Living in the country can be lonely and isolating for anyone, sometimes because there is literally no-one else around, but more commonly because there are too few people around who are on the same wavelength. These problems are often magnified if you're gay or same-sex attracted, because there tend to be fewer gay people in the country and also because people in the country tend to be more conservative and homophobic than those in the city. This leads many same-sex attracted people to keep their sexuality to themselves, making it harder to meet others in the same situation. Research indicates that, as a result, suicide and attempted suicide rates for same-sex
attracted people in rural areas are much higher than in the city.
However, loneliness and isolation are also a problem for many gay men in the city: the common factor is a lack of social interaction and a lack of support.
Feeling lonely and isolated commonly leaves people craving contact with another human being or more specifically intimacy with another person. If you're in this situation you may really feel like you need to be touched by another human being or to touch someone else. You may also just want to lie next to a warm body or just be held. Or you may just crave a good root. Many men use beats or sex-on-premises venues to try to meet these needs, with different levels of success. It is important for men
who have anonymous sex to know how to manage their sexual health to protect themselves and others from HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
Depression could be anything from feeling a little down to clinical depression that requires specialised treatment. Depression can affect our emotions and our mood: it typically leaves us feeling persistently sad, blue, hopeless, low, down in the dumps and irritable. There can also be a loss of enjoyment in usual pastimes and activities. There are also impacts on how we behave, such as poor appetite, sleep difficulties and lack of energy.
It can sometimes be described as one big ball of negative thoughts and feelings.
Depression can result in a reduced sex drive but this doesn't necessarily mean that a depressed person has little or no sex. The sexual need may come from other thoughts and feelings besides just being horny. It could be about making us feel better about ourselves or about punishing ourselves. This will be discussed later in this fact sheet.
Poor body image means that we have negatively evaluated aspects of our physical appearance and have negative feelings attached to it. This could be any aspect of our appearance including body fat,
muscularity, facial features, height, body hair, head-hair and penis size. An obsession over a perceived physical flaw may then develop.
Some of the consequences of poor body image could be excessive dieting, excessive exercise, steroid use, using clothing to 'disguise' flaws, avoiding social settings or situations that may expose the body, using laxatives or diet pills, having cosmetic surgery or developing an eating disorder.
Being insecure about our appearance can develop into more general negative feelings about ourselves such as our personality, our likeability, or our worth in general. All of this could mean that
looking for or actually having sex is the last thing on our minds. However, picking up a casual sexual partner may be a way of 'testing' our attractiveness, again either to make us feel better or ironically to punish ourselves.
Self-esteem is simply how we feel about ourselves. Much like depression, low self-esteem could be described as a ball of negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves. Those negative thoughts and feelings could be similar to those already listed for loneliness, depression and poor body image.
All these conditions can effect the decisions we make regarding the practice of anal intercourse. They can all influence when and why we may choose to not use a condom with a casual sex partner and therefore put ourselves at risk of exposure to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Some of the reasons people who experience these psychological and emotional conditions could decide to not use a condom for anal intercourse in the heat of the moment could include:
If you think you may be experiencing any of the above conditions you may want to talk to someone about it. Talk therapies such as counselling can be very effective in dealing with all of the issues described in this fact sheet. Trained counsellors and psychologists are confidential and non-judgemental, though you may feel more comfortable asking for someone with experience counselling same-sex attracted men. It may be worth overcoming some shyness about talking to a stranger about personal matters to avoid HIV or an STI being a souvenir of your last bout of 'the blues'.