Category Archives: Love Sickness

There’s No Such Thing as Everlasting Love (According to Science)

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Just in time for Valentine’s day!

A new book argues that the emotion happens in “micro-moments of positivity resonance.”

love story

By Emily Esfahani Smith

In her new book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become, the psychologist Barbara Fredrickson offers a radically new conception of love.

Fredrickson, a leading researcher of positive emotions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents scientific evidence to argue that love is not what we think it is. It is not a long-lasting, continually present emotion that sustains a marriage; it is not the yearning and passion that characterizes young love; and it is not the blood-tie of kinship.

Rather, it is what she calls a “micro-moment of positivity resonance.” She means that love is a connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which you share with another person—any other person—whom you happen to connect with in the course of your day. You can experience these micro-moments with your romantic partner, child, or close friend. But you can also fall in love, however momentarily, with less likely candidates, like a stranger on the street, a colleague at work, or an attendant at a grocery store. Louis Armstrong put it best in “It’s a Wonderful World” when he sang, “I see friends shaking hands, sayin ‘how do you do?’ / They’re really sayin’, ‘I love you.'”

sad on valentine's day

Fredrickson’s unconventional ideas are important to think about at this time of year. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many Americans are facing a grim reality: They are love-starved. Rates of loneliness are on the rise as social supports are disintegrating. In 1985, when the General Social Survey polled Americans on the number of confidants they have in their lives, the most common response was three. In 2004, when the survey was given again, the most common response was zero.

According to the University of Chicago’s John Cacioppo, an expert on loneliness, and his co-author William Patrick, “at any given time, roughly 20 percent of individuals—that would be 60 million people in the U.S. alone—feel sufficiently isolated for it to be a major source of unhappiness in their lives.” For older Americans, that number is closer to 35 percent. At the same time, rates of depression have been on the rise. In his 2011 book Flourish, the psychologist Martin Seligman notes that according to some estimates, depression is 10 times more prevalent now than it was five decades ago. Depression affects about 10 percent of the American population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A global poll taken last Valentine’s Day showed that most married people—or those with a significant other—list their romantic partner as the greatest source of happiness in their lives. According to the same poll, nearly half of all single people are looking for a romantic partner, saying that finding a special person to love would contribute greatly to their happiness.

But to Fredrickson, these numbers reveal a “worldwide collapse of imagination,” as she writes in her book. “Thinking of love purely as romance or commitment that you share with one special person—as it appears most on earth do—surely limits the health and happiness you derive” from love.

“My conception of love,” she tells me, “gives hope to people who are single or divorced or widowed this Valentine’s Day to find smaller ways to experience love.”

Vincent Valentine RIDEHARD

You have to physically be with the person to experience the micro-moment. For example, if you and your significant other are not physically together—if you are reading this at work alone in your office—then you two are not in love. You may feel connected or bonded to your partner—you may long to be in his company—but your body is completely loveless.

To understand why, it’s important to see how love works biologically. Like all emotions, love has a biochemical and physiological component. But unlike some of the other positive emotions, like joy or happiness, love cannot be kindled individually—it only exists in the physical connection between two people. Specifically, there are three players in the biological love system—mirror neurons, oxytocin, and vagal tone. Each involves connection and each contributes to those micro-moment of positivity resonance that Fredrickson calls love.

When you experience love, your brain mirrors the person’s you are connecting with in a special way. Pioneering research by Princeton University’s Uri Hasson shows what happens inside the brains of two people who connect in conversation. Because brains are scanned inside of noisy fMRI machines, where carrying on a conversation is nearly impossible, Hasson’s team had his subjects mimic a natural conversation in an ingenious way. They recorded a young woman telling a lively, long, and circuitous story about her high school prom. Then, they played the recording for the participants in the study, who were listening to it as their brains were being scanned. Next, the researchers asked each participant to recreate the story so they, the researchers, could determine who was listening well and who was not. Good listeners, the logic goes, would probably be the ones who clicked in a natural conversation with the story-teller.

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What they found was remarkable. In some cases, the brain patterns of the listener mirrored those of the storyteller after a short time gap. The listener needed time to process the story after all. In other cases, the brain activity was almost perfectly synchronized; there was no time lag at all between the speaker and the listener. But in some rare cases, if the listener was particularly tuned in to the story—if he was hanging on to every word of the story and really got it—his brain activity actually anticipated the story-teller’s in some cortical areas.

