Body & Soul

The intimate relationship between chemsex and loneliness

Ignacio Labayen de Inza is a chemsex specialist advisor and works online on hook up apps giving advice on safer drug use. This month he writes about the link between chemsex and loneliness.

Pedro claims that, undoubtedly, loneliness was the main reason why he got involved in chemsex. He moved from Madrid to this country in 2014, and he had never used drugs before. In fact, he always was adamantly against them, and he would have sworn to God that he was never going to try them.

In the beginning, when he moved here, everything was very challenging: his English wasn’t good, he didn’t have friends, and he found lots of cultural differences that sometimes he couldn’t understand. Pedro felt terribly lonely: he was missing Spain, his people… but he found a good job here, which made him stay.

What happened next completely makes sense: casual sex has always been very helpful to handle challenging emotions such as loneliness. Considering how much he was struggling and how available sex is, he went for it. Pedro knew that this wasn’t fixing his isolation, but it helped him to cope, so some company, especially if it came with some intimacy, meant a lot to him. 

He saw that interactions with other gay men always became connected with sex and after meeting a few sexual partners, he found drugs in his path very soon. Initially, he always refused when they were offered, but one day when he was feeling particularly lonely, he met someone who he liked a lot: he was hot and kind, sex was great… and he had some chems. Pedro couldn’t say no, not to him, not this time, and he tried it. This was 4 years ago.

Mike, on the contrary, was born here. Since childhood he was charming, funny, loyal to his friends… and he met his best mates in school. They shared amazing years together, and they developed that kind of friendship that lasts forever, whether or not they are straight – Mike is not.

Someone like him found his place in the scene very easily. He shined at every party; he loved dancing in clubs for hours high on MDMA and G, and meeting many sexy guys. Mike remembers he felt alive; he was young and his weekends were glorious. His old friends loved to hear his stories when they met, even though he never mentioned anything about drugs. They wouldn’t have understood, so what was the point?

Things changed so slowly that he didn’t even notice. He tried Tina in a chill-out one day after clubbing… and that changed his sex life radically: he could fuck for days and he felt much more confident and much better at sex. It was perfect! Besides, Grindr made things very easy to find more of that, so he stopped going out completely. 

Obviously he couldn’t share all this with his old friends, and he started to let them down regularly when they had agreed to meet, but he wasn’t showing up, without cancelling, just because he was bingeing. Always with lies and excuses, full of shame and guilt for not being able to keep his commitments, he decided to stop making plans with them to prevent more disappointments. That was 2 years ago.

Now Mike prefers not to meet anyone. Everybody who he met at a chemsex session was someone who he met easily, but who left even more easily, and paranoia became so unbearable that it’s safer to get high alone watching porn instead of meeting someone who could hurt him. He doesn’t look healthy lately, he has lost lots of weight and there is no life in his skin anymore – so meeting his old friends would force him to explain many things that he just can’t discuss with them. Additionally, he is always tired, with no energy to answer calls or messages. Mike says that the biggest consequences of his chemsex life have been isolation and loneliness.

For Jason, loneliness is the biggest obstacle to get over chemsex. He is naturally very shy and he never had many friends, but he accepted that. In his case, chems gave him a confidence that he had never had, and that was really powerful. He recalls going to saunas, trying to go unnoticed because he thought he was ugly and he was terrified of being rejected. The first time he tried mephedrone he was shocked when he saw that he could talk to everybody. That if someone rejected him it was OK because there were many other guys who he could approach. He made mates every weekend; they found his jokes funny… and they laughed together. He had never felt anything like that, and he enjoyed being the cool guy whose company people liked, something that he had never experienced before.

Now Jason feels out of control; he missed so many days at work because he was partying that he got fired, and he is struggling with his health. He understands that he needs to change something, but he can’t because he is scared. What is waiting for him if he stops? What is behind chemsex? He only can see himself even lonelier in the isolation he knows so well… and anything is better than being there again.

The three of them, Pedro, Mike and Jason, agree upon one thing: nothing makes us more vulnerable than loneliness, and I am wondering how many other gay men, involved in chemsex or not, also agree with them?

You can write to Ignacio at: [email protected]

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