Monday, March 10, 2008

The power of touch...

Yesterday, in church, we were discussing the "power of touch", and how the Savior used it in a very personal, individual, and one-on-one way with the Nephites, both as a touchee (3Ne 11:15) and as a toucher (3Ne 17:9, 10, 21).

Often, we are touchers as well as touchees. It takes both...

EXAMPLE 1: "Tim" (my not-so-imaginary-boy-friend) showed up at church - this time with his fiancee. Yes, he's officially engaged to the most amazing, beautiful young woman! (I know my dedicated readers - the two of you - realize my feelings for Tim, and his feelings for me that you are convinced he must be gay, but again I contend that he is not - he's just openly affectionate and passionate about the uniqueness of our relationship as I am - in a very non-sexual physical way). In many ways, I find myself very jealous and envious of her. She gets to have MY Tim for herself. In other ways, I'm so happy for her as he will be such a blessing to her and they seem so happy together.

I wondered how he would react to me with her now officially linked to him - would this change our relationship? Would he be less affectionate in front of her? She knows of our unique relationship and bond. Would he be self-conscious about showing her our uniqueness in being less physical? I waited and wondered and watched. After the lesson, he came to me and hugged ME. It was a bit tentative as she stood there. He then reached his large hand behind my neck, and I did the same, and we held our heads together - forehead to forehead, nose to nose, for some time and whispered our love to each other - again with her standing there. There was no deception, no dishonesty, just innocent and pure touch - on his part. On my part, I was analyzing everything too much and nervous of what she would be thinking. Maybe I'm trained and programmed to be on guard too much (is my wife watching?), but I was pleased to see that even with this new development in his life, Tim still hasn't changed in his affection for me.

I am truly happy for him. This is a wonderful thing. Somehow, though, I know that it will never be the same between us... and that is the way it should be. Right?

EXAMPLE 2: There is a high priest in our ward that has lately made it a habit of finding me and giving me an affectionate hug, and telling me how "close" he feels to me and how much he "loves" me and is "connected" to me. He is in his mid 60s, has a mean comb-over, and recently developed a little grey soul-patch. I have nothing to do with him, am not associated with him (other than attending the same priesthood meeting) and feel no extraordinary connection. He tends to interrupt my conversations with others to make a point of showing his affection for me. I oblige as the touchee, but it's beginning to creep me out! What's going on here?

EXAMPLE 3: My wife needs my constant touch - a reassurance that I'm there for her and that I'm not going anywhere (there is still a fear of my leaving her for another man). Since I'm not so keenly aware of this need of hers (except when I'm in the arms of Tim - and - you'd think I'd learn, but my wiring is often disconnected or out-of-service) until she bursts into tears just looking at me (especially when I've allowed the pressures of my work to take precedence over our relationship needs), I often am reminded that affection and touch signal and satisfy needs she may have from me that I may not always need from her. That may sound cruel - I don't mean it to be. I need to be not only the touchee, but the toucher as well, instigating and initiating heart-felt affection.
Ah... the power of touch.


Damon said...

Ah Beck...

How interesting life is...

Yes, the power of touch is necessary and important. As humans we all need it, long for it, crave it. Just touch. It serves to comfort and to heal.

When I served my mission I was companions with Ken (name changed). He and I became best friends and remained in touch after our missions. I would travel the 8 hour road trip to visit him very often for several years following our mission. He came to see me too.

At one point we became roommates and then he got married. Your discussion of Tim reminded me of Ken. He and I also have a specical sort of relationship...we've never been physically intimate and as far as I know, he's straight. But I know he and I interact in ways that "straight" men typically don't. In ways he doesn't and hasn't with anyone else. My need for touch from Ken was great. It was never sexual but it had deep meaning for me.

I'm not sure he's gay, my firends are relatively convinced. I came out to Ken after he was married. It hasn't changed our frienship at all. He's creating a wonderful family and I'm happy for him. Ever since he got married I realized my hope of anything developing between us is over. I respect his covenants.

I know your jealousy though. When Ken got engaged to his now wife, I was jealous beyond compare. The hardest thing I've ever done was attend their wedding. Afterword, I got in my car and cried. I couldn't bring myself to go to the reception.