The mutual understanding and shared emotions, especially in that third category of listener, generated a micro-moment of love, which “is a single act, performed by two brains,” as Fredrickson writes in her book.

valentine

Oxytocin, the so-called love and cuddle hormone, facilitates these moments of shared intimacy and is part of the mammalian “calm-and-connect” system (as opposed to the more stressful “fight-or-flight” system that closes us off to others). The hormone, which is released in huge quantities during sex, and in lesser amounts during other moments of intimate connection, works by making people feel more trusting and open to connection. This is the hormone of attachment and bonding that spikes during micro-moments of love. Researchers have found, for instance, that when a parent acts affectionately with his or her infant—through micro-moments of love like making eye contact, smiling, hugging, and playing—oxytocin levels in both the parent and the child rise in sync.

The final player is the vagus nerve, which connects your brain to your heart and subtly but sophisticatedly allows you to meaningfully experience love. As Fredrickson explains in her book, “Your vagus nerve stimulates tiny facial muscles that better enable you to make eye contact and synchronize your facial expressions with another person. It even adjusts the miniscule muscles of your middle ear so you can better track her voice against any background noise.”

The vagus nerve’s potential for love can actually be measured by examining a person’s heart rate in association with his breathing rate, what’s called “vagal tone.” Having a high vagal tone is good: People who have a high “vagal tone” can regulate their biological processes like their glucose levels better; they have more control over their emotions, behavior, and attention; they are socially adept and can kindle more positive connections with others; and, most importantly, they are more loving. In research from her lab, Fredrickson found that people with high vagal tone report more experiences of love in their days than those with a lower vagal tone.

Historically, vagal tone was considered stable from person to person. You either had a high one or you didn’t; you either had a high potential for love or you didn’t. Fredrickson’s recent research has debunked that notion.valentine's_pose

In a 2010 study from her lab, Fredrickson randomly assigned half of her participants to a “love” condition and half to a control condition. In the love condition, participants devoted about one hour of their weeks for several months to the ancient Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation. In loving-kindness meditation, you sit in silence for a period of time and cultivate feelings of tenderness, warmth, and compassion for another person by repeating a series of phrases to yourself wishing them love, peace, strength, and general well-being. Ultimately, the practice helps people step outside of themselves and become more aware of other people and their needs, desires, and struggles—something that can be difficult to do in our hyper individualistic culture.

Fredrickson measured the participants’ vagal tone before and after the intervention. The results were so powerful that she was invited to present them before the Dalai Lama himself in 2010. Fredrickson and her team found that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, people could significantly increase their vagal tone by self-generating love through loving-kindness meditation. Since vagal tone mediates social connections and bonds, people whose vagal tones increased were suddenly capable of experiencing more micro-moments of love in their days. Beyond that, their growing capacity to love more will translate into health benefits given that high vagal tone is associated with lowered risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Fredrickson likes to call love a nutrient. If you are getting enough of the nutrient, then the health benefits of love can dramatically alter your biochemistry in ways that perpetuate more micro-moments of love in your life, and which ultimately contribute to your health, well-being, and longevity.

Fredrickson’s ideas about love are not exactly the stuff of romantic comedies. Describing love as a “micro-moment of positivity resonance” seems like a buzz-kill. But if love now seems less glamorous and mysterious then you thought it was, then good. Part of Fredrickson’s project is to lower cultural expectations about love—expectations that are so misguidedly high today that they have inflated love into something that it isn’t, and into something that no sane person could actually experience.

Jonathan Haidt, another psychologist, calls these unrealistic expectations “the love myth” in his 2006 book The Happiness Hypothesis:

True love is passionate love that never fades; if you are in true love, you should marry that person; if love ends, you should leave that person because it was not true love; and if you can find the right person, you will have true love forever. You might not believe this myth yourself, particularly if you are older than thirty; but many young people in Western nations are raised on it, and it acts as an ideal that they unconsciously carry with them even if they scoff at it… But if true love is defined as eternal passion, it is biologically impossible.

