In part 18, we studied detachment from a theoretical perspective. In this article, we will demonstrate how it works in daily life. Men who predominantly experience Opposite Sex Attractions (OSA’s) attach to other men in a carefree way. But men who experience many Same Sex Attractions (SSA’s) also find themselves incessantly detaching from others. Two opposing forces appear to be at work: Attaching and Detaching. By means of a simple mind game, the Snap Game, you may start recognizing them. We will show three different insights that the game can lead to.
1. The Snap Game
This is a mind game that you play on your own:
Close your eyes and imagine a man/youth who you feel attracted to, and try to get him on your retina. Those eyes, that body, that confidence, that attitude, that hair!
When he is really on your retina, say to yourself: “okay, he is there. Hi, guy!”
Click your fingers and say “Snap, I am him”.
Keep your eyes closed and try to feel that you are him, just for 5 or 10 seconds.
After a few seconds, you will probably feel that identification with his maleness fading away. Listen to your inner narrative as it dissipates.
What is that inner narrative? Try to remember what feelings came up as the feeling fleeted. Take a pen and write them down.
But now comes the best part:
Writing them down. There are two sorts of emotions: Attaching to that feeling, and Detaching from that feeling. After writing, analyze which inner narrative is Attaching, and which is Detaching.
Play the game once or twice a day, and after two weeks, inspect the list of your inner dialogues.
2. Narratives of Attachment
After playing the game a few times, Randy from New York wrote to me:
“Wow, I can really imagine myself being like him. Only for a few seconds, but it feels great. I feel big, I am confident. Wish it wouldn’t fade away so fast.”
“A sense of calm comes over me. I smile. I can feel my face muscles smiling; it feels so peaceful.”
“This is weird. I am realizing that the squaws brought me up to believe that I was better than those rough-and-tumble boys, that I possessed real characteristics of kindness, nobility, and caring that other boys didn’t. That creates distance. And all of a sudden, that distance is gone. That sense of aloofness vanishes. This feels new, as if I am betraying the squaws.”
3. Narratives of Detachment
Other people expressed how fast the feelings of being like that wonderful guy fade away.
Dima from the Ukraine wrote:
“I notice that I fall back into passivity, I feel as weak as a jelly-fish; I always end up feeling inferior. I want to cry, I feel so helpless. I would like to be like him, but I am not allowing myself to be such a male. I am not supposed to be that way. I find it embarrassing.”
Serge from Poland wrote:
“I don’t know. It feels so abusive to be a real male. It makes me feel guilty. It conflicts me. I am just not that kind of male. I just am not. I am not supposed to. I am, I don’t know.… I feel shame, damn it.”
Gary from Edinburgh reported:
“It makes me feel big, and then immediately small. I wish someone would hold me in his big arms, to help me on this. I am not strong enough.”
4. Narratives of superiority-inferiority
“I’ve noticed with SSA’s I can be on both sides of the paradigm. At one moment I’m sitting on the sidelines like a regular loser, wishing I could be them, longing for them, wanting to be like them so deeply. Then on the other hand if I get a boost of confidence I’m standing up, prancing around, snubbing them, saying “Look at me, I’m better than you!”
In this instance, we stumble upon a mechanism which defines the way many men with SSA’s see themselves in relation to others: other men are either up (superior to me) or they are down (inferior to me).
Mischa from Tel Aviv wrote:
“I am 24 and somewhat infatuated with a 19 year old guy. I imagined what it would be to be like him. At first he was in my head, and as I played the game, I started being that guy. Then I noticed that I got an erection. I got intense sexual feelings about him. I got horny. He is like some sort of god.”
What is Mischa doing? He is not detaching, he is attaching but in a different way. Let us take a close look.
His attachment is not achieved by way of his mind but by way of his body, his testosterone. This male chemical, this natural substance, is a lifesaver. It allows you to overcome those incessant feelings of detachment, of loneliness, of distance, and you can immediately identify with the other man. You can absorb him, take him in, immerse yourself with his presence. Sexuality, then, offers you a very quick and efficient way to identify with another man, with maleness, with your own maleness, and to reach a climax in which all is well. (Point is though, it wears off. Next day, you have to start all over again!)
Any man who can trigger such a reaction is felt to be superior, he is a deity of some sorts. He merely has to give us his mesmerizing gaze, show us his amazing bare chest, radiate that confidence, and behold: the miracle of testosterone, of erections, of orgasms yet once again sets in. Truly, this is a superior creature. “I could eat him for breakfast”, so you fantasize.
He has it all, he has the power, the glory, it is almost as if religious sensations have been kindled, and you sink back into that longing, that craving, that yearning, that promise of an adult life in which you will feel super. You internalize maleness at last, reaching your destiny, a prophesy of infinite good feelings stretching to the horizon. Wow, this guy is so superior. “I will never get there”, so you feel. And when despair sets in, bingo! Testosterone comes to your aid. It helps you attach, it helps you achieve and fulfill your innate masculinity. “I wish it would last forever”.