I will say that you and Tim interact in a "special" way similar to the way Ken and I do. We have a mutual friend who tells me that Ken is straight except for me...that he loves me and that's just how it is. Who know' grateful for your friends. What else can you do?

I wonder though, if your friend Tim is getting married in a similar situation that you did. Perhaps he isn't completely aware of his sexuality or perhaps he's ignoring it. I'm not sure of all the reasons why you're sure that Tim's straight, but unless you've discussed it with him in depth, how do you know?

As for the older High Priest who feels so close to you...that IS creepy. Good luck with that one. Perhaps he's a MOHO too!

Kengo Biddles said...

I guess you could always give yourself little reminders to reach out and touch and be affectionate with your wife. Did I ever mention the book "The Five Love Languages"? It's a great book, and has been great for me and Miki, and was a support to me even at the hardest times with Helga.

That being said, I'm incredibly jealous of you and Tim. For that matter, I feel with Damon, because when my friend Davros Beroeki got married and then had a delayed reception in another state, it was the hardest thing for me to go as one of his "best men."

I went, but I think I embarassed myself a little bit...and I don't know what to think of our relationship to this day.


Touch is great, touch is wonderful, touch is overwhelming, touch is awful, terrible, confusing, but I couldn't live a day without it.

Sean said...

want it, desire it, share it, hope for it. touch is the simplist of intimency that each human; man, woman, child, straight, gay, bi, tran.... we all need it.

but it has to be sought after mutually. it cant be onesided as like the HP fellow.

for those of us who are married. we have to remember our spouses' needs. and to be aware of the interation we give them.

luvs and hugs

Beck said...

DAMON: Thanks for your comment. I am so excited to read a response like yours that really understands and can relate (or commiserate) with my experiences with Tim. He means the world to me. I am so happy for him, but I know that I will be a total mess at the wedding. He reviewed the date with me to be sure that I would be there in the Temple with him. I don't know how I'll hold up...

I really don't KNOW for sure that he's not gay, but he's given me know reason to think otherwise and he seems genuinely taken and in love with his bride-to-be. Yet, he is so open and affection with me. And, you're right - I don't see him being openly affectionate with anyone else - just me.

As with your need for touch from Ken, I continue to need touch from Tim. It's been good that he's been away at school, but when he's near it gets to be obsessive in my thoughts. I've got to get over this...

And yet, he's a very close, dear friend. I want to cherish this friendship and keep it going (despite the marriage gig) as such friendships are rare and hard to find. I'm old and wary enough to realize, however, that it won't last. We'll stay in touch and feelings will always be there (particularly on my part), but eventually we'll go our separate ways. It always happens. It takes a ton of work to not let it happen.

Thank you for understanding and appreciating the possibility and reality of such an affection friendship between a gay guy and a not-really-gay-except-with-me guy, in a non-sexual intimate way.

Beck said...

KENGO: You're setting me up to be a total boob at the wedding. And thanks for being jealous. That means a lot to me. And, I'll look up the book - gotta do something to increase the natural flow of love language in the marriage!

Beck said...

SEAN: You're right... affection cannot be one-sided. It doesn't work, either it's mutual or it's creepy. With Tim, it is totally mutual (though I think I desire it more and think about it more than he does - but, he's initiated it quite a bit himself, which spurs me on). With HP guy, it's totally one-sided and I'm just plain creeped out! I don't know what to do about it, whether to confront him on it or not. It's been going on now for like three months straight and I'm beginning to feel very uncomfortable...

Good to see you popping up now and again. I hope all is well with you and yours.

Forester said...

My wife doesn't seem to respond to touch like she used to. It seems like she doesn't even notice half the time. We haven't been intimate for months. I'm in a pretty bad place right now with our touch and intimacy. I hope you fair better.

October Rising said...

Have you ever seen the Family Guy episode where Peter sings the song "Can't touch me"? And at the end he's standing next to this woman and he tells her "...but YOU, YOU can touch me." LOL It was great.

elbow said...