Love 2.0 is, by contrast, far humbler. Fredrickson tells me, “I love the idea that it lowers the bar of love. If you don’t have a Valentine, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have love. It puts love much more in our reach everyday regardless of our relationship status.”

Lonely people who are looking for love are making a mistake if they are sitting around and waiting for love in the form of the “love myth” to take hold of them. If they instead sought out love in little moments of connection that we all experience many times a day, perhaps their loneliness would begin to subside.

Complete Article HERE!

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

I got email from a friend of mine that I haven’t had contact with for ages. We worked together on a couple projects in the past so I was delighted to hear from him. What follows is the exchange we had concerning his love interest. (All names have been changed.) I share all of this with you because I know other people, gay and straight, who have found themselves involved with someone they probably shouldn’t be involved with. Perhaps my friend’s dilemma will strike a chord with others in my audience.

Hello Dr. Dick
I think it’s been about 13 years now since we worked together. Ahhh the good ol’ days, and oh how I miss them.

I came across a recent post of yours on Google + and it reminded me I could use some of your professional guidance.hug in the butt

I don’t want to bias my story any or waste your time with unimportant details as to the nature of events. I would like you to hear (read) my situation word for word, exactly as it has been playing out.

I have about 50 pages of text messages compiled in PDF format over the past year or so between me and a guy I really like. I don’t want to walk away from him too soon, also don’t want to wait around for something that may never materialize (It’s been 3 years since we first started having sex).

Could I ask you to review these texts and give me your thoughts about it all?

Thanks for your time
Jackson
(PS this 40y.o. guy I like identifies as being STR8, he is a total redneck, he is married to a younger 27-year-old female, he loves to fuck me and be fucked by me, he loves to suck cock and get his sucked too, he is hard from minute he walks in my door…it is the best sex of my life no question about it. And that’s sayin’ something.)

Hey YOU!
So nice to hear from you after such a long time. Yeah, I hear ya about the good old days. Unlike you, however, I don’t really miss them.

biker I would be happy to help you. Are you sure you just want me to read what you’ve compiled? Or do you want to talk about it?

Without prejudicing my appraisal of your document, what you tell me is very indicative of a problem that I have seen over and over throughout the years. And it sounds like you’ve got it bad.

Anyhow, how do you want to proceed? We can set up a Skype call, if you’d like. I do a lot of remote counseling these days, and Skype makes that possible.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Great to hear back from you. A quick note on ‘the past’, I think what I miss the most is the social life I used to have. I had a lot of friends and always made time to see them.

The last 7 or so years have been very stressful but it’s paid off in the end. My home was foreclosed on; I fought hard, went to court many times and it took over two years but I did manage to save it. In 2010 (About a year after getting my home out of foreclosure) the state began a road construction project literally right outside my back door. It caused major damage to my 100-year-old home during the 3+ years the project went on. I am still fighting the state in an effort to resolve the issues that the construction caused.

Lol, I am not all negative like everything is all bad, or I never get a break from the weird stuff, it’s just been very unusual for me to have such a string of bad luck.hot

So back to Kevin & I. Would it be all right if you just read one short recent conversation, and then you tell me if you feel you could help? I imagine it will only take a couple minutes. Basically we are at a point where we get along amazing well in person, sex is incredible, & he loves everything the way it is. (We see each other for sex, nothing more). I, on the other hand, want to hang out sometime besides sex. This text exchange comes after not seeing or talking to him in about 10 days, which is pretty common.

Let me know Dr. :)

[Attached to the above email was a lengthy document that contained the contained the transcription of this latest text exchange between Jackson and Kevin. I’ll spare you the gory details.]

There’s a lot goin’ on here…beside the fact that the last part reads like a porn script. 😉

Here’s what I see. I see two men who have a “hook” in one another. One is happy on the hook the other is tortured on the hook.

Kevin, despite, or even because, of the hot sex you guys are having, is at a crossroads. If things continue as they are going, he will have to make adjustments to his life and have to make some very painful admissions about who he is at least to himself. He doesn’t sound even remotely ready for that. And even if he wanted to make this life-altering decision, he is probably ill equipped to do so. I’m guessing that he has been running from facing his true identity for decades.

