Friday, May 13, 2016

The Sweet Intimacy of Friendship

This picture is great.  I love the feeling of intimacy it brings.  Many are offended and read sexual
things into this.  To me it's a sweet picture of the healthy intimacy we can have as brothers and friends.
There is nothing sexual about two men holding hands and the connection can be one of healing
and comfort and positive affirmation of friendship.  

Intimacy in friendship is one of the most controversial topics in today's homophobic world.  Everyone is so afraid of being labeled that we avoid intimacy in our relationships with other men.  It drives me crazy that we cannot enjoy and experience more intimate personal relationships with the men we love and the men who are part of our lives.

Lets face it,  women enjoy those types of friendships.  It is nothing to see two women holding hands or embracing each other or simple holding to comfort or just for the pure joy of holding.  But heaven forbid if a man does that.  He is stared and instantly labeled.  Our society has lost the comfort level of men being able to express and enjoy more intimate relationships.

I personally think that the majority of men desire and actually need this kind of friendship.  Ok, there are those who would absolutely  disagree, but I think the ones that fight it the most are actually craving a deeper more intimate relationship with the men in their lives, but are afraid to step up and admit it.  

Just what is a Intimate Friendship?   Good question and one that I am happy to share my thoughts on.

First off let me explain a little bit about me.  I was raised in a home where there was absolutely no touch from men.  My dad is a wonderful man, but he was raised in a home where he had no father and really didn't understand the need his son might have.    So I grew up "touched starved".  On top of that I never had buddies or guys that I really hung out with.  I craved for friendship and acceptance from men and actually everyone.  I don't once ever remember being help or even touched in an appropriate way by another man in my entire childhood.  As I grew older the need for touch and positive affirmations grew.  I am a firm believer that touch is an integral part of the growing process in life.  Affirmitive touch builds confidence and self esteem.  There are thousands of studies that prove this is true, but I am convinced by my own experience that this is true.  As a young teenager and young adult I struggled beyond description and suffered with self esteem problems that effected all parts of my life.

The first time I was really held by a man was on my mission.  I had a horrible first few months on my mission.  All the self doubt and confusion came to the surface and I was on my way out when God blessed me with the most amazing companion ever.  He got it and he understood the deep need I had to be loved and accepted.  Please understand as I tell you this that there was never anything inappropriate in our companionship, but our love for each other was deep and healing for me.  There were times when this companion would just hold me.  It was salve to my entire soul.  I don't think to this day he knows the amazing miracle that occurred during that process.  It was not just once but many times he would just hold me and hug me.   Never speaking, just holding and letting me feel the power of his love.  Words cannot describe how comforting and healing this was to to me.

As I was writing this article I called him and asked him if he remembered that experience.  He most certainly did.  This is what he told me.  "I had never to that point been a very hugging person, but I felt a need in you and I took it to the Lord in prayer and asked him if it was ok,  the answer I got was absolutely, so I hugged and held you".

I am so grateful for a young man that listened to what God wanted and even stepped out of his comfort level to hold another man who needed healing and comfort from touch.

What would the world be like if there were more men like him around, meaning men that will do what needs to be done inspirte of what is considered normal and appropriate.  I believe that there are thousands and thousands of men who need to be held and touched in a healthy clean way.  I believe that there are men who seek other things to feel a need that is not being met by healthy touch in their friendships.

One of the most important things I have learned in my life is how valuable touch can be in our friendships.  I love the power and intimacy it can bring into a friendship.  Another thing  I have learned is that many men ache for that type of connection.

Whether a man struggles with Same Gender Attraction or not, it is a need for a lot of men.  Those that do struggle with Same Gender Attraction absolutely need to have healthy appropriate touch.  If your reading this and wondering how to help your friend,  may I suggest a few things you can do to build your friendship and ease the pain your friend may be suffering.

#1  Be transparent in your relationship with him. Meaning talk with out judgement and try to understand where he is coming from.  Understand that just because a man struggles with SGA or just wants healthy touch, does not mean he wants to have sex with you or do anything inappropriate.   In our homophobic world we stay away from touch for fears that have no truth.   Real friendships require transparency, understanding, and openness.

#2  Ask what your friend needs.  Understand that it might be difficult for you, but he knows that.  Probably an embrace would be the best place to start.  I say embrace because that requires a hug longer than 3 seconds.  A really good embrace can last for minutes.

#3   Understand that touch can break down walls and build strength in friendships like nothing else.  Don't be afraid to show how you feel and express how you feel in words and actions.  A simple touch can convey a multitude of feelings and acts like clue in bonding you together in a more intimate healthy way.

#4  I love the scriptures in the Old Testament.  The Story of Jonathan and David are precious to me.  In all my friendships I try to remember what Jonathan told David and I firmly believe this is the secret to a healthy meaningful life changing friendship.  Jonathan told David  "The Lord is between me and thee",  how can a friendship go wrong when the Lord or who ever the God is you worship is between you and your friend.  Powerful and life changing when we follow our hearts and learn to love in a more intimate and sweeter way.

(Just a note, Please don't worry about unintentional erections.  That is what happens to men when any kind of touch is involved and most often unintentional erections are not a sexual thing, just the body working and doing what it was designed to do.  The fear of erections keep men from sharing healthy touch and holding and ultimately forming intimate friendships.  Just get over it.  Erections happen.)

The Sweet Intimacy of Friendship can be a sweet as we desire.  For me I love connecting with my friends on an intimate clean healthy way.  It's been over thirty years since I served my mission but my heart is still filled with gratitude for a young man who understood just how important touch can be in healing.  Through his holding me, my heart was healed and I was able to serve better.   I have tried to learn the skills in my life and I have seen miracles happen personally and in the lives of many many men how seek and need healthy appropiate affirming touch.  From holding hands to holding each other we can heal and mend broken hearts by our actions and by offering and extending our love and care to others in the form of healing touch.

The Sweet Intimacy of Friendship can bring a life long journey of joy and sweetness.  The old phone phrase "Reach out and touch someone has reached a new meaning in our touch deprived society.

Have a great journey enjoying your friendships in a sweeter way.  Reach out and touch someone today.