Help. Hope. Healing.

Man Hugs

By Rex Goode

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I’m not sure how to explain why a post about “Man Hugs” is appearing on a web site for sexual addictions. Most men who struggle with same-sex attraction in a context of striving to be faithful to the teachings of the Church will understand.It has to do with some theories about the origins of same-sex attraction, theories with which I do not necessarily agree. I think that as with most widely accepted theories, there is some truth to them, but as with any theory, there are many, many exceptions.

The theories to which I refer say that men deal with same-sex attraction because of a distant or absent father. I hope you don’t judge this theory on this extremely brief synopsis of it. I’m brief about it here because it really isn’t what this post is about. You can read about it here. You could also read some of the rebuttals that abound, but I don’t have any links to give you.

Rather than talk about theories, I want to talk about myself and my own struggle with hugs. My father was absent and my stepfather was distant. More than distant, he harbored some very strong opinions about masculinity and appropriate behavior between males. Basically, he thought that physical touch between two males had two acceptable expressions: greetings and violence.

When it came to me, there were only two ways he ever touched me that I could remember: handshakes and spankings. I know that there was one point that he must have carried me. We had gone to a drive-in movie and I fell asleep. Someone carried me from the car to my bed. Even at that young age, it seemed like some deep mystery about how I got in bed. I couldn’t imagine my stepfather carrying me. It would have been very much out of character.

I also remember one time when we both reached for something at the same time. For a quick moment, our hands touched. We both recoiled.

I also remember the time my stepbrother ran away from home and was gone for several weeks. When we found him incarcerated in a juvenile detention hall a whole state away, they approached each other and I thought there was going to be an actual hug. At the last moment, both shot out a hand and greeted each other with a hearty handshake.

I remember watching this with a certain feeling of puzzlement. It just seemed wrong to me. There should have been a hug. I was only about twelve at the time.

I don’t know that I’m an apple that fell very far from that tree. My stepfather was around for most of the raising of my sons and I always felt a little self-conscious hugging my sons when he was around. I remember the day he told my youngest son that men don’t do that kind of things with each other.

In the latter years, I decided that I was going to be myself around him, and I probably had several hugs with my  tepdad in the last few years of his life. I was upset when he died alone. He had moved to his hometown in Arizona. He fell in the bathroom and had a stroke. By the time he was found, he was in bad shape and didn’t survive more than a few days after that.

Today, I believe in man hugs. I haven’t found them to cure my same-sex attraction, but they certainly don’t hurt it either. For fun, I’ve put together a few links to blog entries around the blogosphere about man hugs. Not all are in favor of it, but they’re all interesting.

It’s OKay to Be Hugged By Other Grown Men

Types of Man Hugs

Man Hug Moments

Man Hugs and Fist Pumps and Whiskers on Kittens

Man Hug

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2 Responses to “Man Hugs”

  1. Rusty said:

    Great post. It’s definitely true that men of a certain age don’t believe in man hugs, but I think this has changed, or is changing, with later generations. Today I got a hug from a guy leaving our company. I know for a fact he’s not SSA (he’s openly told me he’s going to miss the unusually high number of attractive women employed there), so it was simply his way of saying goodbye.

    I’ve also often thought about the predicament SSA men in the Church must experience. I’ve come to really value the relationships I’ve found with fellow priesthood holders. We love one another, but it’s love in the gospel, and not at all romantic, much less sexual.

    Just curious: is it a struggle for you to have these sorts of relationships with men without it going someplace dangerous?

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Rusty, thanks for the question. For me, no, it isn’t dangerous. That has to do with me. I’m in a good place with my struggle with same-sex attraction in terms of physical temptations. I don’t look at men or even hug men with lustful feelings inside. My biggest SSA struggle is with emotional dependency, but even that is being managed pretty well with boundaries about how enmeshed I will be. I can’t answer for others, but I know that part of my journey in dealing with temptations of a physical nature was learning to enjoy a man hug without being aroused by it. I couldn’t have learned that without going “through” it. I couldn’t have learned it by avoiding it. Does that make sense?

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