Jean CocteauYou, on the other hand, know exactly what you want and how to get it. For you falling in love with this guy and living happily ever after would be as easy as falling off a log. You’re in love and you know how to handle yourself when love happens. We both know this is not your first time at the rodeo.

It’s like you’re dating a Martian. He only knows how to be a Martian. Despite, or even because, you appeal to him to stop being what he is (straight) and be this other thing with you (gay), he is petrified. And he may actually hate the very thing that you love about him.

Another thing that is really obvious is that Kevin’s sex with you is shame-based, not affection-based. He probably does get off on the hot monkey sex you guys have together, but he’s also probably crippled with guilt and shame afterward.

Stop and look over the document you sent me. Choose any one of those pages and count the words that you typed and then count the words that he typed. I’m sure that you will immediately see that you overwhelm him. You bare your soul; you write paragraphs of self-disclosure. He responds in monosyllables. I’m pretty sure he can barely stand the barrage. He’s trapped between what he wants and what he will allow himself to have and it is sheer torture.

Despite the fact that is wants, maybe even desperately wants, what you have to offer, and not just the sex, he can’t allow himself to have it. It would shake his world to its foundation. And since he can have the hot sex without the emotional attachment, he’s getting everything he (thinks) he wants. You, on the other hand, are living a life of non-to-quiet desperation. You’re at heaven’s door, but he won’t cross the threshold with you.

If I had to guess, I’d say there’s no future beyond the wham-bam-thank-you-sir part bumpin’ you’re already getting. And I also speculate that this arrangement has a half-life. I’d be willing to guess that ya’ll are already past the mid-point. Your dissatisfaction will grow and begin to manifest itself in the way you treat him. There will be an ultimatum. Then there will be an end. With a little luck it will end well, but there is also a big chance that it will end very poorly indeed. Violence is not unheard of in situations like this and I think you know this already.redneck

In his defense, I don’t think Kevin is holding out on you. He probably would if he could. But he simply can’t. And if I had to guess, he’s not ever gonna turn this around. You said he’s in his 40’s, right? That’s a lot of life lived falsely, no? I’d be willing to wager that you aren’t the first man he’s fooled around with over the years and I don’t think you’ll be the last. He’s gotta have his fix even if it compromises his perception of himself.

I don’t envy you this conundrum, my friend. You are in anguish; I hear that. This is not a happy place for you and all I can say is, I hope you don’t give up any more ground.

Let me know if you want to talk about this at some point. No need to walk through this on your own if you don’t want to.

Good luck.

That gave me chills… Its like you were here the whole time. You identified every detail exactly as I have been living it.

One part in particular, Kevin said pretty much word for word as you did. He said, “I’m not holding out on you. I would if I could, but I simply can’t.” I got to admit I don’t understand.

Tuesday I sent him this text:
“Why is this normal social shit so awkward in your mind? All I want to do is hang out sometime. Let me repeat, I want to do something other than hookup one time. That’s it, if you don’t like it I won’t ask again.

I know you like the other shit more, I likely do as well. But is it that big of a deal to just hang out like regular dudes as well?

I’m not asking for anything else whatsoever no emotional connection or expectations of any kind.”

redneck buttHis reply:
“I can’t. I’m sorry.”

His response blows my mind; it makes no sense. Sounds like an adult telling a child NO! I don’t have to explain, no means NO!

I think the truth is he just doesn’t WANT to do anything, even though he surely could. Ughhhh anyway.

I want to talk more with you about this Richard. I’ll hit you up later about the Skype thing. Thanks for being a sounding board for me.

Wow, that is interesting. Poor guy!

Again, in Kevin’s defense, he does have a wife. Maybe he thinks if he keeps his sex with you on the down low it’s not really infidelity. You know, guys doin’ guy things together. An emotional attachment to you would blow that delusion out of the water. It’s like being between a rock and a hard place. He can’t win for losing.

Anyhow, thanks for entrusting your woes with me. I look forward to connecting with you on Skype in the near future. All the best till then.

The Lady Is A Tramp

Name: Paul
Gender: Male
Age: 32
Location: Seattle
I recently discovered that my GF has been cheating on me. She wants me to forgive her but it’s been really hard. Just dealing with the fact that it happened is overwhelming. It feels like I could never forgive her. I don’t know if there’s a solution or not. I know I still love her but the truth is I feel dirty being around her. It also makes me feel stupid for putting up with this and letting it happen in the first place. I feel like a total sap. I’d love any advice you could give me.

