Intimacy is defined as the feeling of mutual vulnerability and closeness in personal relationships.
In this episode of Gay Men Going Deeper, we’re talking about our unique experiences with intimacy as gay men.
We’ll answer questions such as:
- What does intimacy mean to you?
- What was an intimate experience you’ve had that was not sexual?
- What unique challenges do gay men face when it comes to intimacy?
- How can you nurture intimacy in any kind of relationship?
By the end of this episode, you’ll have a more in-depth understanding of the different types of intimacy and what it takes to enjoy deeper and more authentic connections with friends and loved ones.
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Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of gay men going deeper. This is a podcast series where we talk about personal development, mental health, and sexuality. Your host today are Matt, Calan and myself, Michael. Collectively We have over 40 years of experience in the personal development world and if this is your first time listening to us, we want to welcome you to the show.
We each have our own coaching practice and in this podcast, we’re giving away all of our best stuff. So today, guys, we’re going to be talking about intimacy. In fact, this is the theme of the month in the gay men’s brotherhood Facebook group, which has just surpassed 5,000 members. So if you’re not there yet, go join us there.
We’ll be talking about intimacy all month, but in this episode, we’re going to be answering these questions. What does intimacy mean to you? What was it intimate experience you’ve had that was not sexual? What unique challenges do gay men face when it comes to intimacy. And finally, we’ll share some tips on how you can nurture intimacy in any kind of relationship.
So not just romantic relationships for those of you out there who want to join us in the GMB zooms, we want to hear from you on this topic. So we’ll continue this discussion on intimacy on Thursday, April 28th, where we will be hosting a zoom hangout. This is where we give you guys a chance to share your own thoughts on the topics we discuss here in the podcast.
So if you want to join us, go to the gay men’s brotherhood, private Facebook group, check out the events tab and RSVP. We’ve got two time spots for you to choose from reminder that this podcast and YouTube channel is listener and viewer supported. So if you enjoy these episodes and you want to show us some love, please head over to our patron page,
where you can support the show. You can also subscribe to get early access. If you listen to us on apple pie, apple podcasts. So you can listen to the episodes before they are released on Thursdays. The link to all of this is in the show notes. And lastly, the gay men going deeper membership is open. We will be launching our new course all about relationships this month.
So please go join us there. That’s included for anyone who is a member. So if you’re not a member yet, go join us. If you are a member, you got access already. If you’ve been waiting to join in on more groups, zooms, and just go deeper with your personal development, this membership is the right fit for you. So please join us head over to gate men going deeper.com
to register. And as always, before we jump into today’s topic, I want to read a review from one of our podcasts listeners. This is from Fairway’s Billy who left us this review on apple podcasts. All right. He says, I can’t. Thank you guys enough. I finally found your podcast after trying so many other gay centered podcasts that just weren’t giving me what I needed.
You’re all open and honest about your emotions. And that is felt when listening to you. Every show I listened to has me nodding along that yes, I did that exact same thing, or I have thought that exact same thing, hearing it come out of another guy’s mouth helps me understand another part of me and helps me normalize another part of me. And it’s truly freeing.
I can’t wait for you to tackle some really gritty stuff like depression and suicidal ideation. I’ll throw my hat in the ring to openly talk about that and definitely join the gay men’s brotherhood on Facebook for more support. So thank you, fairway civilly for those kind words and those suggestions. Okay guys, without further ado, let’s jump into today’s topics. So today’s topic is intimacy.
And in our last episode that we did together, we talked about secure relationships, and that was really about the rhythm that exists in all relationships between closeness and separation or separateness. So today we’re going to focus on the closeness aspect of that. And intimacy does mean a lot of different things to different people. So I want to offer, I want to start us off by offering a,
an umbrella definition that I’m going to use. And then of course, we’re gonna hear from you guys what intimacy means to you. So as a vague umbrella term, I like to call it mutual vulnerability and closeness and personal relationships, mutual vulnerability and closeness and personal relationships. Notice, I did not say romantic relationships and that’s on purpose because intimacy is while it’s often talked about in the context of romantic relationships that could also exist in platonic friendships or even family relationships as well.
And even within romantic relationships, there are many ways to achieve this closeness or intimacy, but as gay men, we tend to put all of our eggs in the sex basket, but we’ll, we’ll definitely get to that a bit later. So I, when I run workshops for it to see for gay men. And so I want to offer a little slice of that for the beginning of this.
And so I want to briefly share with everyone out there, the four different types of intimacy, and I think that’ll help illustrate what true intimacy is about to kind of give us some, some tangible ideas and concepts here. So the first one I want to talk about is experiential. This is about bonding while sharing new experiences. It’s about working together as a team towards a common goal.
This is about sharing experiences that take you both out of your comfort zone. So some examples that I love or going on vacation together, that somewhere new, that you both have never been to and experiencing that together, maybe a road trip, it could be embarking on a home DIY project together, or even taking up a new hobby together. So pushes you both out of your comfort zone.
And the bonding happens as you’re both doing this new thing together, that creates a sense of intimacy. The second one is emotional intimacy, and this is all about feeling safe and comfortable sharing your deepest emotions. It’s feeling understood at a, at a deep emotional level. It requires a view to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough, to share these thoughts and feelings and knowing with your partner or whoever that you’re doing it with,
that it is safe to do so because we naturally all have that urge to want to protect ourselves. So it’s feeling that urge coming against it and say, no, I’m going to actually let you in a little bit here. So some examples of what could develop this emotional intimacy would be sitting down with a friend or loved one and sharing your deepest fears,
sharing some of your big fears, opening up about a past trauma with somebody is a great way to, to experience that emotional intimacy or even just sharing your hopes and dreams for the future. I think so many of us don’t want to share our hopes and dreams for the future. We have, we have some kind of anxiety about sharing what we want for ourselves,
but that can be a great way to develop that emotional intimacy. The third one I have here is intellectual intimacy. And I described this as a meeting of the minds. This is about brainstorming and problem solving together. It could include healthy debate while of course respecting each other’s views. It could be exchanging ideas and opinions while allowing room for that disagreement. So some examples of how you can develop intellectual intimacy is doing an escape room date night.
