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Matthew Terrell Headshot

BB and Me: Emotional Intelligence

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The fact that I have never barebacked speaks more toward my emotional flaws than some enlightened sexual ethic I possess. If I were a better gay man, I would have had a boyfriend by now who I loved enough to bareback with. I haven't gotten there because I have the emotional intelligence of a gnat. I routinely deny love from good, mom-friendly men because I want "something else" out of life. Conversely, I get emotionally distraught from mismatched relationships that I desperately want to make work. These types of problems are by no means limited to me or the gay community. But I'm young -- 12-years-old as an out gay man -- and I'm not fully done growing emotionally as a gay person. This is why I haven't barebacked.

The condoms I keep handy simply represent an emotional barrier I need between my partner and my true self. To top bareback would mean I accept and desire another man exactly as they are. To bottom bareback would mean I trust my partner and am willing to submit to him. I'm not good at any of these interpersonal emotional feats, and I end up shutting my partners out because of it. Safe sex becomes a perfunctory display of disconnected love with somebody I should probably treat better.

I've gone through boys like a drag queen goes through pantyhose, and I'm not sure all my sexcapades have made me a better person. I treat men as commodities; my black book is a menagerie of unusual personalities I've managed to collect. I refer to hookups as "auditions;" I've cast many of these sex partners as friends and friends-with-benefits, but never as a boyfriend. When I pursue a guy for a hookup, I often feel more empty afterwards; I can only imagine how insignificant I make these other guys feel. These stupid pursuits make me feel sexually liberated, but I can't help but feel unaccomplished at the same time.

If I tried harder, one of these men would stick; yet I'm 28 and I don't have the maturity to make a relationship last more than a few months at a time. Certainly, I'm going about it all wrong with my sex-centered searching, but it's an ideal world where gays court by treating others as human beings instead of sexual objects. The world of gay relationships is fraught with vanity, jealousy and emptiness; the roads to meet other gay men are paved with meaningless sex, booze, drugs and all sorts of problems I'm tired of. The system of our sexual liberation is incredibly flawed and I want to check out of it.

I want to find a man to cut through all the hollow sex and self-loathing of the scene I've become so apathetic to. I want to find a man who will fit into me and make me a better person through his presence. I can imagine that first moment of bareback sex; the outside world falls away and I'm able to truly enjoy another man's body for once. It's the connection I want to experience with my fellow man, but I'm not sure how to get there.