Group Name: LJ Jocks
Current Standings Week 3
Shadow Of My Life
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14th September 2014
College Football Pick'em.......Current Standings After Week 3
Group Name: LJ Jocks
Current Standings Week 3
Gay Relationships: Dating? So Who Are You?
Dating is a multi-stage process: first we get to know someone, and then we explore what it’s like being intimate with them. The problem is, everyone wants to skip the first step and get on with the second. It’s a mistake to gloss over the getting-to-know-you process just because "your new guy" is a good catch. :
One of the best ways to get to know the person you’re dating is to help him get to know you. To know the other, you must be known yourself. You get valuable information from how he responds to you and you begin the dance of intimacy together. But letting someone get to know you implies that you know something about yourself in the first place. Do you? If you’re looking for employment, you’ve probably heard (and dreaded!) the universal question, “Tell me about yourself.” If your date asked you a question like that, what would you tell him?
What do you value? Do you have a sense of what’s most important to you in life? For some people it’s having a good time right now. For others, now isn’t as important as later – maybe even the afterlife! What about you? What is most important to you?
What makes you unique? What are your gifts? Maybe you’ve got a big heart. Maybe you’ve got the ability to rewire a house. The world would be boring if we were all the same. What do you bring to a relationship with someone?
What’s happened to you in your life? Each of us has had unique experiences in life. Think about some of the ones that you’ve had that have been unlike those of your friends. These experiences may be good or bad; both shape us.
A caution here. If you’ve had truly awful experiences in your life, you may feel like you are hiding a secret that no one else could bear. Keeping secrets makes it difficult for others to get to know us. Don’t be afraid of your individuality. Always remember that you are unique – just like everyone else is, too.
What do you friends say about you? Would they say that you are easy to get to know? Dependable? Fun to be around? Do they know about your passions and your daydreams, your hobbies and your eccentricities? Consider asking the people who know you best what they think. It might be interesting to find out what five words they would use to describe you to someone meeting you for the first time.
What are you like when the little boy inside of you comes out to play? Relationships require us to act like adults most of the time – but not all of the time. In healthy relationships, the little kid in you gets to come out to play with the other guy’s little kid. Relationships where these boys are in charge all the time don’t last long, but if they don’t get out from time to time, the relationship will die of boredom. What do you do for fun? When do you just let yourself be silly?
If part of dating is getting to know someone, then an important part of getting ready for a relationship is getting to know yourself.
Quote of the Day
The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing."
- John Powell
13th September 2014
12th September 2014
10th September 2014
Enhancing Intimacy In Your Life - Part 3
The “Freak-Out” Checklist: In my training and work with gay men, I have found some common intimacy fears that can prevent us from experiencing the depths of fulfillment that love can offer. Take a look through this list of fears to determine if there may be anything getting in the way of your ability to be uninhibited and free with your lover.
Identifying your emotional blocks to intimacy is the first step toward freeing yourself from their grip. Add your own to the list:
Self-Analysis: As you can see, any one of the above intimacy fears can stifle you to the point that you’re not fully able to be “at one” with a partner because you’re holding yourself back. Fear may be too strong a word for some of the items---any hint of uneasiness or discomfort is indicative of an “issue” of some form.
In addition to these fears, it might be helpful to examine some of the contributing factors that led to the anxiety in the first place. Here are some questions to ponder to get you started in looking at how the difficulties with intimacy you may have could have developed.
·How did your parents show affection and intimacy when you were growing up?
·Any childhood wounds, abuse, or loss from the past that make relationships difficult?
·Any unresolved family-of-origin issues that create baggage for you?
·Are you unable to grieve and “let go” of the break-up of a prior relationship?
·How about internalized homophobia? Low self-esteem?
·Any negative experiences with other males growing up that left an imprint on you?
Whether you’re partnered or single, knowledge of your intimacy blocks and contributing factors can help armor you in defeating them so you can have the most ultimate relationship possible.
Become An Intimacy Champ: So you want to be a pro at this intimacy stuff and really super-charge your relationship and knock your partner’s socks off? While it won’t happen overnight, with persistent practice of the following tips, you’ll begin to see a positive evolution take place in your relationship with more connection and emotional intimacy.
What You Can Do As An Individual:
Identify your triggers. How are your “freak-out” symptoms manifested and under what conditions?
Combat your male gender socialization script by becoming more proficient in emotional intelligence and expression.
Develop positive self-esteem and confidence through taking risks to further your personal growth and work aggressively at defeating any internalized homophobia.
Identify any negative, limiting beliefs you may have about relationships, masculinity, and being gay and counter them with new, affirming messages. Read up on cognitive restructuring techniques for help with this.
Gain closure on unfinished business from the past. Your past doesn’t have to keep you stuck, no matter how traumatic it may have been. You have the power to shape a new destiny.
What You Can Do As A Couple:
Make your relationship the number one priority in your lives. Devote lots of quality time together and protect your partnership from competing outside sources.
Cultivate a hot sex life together, filled with creativity and passion.
