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How To Meet Gay Friends And Build Social Skills

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How To Meet Gay Friends And Build Social Skills © Stockbyte/Getty
Dear Mona,

I am in a very long term relationship. Both of us have been loners and I never got the chance to experience gay life, meet other gay friends, or build social skills.

When is enough enough? We went to a gay resort today and there was a group of guys there chatting.  I said hello and looked directly at them in a confident way. They replied and one guy from the group came over to chat me up. I accepted. Here's where I need fine tuning:  I really was not interested in him or any of them in the group, but I wanted to be friendly and I am trying to meet friends and learn to develop social skills. Do I keep the conversation going like a tennis match or let it die?

After awhile, I met most of the guys. There was not much interaction between us and the others in the group just a couple of smiles and a few remarks, like: What do you do for work?  (Is that a question that you answer when you first meet someone?) Do you live here? In a house or condo? And of course, are you guys a couple? All these questions in such a short time!

Then the cattiness started and I crawled back into my shell. The conversation went south and I felt uneasy with all the questions and the remarks.  And you guessed it, the guy that came over and offered the beer latched on and didn't go away.

-Socially Steve


Dear Steve,

From one self-socializing loner to another, one of the most difficut things you will do in your life is begin the process of seeing the world outside-in instead of inside-out.

If you're anything like me, as a kid you were much more interested in stacking beetles and counting stars than you were playing with the other little boys and girls. Over time you convinced yourself that the "other things" were far more interesting than other people. And so all those years passed and you never learned how to socialize. But, it's never too late to join a good time.

When those guys bombarded you with questions, they weren't prying; they were trying to get to know you. Their inquiries seemed intrusive because, well, you're not used to sharing "you" with other people. You're in your head processing while they're in the moment experiencing. And as a true loner, you're overanalyzing what's meant to be light banter.

It's understandable that your comfort lies in controlled solitude. When what seems like social chaos unfolds, you get a little uneasy. Could it be what's really making you uncomfortable is not the guys themselves, but the fact that you have no control over the conversation? Unexpected questions from strangers can bring on thoughts you're not used to sharing with anyone outside of yourself and your relationship.

Most of socializing is the process of getting to know someone else, outside of yourself. Chances are your thoughts run deep, but not all conversation has to go there. There's a time for a little Chelsea Lately and then there is a time for some History Channel followed by Colbert.

And what seems like overly personal questions are actually social standards. The work, home, life questions are ice breakers. They were trying to get to know you, not pry too quickly into your personal life. It's not an offense, it's being social.

Develop your own filters and you'll better handle seemingly odd or personal questions. You decide how much you want to reveal. Just because they ask doesn't mean you have to share the entire saga. Give them a preview and disclose more once you know them better. In most cases that's exactly what they're doing, which is why the initial conversations seem like pointless banter.

Also, your smile and greeting attracted the random guy you met at the bar. The reason he didn't leave you alone is because on some level you piqued his interest. He wanted to know more about you. It was too soon to tell what his true motives were–friendship, hookup, relationship, light convo–and you didn't stick it out long enough for him to reveal his true intentions.

Instead of heading back to your cranial comfort, stay in the wilderness. Trust that just because you participate in light chat doesn't mean you're auditioning to be Paris's new BFF. Pace yourself. Trickle out information. Try not to overanalyze and stay in the moment. When you're out, tone it down an just have a good time.

Practice doesn't make perfect; it makes habits. Keep smiling and saying hi. And no matter how difficult it is, stay in the conversation.

Yours cracking the shell,
Mona
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