Monday, June 22, 2015

A New Approach to Making Friends

I have learned over time that attraction isn’t just physical.  All men are attracted to other men for various reasons.  You may not be attracted to a man physically, but there may be an emotional attraction or a spiritual attraction that draws you to the other man.  Someone may have absolutely no physical attraction for other men, but he has an emotional need to connect with men.  For some of us, there may be a layered approach to this.  We may have a combination or all three types of attractions for other men, depending on the man.  

Some men are naturally able to be friends with other men regardless of attraction levels.  I had a neighbor who found out there was a new guy in the neighborhood and he was a like a little kid finding a new playmate on the playground.  He went over to meet the new guy and within minutes they were best buds.  They even had a ‘playdate’ set up.  This neighbor is just one of those guys who genuinely likes the platonic company of other men, and has no problem expressing that.  

One of the scariest things in the world for me is to approach and try to become friends with a man I am attracted to.   I will stare at them and try to be sly about it.  I will get to know them from a distance, but not really get to know them.  Their mystique grows and with that so does my attraction.  But then so does my fear to approach them.  

A few years ago, a man moved into the congregation I attended at church.  To me, he was one of the most attractive men I have ever met.  He was also a very good person and seemed to have a great personality. Moreover, we shared a lot in common.   He was a guy I wanted to be friends with badly, but I was extremely intimidated by him.  

I went about my relationship with him in the wrong way.  I acted very smug and aloof around him.  I treated him as if I couldn’t care less about having any kind of relationship with him in any way.  Every time he attempted to come to me to invite me to do something with him, I shunned him or made it clear that I wanted nothing to do with him.  All the time, my inner-self was screaming out to be able to do everything with him and grow a great relationship with him.  What I ultimately feared was rejections from him.

What’s funny is that I would do little acts of service for his family, often anonymously.  Perhaps I felt guilty or wanted to make up somehow for the way I treated him.  But now looking back, I know it was just silly of me to act that way.

He ultimately ended up moving away.  I regret that I went about building a relationship improperly.  I have learned so much since then!

These attractions are normal.  Knowing that now, what would I do differently if another guy came into my life that I had an attractions to (be that physical, emotional, or spiritual)? The following works for me.  I am not suggesting this is what will work in every situation or for everyone.  I am also not saying that this will build a lasting platonic relationship with a guy you may find attractive.  These are simply some thoughts I have found that help me.  

  1. Look past his physical characteristics, understand he is human.  Find a flaw.

Though it may sound kind of mean to look for a flaw, it helps me to see the person as human.  I am less attracted physically to a guy that way.  There is less mystique. When there is less mystique, I am not as afraid to try to build a lasting relationship with someone.  As I get to know someone better, and become better friends with them, I also find my attraction level for them goes down in most cases.  When someone’s a ‘bro’ I usually don’t have a desire to go further than that.

  1. Show a real interest in what he likes and who he is - you may find you have more in common than you think

We are humans.  We like when people take interest in us.  It makes us feel better about ourselves as well as the person we are with.  That’s just human nature.  If I am genuinely curious about the likes and dislikes of a person, they will more often than not want to pursue a conversation with me.

  1. Be Bold - invite him to join in an activity with you

This is a hard thing for me to do.  But for me, it’s important.  If there is common interest, invite him to do something with you.  I love hiking.  That is usually one of the things I have that I can invite a guy to do with me.  It’s wholesome.  It provides a physical outlet.  It helps put you both on common ground.  If it’s movies, go to the movies.  If you are both into cars, see if there’s a car show, or go look at cars at the dealership.  Who cares!  Just have fun.  

Asking someone to do something with you, and facing possible rejection is one of the scariest things to do.  But if you never try it, you will never get what you want.  The more you practice, the better you will get at building relationships.

  1. Be vulnerable.  Don’t fear rejection

We are all afraid of exposing ourselves.   What if we do something stupid or embarrassing?  What if that causes them to not want to be your friend?  Will you have someone accept your offer of friendship every time?  No.  This may be for various reasons.  You may not have anything in common with the person.  It is possible that he is afraid of you or very cautious for similar reasons.  If the person’s not ready, don’t push it.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and be yourself!  If you are goofy, be the goofy self you are.  You are going to make more meaningful friends by being yourself than trying to mask the real you.  It’s ultimately a lot easier to be yourself and be rejected than to be someone different and be accepted.  If you are accepted, you have to continue to put on the false you every time.  That’s a burden no one needs to carry.

  1. Accept your attraction to the person

OK - the guy is good looking.  Who cares if you think so.  Accept it.  You don’t have to go up to him and say you think he’s attractive.  You can if you are comfortable with that, but for me I find that by just accepting the fact that I am attracted to the guy helps me not be as scared.  It’s one less hurdle to overcome.  

  1. Enjoy the moment/Don’t over think things

We are guys.  We understand that there are plenty of guys out there who don’t converse or won’t open up about their lives.  Guys can sit and fish for hours and not say a word to each other, but will think they had the best day of their lives and have spent quality time with their best friend.  Just being together can be important.  

I know men who won’t talk with each other for long periods of time and when they get back together it’s as if they were never apart.  And when they do, they don’t say much.    
I am not that kind of person.  I feel like I need to have a deep conversation with consistent communication with someone to make the relationship meaningful.  But for some guys that is not the case.  Don’t push things.  Patience really is a virtue.  And don’t take things too personally.  If a guy doesn’t get back with you right away, understand that he may have a lot going on too.  If they never get back with you, let it slide.  If they do eventually get back to you, be happy that they did.  Low expectations of how someone else reacts is better than having high expectations that will never be met.

  1. Embrace (or handshake)

Healthy touch is something to be cherished.  Don’t shy away from a good healthy hug.  Guys show their affection for other guys differently.  It’s OK.  For some a handshake is enough.  If you go to hug the guy and he shies away, remember that he is a handshake kind of guy.  If you are a handshake kind of guy, be that.  But I suggest not to be afraid to try a good embrace.  Sometimes we all need just that!

My hope is that we all find healthy ways to build good relationships with guys we are attracted to - whether the attraction is physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of all three.  It’s important not to let our fear of the attraction we have for another guy keep us from a great friendship.


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