This guest post is written by Sydney psychotherapist Adam McLean. Adam is also the co-facilitator of our Sydney gay men’s group called Real Intimacy.
Fear is a factor for everyone and when it comes to joining a group and even a gay men’s group then the fear may escalate often resulting in procrastination, avoidance and non-attendance.
We have certainly seen this over the years when we run our annual gay men’s group. Many men express an interest in the group, even have very clear goals about the relationship issues they want to work on, yet when it comes time to join, their fear kicks in and they back out.
The fear that all of us feel at one time or another is a fear of intimacy. It’s the fear of revealing yourself and really allowing yourself to know yourself and allow others to know you.
This emotional intimacy is craved by all of us. In fact, as mammals we are hard-wired to be connected to others. It’s built into us, just like the need to breathe and sleep.
If you’ve considered coming along to one of our groups but are too afraid to come, you may be saying something about not wanting to be vulnerable and judged by others, fear of showing who you are in front of others or you may feel uncertain how to respond and talk to men in a group situation.
Some gay men come out with their sexual orientation later in life and can find talking to other gay men initially fear-provoking. This is a natural part of the coming out process. As Clinton and I often say, coming out as a gay man is not a one-time event, but a life-time process. What these men find quickly is the group becomes a place of support and encouragement for coming out to friends and family in a healthy way.
Other men who join our groups are starved of connection and intimacy. Being part of a group can help them overcome this important deficit in their lives while other men come along as they have difficulty with intimacy in their relationships. No matter your situation you will find someone just like you in the group environment.
Fear around emotional vulnerability is endemic to men in Australia. Men are taught not to express their feelings honestly. They are taught to keep them to themselves and not be overly emotional. Gay men also have elements of not allowing themselves to be vulnerable and intimate with other men for a whole host of reasons, the main one being protection of their vulnerability by learning not to trust other men. However, to balance this statement there are men who have wonderful intimate relationships with other men and have found intimacy and happiness.
Groups can be scary but they are also liberating. The group can:
- Give you permission to face yourself honestly so you feel greater freedom in your life.
- Change your attitude toward yourself and others so you feel happier about who you are and how you’re living your life.
- Allow you to grow through your own awareness of your relationship patterns so you can create a healthy relationship and be a better partner.
- Help you to get in touch with who you really are and make choices about what you want and how you can begin the process of achieving it.
If you have considered participating in a group but are one of the ones who is fearful of being in a group then this is a wonderful opportunity for you to take a bold step to create what you want for your life and your relationships.
****Our next gay men’s group commences on June 1, 2017.***
Our annual gay men’s group begins on June 1, 2017, for 12 consecutive weeks. If you are interested you can sign up here for more information.