Sunday, January 2

"Be Yourself:" the 8th Day of Christmas

A few weeks ago my social life was falling apart. I have never had good friends my age who understand me and stay an active part of my life. I find someone that maybe could fit part of that role, and then they decide to move a thousand miles away, life moves us apart in time and place, or they turn to me one day and tell me to get lost. Don't get me wrong - I have amazing mentors and role models and leaders who will do anything for me - but it's not the same. I've never had friends my age for longer than a few months. And days like today make me wonder if it will ever change.

I met with my priesthood leader today... and I'm torn between wanting to explain the details of our conversation - so you understand his motivation in what he did - and wanting to keep the confidence he indirectly requested. Even though we may never become good friends, and he may never read this post or GMG again, integrity and loyalty are more important to me in relationships (even tenuous ones) than anything else... so I'll just go on.

I've talked with a number of friends recently, trying to identify what it is about me that is so repulsive. I can write something that appeals to hundreds of thousands of people... So what makes those same people, when they begin to get to know me, instantly reject me as an option to be a friend? Most of my recent friends were unwilling to give me any feedback - claiming they didn't know me well enough or that there wasn't anything inherently bad... but finally someone told me: I love people intensely, and most people don't want intense relationships. 

As I look at my life, I understand the truth of that statement. I call or text people every time I think of them. Most people want friends who will call them every so often. I invite people to everything I do - extending the invitation whether or not they will accept. They want people who only invite them to some things. When my friends are sick, I make them soup, put their names on the temple prayer roll, and coordinate with leaders to ensure they receive blessings. Most people want friends who will ask once how they're doing... but won't actively try to understand their needs or their soul. I pray for my friends by name, try to find them the best surprise Christmas presents, attend their concerts and learn their trades. Ultimately, when I find a friend, I open my entire heart and soul to him, and, subconsciously, take the steps to unlock and understand his as well... and because of that, I am intense.

In recent years I've put more and more effort into trying to appear less intense so that people accept me. I've had lists of conversation topics (and blacklists), taken courses on direct and indirect communication, talked with communication experts, logged interventions, and asked the Lord for help. But there has been no appreciable change. I'm thinking, honestly, that I may have Asperger's and simply have a different way of processing relational information.

It was with this understanding, and not really sure what to expect, that I met my bishop again today. He, too, asked me not to blog our conversation... But I will tell you that he had prayerfully prepared... and I will share one piece of inspired counsel he gave that was an answer to years of prayer: when you are trying to find good friends, be yourself.

I had asked him part of the list I made - for help finding good friends - people who wouldn't tell me to change who I was, wouldn't be afraid or discomfited by my intensity, and could actually, maybe, become good friends. He listed off a few names, then turned to me with the familiar look in his eyes of a Priesthood Leader who has received truth from God... and told me to be myself.

Before my mission, I never really had to make relationships work. I had tons of acquaintances and, somehow, found ways to fill my needs, or ignore them, by being busy in my life. But when I entered the MTC I realized that my intensity was the biggest stumbling block in trying to become friends with the people I loved. I began trying to develop social skills... always assuming that, because something in my character was incompatible with others, I had the burden of change. I started by trying to understand exactly what I was "supposed" to be doing in a given friendship and then doing it - making friendship like a dance or a game of cards or a counseling session. And while sometimes I was able to find temporary "friends" that way, they never understood me... and the friendships inevitably failed as I realized that I was tired of the dance and wanted real friends, or they saw beyond the facade and promptly rejected me. No one has ever made the jump from dance-friend in a carefully structured relationship... to true friend who loves and accepts me for who I am... and strives to understand and meet my own needs. No one my age has ever made the jump to true friend at all.

The stark contrast hit me - and I realized that this was my ultimate choice. I could try to love people less and pretend that I don't want to be involved in the intimate details of their lives - perhaps finding more people who will accept a faux me... or I can be true to the intensity that is an integral part of who I am, and with the hope of finding someone who will accept me, risk complete rejection and pain at every turn.

As I write this post, I realize that part of my lot in life is to know what it means to be friendless. Curled up in a ball, crying for peace, the Lord has taught me the importance of turning to Him before anyone else - anyone - and shown me how I can be a friend to those in need even if they can never reciprocate. He has answered my prayers for peace and guidance when no one else could... and I am grateful for the relationship that I have slowly developed with Him. I don't know if I will ever find true best friends. I mean, I believe I'll find a wife someday, and she will be my best friend first... but decades of trying hasn't worked before. How will this run be different from the last time, when I met utter rejection in the face?

Maybe it won't work, and part of my trial is learning how to be honest and true to who I am... even without friends - sort of like staying true to the law of chastity that I covenanted with God to keep in His temple, even when everyone around me tells me I'm a fool.

Either way, I know my direction... and I know that God will take care of me. He does miracles in my behalf, and He will make it right.


  1. I just want to say we all need friends that are supportive. I want you to know that even if we are in different places you are always welcome to contact me. I am open to peoples thought and feelings. I may not agree but I will listen with out judgment.

    I am truly sorry you are going through such a struggle. Please know you are not alone.

