For most of my life, I believed I could do anything I wanted, well. So did others... and experience supported that belief. Now I realize how incredibly wrong I was.

I may be good at athletics, academics, music, or internalizing church doctrine. But in the things that really matter - developing long-term meaningful relationships with others - my track record is a long list of failures.

Ability to make and keep friends from elementary school? Fail. Friends from any other school? Fail. Friends from work? Fail. Friends from the mission? Fail. Friends from past wards? Fail. Friends among extended family members? Fail. Friends in the dating world? Fail. And friends as part of a physical support group - people I can turn to when I'm having a rough day? Epic fail.

I honestly think that this - my inability to develop meaningful lasting friendships - played a role in exacerbating same-sex attraction... and that seems to hold true with some of the things I've discussed with other guys who are moving forward - as they are able to develop more meaningful non-sexual relationships with men and women, living with same-sex attraction gets at least a little easier. I'm not sure if it's because friends create a social network and support system, or if there are emotional needs that are met through friendships that, unmet, masquerade as SSA. I don't know because, despite my attempts, it never happens. Something about me destroys relationships with a perfect certainty... and that knowledge probably only further accelerates the process.

Take a recent example - I had a guy I was helping to come back to Church, change his life, and learn to be happy. He didn't have SSA. We spent a ton of time together, and over the course of a few months he was able to change. But as soon as that change happened, life pulled us apart and I haven't had a conversation with him since. I invited him to half a dozen different things, but as the relationship atrophies I feel powerless to stop it, and it doesn't seem like he has any interest in knowing me anymore... so I drop it and move on. And that's the story of my life. Meet people - men and women - feel a desire to be involved in their lives and a desire to be accepted by them... if I get close to them, they usually have massive, painful, life-changing experiences... and then they disappear.

The end result is that I've never had a group of friends to go do stuff with, or even one friend that stayed on for the ride. When I want to go running, it's always alone, even though I know a hundred people who love to run. They just would rather not run than have me running with them. I know - I've tried. When I go hiking or biking, or attend the temple, or go to a museum, or do almost anything, it's alone... I have short-term friends, for a few weeks or sometimes even months, but each of them eventually disappears or consciously walks away. They each had logical and plausible reasons for not pursuing the friendship... and I can't blame them.

Sometimes I wonder about the irony of pulling both the same-sex attraction card (which means I have a rough time with romantic relationships) and the difficulty-making-friends card (which means I have a rough time with non-romantic relationships). The end result is that I have a rough time with all informal relationships - everything that doesn't involve structured roles like student-teacher or mentor-mentee. I'm grateful that being alone taught me to turn to God, but sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to overcome it and be able to rely on people in my life. Right now, I look at relationships as opportunities to help other people. I walk into every environment with the question, "How can I help this person come closer to Christ?" But at the same time, I expect it to end when they're done with me. I'm never someone's only or best friend, even if they're mine... and eventually that friendship will disappear - sometimes suddenly - in the course of 5 seconds - and sometimes over weeks. But none of them last, and inside I don't believe they will, simply because they never have.

Wow. This post was longer than I intended. And probably more depressing to people on the outside. This isn't a sob story or an account intended to engender pity or emotional grief. It's just a thought from my mind, and maybe it will help put into perspective some of the choices I make. Everything I do is based on the precept that I'm going to be alone for a long time - surrounded by friends in the short term, but constantly breaking ties and having to make new ones. From experience I've realized that no relationship can ever thrive longer than a few months, then my investment in people has to be front-loaded, and I'm far more willing to do things that will help them in the beginning, even if it jeopardizes the relationship we have. That's a good summary of how it works in my mind. And changing this has proved far more difficult than any temptation with same-sex attraction.
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