if you have a perma-stiffy, you might consider either going ahead and just making out (call a spade a spade) or stopping that particular cuddle session before it catches up with you. Blueballing is only one small probable negative consequence. Warping a relationship is another, especially when boundaries and meaning ascribed to the cuddling aren't clearly agreed upon between both parties. But what's most concerning me is learning to justify behavior in a way that masks underlying motives with idealized but inaccurate motives, a skill not smiled upon in politicians or ex-gay therapists caught in sex scandals.

"Well, who's to say one motive is stronger than another? You don't know me."

Come on. Be honest with yourself. You know the difference between cuddling with a child, for example, or a pet, or a friend of the opposite sex, or a friend of the same sex with whom the idea of sex is either comical or extremely awkward, and cuddling with someone you're physically attracted to.

"Well of course it's going to be different, especially if I have unmet emotional needs related to men and can find intimacy and connection in male friendships. Stop trying to sexualize everything. Besides, just because I might get aroused for a moment doesn't mean I actually wanna go at it."

Fair enough. Like I said, only you really know the difference. Just ask yourself: if you're so sure you're just sharing healthy affection with other men, do you have as strong a desire to share that healthy affection with men who are not your type whom you trust and feel close to?

"But what if that's part of my healing? What if I need affirmation from men I find attractive?"

Do you really believe that's what it's about?

"...I'd like to...maybe...OK, probably not."

Thought so.

"But it's really nice, and it's not just a substitute for sex."

No, it's not just a substitute for sex. But look, if you thought it was OK to make out, would you rather be doing that than only cuddling and caressing?

"...No, because I'd have to have a relationship with someone to do that. I've never even kissed someone."

Oh, that's right. Speaking of your incredible ability to not kiss someone even though you've cuddled with someone in nothing but your garment bottoms...

"Hey, how do you know...?"

Oh, honey, let's just say I know very well. It's maybe a little embarrassing, but it's OK. Mohos are amazing at pushing the envelope in creatively chaste ways. Anyway, that caressing business you do: I get that it's sometimes completely benign and purely affectionate (e.g. arms, hands, scalp massage, back tickling). But when you're caressing each other's inner thigh or bare chest and teasing the underwear waistband by slipping your fingers barely under the edge...well, let me just put it this way: would you do that to your female friend?

"Well, you can't honestly expect me to draw a direct comparison. There are things guys just 'get', and we know each other, and they don't have anything I don't. I mean, I wouldn't shower with my female friends, but that doesn't mean showering with my male friends is sexual."

OK, then maybe consider whether you'd be at all disturbed if you saw two brothers doing it? Anyway, here, let me show you what I know now with another four years of physical intimacy experience under my belt...eh, you know what I mean. OK, now you've kissed someone and all that jazz. What's your answer about whether you'd rather be making out if you thought it were OK?

"Hm...yeah, OK, when I'm honest with myself, I probably would want to make out with at least these two cuddle buddies..."

I'm not saying that any time you get briefly aroused, it means you're just after sex. And I'm not saying you should merely obey your body's lusts. I believe it's good and right to learn to rein your appetites. I believe that particular member sometimes briefly responds to stimuli in its own way. And I certainly don't believe every attraction or affection has a raging undercurrent of sexual desire. I'm just saying the next time you're being physically affectionate with someone you find attractive, consider thinking, "Hey, do we have a close enough friendship for this cuddling to be genuinely trust- and affection-based? If we thought it was OK, would we go for it? If you were absolutely not my type, would I still want to cuddle? Am I mostly kinda hot to trot, and your body feels nice against mine?" There's nothing wrong with admitting it's mostly a physical thing, but I think your cuddle partner should be on the same page to avoid probable messes...pardon the wording.

I'm just concerned that the longer you keep basically using cuddling as a substitute for 'more', the less likely you'll be to really, honestly identify your motives in potentially conflicting situations. I'm worried that some or much of your caressing and holding is an expression of your desire for romantic and sexual intimacy, but you're refusing to recognize that and masking it with an effort to revolutionize male intimacy. That's probably very true for certain of your friendships, but by projecting the innocence of some cases onto all, you may make abnormal behavior or behavior inconsistent with a relationship into something normal in your head, and that's troublesome territory.

I'm also afraid you run the risk of using cuddling and caressing in a way which isn't 'breaking any commandments' but mostly just puts off actually making a decision about what you're going to do with all of this homosexuality and religion conflict you have. It's like you're keeping the religion part and following the rules but in a way that is partially lust behind a mask of affection and intimacy, the exact opposite of what you actually think you're accomplishing.

Short version: I think you're becoming a cuddle slut.

"OK, OK, I see what you're getting at. I do generally want to cuddle the hottest guys the most, and if we both believed differently, I'd probably just wanna go at it sometimes, so I'll try to be more aware of that. But...I have some friends who are totally physically attractive, but I'm not at all attracted to them in 'that' way. Can I still cuddle them?"

Of course. I remember what it's like to believe you're never going to be allowed sexual 'fun' with another guy and how much that can affect your desire to have what physical affection you can, no matter how sexually repressed the motives. Besides...y'know...none of us is perfect.

"Wait...have you cuddled with someone you mainly wanted to get freaky with or didn't necessarily have reason to trust intimately?"

...Yeah, cuddle...um...we're not talking about me. We're talking about you.


Adam said...

I love the title on this one :)

Trev said...

Ha ha, great post. Very insightful and engagingly written.

Ryan said...

I feel like I know this man... Oh... I mean... I feel like I know these MEN.

Obadiah said...

MoHoly Cow! I just found this blog. It's so original and this post is fantasticly thought-provoking.