And if anyone has done an escape room, you know, that it does require a lot of mental agility. It could be a fun way to develop, to develop that another one would be starting a joint business or joint venture, a side hustle together. You know, it really brings out the meeting of the minds. As I said, another one easily,
one could be a game night or even just watching a movie or reading a book, and then having a critique on that and discussing the elements of the book or the cinematography of the movie and so on, and really having a critic about what that could be. And finally, the fourth one that we all know and love. So, so much is physical intimacy.
And this is about giving and receiving physical touch and affection. Of course, sex is included in here, but you could do this without sex as well. You can have physical intimacy with clothes on or clothes off. And I think it’s important that the physical intimacy there’s no expectation or obligation for it to turn into sex, but of course it can, but ultimately it’s just about experiencing each other’s physical presence.
So some ways you can do that without having sex would be cuddling, holding hands, a nice massage discovering each other’s erogenous zones, or one of my favorites is just putting on your favorite song and dancing with somebody to your favorite song. All right. So these are the four types of intimacy. And as you can see, a lot of these examples actually cover multiple types of come see,
and that’s fine. It’s not really a only one. I just want to use these as a way to illustrate for you guys that there’s different ways of developing intimacy. Ultimately, though, true to me, true intimacy requires just a few things being present with the other person, whoever that may be this, this willingness to be present, a willingness to be yourself,
share yourself willingness to be vulnerable. And of course the sense of trust and safety trust the safety come up in all four of those. In fact, all of these things come up on all four of those. So that’s how I want to start us off with what intimacy means to me. Now, I definitely want to hear from Matt and Kellen on this.
So let’s pass it off to you, Matt, what does intimacy mean to you? Well, first of all, your, your monologue was beautiful. It was, it was perfect. It stimulated a lot of good stuff. I absolutely love this topic in the last few years, I have discovered being demisexual and I’m not quite sure if I’ve been demisexual my whole life and I have just repressed it,
or if this is new, because I’ve had a few spiritual experiences that have kind of opened up different parts of me. And I feel like I’ve, I’ve evolved in a different way sexually. So my I’m very much more Demi sexual and Safeco sexual. So those are the areas of intimacy that I really gravitate towards. So I love intellectual stimulation. I love emotional connection and don’t get me wrong.
I love physical connection as well, but there has to be though at the foundation of, of intellectual and emotional for me to enjoy the physical. So for me, it’s all interconnected and I’ve had to do a ton of work to get to a place where I felt safe to share these parts of me. Right. You know, and I think that’s one of the ways I would define intimacy is,
is sharing ourselves with somebody else and allowing them to see us. I can’t remember where I heard this. It was a long time ago, probably when I was in university, but intimacy being described as into me. You see? So we’re allowing somebody to see us in our most authentic and vulnerable ways. And for me, when I allow somebody to see me,
first of all, it’s very scary. It’s a very scary thing to fully allow yourself to be seen because we have so many mechanisms built around us to prevent other people from seeing our vulnerabilities and our insecurities and these sorts of things. But as we learn to feel more safe and share these parts of ourselves, I think intimacy is such a beautiful thing and,
and mutual auth or mutual intimacy when, when you, somebody is willing to go to that same level that you’re willing to go to, it’s just a really beautiful experience. So yeah, I would, I would say probably really important elements to intimacy for me would be sharing in a vulnerable, in a vulnerable way. Our fears, insecurities needs and desires.
I think those are all very vulnerable things to share with, with somebody else. And when we do, and we allow ourselves to be seen in that energy, I think it’s just really, really beautiful. So it’s very, and then, you know, it bleeds into all the work that we do, which is, you know, authenticity, right?
Everything’s about authenticity and showing up in the most authentic, authentic version of yourself and intimacy is a really beautiful container to practice sharing your most authentic self. So Yeah. What about for you Collin? Oh, well I think for me, the first thing I think of when I think of intimacy is safety and that’s what it really just all comes down to,
for me, it’s like, do I feel safe with this person in this moment? And then that, you know, safety basically parallels intimacy because that safety can then allow the intimacy to come through. And those little moments in those things, because it’s like you just said, when you let, let somebody else see you, you know, that’s very vulnerable.
And when I feel safe, I’m I feel safe enough to be vulnerable. And so then that allows the other person to then have that opportunity to see in. And a lot of my intimacy moments is probably come more from friends. I mean, of course I’ve had intimacy with, you know, ex partners and all that. But a lot of the intimate things that I think about are,
you know, moments with friends that I’ve really cherished that I’ve, you know, we, we got to that point in our lives where we’re just so aware of the other person and who the other person is and how, you know, we communicate that it allows all the levels of like, you know, the frivolous funny, stupid shit up here. And then you can go all the way into the deeper stuff of like,
you know, talking about breast cancer and fears and like sicknesses and illnesses and, and parents and like parents getting older and like how we’re going to, you know, so there’s so many different levels, but for me, the first and foremost comes from that safety feeling and, and sorry, everybody. Yeah. I was a bit of a cold getting to that space of safety with another person.
