Ask Jake

Man wonders: I have a hard time relating to other gay men. Am I developing a condition?

Queerty reader recently wrote to us about concerns he had regarding his inability to make meaningful friendships and connections with other gay men. We’ve asked our expert psychotherapist, Jake Myers, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of Gay Therapy Space, to step in with some advice.

Hi Jake,

I am lucky to have a great group of friends. They are very fun, low-key, and love me 100% for who I am. But this has caused me some heartache and confusion because… they are all straight.

About five years ago I got out of very abusive and unhealthy relationship with a man. When we broke up, to get away from him, I said he could keep our mutual friends. Starting then, I developed a really great bond with some of my straight bro-friends. We work out, go to games, go to the club. My problem is, since then, my pool of available gay men has diminished significantly.

Lately I have no outlets for meeting men I am interested in. I never have anyone to go to bars with me, and if I am dating someone, they are always uncomfortable hanging with a bunch of straight dudes and get scared away.

Recently I feel like I don’t even relate to gay men. No judgment, but there is so much prejudice gay men have towards each other, and I am not willing to deal with it. It’s like, say “hi” back, be polite, smile a bit. I don’t want to have to put on some persona just to snag me a mate.

Am I forming some condition? Do I need to start writing a dating positivity journal? Do I need new friends?

-Lost & Confused

Jake says…

Dear Lost & Confused,

There is nothing wrong with having straight friends. Friends are friends, no matter what, and if you enjoy each other and share interests and activities, there is no harm, especially when they love you unconditionally. What seems to be more of a concern is the difficulty in finding or meeting other gay guys for either friendships or dating. While having straight friends is fine, there’s a shared experience that we have as gay men that only we can fully understand, and it’s nice to have someone who gets that.

That said, I’m also hearing that not only is it difficult to meet gay friends or dates, but you also may have an aversion to it, or find other gay men hard to relate to. You mentioned the prejudice you feel gay men have towards one another, and a sort of attitude of aloofness that some adopt. You would think that gay men would be even more warm and welcoming of each other. Unfortunately, that isn’t always true.

Many gay men can be hypersensitive to rejection due to growing up in a culture that hasn’t historically been willing to accept them. Often a sort of shell forms in order to project oneself from rejection. This can take the form of things like judgment of other gay guys, and being standoffish in order to “reject before they can reject me.” The best thing to do in this situation is to try not to emulate the gay men you don’t relate to. 

In your letter you also said “No judgment”, but I wonder if you’re doing the very thing that you feel other gay men do to you? Try to identify your judgments of others, and even of yourself, and don’t let them get in your way. Fostering a more accepting and open view can help you move closer to the relationships you say you want. Try to move towards others, treating them as you would want them to treat you. You can practice this by asking someone out on a date, joining a gay sports league or group, or even at the bars. You may find that when you approach someone in an open way, they may actually soften some and open up to you in return.

No, I don’t believe you’re forming a “condition.” There’s nothing wrong with the group of friends that you have, but you simply may need to practice being more open and accepting yourself, so that others can get the chance to be as well. A “dating positivity journal” could always be helpful if you can chronicle the ways in which you are practicing being open, non-judgmental, and taking risks when it comes to meeting new people.

Jake Myers is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Queerty’s relationship columnist. He’s also the founder of Gay Therapy Space, the first online therapy platform for and by the LGBTQ community. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Boston College and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with a specialization in LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy.
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