Before we turn to chastising your vixen girlfriend for her behavior, let me make a quick observation about you, Paul. You sure are a ball of contradictions, aren’t you, darlin’? How can you say that you love a person who makes you feel dirty and stupid? Simply put, you are deceiving yourself about one or the other of these emotions. And pardon me, but there’s no way that what you describe here can be love. An obsession, heart sick, wounded pride, sour grapes…absolutely. Love…ahhh, not so much! So stop saying that you love this woman, Paul, it’s just adding to the confusion.

your cheatin' heart

Here’s a tip for us all. Let’s, each of us, promise, right here and now, to save the “L” word for those feelings that are a little less desperate and debilitating, OK? Because if we don’t reserve the “L” word for feelings that are uplifting and life-affirming then we will bandy it about, like Paul here.  Let’s try not to over-use the term  to describe any and all our fixations. If what we are experiencing tears us down instead of building us up, then it ain’t love no how, no way. Period!

Ok Paul, I ’m gonna try not read too much into your brief statement, but there appears to be some important information here that we should consider. When you say your girlfriend…“is been cheating,” that suggests to me that her indiscretion may have been ongoing. Because you could have said…“she cheated on me,” which would imply a one-time thing.

And what an interesting word choice “cheat” is in this context. This makes fidelity sound like some kind of sport, or that you own something of another person. I don’t think fidelity is sport, nor do I think it is always a genital issue. Lots of couples are faithful to one another even though they have open relationships and/or multiple sex partners. But I digress.

Since you can’t supply me with more of the gory details, Paul, I’m gonna go with the first option. I’m gonna assume you’re telling me that your GF has been doin’ you wrong and it’s not a simple…“Whoops, I don’t know what came over me. One minute I was like all normal, and the next there I was with my dress over my head and some guy, other than you honey, was bangin’ me like there was no tomorrow”…sorta thing, OK?

Since I don’t know how deep or exclusive your relationship with your girlfriend is or was supposed to be, I can hardly advise you on what you ought to do next. I can, however, point out that a secret ongoing affair suggests the trouble with your relationship runs pretty deep. Maybe your girlfriend has you pegged as a sap, and she knows that you will tolerate her indiscretions. Which in turn, gives her permission to do carry on in whatever manner she might like. Maybe she doesn’t think that your relationship with her is all that substantial in the first place. Who knows!

Hey, I don’t suppose you have a cuckold fetish, do you?  Imagine the fun you could have with that.  But again, I digress.

If you’re not a total sap, and you’re serious about reigning in your wayward GF, you’d better come up with a clear, unambiguous message about what you will and will not tolerate in the future. Until you do that there’s no point in even imagining there might be a future.

If, on the other hand, the two of you did agree to live in an exclusive relationship, and she’s still taking her business elsewhere, then I suggest the bond between you is pretty busted. Is there something salvageable here? Your guess is as good as mine. What is perfectly clear is that both you and your girlfriend need to step back and take a sober look at yourselves. There is a reason for her behavior, just like there’s a reason for your response. To get to the bottom of all of this both of you will need to invest a good deal of time and energy, most likely with a professional therapist, and hope that the bank of goodwill between you, if indeed there is a bank of goodwill between you, is enough to carry the day.  However, if I had to guess from the tone in your message, I’d say there was precious little goodwill left. If so, why not be a man about it. Just call it quits and move on. No recriminations necessary.

Good Luck

Down To Clown

Name: Daniel
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Location: Chicago
One of my good friends and I had sex. This would not be so strange if it weren’t for the fact that he was both identifying as straight AND homophobic. Even stranger, he initiated everything from the kissing to the blowjobs, and I have to say, he was damn good at keeping teeth out of the equation. But he won’t date me, and even after the second time we had sex, he refuses because I’m too good a friend and that he doesn’t see me like that. He claims not to be attracted to me, and I think that’s bull. Nobody held a gun to his head and said, “Have gay sex now!” Even worse, he wants to bang one of our mutual friends who happens to be female, so his good friend comment is worth shit. I’m for the most part over him, but it still feels like a slap in the face. Any advice?

crazier than yourselfWhat we have here, Daniel, is a dude with a huge rift between his sexual practices and his self-perception; between his secret eroticism and what he thinks others know about him. Needless to say this is a very dangerous psychological dilemma for him or anyone like him. It’s no wonder he identifies as homophobic, pup, because indeed he is. At least he knows himself that well.

