What Men Do have written a response to our Inner Life: Friends Without Benefits article run in CALMzine issue #5. You can read the original article HERE
The sad tale told by Sam Smith in the August CALMzine concerning his friendship with Tim is, I suspect, very typical of many which are initially formed at university.
For many guys in their late teens, their sexual preferences are slowly becoming clearer and, in the case of Sam’s friend Tim who turned out to be gay, the strains imposed on their growing friendship clearly became increasingly intolerable.
At the end of the article, at which point Sam describes the period with Tim as ‘the best relationship i’ve ever known’, he suggests that ‘perhaps love between men is more taboo than sex’.
As guys, we all have a dick and the XY chromosome, but that apart, we are each very different from one another. Hardly surprising, then, that every friendship is also different and knows it’s own rules.
As a result, writing about friendship inevitably becomes very general. The private cocoon in which two guys grow to love each other – there! I’ve had the balls to say the word! – is special to them. This includes any issues of morality which may apply, and which isn’t, of course, limited to their sexuality.
Before i add my two cents worth of opinion, may i be allowed to back up and raise a couple of personal hobby-horses, both of have a direct relevance to Sam, Tim and Love.
The first concerns our physical body, specifically the way we receive information. As Homo Sapiens, we have three areas of understanding: Thinking, via the head; Feeling, via the heart, and Sensing, via the guts. We don’t ‘think’ that there’s someone walking directly behind us, or that we’re being stared at. We ‘sense’ it. Our thinking only confirms this perceived knowledge by subsequent observation.
This physical separation of the different areas was highlighted by French mathematician, Blaise Pascal, in his famous observation that ‘the heart has it’s reasons, which reason knows nothing about’.
I’ve raised this issue of physicality because i can’t help wondering how much of Sam and Tim’s friendship was lived, like the majority of relationships between guys, exclusively in the head. No heightened Feeling, or Sensing awareness; just Thinking.
As for their physicality during the 7 years they lived together – forget any thoughts about sex; to what degree were they actually aware of each other’s body? Who had the bigger dick? The hairier arse? Or didn’t they dare sneak a peek?
Did either of them ever ease away the tensions of the day by giving each other a foot massage or (my favourite) a scalp massage? As for one of them getting their nob massaged, let’s not think about it…
On the other hand, maybe we should – and this brings me to my second hobby-horse.
As guys of the ‘Western World’, our philosophy is based upon the myths and legends of Ancient Greece. Zeus, as head honcho on Mount Olympus, along with his whole family – Hera, Apollo, Poseidon, Athene, Aphrodite and all the rest – provide the archetype of those forces of nature which we mortals share with them. All (good) psychotherapists are aware of this.
So, to recap, Sam writes ‘perhaps love between men is more taboo than sex’.
For we mortals, ‘taboo’ is a word used by the primitives to warn of dangerous areas when dealing with their Gods. Upset the God of Light and the tribe might get stuck in the dark for who knows how long.
But today, used in the context Sam does, ‘taboo’ merely reflects a bloke’s sense of guilt. It’s forbidden because….because why? Zeus and his cronies had no knowledge of this guilt. ‘What’s with this new thing the mortals call guilt?’, they might say, ‘perhaps Hermes should be sent to find out.’
And what did Hermes discover? That ‘guilt’ was experienced by wimps who had bought into these new religions and ideologies which included some constraints on sexuality as part of their philosophical baggage. (And how the God’s laughed!)
So much for intellectual (Thinking) understanding of guilt. With Love, only Feeling and Sensing have the powers to know the joy with which it feeds all it touches.
So, if i may be indulged, to put it crudely, I’m not suggesting that if you’re straight and you discover your best mate is gay you should tighten your thighs. Or relax them. I’m suggesting you should continue to Love.
I’m left with the thought that in today’s world, maybe the word ‘Love’ has become both confusing and intimidating for men, so why don’t we settle for calling it Caring? If Caring fits the bill as a satisfactory basis towards the guys we feel close to, perhaps today’s challenge simply becomes learning how to Care.
And to Trust.