And that takes time. That really takes time. Especially with me. I just, I really liked to take my time with it. I’m in no rush with it. And if we’re talking romantic relationships, I find a lot of people, I don’t know, people really do this weird thing where they’re like, oh, I can’t date my friends, especially in the gay community.
People are like, no, I can’t date my friends. And I’m like, but so many of your friends are obsessed with you. Like so many, there’s so many relationships that I’m like, but you’re clearly both in love with each other. Like this makes no sense. Like that is what intimacy is about. That is what a relationship is about.
But it’s like people put you into the category and it’s like, okay, if you’re my friend, that’s it. If you’re my lover, that’s it. And I’m only going to meet people on dating apps and then we’re going to go straight into the intimacy of like sexuality and all these things. And it’s like the, where do you give time to develop the friendship part?
Like, I don’t know, maybe I’m weird, but I really like if I really liked somebody, I like to develop an intimacy with no sex for at least a couple of months. And people might think I’m crazy, but like, if I’m really into you, the sex and all the other physical intimacy stuff is going to come, but what might get skipped over and what might,
you know, the sex cover up is all the friendship intimacy that upfront safety stuff. And so for me, it’s really important over the first couple of months to develop that and develop that safety and that security and that friendship first, because I know that that’s just going to make all the other stuff better. And I think people kind of like separate them where it’s like,
they kind of need to be brought together anyways. Yeah. So for me, safety really is intimacy or like an opening door to intimacy. That’s what I’ll say about that. Yeah. And that makes, makes perfect sense because if we want to feel, if you want to feel vulnerable, we want to feel safe to do so. Right. We don’t just want to go in there.
Guns blazing, opening up ourselves to people where we don’t feel safe. So it’s that, it’s that dance between, okay. I feel a little safe. I’m going to open up a little bit of myself and doing so solely. I think patience is a really good point as well. This stuff doesn’t just happen like overnight, you can’t just decide like,
okay, that’s it Don. I’m going to, you know, open up my deepest fears to anyone out there. It really does take time. And that also is work trust construct. Okay. One of the things that we wanted to do in this podcast is underlined the fact that intimacy can be sexual. Of course, there’s sexual intimacy. We all know and love that one,
but it doesn’t have to be. So I think some examples of, of what that looks like could help illustrate what intimacy can look like outside of sex. So the next question I want to look at here is what was an intimate experience you’ve had, that was not sexual and let’s do the same order. And although last this time, so let’s start off with,
with you Matt. Okay. I feel, I feel inclined to share a bit of a story actually, to kind of lead into this. I, I created a video at the beginning of this whole thing. The whole Damon’s brother had thing called gay men, sex addiction, the lack of true meaning, full connection in the community. And I had an opportunity about a month ago to watch it over again.
I hadn’t watched it since I re recorded it and like, oh my God, so much stuff came up, like talk about like, just like there was a lot of projection in that video. There was a lot of me requesting things from the community that I had yet to integrate in myself and that’s where it was coming from. So I’ve learned a lot in the last two years since recording that video on how,
what was happening was I was, I was really, really wanting intimacy and connection in the gay community. And I wasn’t Abe, I didn’t didn’t know this at the time, but I actually wasn’t, I wasn’t feeling worthy enough to receive it. So I kept attracting men who weren’t able to have intimacy with me to highlight to me my lack of desire,
to be able to receive intimacy from somebody else. And in the last few months I’ve been really peeling back all these layers and I’ve been feeling very vulnerable in all my interactions with my family, with my friends. Like I almost kind of feel like I’m naked. Like I don’t have defenses and I’m kind of like really raw, you know? And it’s,
it’s, it’s it’s. And I think what it is is it’s a new level of vulnerability that I’m accessing within myself, because as I’m doing a lot of this healing work, I’m pulling back some of the conditioning, some of the defense mechanisms, my ego is becoming more flexible. And I do feel like I’m being seen. And at times I don’t want to be seen.
And, but I don’t have the defenses to not allow myself to be seen. So I’m kind of in this really raw energy in the last few months. So anyways, I wanted to, I want it to, to proceed what I’m about to share with that, because I think it’s important to note. So I have a friend, her name is Vanessa and she’s one of my,
my, one of my best friends. And we hang out and I was having one of those days where I was feeling just extremely raw. And I was even having trouble making eye contact. That’s how intense it was for me to just look in somebody’s eyes. And I felt like, oh my God, like she can see into my soul. You know what I mean?
And it was really raw, but we ended up doing a psilocybin ceremony, which for me, it like exacerbates my rawness, my sensitivities, everything. And so throughout the experience, we were like laying on the floor on yoga mats. And we were just like, you know, just moving through our journey, you know what I mean? And then towards the end,
as things kind of calmed down a little bit, we, we just kind of settled into this really beautiful energy where we were just, you know, she was in this really beautiful energy of curiosity, just wanting to learn about me, wanting to know about me. And it, it just felt really, really good to have somebody take a genuine interest in me,
but she was asking me some really deep questions and it gave me an opportunity to like go into, you know, my childhood, my past relationships. And it gave me an opportunity to really just share these deeper parts of, of myself. And so that was the, probably the most recent exchange where it was a really, really intense and yeah. And what came from that,
like, I always think intimacy is just this really beautiful container that allows us to kind of really feel so connected to somebody, you know, and I felt really connected to her. So, and then since then, we’ve just our, our relationship kind of leveled up. And like we’re now in this like other level of vulnerability where we can share with each other.
