Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sex vs. Intimacy

Have you ever heard of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator? It's a personality classification test that, in its simplest form, identifies 16 different personality types. Based on answers to questions you get classified as (I)ntroverted or (E)xtroverted, (S)ensing or I(N)tuitive, (T)hinking or (F)eeling, (J)udging or (P)erceiving. The results of the test put you into a 4-letter category like INTJ or ENFP. The test is interesting but too simple. The reality is that all those measures have a scale to them. Very few people are extremely extroverted but many people are more extroverted than introverted. A better way to think of these measures is more Kinsey-like. That is, as a line from 1 to 6. A one would be extremely introverted and a six would be extremely extroverted. Graph a lot of people on one scale and you end up with a bell-curve with most of the people toward the middle.

I have devised my own type indicator to help describe the variation in gay male sexuality. One aspect is the purely sexual. At one end are the men who like other men only for sex. At the other end are men who like other men for reasons that have nothing to do with with sex. Maybe I'll call this the Sexual-Platonic scale. Another measure is the degree of emotional intimacy a man wants to have with another man. At one end the man wants to be so close that he feels "as one" with another man and at the other end are men who view men as they would any object. My third measure needs a little work I think. Basically it's a measure of giving and taking. I'd like to think of better descriptors because "give" or "submit" and "take" or "dominate" are too sexual and that's only part of the measure. What I mean is, when a man is intimate or sexual with another man he generally either wants to "take" an appealing aspect of the other man into himself, or, he wants to "dominate" another man. At it's heart I think this measure tries to capture the masculinity factor and whether you want to absorb more of it from another man or impose it on others. I guess for now I'll use those names: "absorb" and "impose."

What kind of man do you get when you put the extremes together? One type would be a man interested only in sex, who sees other men as objects and who desires to impose his masculinity on others. Another type would be a man who likes men only platonically, who desires a deep intimacy with men so that they can absorb their maleness. That sounds like a needy straight man, doesn't it? I think there are guys out there like that, guys who are only able to bond emotionally with other guys yet who would vehemently argue that they are straight. Sexually they are, but emotionally they are more "gay" than lots of gay men. Another kind of atypical man is the straight man who only finds big dicks a turn-on. It's like a foot fetish or something but it's all about the penis in a completely objectified way. Some would call them gay because of their penis fascination but I actually would see someone like that as straight. What being "gay" is most about, I think, is the emotional connection and not so much the physical. But there's a lot of ambiguity out there and that can be profoundly confusing.

My point of all this is that I think many men can have a sexual interest in other men, but that's mostly what it is. Some of these men are gay and bed-hop and some are straight and look for hook-ups. I'm not that kind of guy and I never have been. On my own scale of sexual interest in men I'm about a 2. But I crave intimacy so on that scale I'm a 6. For "absorb" vs. "impose" I'm probably a 2, being toward the absorb. If I put this all together than what I most desire is an emotionally intimate relationship with a guy that is looking for the same emotional tie, and less for sex. When we are together I would most like to become him in body and mind; I would like to merge myself into him.

My interest in sex with men has varied significantly over time. But my desire to feel emotionally complete by being "with" a man has been far more consistent. At 15 that is exactly what I wanted. But how I went about pursuing it was pretty stupid...

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