From a reader:
“I’m a very good looking guy. People say I have movie star good looks, and more than once I’ve been approached to do porn movies. Everywhere I go, people stare. I can’t go into a bar for a drink and sit in the back without being noticed, because half the guys are cruising me the minute I walk in. I’m not bragging about this, it’s just a fact. I understand that I didn’t do anything to earn my looks, it’s just genetics. I know full well that that it doesn’t make me better than anyone else.
I just wish most queer guys knew that! Here’s a typical incident. I go into a bar and a guy walks up to me and starts telling me I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread and he wants me to go home with him right now. Maybe I’m attracted to him, or maybe not, but I’m turned off by the way he goes on and on about what a wonderful guy I am without even knowing me. I try to be polite and tell him no thanks, but he doesn’t take no for an answer. He starts pawing and kissing on me and I have to literally break his grip. At this point I have to tell him to stop in a louder voice because he won’t hear anything else, but he still won’t stop. I tell him to leave me alone and walk to the other end of the bar. A few minutes later he walks up to me, yells at me at the top of his lungs, tells me I’m a conceited asshole and then turns around and stalks out. Some of the other guys in the place, who didn’t even see what just happened, give me hostile looks like I must have done something wrong. I start to feel a little guilty and go over and over it to see if there was some way I could have handled it better. I get angry, I get depressed, I start to feel lonely and sorry for myself, and an evening that started out fun is ruined.
Don’t tell me this kind of shit happens all the time in bars and just to get over it. I know it happens to lots of people, but something like it happens to me all the time everywhere –on the street, in coffee shops, in buses. I can’t get away from it.
I get defensive and every time I go out of the house I have this invisible shield around me. I don’t make eye contact, I look straight ahead, and I don’t smile. Now what I hear is that I have “attitude!” People put all these expectations on me that I can’t live up to. Then they feel wronged and blame me when they find that out, and all of a sudden I have a new enemy. It sucks! Now I’m avoiding going out alone. Sometimes I’ll go out with a friend who holds my hand and pretends to be my boyfriend. But even then guys come up to me and literally try to push him out of the way. And the guys I might be interested in meeting won’t give me the time of day because they think I’m in a relationship.
I’m not asking for advice, I just wanted someone to hear me out. Please don’t tell me I’m just a whiner! I know that being good looking has lots of advantages, and I really am grateful for my good luck, but I wish more guys understood that I’m not the cure for all their problems. Thanks!”
I’ve included this long communication unedited because it provides a fascinating window on how it feels to be on the receiving end of idealizing projections. So many of us uncritically assume that we’d find true happiness if that walking god over there would deign to love us, or at least fuck us. And when he doesn’t show any interest, we’re crushed, as if we have been rejected by God. All of our own self-doubts mobilize instantly: I’m not hot enough, not rich enough, not cool enough, not lovable enough, for the walking gods of this earth. It isn’t fair! Then anger and indignation emerge, and the scenes that the writer described follow. Meanwhile, the guy on the other end of the transaction is a passive spectator as the whole drama of seduction, betrayal and abandonment unfolds in front of his eyes.
We create this kind of pain for ourselves when we don’t develop insight into what seems to be the most difficult truth for most people to grasp—that much of what we think is happening “out there” is a figment of our own imaginations, a creation of our own projected hopes and fears.
Tom Moon is a psychotherapist in San Francisco.