But it doesn’t.
From all other men who do not have that divine quality, you find yourself detaching. No Greek gods there. They do not offer that jolt of electricity: they are boring. Being with them reminds you of your inferior status, of your own lack of eternal maleness. Being with them is like being with yourself, a hungry sad boy, hoping this state of “missing out” will not last forever. They are no comfort, they are too much like yourself. They remind you of your own mediocrity, your own averageness, your own lack of a good body, your own lack of a good hand-eye coordination which could have made you a sports star some day instead of the schoolboy who always gets picked last when sports teams are picked. You hate him; being with him is being with a loser. Being with losers will never get you to the nirvana of maleness. He is inferior.
And you denounce.
So, when your basic mode of operation is detaching and only being able to attach by means of testosterone, then your world of men is a world of division. There are superior men and inferior men. Hardly anyone in between. It is almost as if you live marooned on a small insignificant island in the Pacific Ocean, and no-one knows you are there.
At that point, the craving for a friend sets in. Someone who is on an equal level, not sexual, but equal. Someone who will put an arm around you, and who will embrace you, give you that touch. Someone with whom you can feel small and big at the same time. A true friend.
All men struggling with SSA’s know this longing, this desire, this fantasy. And many hide it out of shame. It is shameful to be needy, to be hungry, to having a crying voice inside, mourning over the lack of recognition of the real me.
A man with SSA’s is a man in mourning, and no-one knows.
5. The sexualization of despair
Danger lurks, because it is then that risk-taking with unsafe sex may become an option during encounters. “What do I care? That stupid condom stuff. Just let me have these small moments of fun, these rare bursts of infatuation in which all is well, this promise of ever lasting sexual gratification and recognition. Do it, just do it. What do I care?”
Risk-taking in sexual encounters, which leads to the ghastly epidemic of H.I.V. and the other sexually transmitted diseases, becomes a sort of fate, an ordeal. “I know no other way; I want gratification, and I want it now”. The idea of acquiring deadly viruses is agonizing, and then:
Lo And Behold! Along comes our old friend, Testosterone. And it soothes this anguish as it always does. It soothes this fear, this sensation of dangling on a cord. And along with testosterone comes that swell again, those breaking waves of a great ocean of maleness, of awareness, of life itself. “Do it, just do it! Let’s have fun.”
The fear, the hesitance, the sensation of inferiority, the gambling spirit, all become sexualized. It becomes a kick! And you block your common sense. You just turn it off, for a few seconds, for a few minutes, for a whole encounter. And you hide the adventure in a cupboard in the cellar of your mind. And if you turn out to be infected: “Yeah, that’s me. Shitty me. Who would want to be like me?”
And you are back to where you started: a man secretly in mourning. Marooned.
6. Acquiring a healthy equilibrium
There are variations on the above theme of course, but these narratives are elements of the general picture. The essence of this article is that feelings of inferiority which come up so quickly, can be overcome by use of the mind (as shown in the Attaching narratives) but also by use of testosterone (like in the narratives of Superiority-Inferiority). The sexualization of longing can lead to finally attaching to that great guy (but it wears off very quickly).
The sexualization of other things like despair, can lead to artificial feelings of overcoming that despair, but it has a major negative downside: it turns out to be a major source of the H.I.V. epidemic in homosexuals. Risk-taking becomes hot. Recently, the Center for Disease Control in the USA warned that 80% of all Afro-Americans who currently enter the gay scene at a young age will acquire the H.I.V. virus before age 50. Using other chemicals besides your testosterone even enhances that magic feeling. Hence, there is an abundant use of drugs in the gay scene (far more than in any heterosexual scene), to achieve that quick and easy feeling of instant male attachment. But it is a short-lived boost of masculinity. Before you know it, you will be needing another fix.
The health issues, the transmittable diseases, can only be understood (and tackled) by understanding the psychological mechanisms of attachment and detachment themselves. Rational cognitive health programs (information) won’t do the trick, and given the outcomes, they don’t do the trick. Therapy should not be banned, it provides the flashlight we need in the cellars of your private yearning and/or your embarrassing shame.
Stop detaching, and if you do attach, then don’t do it by testosterone but as an act of will. In order to do so, you need to see how and when you attach, and how and when you detach. Write your narratives down, and look at them to find the pattern that you perpetuate in your mind.
Hold on to that feeling of greatness, and do not denounce your admiration of other men. No harm is done by looking at men. Repeat to yourself over and over again:
“Men are great, and so am I.”
To be continued.
Job Berendsen, MD.