I don’t hate 2016 as thoroughly as some, but it did so a lot of damage to my already-pretty-broken perception of men. The Bernie Bros seething misogyny was painful, but finding out during primaries which of my friends are more subtly sexist (or Stockholm Sydromey) was even worse. It was a tough year to fight the tide and hold onto the insistence that women are people, and of course it ended with the election of a child rapist. I’ve never been that awesome at trusting men, and during this time of election grief, it’s even harder.
My experience with Mr. Makeout Music made me realize that as much as I enjoyed the awesome spinster part of my life, I have a deep need for male friendship and affection that I don’t want to ignore anymore. Greeting them with defensiveness and fear, while it seems pretty reasonable most of the time, runs counter to my deep need to connect. Defensiveness has always been one of my worst qualities, and I know it’s partly responsible for the vast gulf I sometimes feel between myself and men. The gulf is heartbreaking because all separations-by-category feel heartbreaking, but also because I long for a male partner and my own family much more deeply than I’d like to admit.
But “fall in love and have him love me back” isn’t a goal one can reasonably work towards, so I decided to get closer to men in as many ways as I can think of. I’ve been scrolling though OK Cupid for 20 minutes every Friday evening, but more importantly, I’ve set the goal to call a guy friend once a week and catch up. I want to see men as themselves again, not just as The Patriarchy or as part of the Hillary-trolling nightmare. I want to remember how to be openhearted to the whole person, not just frustrated by the part of all of us that’s enslaved by gender.
The first time I tried calling was yesterday, and it felt very jangling, partly because the first voicemail I left was for Mr. Makeout Music, about whom I’m still hurty but hoping to let the friendship take care of things. I left voicemails for three other (less fraught) guy friends, and even making those calls felt foolish, vulnerable, woozy. I felt like I was setting myself up for humiliation and loss. I’m still, after all these years of therapy and adventure, afraid of men. After I left those four voicemails for perfectly kind and lovable guys, I started to cry. I miss them. I miss all of them. (Okay, especially Mr. Makeout Music…)
The first to call me back was my dear and very lovey friend Angel Face, and then a poet pal I haven’t talked to in years. The poet told me about Marie Kondo-ing the kitchen with his wife over the holiday, about jobs and the silly day-to-day, about how awesome it is to make breakfast for dinner. Friendship is one of the most resilient and trustworthy forces in the world, and I’m happiest when I let myself depend on it.
If I’m honest, I know I’m still heartbroken about not being a thing with Mr. Makeout Music. I’m doing my best to take my time, not to push myself, to set aside time at night to miss him. I still love him so much, I still don’t quite understand why we’re not together, but we had a nice talk before Christmas and friendship doesn’t seem so far away.
Most of my other nine goals are about going places and doing things, about artistic indulgence. I’ve named it the Year of Sparkles and vowed to let in all of the queer, poly beautifulness that I can. Being generous with myself seems like the best way to heal, especially since part of that generosity will be finding a therapist and/or support group.
If you’re a man I used to know, send your number to email@example.com. Part of the joy of this year will be in your details.