‘Fun & Flirty!’

Attitude, the UK gay magazine sold in the nation’s newsagents and supermarkets, recently celebrated their summer issue last year with a poll of the sexiest men by it’s readers, which caused a bit of feather fluffing in the mainstream media. The cause of it was Britain’s 19 year old Olympic poster boy Tom Daley beating ding-dong-daddy David Beckham and the blue-blooded ginger haired Prince Harry to the crown. Anyone that has had the fortune of being one of Daley’s 2.6 million fans on Facebook will know that just 30 seconds after putting up a dripping wet Tom in skimpy speedos, the Facebook “Likes” rack up faster than a junkie finding a vein.

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Twitter and FB during the 2012 London Olympics, were alive whenever he came out of the water after a dive, debatably mincing, but certainly posing and pouting under the shower knowing EXACTLY what he was doing. The epitome of ‘fun & flirty’.

For some reason his Facebook fan base consists only of pubescent teenage girls and wet mouthed gay men who leave lascivious messages on his wall. Tom totally ignores them and puts up another Instagram of him holding a kitten. This was some sort of ‘code’ to indicate his ‘sensitivity’ but I have to say these constant kitten pics are destroying my sexual fantasies of a man with a perfect taut tanned body, dark hairy legs and a happy trail. The kitten won him over, the bitch, and it knows it. Anyways he’s OUT now and wonderfully so. Unlike much older celebrity gayers who wait till their career dives down, Daley threw caution to the wind in early golden career.

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But the real surge of fantasy is the sexual menagerie of Daley with Beckham & Prince Harry together. Who will top? Now that would be FUN to watch! So is it a twink, an inked daddy or an aristocrat that sends you sexting?

Way before social media, smartphone technology and dating sites like grindr, flirting was an acquired art face to face, full of bravado or embarrassment, whereas online dirty flirty sexting allows you to go the extra inch without fearing rejection, but for some the problem arises when they actually turn up and the projection of rejection rises to full hilt.

Since the advent of online dating, people have got out of the habit of flirting face to face, understanding body chemistry and seeing the whole package, so to speak. Now we are used to seeing David Beckham’s package in his pants and Toms tiny speedos but if some doppelg√§ngers walked down the street, would you feel good enough to bat above your average and flirt, or would you feel not good enough?

Low esteem, chem use, not fitting in and maybe living without employment, are the core seeds of the gay malady that ‘dare not speak it’s name: social phobia. Looking at all those circuit party boys, buffed or bearlike, the perception is that everyone is having a fabulous time except you. This is not so.

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Many are cruising around with sub-conscious thoughts like “I am unworthy, ugly, stupid, not good enough, big enough, smart enough, whatever.” Chemical and alcohol use can help to hide these subconscious wanderings, but when the balloons get popped you’re pooped, back into a shell. But flirting with chems as a companion is fun and allows you to take emotional risks, bypassing those nasty negative mantras in your head, but in the end, you have to face the music (or the date) emotionally naked, and that’s the real fear.

Because the world is now performance and target led, it’s easy to forget that shyness, whether connected to social phobia or not, is seen as charming, sexy and a big selling point, to those cruising you. Not everyone needs or wants a confident date, but what they do seek is an authentic one, and this is where flirting online can create impossible illusions, a bit like Daley, Beckham and Harry in a circle jerk. It’s just not going to happen. So don’t big up the flirting too much, unless you can deliver. Just be yourself and you will find that authenticity is the hottest drug to neck.

Recovery, in the broadest sense, means doing everything that is unfamiliar to you, in order to achieve emotional balance, so if you are hogging the flirting limelight online, log out and go walkabout on the streets, in clubs, bars or social groups. This will get you into the habit of interacting with authenticity again and your natural instincts that being online can hide. The kind of things that can excite at first glance in real life, like hair trapped under a wristwatch, a raspy voice, dry humour, smooth arms or an unexpected tattoo gaping from a sleeve. Everything online profiles don’t pick up. Older gay men will remember anonymous street cruising, turn back glances, flirting with the fruit stall boy, or a smile on a bus from afar. These things can make a heart beat and although they may not create instant results, at least you have turned up and delivered. Not many can say that online.

