A Shared Delight
by Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
In my search for the particular quality of father-son bonding that is fundamental to the development of the boy's masculine identity, I have been led to a phenomenon that I call "a shared delight."
I am convinced that the healthy development of masculine identification depends on this phenomenon. This special emotional exchange should be between the boy and his father, although a father figure or grandfather may serve the purpose where no father is available. It is not a single event or one-time occurrence, but should characterize the relationship.
This particular style of emotional attunement is especially important during the critical developmental gender-identity period.
Homosexual men have great difficulty recalling childhood father-son activities that were fun, exciting and enjoyable and included success and achievement for the client-- a shared delight. They typically do not have many positive memories of their fathers coaching them to gain a new skill that involves bodily activity or strength. Indeed, many lament this deprivation.
An example of "a shared delight" is found in writer and social commentator Malcolm Muggeridge's autobiobiography. Malcolm's father was his hero; and as a teenager, Malcolm would travel to his father's office in London. When the young man arrived, he noticed an embodied shift in his father:
"When he saw me, his face always lit up, as it had a way of doing, quite suddenly, thereby completely altering his appearance; transforming him from a rather cavernous, shrunken man into someone boyish and ardent. He would leap agilely off his stool, wave gaily to his colleague... and we would make off together.
"There was always about these excursions an element of being on an illicit spree, which greatly added to their pleasure. They were the most enjoyable episodes in all my childhood."
As we work with men who experience same-sex attractions, we hear that repeated theme--their inability to recall "a shared delight."
Physical interaction between father and son appears essential in making the father feel familiar, non-mysterious, and approachable in the boy's eyes.
So much of what lies behind adult same-sex attraction is that deep, lingering, unsatisfied desire for physical closeness with a man. With internalization of the father's masculinity, there will be no need to sexualize another man.