So I think intimacy is also cumulative, like as a set calendar, the more trust and safety you access within the container, the more you’re able to kind of level up and go to these deeper places. And I’m learning about myself that I’ve yet to even touch the tip of the iceberg of what intimacy means and like what I can, how I can share myself in these deep ways and,
and hold space for somebody to share themselves in a really deep way. Right. Because that’s, that’s hard to, it’s hard to hold space for somebody to be, to share all of their stuff too, because there could be some countertransference, there can be some of that energy of like, oh, like I see myself in them. So yeah, it’s,
it’s, it’s all a journey. It’s all cumulative for me. And I’m learning and growing through practicing vulnerability and intimacy. Yeah. What about for you callin? I love that. Yeah. I’m probably going to take two. I’m going to show two sides here. The first one is Michael, you were talking about like traveling with people and you know,
it can be intimate and all that. And one of the, not one, but many of the intimate experiences I’ve had is one of my, well with two of my best friends at Elmont, and we’ve all traveled, I’ve traveled with both of them and enjoyed it. But with Ann, we’ve traveled extensively to many different places together. And we’ve also been best friends since I lived in London in 2007.
And so I’ve gotten to know her on so many different levels of like when we were in our early twenties and we were just a fucking hot mess going out, partying all night, getting wasted, waking up at some person’s house, being like, where are we? Like we’ve done the whole gambit and then, you know, becoming adults and, you know,
talking about those deeper conversations of like our parents are getting older and breast cancer scares and all of these other things. So it’s, you know, we’ve built that spectrum together and traveling with an, it was, it’s just now that we have such a level of intimacy and such a level of connection together, like we could go anywhere and do anything and be put in any situation.
And we just know what the other one needs. Like, she knows what I need in a situation. And I know what she needs in a situation. Like, you know, if we’re, we did a road trip all around the U S not all around the U S all around Western us, we did like California. And then the grand canyon,
Las Vegas, like all that kind of stuff. And we just had such a blast on that trip and we had so much fun and it was like, okay, she’s from the UK. So if we’re driving in a country, that’s on the other side, she’ll drive. But if we’re driving in a country, that’s on our side, I drive.
So it’s like those little things where we just know who’s going to be doing what and who does what? And like, there were still moments where like we got drunk and we just lay in bed or lay in one of each other’s beds and just like cuddle and talk about shit. And there’s no, there’s no sexual in this too. It’s just being open and honest and connecting with each other.
And just like, it’s just so nice to just feel that with somebody and just be like, ah, like, of course we’ve had our fair share of fights and whatever, but we also have developed that deep respect and care and love for each other that it’s like, she’s going to be in my life forever. And so that’s kind of on the platonic side of having intimate relationship or having an intimate experience with somebody who it’s not sexual.
And then I do want to say this about my second ex, because my second ex and I were very much an intellectual, like sapiosexual relationship. Like we were together for a few months, but we only, I think we only had sex like twice and we only fooled around like maybe two or three times. And like that months, months, months,
long span. And so, but I never felt unfulfilled. I mean, of course there could be more, but like the intellectual intimacy of the things that we could talk about together was so riveting for me that it was like almost feeding other aspects of that, that I’m like, okay, like it was a balance in a different way. You know,
some relationships focus a lot more on the sexual intimacy, others, there’s more of an intellectual intimacy to it. And, you know, whatever balance works for you works for you. And that was one that had a mix of the, you know, sexual in there, but it was mostly like internet intellectually base for that intimacy. And I really enjoyed that aspect of just having somebody to like,
have those deeper conversations with who was just like really there. And like, there was some sexual illness and there was like kissing and cuddling and all that. So it was more of a romantic base, but it wasn’t the focus. It wasn’t like the center stage of at all. So, so yeah, so those are my two stories of, you know,
experiences that aren’t exactly sexual. What about you, Michael? Thank you guys for sharing that. I love those examples of how they both used, you know, relationships that were platonic even with like women, right. Which we can have intimacy with all different kinds of people, including straight women, gay women, family members, whoever that may be one came to me actually,
while you were speaking their talent. We, so we all have the CPO sexual side of us. So I very much, and, you know, love that mental stimulation quite a bit, turns me on to see someone in their element turns me on to see that. Sorry to interrupt you. Should we explain what sapiosexual is to people who are listening?
Sure. Yeah. That’s a good way. Like She said this, Yeah. So very quickly save your sexuality would be people who are aroused, physically turned on by mental stimulation of any kind. And that could look like a lot of different things. So I guess that’s what it talks about. So for, for me, how that comes up, this is,
I just, I just realized this while you were talking Helen, I have intimacy with both of you when we get together, not just during this podcast, which has no live for everyone to hear, but even when we get together at our other meetings, you know, we spend a lot of time together, the three of us, and, you know,
there is this shared intimacy that I get from us when we’re creating together, when we’re having, you know, discussions about where we want to take the podcast and what we want to do. And I think I just wanted to take that moment to acknowledge both of you for being part of my intimacy journey, because I didn’t realize it until you just said it.
So thank you. My other example that I was going to use is with respect to my relationship with my partner. So first of all, the examples that I used at the beginning were things that I’ve, I’ve enjoyed and had in my own life. But a specific example recently would be just a few weeks ago when we were in Mexico. And we both got COVID just before we were going to leave.
So having to navigate getting COVID and next scoping, stuck using air quotes. Cause it wasn’t that bad being stuck in Mexico, but that’s not normally a situation where you would consider it to be intimate, but I’ll explain why that was. So we were having to scramble to put our heads together, having to problem, solve, having to do some teamwork,
which is always a turn on again, being that, in that thing, that mental stimulation, okay, how do we get through this? What do we do? What’s our plan. We could figure this out. You know, we’re both a little scared, you know, well, my gosh, we have COVID, we’re not in our home country.