If you haven’t discovered this already, lots of homophobes indulge in the very thing that disgusts them. That’s why is so easy to see through all the bluster that these conflicted individuals make. You see, it’s like a smoke screen. They spew a lot of hate in an effort to disguise their lust. It’s one of those; “me thinks you doth protest too much” sorta deals.don't mind straight people

You also rightly point out the falsehood of the whole “too good a friend” argument that he uses to avoid dating you. As you probably can guess his hesitation to “date” you has absolutely nothing to do with friendship. He loathes himself for what he finds inside himself. And while he may dabble in the very thing he hates in private; he sure as hell doesn’t want to parade his shame around by publicly dating you — an out and, I assume, proud gay man. Right?

Oh, and that, “for the most part, I’m over him” statement is, I assume you know, gay-speak for “still carrying a big old messy torch for the fucked up monkey.”

peek-a-booFinally this incident oughta feel like a slap in the face. Ya know why? Because it was a slap in the face, darling. And you know what slaps in the face are supposed to do for us? That’s right, they’re supposed to wake us the fuck up. And they’re supposed to sting like hell afterward. This painful aftermath is intended to ward us away from getting to close to that particular stimulus ever again. Think of it like baby learning to avoid the stove after burning his had touching a hot burner.

So, ditch this dude, pup. If ya don’t, you can look forward to a whole lot more slaps in the face.

Good luck

My First Love

It’s Pride Month! So we’ll be spending a little time each week hearing the thoughts and concerns of the LGBT community.

Name: Jaymie
Gender: Male
Age: 16
Location:
Hi, my name is Jaymie. I am a 16-year-old guy. I have a best friend (Jared) also 16, who I have been in love with for 3 years now. I know, you probably think, “he’s too young to fall in love”. Well I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s the only thing I’ve ever been so sure of in my life.

Anyways, I am bisexual. He knows that. I told him about 4 months ago that I was in love with him and he told me he already knew and that he was ok with it. A few years ago, we made out one night when we were kind of drunk and that scared him. He recently told me that he used to have feelings for me, but he got rid of them because “that’s not the kind of person he is”. I’m guessing by that he means that he couldn’t do it because he is not “gay”. He’s had a girlfriend now and they’ve been together for about 10 months and he’s supposedly in love with her. Even though there relationship is shit and they are always fighting.

We’ve always been really flirty with each other (cuddling, tickling, spooning, touching each others penis’ etc.) but all that has kind of gone down hill because of his parents catching us spooning and giving him SO much shit about it. Now we just cuddle once in a while.

I have a couple of questions, and you seem like a smart man. 1. What should I do about him? Should I give up on him? I cry all the time about it because I feel he’s the only one for me that I will ever love this much. 2. I know this might be a little weird, but when we were sleeping next to each other, I always stick my hands down his pants and play with his penis. Sometimes for fun, sometimes I jack him off while I jack off (I know, so I’m a little obsessed) he never wakes up though. He ALWAYS gets a boner when I do it but never moves and stays “asleep”. Can he get a boner from me touching him while he’s sleeping? Or does this mean that he’s faking it and knows I am doing it? If you could answer me that would be great. It’s really important.

You know what? You’re right; I’m a smart man. Smart enough to recognize that you too are pretty damn smart yourself. This is so curious to me. I know men more than twice your age who, in comparison to you, are absolutely clueless about who they are and what they desire. You, on the other hand, are very precocious. And that, my friend, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have extraordinary clarity about yourself and what makes you tick. On the other hand, being as advanced as you are, you leave your age peers in the dust, so to speak. The young man you mention, Jared, he is nowhere near as confident as you with regard to who he is and what he wants. That’s not unusual. In fact, as I suggest, that’s par for the course for a young man his age. You are the one who is unusual. And I’m not talking about your sexual preferences, just your emotional maturity.