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This post of mine was first published in the August issue of HIM Magazine 2013 – for the Man who invests in Himself http://www.him-magazine.com/2013/08/01/sexting-sexy-men/

Dive away from social anxiety.

148073551ST00266_Olympics_DA major gripe I keep hearing is that online dates don’t turn up for face-to-face dates, as if the thrust of the flirty dirty chase is enough, the reality of actually meeting breaks the illusion. One aspect of ‘love & sex addiction’ is the romantic, trail of seduction, that is more important than the capture or physical orgasm, it’s a bit like chinese plate spinning – will the plate fall? The tension keeping that plate spinning is like an immediate amyl high, or a diver about to jump, but another reason for not turning up on the doorstep has nothing to do with ‘love & sex addiction’, but more to do with social phobia.

article-2305396-0143CD5C00000514-204_634x471Social phobia is the hidden topic people are too shy to talk about. The tight topped media image of the tweeting generation gay male can offer the impression that confidence is as big as our pecs, when in reality many have discovered never to grab a gym bunny by the love handles, it’s a no-go area. It’s easy to shrug off a few stone compared to a life times history of bullying, emotional editing and fear of rejection, but the stain remains. This is because many who go to the gym, first went to the gym to feel ‘good enough’, they didn’t arrive with class A social skills or a divers waist like Tom Daley, some were the fat shy gay at school, and the memory lingers.

It’s a generalisation, but if truth be told, a mixture of body dysphoria coupled with shyness is rammed into the gym bag for quite a while until results materialise. In my own case I was very short in height, smaller than Harry Potter, with bright ginger hair at school, so aside from the hidden desire to see cocks in the showers I always knew I wasn’t ‘one of the lads’, the one that fitted in. Yup, a ginger homo was an easy target in my teenage years, oh and I stammered as well, plus a nervous squint to boot, so I used humour and a pretend thick skin in order to survive. No wonder I turned into a drunk. So you can imagine what it’s like if you act out or look like the contra-image of men in gay media. Having said that, even the handsomest of men stumble when it comes to social interaction.

9c2a852f-512c-4d59-b654-2607e516beb4img100Social anxiety or social phobia is not a one size fits all condition, it stretches from butterflies in the stomach to agoraphobia, with all manner of hesitations and emotional paralysis in between. It’s amazing how many people have negative unconscious thoughts like ‘It’s not safe to be seen’ ‘I prefer to be backstage, invisible’ or ‘ I am already imperfect, don’t judge me’. With Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy, many escape from this trap but sadly, often leave this condition for years thinking ‘It’s just the way I am’.

It’s not, it’s a cover-up. Becoming a champion diver takes discipline and getting back into the water after a belly flop is the key in attaining a goal. When you naturally take to the water, granted it’s easier, but those who dive with hesitation just need to try harder and more often, and so it is with social phobic solutions. Susan Jeffers book ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ published in 1987 still holds court as one of the best self help books for those with social anxiety, in her book she says ‘ You might already have been asking yourself, “Why should I put myself through all the discomfort that comes with taking risks? Why don’t I just go on living my life the way I’ve been living it?. You may find my answer surprising. It is : Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying circumstances that come from a feeling of helplessness “. She also adds wisely “the bigger your life, the smaller the fear”.

Expanding your life, means expanding social opportunities, so in reality ‘getting out more’ is the way forward, regardless of how you feel. Experience always develops with ACTION, not theory. Perfection in a craft, as Tom will tell you, is not a given, it’s a hard task master, but ironically once you drop the idea of ‘imperfection’ the results deliver perfection because progress, not expection & projection is the ideal, and progression from helplessness is mastery in itself. So next time you set yourself up for a date, then set yourself up as ‘not good enough’, ignore the voices in your head, turn up and dive in.

You never know, the likes of Mr Daley might be on the other end.