What are we going to do? Feeling vulnerable. So there’s all those notices, all the check marks that, right? Sharing that with each other, like what happens if we got really sick or we’re going to take care of each other, all these things are going through there and again, trusting each other and knowing that we’re not alone through this, like I got your back,
you got my back, we’re going to make it, and we’re going to do this. We’re going to figure this out together. You know, what’s our plan. So, so start out with insurance. And I dealt with getting the accommodations. We did this divide and conquer thing. We spent a couple hours of the day just getting all the shit done.
So on paper, that’s not something you would expect would be intimacy or intimacy building. But again, it has all the trademark aspects of intimacy, vulnerability, trusting each other, being present with each other, working together as a team. So that’s the other example that I wanted to share, even though it was a challenging situation and not very fun, looking back,
it did bring us closer together. And you know, again, it’ll be one of those memories. It’s like, Hey, remember that time we were in Mexico when we got COVID like, it’s going to be a story that, that kind of defines our relationship, whether we stayed together or not, we’re always going to have that. Okay. So that’s my that’s mine and I’m really happy.
We all shared different aspects and different types of relationships. So now I want to talk about why looking at it from the gay lens specifically, why intimacy is so hard specifically or so challenging for gay men. So the question is what unique challenges do gay men face when it comes to developing intimacy? And let’s go with the same order. We’ll start off with you,
Matt. Yeah. Well, thinking back to that video, right? That I created, I’m trying to think of this, the mind space that I was at. I really, really, there was a lot of dissonance. Okay. I really, really wanted intimacy, but it scared the shit out of me. Right. I didn’t allow myself to have it.
I didn’t feel worthy of it. I felt shame. And I had unresolved attachment trauma. So my shame told me there’s something wrong with me. So why on earth would I want to share all my vulnerable parts of somebody when I have an internal sense of lack of worthiness and that there’s something wrong with me. And I think to generalize it now into the gay community,
I think a lot of men, a lot of gay men share that story, right? They have unresolved shame from growing up and feeling different and, and you know, all the social conditioning we get around being gay. And then a lot of us have attachment, right? Because we grew up in family systems that reject us for being gay. And I think that those two things really impact our ability as gay men to connect with one another because we,
what that, what, what shame does and even attachment trauma, it, it tells us to reject ourselves, right? If the world around us is rejecting us, then we’re going to reject ourselves, right? Because there must be something wrong with us. If the world around us, doesn’t, it doesn’t accept us. And then we develop a strong,
deep seated fear of rejection because when we are rejecting ourselves, whether on a conscious level or an unconscious level, and then we experience rejection outside of us, it stimulates all of that wounding. Right? So a lot of us don’t want to take risks. We don’t want to put ourselves out there because we’re so terrified of rejection, because then it makes us have to sit with all the parts of us that we’ve,
you know, our shadow self, our ego, or all these parts of us stuff that we haven’t integrated. So I do think that that’s a big, big part of this. And you know, you look at what those two things are going to create, right? Shame on attachment trauma, well dysregulation in the nervous system and to build off of Callan’s point about safety,
when we have trauma and our nervous system is holding that trauma. The, the messaging is the world around me, isn’t safe, right? So we got shame. There’s something wrong with me. We have trauma the world around me. Isn’t safe blend those two things together. And it really, really makes it challenging to put ourselves out there, be vulnerable,
talk about our fears or insecurities, be authentic. All of these things that are so essential for intimacy, they’re really developmentally delayed in gay men in my, in my opinion. And I speak from personal experience, they were developmentally delayed in me, hence I’m 36 and I’m now learning how to have real intimacy. I thought I was having it before, but I actually wasn’t right.
At least not to the depths that I think are required in order for us to be fully seen. Right. I was very selective on the parts. I would allow people to see, in my opinion, that’s not true intimacy because you’re not fully letting go. You’re not being present. You’re not being authentic. So I think that’s, that’s probably the biggest thing for me.
So I wrote down here not feeling safe, to be authentic, not feeling safe to share emotions, I think is a huge part of this. And I think there’s this element too, in the gay community. And I’m noticing it a lot in dating is that gay men tend to not trust one another. There’s like this mistrust energy in the gay community that like,
you know, this person’s going to train me or this person’s talking behind my back. This is catty energy in the gay community. And I think it’s just a lot of us are in self protection mode. And we’re in that kind of, yeah, the survival mode of the nervous system, because we’ve experienced things in our lives that have told the world around us,
isn’t safe and we haven’t done that work yet. And I think that’s why we’re creating this. And then there’s other tons of other coaches out there that are doing the same work that we’re doing. I think it’s really beautiful. And for those of you, you know, cause I often hear people being like shame is one of those things that’s so elusive and it’s really hard to pinpoint your own shame.
It’s extremely hard to pinpoint your own shame because it’s one of the, the more shadow aspects of ourselves, the things we feel shame about. And it’s very difficult for us to become conscious of that. And that’s where I think our course the healing or shame course is really effective. We basically walk you through a six week journey of learning how to understand your shame.
Right? Cause that the biggest thing was shame healing work, because you need to understand the shame wounds that you have first, and then you’ll be able to move forward and start to work with these parts of yourself that you’ve learned to that, that you’ve told yourself that there’s something wrong with you about that. So it’s, and I know, I know I totally,
I feel like I just totally shut all over the gay community and I, but I do want to say that we, we are set up for success if we are willing to do this work because we come from a culture where we are different, where we are, where we don’t fit into the, the traditional heteronormative world, we don’t conform to those things.