What I love about being in a foreign country is that touch between memebers of the same gender isn't always a sexual thing. It's a way of life. I feel that touch is healthy and so necessary.

Ron Schow said...


This post reminds me of the words of Joseph Smith who slept and snuggled with men throughout his life. Quoting from one source.... "Early in 1826, the 20 year old bachelor boarded with the Knight family, whose eighteen year old son later wrote: "Joseph and I worked together and slept together." ... In an 1843 sermon he said, according to the History of The Church: ... "it is pleasing for friends to lie down together, locked in the arms of love, to sleep and wake in each other's embrace and renew their conversation." The night before he was murdered by a mob in 1844, Smith shared a bed with 32 year old Dan Jones "and lay himself by my side in a close embrace."

I assume these are cases of the kind of chaste affection you are speaking of and from a time when men could be affectionate more than is common now.

As you suggest, it is important that when affection is offered to others of this type, the person offering it needs to watch and make sure there is a reciprocal feeling and expression. Otherwise it can easily become umpleasant and unwelcome.

Beck said...

FORESTER: Hang in there... maybe be more spontaneous and surprise her in a way that she'll have to notice that you're trying. I know that helps me with my wife.

ELBOW: My foreign cultural experience has been very similar - much more open and much less scrutinized - and much more beautiful. Why can't our American mentality be that way as well? We still crave the same touch, right? Why do we have such cultural taboos?

Beck said...

RON said: "I assume these are cases of the kind of chaste affection you are speaking of and from a time when men could be affectionate more than is common now."

That was a beautiful and very appropriate comment. That's exactly what I'm talking about - not being afraid to express ourselves in an open way of chaste affection between men.

Thank you for these insights into Joseph Smith.

Damon said...

Hi Beck,

I read your response to me. I'm glad we can commiserate together, too. I've never heard anyone else share about a relationship similar mine with Ken until I started reading your blog. It's hard to explain the feelings and the relationship to others.

Attending Ken's wedding was truly one of the hardest things I had to do. And I think you might be wrong about the drifting apart thing.

I thought Ken and I would drift apart too...we didn't though. He's been married nearly six years and he and his wife came to stay at my home this summer.

When both of you have such strong emotion for each other, I think the effort to maintain the relationship is very natural.

Good luck with Tim's wedding, Beck. For me, it was harder than I thought it would be. Let me know how it goes.

Howard said...

I have a relationship with my "boyfriend". When people ask me when we met I tell them that we didn't. We just have always known each other.

He has been happily married 18 years now and has three kids. We are closer now than we have ever been. His kids are my kids. His brothers and sisters are my brothers and sisters. His parents accept me as their own. Even his mother-in-law is a good friend.

He fills an intimate need in me, similar to a man and wife relationship. Sex, of course, is not a part of our relationship. I feel that what we have transcends that.

He moved 300 miles away and my biggest fear was that we would lose touch. Obviously that didn't happen.

Thanks for sharing your feelings. I don't often hear about a similar relationship as ours.

Good luck,


Anonymous said...

Ron Schow,

I was touched by your references to the life of Joseph Smith and his intimacy with his associates. I would love to research the cases you site. Could you provide some references for further study?

I have on a few occasions been fortunate to experience this level of chaste intimacy with another man and those times are precious memories yet, all too few in my case.

Howard, What you describe as your open relationship with your "boyfriend" intrigues me. Are your families aware as to the degree of your intimacy? If so, you are very fortunate to have that level of acceptance and openness. I long for a culture and society when that could be the case for all of us, where men can be openly affectionate and loving with each other and not be misjudged. I am confident that the Lord would bless such relationships.

Beck, I have been a lurker for some time and have read your blog for the past couple of years. I've been out to my wife for about 2.5 years. Your thoughts and insights and experiences have been healing for me. You are certainly not alone as a married with children, gay man. There are many of us who struggle on a daily basis with very similar issues and yearnings, myself included. I would dearly miss you and Mormon Enigma if the two of you quit posting.

I respect you for your humble and candid expressions in this blog and hope to someday have the priveledge of meeting you.

With deepest sincerity, Silver