Develop a shared vision and goals for the future together as a couple.
Give each other frequent “positive strokes,” appreciate each other for who you are, share your feelings, take responsibility for your issues, and practice the art of forgiveness.
Through a relationship with another man who is just as motivated as you to nurture a positive connection on all levels, you too can experience one of the most powerful and healing forces life has to offer. It’ll mean confronting some of your anxieties directly and being receptive to encountering a wide range of emotions and experiences. It’s worth it! After all, the road to gay self-acceptance and happiness has been hard enough to then rob yourself of one of life’s most precious gifts; you shouldn’t have to sacrifice what’s rightfully yours to claim and enjoy. You deserve love! Cheers to your intimacy quest!
9th September 2014
"Intimacy Freak-Out - Growing Up Gay" - Part 2 of 3
( continued from yesterday )
As such, most of us grew up feeling different, inadequate, defective, and anchored with shame. We may still even feel that way now. Internalized homophobia settled in and the idea of having a genuinely intimate relationship with another man became very triggering of that shame that was instilled.
Nonetheless, many of us eventually ventured out to explore our sexualities with other men and sex became a way to establish a sense of connection. Navigating into relationships, some men who were successfully able to negotiate the coming-out process were able to replace sexual conquest as a means for connection with men with needs for more relational depth and substance (emotional intimacy).
For others not quite comfortable with the idea of emotional closeness with another man, fleeting and superficial sexual involvements may remain the objective to meet their needs and keep themselves safe from getting in “too deep” (and there’s nothing wrong with that considering that one is honest with himself and his partner and that he genuinely is not looking for more than just sex as opposed to it being a defense against getting close). While still others desire true intimacy in their relationships, yet remain blocked by their fears. These are just a few of the many scenarios that exist.
Socialization as males in our society teaches us that we are expected to be strong, independent, self-reliant, and emotionally self-sufficient---at all costs. These traits don’t always mesh so well in intimate relationships which require vulnerability, exposure, and some degree of dependency.
In addition to overcoming the traditional male gender role programming that limits true intimacy potential in relationships, gay men have the added burden of conquering internalized homophobia and its psychological consequences in achieving the capacity for intimacy in their lives. An unfair and challenging de-programming process it is, but that’s why we gay men are so resilient with our experiences in dealing with adversity!
As one can see, man-to-man relationships are fertile grounds for potential problems with intimacy. Below are two interesting quotes from the book “Couple Therapy With Gay Men” by Greenan & Tunnell that are relevant to our discussion here:
“As males, gay men have been exposed to the same gender acculturation that all males receive: Men should be strong and not show their feelings. But, for straight men, male-female relationships are one of the few culturally sanctioned contexts where a man might reveal the full range of his feelings without censure or shame.
"In heterosexual romantic relationships it is permissible for a man to let down his guard, show his feelings, and not be judged weak. This is not to say that considerable numbers of straight men do not find intimacy difficult, since adult emotional intimacy violates their earlier years of male gender acculturation. But part of gender acculturation is the male’s expectation that females will be more tolerant, accepting, and encouraging of his shortcomings and self-doubts, given their supposedly stronger interest in mutuality and connection.” (p. 38).
“Intimacy with another man can provoke a man to feel unmasculine and worthless, whereas distance may render him lonely and depressed. For such men, sexual orientation is experienced as a perpetual double bind, permitting no comfortable solution and causing havoc in their couple relationships.” (p.27).
Put two men together who have been conditioned with the same gender role socialization and expectations, coupled with potential sexual-identity struggles, and that lays the foundation for the possibility in their relationship for excessive competition, pursuer-distancer “dances”, and discomfort with tenderness and emotional abandon with each other.
Whether you’re a single or coupled gay man, how comfortable are you with the idea of “letting yourself go” completely with another man? If there’s the slightest hint of uneasiness, you could be missing out on one of the greatest feelings and experiences life has to offer.
What’s holding you back? What consequences do you essentially suffer as a result? Do you derive any potential benefits or gains out of having these blocks? Are you willing to do the hard work and to take the risks involved in facing your fears and resistance?
This article has covered a lot of theory surrounding intimacy as it pertains to love relationships between men. In tomorrow's part 3 of this article series, the “how-to’s” of enhancing intimacy will be addressed. Common fears of intimacy will be examined and practical suggestions for strengthening your comfort with intimacy and bridging more connection with your partner will be offered.
In the interim, explore the role that intimacy plays in your relationships. How much “intimacy freak-out” exists in your life? Do some journaling surrounding the areas of childhood experiences, internalized homophobia, male gender role socialization, emotional blocks, and self-esteem and their association with your development as a gay man and your current capacity for intimacy.
Finally, recognize the gifts that true intimacy can bring to your life and begin thinking about ways you might be able to “get out of your own way” to invite more intimacy into your world if you choose.
8th September 2014
"Intimacy Freak-Out" - Part 1 of 3
“Intimacy freak-out.” You’ve seen it before. You’ve probably encountered it during your dating escapades. It happens when things seem to be going famously with that special guy you’ve been dating, and when things start getting just a little bit serious, BAM! He disappears, never to be heard from again, for no apparent reason.