So we are set up to have that energy of like being authentic and, you know, moving towards intimacy and vulnerability and these things. But we need to do some of that healing work first, before we can access it. So Very, very, very well said. A lot of that, that it resonated with the shame. And I think I’m going to be piggybacking on what you said and what I’m going to talk about in the unique challenges that men face when it comes to intimacy.
First, I’m going to start off with, you know, women experience, shame in a multitude of different ways and you know, Bernie brown and one of her great Ted talks explained that men experience shame in one major way, which is don’t be vulnerable. You know, don’t, you know, don’t be vulnerable, be strong. And like, that’s it,
you can’t show your vulnerability. And so being just men that’s one of our big things is like, don’t be that. And then taking it to the gay side of things. I think that because of the gay community and because we had to hide for so long and because it’s just the way the world grew with homosexuality, you know, we weren’t allowed to get married.
We weren’t allowed to develop those intimate relationships because the world said no, but what we did do is we got really good at the sex part because that’s what we could have, you know? So it’s like, well, fuck you, I’m going to have this because you don’t really have to commit a lot of time or effort and energy to that. And so I’m gonna,
you know, it’s going to sound like I’m shitting on the cake community a little bit as well, but like the generational indoctrination into the focus of sex and that that’s the connection tool. It kind of allowed us to kind of sidestep the intimacy part and go straight to the sex part. But I’ve had partners who’ve like literally been like, you’re too intense.
Like, and it’s not, it’s not what they are meaning or it’s not what I think that they’re meaning. I think that they’re what they’re trying to convey is like, I’m not emotionally available because I’ve locked that part away. If me and you are, you are emotionally available and you were present during the sexual encounter. And the intimacy level is too intense for me because I don’t know how to go there.
And so that’s what I’ve experienced before. I’ve had somebody literally leave being like, I can’t do, like, this is too much for me. Like this is too intense for me. And they feel like, then, like I got to go because they weren’t capable of that intimacy because they didn’t have the tools and they didn’t get to that point, but they did,
you know, what the generational thing was, was like, I can engage with sex, that’s it. And they compartmentalize it all. Sorry. Excuse me. And so, because of like how the gay community grew up, you know, we didn’t have gay marriage until even still recently, and even still across the globe, we can’t get married in so many different countries.
So we still have this heavy shame that’s weighing on top of us. And then we developed sex really good. And also just men in general, that’s a lot of the defaults. And then we’re also told don’t be vulnerable as men. So it’s no wonder that we have all this challenges when it comes to intimacy because the world basically for generations has told us not to,
it’s been like BMN, be strong. Don’t do all of these things. That’s a woman’s job, even though straight men marry women. And like part of being in that relationship is supposed to be intimacy and then add gay on top of that, where it’s like, okay, now add in all the shame of, you’re not supposed to be intimate with another man.
And that that’s a bad thing and that all of it you can now focus on is sex. So it just kind of exacerbated that whole experience. And I think that we’re still doing a lot of the work to undo that generational indoctrination of like only do these sex things or only focus on these things because we’re comfortable with it because we understand it because we’ve been doing it for so long.
So that’s what we can talk about. And that’s what we can joke about. And now the work we’re doing is kind of bringing this other stuff into the conversation and people like, I don’t know how to fucking talk about this. I don’t know how to dive into this shit. This shit’s too heavy. This shit is like this. Like this conversation that we’re having is like me being present in intimacy.
And that guy on the other side, who was like, I need to leave because I can’t do this with you because you’re too present. That’s what a lot of the gay community is doing is because they’re like, I don’t know how to fucking do this. This is too much. And so they shut down and they close off because it’s safety, it’s protection.
So I think that there’s a lot of unique challenges that come with this for gay men. That is just it’s, it’s no fault of our own. It’s just been generally generationally handed down to us. But now I think our generations and the younger generations are starting to do the work to say, fuck, that something needs to change. So well said,
both of you. Oh my gosh, hi. I want to second what you both said. I want to underline that piggyback off at everything. Very, very good stuff. I think. Yeah, I completely agree. And there, there was a lot there. I want to piggyback then off of what calendars ended up with talking about how kind of rely on sex.
So I have this Venn diagram. I’d actually don’t know if I shared it on the GMB Instagram, if not, then I’m going to do that. But there’s so there’s think of sex and intimacy as two circles, right? There’s sex there’s intimacy. And then there’s that overlap if you put the Venn diagram together and that overlap is sexual intimacy, but you can’t have intimacy without sex.
Like we just talked about and you can also have sex without intimacy, which Connelly kind of briefly talked about there. And there’s both. So I think one of the challenges when it comes to intimacy for gay men is exactly that putting all of those, having this need for intimacy and connection and doing it only through the means of sex. And there’s a lot of reasons why that is Colin talked about a bunch of them right now.
So I think part of it is knowing what you truly want. Like, do you just want the sex part? Like, do you just want to have that that’s X fine. Great. Go do it fine. But if you’re really looking for intimacy connection, the things we’re talking about here, safety, vulnerability, all that good stuff, then you could fill that need in other ways.
And I think a lot of men don’t know that. I think that’s one of the, one of the key issues here. I like to use the analogy of, let’s say you want to have a healthy, healthy, physical body. So you decide to go to the gym. Cool, great job. But then you go to the gym and you just work on one machine or one exercise over and over and over.