  2. I love you and I love that you're intense. Too many people are too shallow and superficial. For me its refreshing to know someone who speaks what he feels and wants more than just a shallow relationship. How can we help each other if we are always so shallow that we can't talk and really trust each other? Best regards

  3. We share the same lot in life. Yes, you might say that being married I've got an automatic friend. And I do. But I've never had a friend like the one you are. And I really really need that. If only we could cross paths and become friends. You are the type of person I need. A husband is great, but sometimes you just need a friend that you don't share a bed with.

  4. I am touched by your pain, your insight into yourself, your committment to keep your covenants. I sense your true loneliness and yet your understanding of what has to be. Relationships are complex and I think for the most part, men are a little unnerved by guy friendships that are not centered around the world of say "sports". Your depth of anguish is hard to hear and not be able to help, yet you have a clear understanding of the only one that can help. I am wondering if you expect too much out of a man friend relationship? What it seems to me is that you are seeking an intimate spiritual relationship with men friends who are normally not comfortable with that type of relationship sometimes even with their wives. You have been"blessed" with certain qualities it appears, and the need to communicate with others who do not feel comfortable with your depth of friendship of that type. I am curious what you mean that someday you will find a wife to be your friend? How does that fit into the challenge you are facing now? I think the bishop is trying to tell you to be yourself, you are trying too hard, just enjoy being a friend,and not so intense,,,it makes men not understand what you are really wanting out of the friendship, and while you just want friendship, they don't get I would agree with your bishop, be yourself I think I understand what he was trying to tell you. I hope you can accept his insight and advice and know how to proceed, and I wish you much happiness.

  5. I am continually amazed at the similarities between the things you write about and my own life... I am very similar in that when I make a friend I get attached extremely easily, I would say that a friend made is a friend for life... I see people that I knew after several years of having not seen them and I feel just the same about them as I did though they often don't even recognize me... With my friends I tend to offer more help than they feel comfortable with and many have described me as "intense" as well...

    For good or for bad this has turned me into a very quiet person... Once I get to know someone I try to make it known very clearly that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING they need that I can offer is theirs if they need it, and then I disappear into the background doing everything I can for them without interfering in any way that might seem overbearing as a friend... I often push people away when I want to have deep conversation whereas they consider me little more than an acquaintance...

    I try to follow the same advice... but often "being myself" seems to be doing exactly what I do now... and that has nearly lost me both of my best friends at this time... I try to be distant enough that they can do what they want but still spend time with them... I'm not sure what else to do... I feel like a crappy friend if I love less, but I've learned to at least lessen the intensity of the expression of that love... occasionally... I wish I were better at it than that but... so goes life at the moment...

    I know a lot of people offer it, and that it might not mean much from someone who "feels connected to people at the drop of a hat" like me... but if you ever want to talk, I am willing and available, desirous even if thats not too strong a word... your situation reminds me so much of mine, I don't know if I can fill your same age-group desire (Don't reveal your age to me on account of that, you deserve your anonymity...) but I feel like we could be good friends...

    Thank you again... I sometimes get criticized for saying that too much... but I always mean it... Just being able to relate to you even one-sided makes me feel less alone...

  6. LTF:

    Sometimes I'm amazed. You and I have totally different views on many things... and yet here at (Gay) Mormon Guy we share what we have in common. This is what I wanted to create. Thanks for your comment.


    I agree. It means that I'll probably find rejection... but being true and finding true friends is worth it.


    The only way I've found to be friends with married women was through school and work... we may someday cross paths; if we do, then I'll try to find a way to be a friend in the right way.


    I think you hit it on the head; when men aren't willing to become emotionally vulnerable with even their wives, it's pretty clear that they won't be emotionally vulnerable with a guy friend. But that's what I'm asking for - emotional and spiritual connection. I'm going to be intense. And I'm going to find intense friends as well.


    Send me an email - use the one on the contact me page.

  7. I agree with Mohoguy, I appreciate that you're real and I think I might be an intense friend and that's why I have the same problem as you. Like Leaving the Fold said, you are always welcome to contact me. I hope this gets better for you and stay strong.

  8. I agree with your bishop. I've found that the more I try to understand, develop and let shine my true self, the more I find those who appreciate me and feed my soul like few people can. Sometimes the relationships are completely unexpected. I have become friends over the past couple of years with people who I never would have in the past. It's amazing to see how our Creator molds who we are and how we relate to people if we truly open ourselves up to be molded and shaped by the unexpected.

  9. I completely understand this one. I'm intense in my friendships, becoming very close to people VERY quickly. I've learned to put on a polite veneer, but I think sometimes I come off as cold and unresponsive, or just too weird.

    I'm very nerdy, and sometimes the "average" person really doesn't get me. Reading this though, I really think I need to learn to be myself and let awesome people gravitate toward me!

  10. I appreciate these thoughts. I too long for intense relationships, (but not too intense) but I am afraid to be the one to initiate any intensity because I fear that rejection. BUt I long for it. I like the advice of your bishop. it is so basic and simple, but so easy to miss.

    thanks for blogging


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