Or those men who will have sex with you, but they refuse to kiss you during foreplay and then they’re immediately clothed and out the door faster than a speeding bullet after they’ve had their climax.
Or perhaps you’re in a long-term relationship and your partner isn’t a real big fan of cuddling or showing displays of affection. He seems distant, aloof, “cut off” from you at times. Or maybe you, yourself, struggle with detachment from your lover or have been told by him that you’re “too needy and clingy.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of “intimacy issues!” Intimacy deficits are a phenomenon and common cause or symptom of relationship problems in both gay and straight partnerships. It’s been called a “man thing”, but gay men can be particularly vulnerable to “intimacy freak-out”. Part 1 of this three -part article series will address the reasons behind this and help you gain a better understanding of the dynamics involved in intimacy in gay relationships.
What is Intimacy Freak-Out?
To understand this concept, an understanding of what constitutes intimacy is needed. Most people immediately think of sex when the word “intimacy” is used, but that’s not what we’re talking about here; that’s just one component.
Intimacy is the ability to be emotionally close to another man, being able to be who you truly are with no facades or defenses, to be uninhibited and express yourself in a reciprocal way with your partner so both of you feel safe and open to share and communicate about anything and everything. There’s no need to feel guarded or defensive with each other because you’ve established a foundation of security and unconditional love and acceptance in your relationship. You know you are loved for who you are.
Intimacy is not just about “togetherness” though. Healthy intimacy requires a balance of “we” and “me”; there’s a flexibility between the amount of closeness and space that exists between you and your lover.
You both exercise good boundaries and respect each other’s limits, knowing that it’s important to have your own individual identity as well as your identity as a couple. It’s like a dance the two of you do together, flowing back and forth between merging and separating. But you don’t stay stuck in one for too long and you both develop a rhythm and synchronicity, communicating your needs and feelings all the while and being attuned to your partner’s.
“Mature intimacy requires both a capacity to be independent and separate and a capacity to be close to the other emotionally and to acknowledge needs for attachment, connectedness, and dependency” (Greenan & Tunnell, 2003). Intimacy is the ultimate validation of your relationship.
Sounds good, huh? Not an easy feat to accomplish! “Intimacy freak-out” is a term coined by Al Crowell, MS in his book “I’d Rather Be Married” (1995) and basically describes this process as being a defense we put up to cope with disappointment and ambivalence in our relationships. He goes on to say that we all have different thresholds for tolerating intimacy, and when we don’t match up with our partner’s level, fear and “freak-out” occurs to protect ourselves from perceived vulnerability by putting up psychological walls and barriers to closeness.
For example, sometimes when couples fight, engage in negative “drama”, or retreat from each other, these types of conflicts could actually be signs of intimacy overload and the behaviors are used as a way to ward off this feeling. So the next time you and your boyfriend have a knock-down, drag-out argument, don’t be so quick to assume that you’re incompatible…it could be an example of differences in your abilities to tolerate intimacy!
The key is to learn how not to act-out these feelings and to achieve a better balance with your partner through assertive communication, productive conflict resolution, nurturing each other, gaining more self-awareness about your particular triggers and issues surrounding intimacy, and other strategies. More to come on these!
( Continued Tomorrow - Part 2 of 3 - Intimacy Freak-Out - Growing Up Gay )
Quote of the Day
7th September 2014
How Do You Know When You've Met the "Right Guy?"
How do you know when you’ve met the “right one?” Our romantic culture promotes the idea that each of us has a Mr. or Ms. Right out there – the one perfect match who will light our fire and laugh at our jokes and generally be our just right soulmate. In old musical comedies, an upbeat musical score and starry-eyed looks might accompany the appearance of Mr. Right from the object of his affection.
While romantic mythology might make us think that we’ll surely know when the right one comes along, life is full of choices we must make with incomplete information. Sure, someone “even better” might come along…. eventually. But holding out for perfection in a mate is a great strategy for living life alone.
If you find yourself in this situation, try to look at whether you are compromising on qualities that seem like essential elements for you. Do you share compatible life goals, for instance? What about values? If one of you lives to party until dawn and the other hasn’t even been to a party since the first Bush administration, the two of you are either looking at significant compromises or a lifetime of arguments and disappointments.
Are you friends? Do the two of you work well together, helping each other solve life’s problems? Does he help you feel more stable, more secure?
Think about what’s important to you. Are you getting your core needs met? If not, are the two of you able and willing to make changes so that you can get what you want?
Should you share your feelings of uncertainty with your boyfriend? Be careful. Telling the truth is important, but so is being considerate of your partner’s feelings. It is one thing to acknowledge that neither of you is perfect, but quite another to muse aloud about the possibility of someone better coming along. If your speaking gives him the feeling you are about to leave the relationship, you may be being unfair to him and to yourself. Talking through your feelings with a friend or a counselor is preferable to hurting someone you care about.
6th September 2014