You’re just constantly doing, let’s say a bicep curl. Okay. That’s great. You’re going to have one really good bicep and you’re going to be really good at it, but you’re not necessarily going to meet that need of physical, physical, overall physical health. So it’s the same thing. If we have this overall need for connection and intimacy, and we’re only looking for through sex and I am projecting my own experience here,
because this was my story for a long time. Yeah. You’re going to be really good at finding the sex, but you’re not going to feel it’s going to, if you’re actually needing a void, if you’re actually using that to fill a void that cannot be met through sex, it’s you’re not going to get very far. So I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen as a leader is looking for ways we can meet this need for connection and intimacy eight,
knowing that that’s what I truly want. And then B how do I do that? How do I do that without relying on my body? How do I do that without relying on the things that come very easy to us now, I’m not saying I want to make it clear. I’m not saying it’s not good to have sex. I absolutely advocate for that too.
But I’m saying that no, what you truly want and then aligning your actions to that. So if you do want connection and deep intimacy, then you have to learn to use all of the equipment at the gym. Going back to my analogy, not just the one by several machine that might include and that’s uncomfortable, right? Cause we don’t necessarily know how to use these other things.
I’m like, what does this machine do? Is it feels awkward. It’s weird. I’m not that good at it. Right? And in the, you know, intimacy sense, that includes things like learning, how to be you learning how to just be authentic. It sounds so easy when we say it, but actually I think it’s really hard for a lot of people to do that.
It’s about learning vulnerability, letting those walls down, even just one, one little brick at a time, learning how to trust, having patience, taking time, like letting it take time, not being in any rush. And then of course communication skills. So I asked this question in my workshops in 90% of hands up, I say, how many men have a hard time being vulnerable?
Boop, hands go up. The next question is how many gay men here have trust issues? 90% of hands go up and therein lies the problem. We don’t want to be vulnerable. Or we have challenges with being vulnerable. We have challenges trusting. And therefore we fear the very thing that we want. We want intimacy yet. We fear the, the,
the things you need to, to get to at the intimacy, the vulnerability, all that good stuff, being me, letting myself be seen. All the things that you guys just talked about. I think for a lot of people, myself included, I feared that for a really long time. And I think that’s still an issue today that I see with a lot of gay men and we all do it.
We see that in the group. We see that in our membership, that’s very common, which is one of the reasons why we are working on this course from a releasing scores. Okay. So before we wrap up, we know we love to leave our audience with some helpful tips. So I want to hear from you guys, how can you nurture intimacy in any kind of relationships?
So this is whether it’s romantic, platonic family, anything at all. So give us your best tips guys. Matt, I’ll start with you. Hm. Well, in my personal opinion, you can’t have intimacy with someone else unless you have it with yourself. You’ve got to be willing to see yourself. You gotta be willing to be with yourself. And if we’re always escaping ourselves,
we’re, it’s going to be hard for us to have intimacy because we need to have a presence with self when you’d have presence with other. So I would say working on embodiment and, and presence are going to is going to be probably my number one tip because that’s like, that’s when you start to open yourself, right? You start to connect with that part of yourself,
downward into your body. And for those of you who haven’t seen the podcast that I did with CFU on embodiment and authenticity, watch that. Cause that’ll give you all the tips on how to access embodiment. I think nervous, nervous system co-regulation I think is a really great strategy. So that can look like, you know, sinking up your nervous systems,
breathing together, cuddling, hugging anything. That’s going to bring the nervous system into that settled energy so it can feel safe. And then it can start to feel, yeah. Feel safe to open up and be authentic for people who really struggle with intimacy. I find that like a S like something like side-by-side intimacy might be nice. And I tend to,
like, if I go on a first date with somebody, I don’t want deep intimacy on a first date for me, it’s just it’s it feels forced. So I always request to do something where I’m walking, let’s go for a tea, let’s grab something because I find some people open up easier when they’re side by side versus sitting across from you at a table,
it’s just easier for you to connect with people. So that’s a tip for people, mutual exchanges of vulnerability. I think, you know, having it be like a dance, right? Vulnerability, isn’t youth throwing everything on the table and then hoping they do later, right? Like it’s like you share a little tidbit, they share a tidbit. It’s just a,
it’s a cumulation. And it’s a dance that we do. So something that I really like is like a questions game, right? Where it’s like, you start off with like lighter questions and then you move your way up to more intimate questions and it’s they ask, and then you ask and they ask and you ask, cause then it’s a dance, right.
It’s moving back and forth and you’re exchanging. And you’re letting the nervous systems build together towards that precipice of like having that intimacy. And then I’m a huge fan of authentic relating as, as you guys know, so speak up about the apprehension and the anxiety, right. You need to, because if the nervous system doesn’t feel safe and you have anxiety and you’re chopping your mind and you’re like,
I don’t want to show this part of me. I’m scared. What if they reject me? And you’re playing out all that stuff. What happens when you externalize it? Is it melts away. It’s all energy. And when you’re encapsulated in your body, you stay stuck. Right. So talk about it. So you know what I’m feeling really vulnerable to share this,
right? Or I’m really nervous or I’m noticing my, my critical mind is coming in as I’m about to share, like externalize that stuff. And it’ll, it won’t have as firm of a hold on you. Those are my tips. What about your Calin? Well, you just said like all of them and they’re all so good. I’ll basically just kind of build off of it.
Cause it can come for me. It comes down to just building safety and creating safety. And there is not, there’s no way to fabricate that and make it happen quicker. Like basically you’re going to have to be patient and create it slowly over time. You can’t just like decide to do it and just start doing it. And you know, that’s like oversharing,
you’re going to have vulnerability, hangovers like that know that it has to be little by little step-by-step, I’m a firm believer at the 1% at a time kind of mentality. Like I don’t buy into this hustle culture. Like go, go, go build fast. All these kinds of things. I’m like one day at a time, 1% of the time it’s like me right now.