I’m receiving an ever-increasing number of messages from young people, just like you, who are in the throws of adolescent anxiety. Everything seems topsy-turvy in their life including their sexual awakenings. These young people’s hormones are raging and they don’t know how to direct them.

You, Jaymie, say you love your friend. You suspect that I will disregard the whole idea as preposterous, because of your age. On the contrary, I take what you say at face value. I know for certain that young people have the capacity to feel as deeply and as passionately about things as older people. What may be lacking in younger people is a frame of reference — a means of tempering their unruly passions — because that come only by way of life experience. I hasten to add that a good number of us older folks don’t have the ability rule our passion very well either, even though we have a shit-load of life experience. This is truly unfortunate, because our lack of insight makes for some pretty messy lives and seriously diminishes the number of good role models of living healthy emotional lives. Perhaps if you get the hang of this while in your teens, Jaymie, you’ll be much better situated as an adult.

I note that you say you cry all the time. You claim you know your friend is the only guy for you and this causes this emotional distress. Here’s where I believe the whole life experience thing could help temper your passions. But since this is your first time out the gate, let me make some predictions. I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that this guy, as pivotal as he is to you today, is not the only man for you. In fact, I’ll wager that by the time you finish college, you’ll barely remember this fellow’s name. I’d also be willing to bet that most of your tears are tears of frustration, because the young man in question is unwilling, or more likely unable, to return your affections as you think he should. And unrequited love stings like the dickens. But I think you already know that part.

I have another prediction for you. You will have several of these unrequited love experiences in your life. I can predict this with absolute certainty, because lots of people just like you have traveled this same path. So if you allow me to offer you some advice, it would be to try to go with the flow. Take the joys with the pain and try not to fly apart in the process. Destiny has lots of things in store for you. And Jared is just the first of many of his kind.

As you make your way in life, particularly as a bisexual or gay man, you will discover a sad fact. Many other men with the same longings as you, some of which will be the objects of your affections, will not be able to acknowledge or reciprocate your feelings. This is because they are unable or unwilling to acknowledge their own feelings. The world is full of these kinds of men. So prepare to meet more than your share.

Jared’s pretending to be asleep while you fondle and jerk him off, is his way of avoiding both you and himself. Trust me, if he didn’t want you to do what you are doing, he’d sure enough let you know in no uncertain terms. Exclusively straight boys and men are like that. They’re like totally not down with the gay sex thing. Again, I’d wager he’s accepting your sexual advances and even enjoying them as much as he allows him himself to. What he can’t or won’t do is be upfront about it with you.

No doubt he’s scared shitless about all of this. On the one hand he’s being intensely pleasured by you, another guy. On the other he must be crippled with guilt and shame, aware of how inappropriate this is in terms of his parents value system, his religious upbringing and a good portion of our sex negative culture. I’d also be willing to bet that despite the fact that you are touching him out of your deep feelings for him, your touch only adds to his internal conflict and anxiety.

Most guys who receive the sexual attentions of another dude, but fake being absent through out, like feigning sleep or being drunk, can avoid some of the internal conflict by telling themselves that they are not like the guy doling out the sexual touch. That is in fact a delusion, but many a man gets through his life on delusion alone. You will discover this for yourself as your life unfolds before you.

Finally, to your question should you quit Jared? I think that you and I both know that despite your deep feelings for him, he’s not gonna wake up from one of your sexually charged naps and proclaim his love for you…at least not anytime soon. In fact, if you continue along the path, you risk ruining any chance that he could come to an awakening and acceptance of his sexuality on his own. Constantly pressuring him and mooning over him is counterproductive. And I also foresee a major confrontation erupting soon. Here’s a tip: some even ostensibly straight guys can groove on the whole sex thing with another dude, but they choke on the emotional attachment that often comes with the proffered blowjob.

So it’s pretty much your call, Jaymie. Will you continue to assail Jared for your own selfish pleasure knowing as you do that he can’t or won’t respond as you want him to? Or do you back off and allow him the time and space he needs to come to awareness on his own?

I think we both know what the mature choice is, don’t we? If you love this guy as much as you say, you’re gonna have to cool your jets and give him room to mature at his own pace. Remember he has some ways to go to catch up with you.

Good luck

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