Should I keep my distance?
Listen to your instincts, says our elder. People can’t be changed – he has to deal with this himself.
I (22) added Joe (20) on Facebook a year ago. We kinda liked each other and we got somewhat closer. I’ve visited him in his city twice and we hooked up. One of the things I didn’t like about him is the stigma he has towards his own sexuality. He told me he was both into men and women, but he’s always been ashamed of his attraction to men. I talked to him about it thousands of times, and I told him that the shame he feels is a result of our society’s attitude towards homosexuality, and that he shouldn’t let people determine his worth. I also told him that hating himself for something that is a part of his identity will only stand in the way of his own growth and confidence. But he never listened, and I noticed that he’s always reluctant to accept himself as a bi man. He wouldn’t tell anyone about it.
Recently I’ve become less interested in talking to him because of that reason. I just feel like I can’t talk to someone who’s an adult yet not accepting of his own sexuality. I myself am attracted to people of any gender, and I surround myself with people who support me the way I am. Of course I can’t impose my principles on others, but for some reason I no longer feel interested in talking to such people. And in general, Joe does other stuff I find a little immature. Am I being mean by losing interest in him for this particular reason? It’s not like we’re in a relationship or something, but I kinda care about him, like I care about my friends. However, him insisting to deny his ‘gay part’ is repelling me. I first thought he was making progress when he expressed a lot of interest in hooking up with me (he still does) but this behavior is exclusive to me as he avoids meeting other guys (he believes that guys are exploitative, controlling and merely sex-oriented). What I wanna know is, do you think that his intolerance of himself is not a valid reason for me to keep a distance? Maybe it’s not my job to tell people what to think or do, but this whole thing doesn’t feel right to me.
It sounds to me like your instincts are telling you the right way to respond to this person. There are people who constantly complain about themselves in order to receive attention from others. And though I can’t know for certain, of course, I believe that’s what is happening with him. Yes, it appears he has trouble dealing with his sexuality, but that’s such a serious subject that friends most likely can’t help.
You said you’ve talked with him “thousands of times” about his issues, but nothing has changed. And to my way of thinking, nothing will change with him unless he works with a medical professional (counselor/therapist) who can provide the kind of guidance he needs to change the way he thinks about himself and others. You, and most likely other friends as well, can’t give the sort of help he needs, unfortunately.
The whole thing doesn’t feel right, you said. Again, your instincts and good sense are helping you out. You also wrote that maybe it’s not your job to tell people what to think or do, and that thinking might serve you well, also. Sometimes it’s hard to sit back and watch someone we care about not doing what’s best for them, but there comes a time when we just can’t help them. And I believe that’s the case with your friend.
My specific advice for you is to keep your distance. Let him deal with his insecurities the best way he thinks best. He’s complained and complained to you, yet nothing has changed. I doubt anything will unless he takes the initiative to make it happen. I think you’re losing interest because you’re tired of hearing the same thing over and over, with no progress being made toward his thinking about other people.
So, those are my thoughts and recommendations for you. I hope you find some of them helpful in coming to terms with how things really are with this guy instead of hoping so very much that you can change him. People rarely change. And if they do, they do it for themselves and not because someone told them it would be best.
Take good care of yourself and be well in these worrisome times.
Article #: 462924