I’ve been doing one push-up every day for the past couple of months. And yeah, it’s just one pushup, like big whoop, but it’s compounding over time. So by the end of the year, I’ll have done 365 pushups that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Right. And so it’s the same with creating safety. You just gotta be patient, just do it little by little,
each day. And I know that like, I’ve, I’ve done some work around trauma and sometimes somebody who’s experienced trauma, isn’t capable of being vulnerable. They aren’t capable of building the intimacy. And so, you know, if you’re in that space where you really are incapable with doing it naturally with other people around you or people that you’ve kept in your life to do that,
go online and find, you know, a counselor or a therapist, or, you know, there’s lots of outreach programs or, you know, there’s, if you’re younger there’s programs like the Trevor project and stuff like that, where they give you access to people to talk to where you can start building these trusting relationships and you can start taking the baby steps of like,
okay, here’s a trusted professional person that I can talk to and start building these connections, start building this intimacy because then that will become a learned habit. And you’ll be able to take that, experience it and put it into other relationships and continue to build because that’s what it really is going to take. It’s going to take time to build these relationships and,
you know, compound over time and there’s going to be, slip-ups, there’s going to be fall backs, but the more you can build the good energy, the good experiences, the more you’ll be able to look at those other ones and say, okay, that was just a one-off. That was just a one experience. That’s not the default for most humans where a lot of people who are in that trauma mode are like,
oh no, the default is the terrible things. So that’s it. What about you, Michael? Yeah, you guys nailed them all. I had a list here, but I think Matt covered all of them. So I go back and listen to those, adding to that, I would say, yeah, the safety that you mentioned, Kaelin, some things they can do,
like in a practical sense, if you’re dating somebody or, or even otherwise is just planning an activity together. This, this really works for me. I like that experiential intimacy, but planning an activity together that is new for both of you, that just gets you out of your routine and gets you out of your environment just helps stimulate, like just move,
like moving into something different is helps to stimulate intimacy. And I know it doesn’t seem that way, but it really does from a new experience, point of view, other things I had were sparking a discussion about something meaningful and interesting. So, you know, for me, I, I love a good high quality discussion topics. So this is not gossiping or talking about other people,
blah, blah, blah. But it’s really talking about like, what are your hopes and dreams for the future? You know, philosophical discussions for me are wonderful. And you can have that with anyone, family member, friend, firm partner. So just controlling the dialogue and asking thoughtful questions. My, you talked about that. I love a good,
powerful question. And, you know, for someone who asks that to me, like again, as a psychosexual, my Dick responds in a wonderful way and someone asked a good question. And, and another one that you had mentioned is acknowledged that feeling of being nervous or scared, this is hard for a lot of people, really hard for a lot of people.
So acknowledge it. Yeah. Like, Hey, you know what? I feel, I feel a little bit nervous talking about this, or I feel unsure, mentioning this or saying this and letting that be there really takes the power away from it. And then from a physical perspective, I, I love to advocate for touching each other without needing it to turn into anything,
just let for a partner, like let, let each other touch each other and just enjoy it. Just say, I just want to touch. You just want to hold you. I love the one I mentioned about dancing. I think that’s so much fun. Just dancing with somebody, even your friends, right? You go to a bar and dance with your friends so much fun.
Yeah. So those are some of my tips as well. Any last words guys, on this topic? I have one thing I want to say, because I think there a lot of gay men out there that are amazing at this, they are really good at intimacy. And I want to give a shout out to those people because they’ve done their work.
And I want to share a few tips for these people to, you know, if you’re a high level person that you can have intimacy and you’re good at it. Something like eye gazing is very powerful. If you want to kind of see into somebody’s soul and kind of connect with that, tantra is really good. And being in silence together, nothing’s nothing being said,
let your soul speak through energy. And I think those are really, really good for people who are, are in the advanced level of intimacy and vulnerability. So Yeah, a hundred percent on the, on that silence one. Yeah, for sure. I love that. I think for me, that’s how I know that I truly uncomfortable with somebody as if they’re in my home and I can just be there without having to like,
fill the, fill the air with anything. Just let, let myself be me. Let them be them and our own spaces, like in a shared space, but like in our own mental space, it’s such a beautiful thing. Again, it doesn’t seem like it, but it is. Yeah. Okay. Calan, how about you? Any last words?
No, I’m just saying, I love like, just reading a book next to each other, like each reading a book and just like having to legs intertwined and like, just like that’s it, nothing needs to be set in their own worlds and just be connected while doing it. Yeah. That’s nice. Beautiful. I can’t believe it took us this long to do an entire episode about intimacy.
Right? All right. Well, we’ll be doing another episode. Not exactly on this, but a couple of weeks. So look out for that. I want to thank all the viewers and listeners for tuning in today. If you like what you heard today, please leave us a review and give us five stars. We do read our reviews at the beginning of the episodes.
Also make sure you subscribe and click on the bell to get notified. Each time we release a new gay men going deeper episode you can check out the show notes to learn how you can become a patron of the show. And again, we want to hear from you guys on this topic of intimacy. So join us in the game. His brother had Facebook community,
April 28th. We will be hosting the zoom and we’ll be talking all about this. Normally we asking you guys the very same questions. Finally, make sure you join the gay men, going deeper membership, where you do have access to all of our coaching videos, the healing, your shame course that we talked about. And then our new course about relationships for a little cover this topic of intimacy in greater detail.
And of course, thank you again to my lovely co-hosts ever so wise, Calan and Matt, thank you for coming today and sharing your wisdom Calan. I know you’re not feeling well, so kudos to you for showing up. Okay guys. Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time.