Prerequisites: Before going through this material it is useful to understand the pages on: trust and listening; man-to-man relationship; fulfilling major committed relationship; apprenticeship; teamwork; levels of social interaction.
As described elsewhere, there are a number of barriers that must be overcome, and results that must be accomplished, for two men to have a mutually supportive and trusting relationship with each other. This type of relationship is essential to all cooperative activities involving two or more men, including teams.
These essential steps include establishing trust in listening, removing the mask of ego and competiveness, and others.
By their very nature, gay men must take these steps in order to achieve major-relationship fulfillment.
Trust Barriers to Emotional Relationship
A fulfilling major committed relationship requires a lot of toughness as well as sensitivity, a special balance between respect for your own needs and for the needs of the other. Since both partners are men they cannot pretend that the other is different each has competitive, ego-driven desires that must be respected and fulfilled, while also eliminating secrecy and deception. If sex or any significant emotional interaction is to happen, the men must establish compatibility: what each man is looking for matches what the other man has to offer, and this must be communicated unambiguously while establishing confidence that there is no deception.
The successful fulfilling major committed relationship must be truly man-to-man, in order to be productive, rewarding and fulfilling.
Trust Barriers to Sleep
Even when he does establish man-to-man relationships, the straight man's man-to-man relationships typically are not as deep as those of the gay man, and in a very fundamental way. It has nothing to do with sex. Consider the following question:
What does it take for two men to be asleep in the same place with no-one else around?
Being asleep near another person places one in a very vulnerable and defenseless situation. Although it doesn't happen much in the culture most readers are accustomed to, the fact remains that either man could attempt to hurt the other during the night. We don't think about it much, it only exists as a dim fear buried below countless random thoughts, but nevertheless our instincts are wired to defend against the possibility. The result of those instincts is that men will only sleep near other men if trust is already established from long contact (as with relatives), or if there is no choice, they will try to arrange for several other men to be around. The other men provide for defense in case of an incident.
Most straight men have slept in the same room with another man at some time or another, but on closer inspection one can see all are special cases: the other man is a close relative, at least one was drunk and could not get home safely, both were in prison and had no choice, etc. Straight men have developed a response to the question, have you ever slept with another man? with answers like
yeah but I had no place to go, I was drunk!
yeah but he's my brother!
yeah but there were 6 men in the tent and we were camped on the south ridge of K2!
Many gay readers will see a hint of homophobia in such answers something to the effect of, "that looks gay, but it's not, and there's a real good explanation!". Such readers are encouraged to look deeper, until they see that what is really being said is:
yeah but we didn't do the work to establish deep trust
Trust Barriers to Sex
Result What Gay Men Bring to the Community
This need for the man-to-man relationship as a prerequisite to a fulfilling major committed relationship, makes gay men fundamentally different from non-gay men. This in turn makes gay men a special resource to the non-gay men.
A non-gay man can lead his life without having trusting relationships with other men, and still achieve a fulfilling major committed relationship (with a woman). Thus there is the potential for many non-gay men in the community, who do not experience man-to-man relationships because, for example, they accomplish all their "competitive and productive" tasks alone (without deep, trusting cooperation with other men). Although the motivation for the man-to-man relationship is strong (experiencing teamwork, establishing an apprenticeship relationship, and so on), it may not be enough to get that man to take the steps to establish a man-to-man relationship.
Gay men, have these same motivations plus one more the desire for a fulfilling major committed relationship. Since they are gay, this relationship must be with a man, and to get it they have to have a man-to-man relationship. Thus, once they reach an age relatively early in adulthood, they have developed man-to-man skills. This is universal in all communities.
Communities differ in the speed and extent to which their men develop man-to-man relationship skills. In some communities, all men develop these skills relatively early-on but in others, particularly those in which the masculine virtues are forgotten or suppressed, the man-to-man relationship is rare. In such communities, young gay men have substantially more man-to-man relationships than their non-gay contemporaries.
This page was written in the "embarrassingly readable" markup language RHTF, and was last updated on 2018 Feb 04. s.11