Masculinity and Male Bonding

Recently I went out ┬áto the bars with some of the people from school. My idea of a good time is more like hanging out over ice cream, but I did the best I could with a beer. Anyway, it was a pretty fun experience. I’m really liking the other people in my classes, even though we don’t have a whole lot in common. That became more and more clear when one of the guys enthusiastically asked me if I do (play?) fantasy football. I told him no, which I think disappointed him a little bit, so he switched gears and asked me if I play video games. I told him that I do, but primarily Super Mario Bros (I didn’t mention that I am more than a little obsessed with the Sims 3). He meant something more along the lines of Call of Duty or Halo. I wouldn’t mind those games, but for some reason first person games with 3-D graphics give me motion sickness. He gave up after that.

I’m well aware that I’m a nerd, this wasn’t some sort of wake up call for me. I was in band in high school. I collected Star Wars action figures. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not into sports and I don’t know anything about cars, but I still found myself questioning my masculinity a little bit after I went home. These guys weren’t traditionally masculine, a lot of them were nerdy too (I mean, we’re in grad school). Still, there was a more masculine edge to their nerdy pursuits. They like simulation games where you shoot people, I like simulation games where you make people houses. It’s not really a bad thing, I’m glad that I’m not into violence. I just felt a little left out, on the outside looking in.

This is how I feel about male bonding a lot. Apparently this isn’t unusual. A lot of guys feel that they aren’t masculine enough or that they have trouble connecting with other men. I still feel weird about it and blame it on being trans. I don’t know if that’s why I am the way I am, though. Sure, I missed out on a lot of male socialization, but it isn’t as if my dad is (or has ever been) a bro. I’m a socially awkward, anxious, non-athletically inclined, liberal intellectual. I’m pretty sure I was born this way. I don’t like fantasy football, and that’s totally okay. I just wonder if I would even be thinking about this if I was cis.

Making friends

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m in school. I just started here and am meeting a lot of new people. This is my first time meeting people in an environment where I can feasibly be stealth, so it’s created some interesting situations for me. I expect that things will get far more interesting as time progresses, but I’ve already noticed some stuff that I think is worth blogging about. First off, the program that I am in is small and predominately female. There are a couple of other guys, but they’ve been far more reserved than the women and so I haven’t really gotten to know them yet. I usually gravitate toward people who make socializing easy because I have social anxiety, and oftentimes those people happen to be female. So, historically I’ve had a lot of female friends. I have no problem with this, but I’m realizing that it’s a little awkward now to be a straight guy and close friends with women. I’ve never really learned how to navigate that situation, and I find myself constantly on alert trying not to seem like a creeper. I’m not attracted to any of the women that I’ve met, and I’m in a relationship, but I don’t know how to make it clear that I’m not trying to creep and that I’m just looking for friends (I’m doing it semi-successfully, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling a little awkward). All of this makes me realize that on some levels socially I’m still a teenage boy who is just starting to learn about the world and figure stuff like this out.

I also find it difficult trying to befriend guys. I’m not sure if this is related to being trans or not, but I’m always anxious that guys are trying to gauge my masculinity or trying to see how I measure up against them. That plays out, I guess, with me tending to feel more comfortable around guys my own height or guys who are a bit more feminine. I’m pretty sure all of this is ridiculous, but I can’t say for sure. As I mentioned, I haven’t really lived as male long enough to have all of this totally figured out (and does anyone ever really figure out all of the social rules?) In any case, I find myself stumbling a bit. That’s one of the reasons I’m really pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to actively seek out male friends. I feel like having that experience might teach me a lot and help me feel more socially competent. I know it seems like I’m overthinking things, and maybe I am, but it can be really difficult to have missed out on some critical socialization. It seems like overthinking because these things are so ingrained in us that it appears as though they come naturally, but they don’t. Luckily, these things seem to get easier as time goes on.