So, I've run across some images online of men being affectionate with one another, and it got me to thinking about man to man affection in my life. I am posting some of the photos I found, sticking to the vintage images.
Now, I was raised fairly formally. We were not an overly affectionate family. I mostly remember hugging Grandma or Granny when we saw them. Certainly the men did not hug other men. My Grandfather was a politician, and there was always an undercurrent of "what will people say" to our actions. I, of course, eventually rebelled against that. To this day (I'm 48) I still dye my hair purple and don't really care much what people think of me.
Now, one of the things I miss from my last relationship was the physical affection we shared. We were often affectionate, which included shirtless contact, without it leading to anything else. That was nice, and it's about the only thing I miss. It would be nice to find someone, who I like and care about, to share something similar with. The down side? All my local guy friends are heterosexual. And, for some reason, it feels almost impossible to ask for affection, where, if I wanted sex, I wouldn't hesitate. Because of my upbringing, the idea of sitting next to a friend with my arm around him or his around me feels... odd somehow. I hate that. I have experienced that, and it's nice to be able to share affection with someone, but there's that feeling too that it's somehow inappropriate.
I see images all the time of two (or more) men being affectionate, with about a third of those images involving shirtless contact. Okay, so if you're at the beach or the pool, not a biggie. But, at home, it feels inappropriate. Of course, since I'm 48 and male, society seems to make my desire for affection into something that makes me a perv. I'm isolated enough already without that being added into the mix. And I get it. If I say "hey, let's take off our shirts and be cuddly", it does sound like an attempt at low-key seduction. If I want sex and/or romance, I have no problem saying it.
With my depression issues, it's hard for me to reach out. It's hard to ask for help, or to say "I need/want this". I do hug friends hello and goodbye. Sometimes a friend's hand will linger for a moment or two on my shoulder or arm, and that's nice. I certainly don't want to be inappropriate with anyone, and I don't want anyone doing anything that makes them uncomfortable. I wish I felt more comfortable with saying "I need this" or "I want this". I never thought I needed affection very much until I was with my ex. Then, I realized that I was starved for it. That said, I'll get by.
Solutions? Well, I do need to get out more and meet some new people. Existing friends may not be the solutions, but maybe new friends are. I need to learn to speak up more. I'm certainly okay with a friend saying "no", and I respect No. If I lose a friend because I asked for affection, then maybe he wasn't really my friend to begin with. I know there are people out there who like me and care about me. I know I have friends. It often feels, with the exception of my best friend, all my other friends are online. The people I know locally, well... I reach out, ask someone to lunch or to hang out, get a "yeah, we should do that", and then nothing happens.
This was a deeply personal post. I was getting emotional as I wrote it, and I feel like I've left things unsaid. However, life goes on. I can say them in another post. Maybe I can lose some of the fears and hangups from my childhood and reach out more.