Karl Beckstrand was exposed to gay sex at age 8 by a male peer. Because of that experience at such a tender age, Karl developed a dysfunctional relationship with sex. He became hypersexual from that first encounter at age 8 until he was about 40, at which point he went to the other extreme and became a recluse for a decade. Here, he tells the story of how he learned to get his emotional needs met in a healthy way.

Guest Bio 

College media instructor Karl W. Beckstrand is the best-selling author/illustrator of twenty-seven multicultural/multilingual books (60 e-books—reviews by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, The Horn Book, and School Library Journal). Raised in San Jose, California, he has lived abroad, earned a B.A. in journalism, an M.A. in international relations and conflict resolution, and a broadcast & film certificate. His western novel, To Swallow the Earth, won a 2016 International Book Award. Beckstrand loves volleyball and singing (in rock bands or choirs). His Y.A. stories, e-book mysteries, immigrant biographies, self-help, Spanish/bilingual books, and STEM books feature diverse characters—and usually end with a twist. See: Amazon, Apple/iBooks, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Follett, Ingram, Walmart, Target, and PremioBooks.com

Turning 40 and Embracing Intimacy Over Sex

In this episode of the Forty Drinks Podcast, host Stephanie McLaughlin talks to Karl Beckstrand, who reflects on his early experiences with hypersexuality and his attempts to suppress his attraction to men. He discusses the negative impact this had on his relationships and his decision to become a recluse for 10 years. Karl eventually realized that he needs emotional connection rather than sexual encounters to fulfill his needs. He opens up about his deep and lasting friendships with men, which he describes as “bromances.” Karl challenges some of the societal norms in the gay community and emphasizes the importance of meeting emotional needs in relationships. This episode offers a unique perspective on relationships and personal growth in midlife.

Highlights:

  • Karl shares his early exposure to sex by a male peer and how it led him to act hypersexually along with his attempts to suppress his attraction to men.
  • He discusses the negative impact of his out-of-control behavior on his relationships and his decision to become a recluse for 10 years.
  • Karl realizes that he needs emotional connection rather than sexual encounters to fulfill his needs.
  • He opens up about his deep and lasting friendships with men, which he describes as “bromances.”
  • Karl challenges societal norms and emphasizes the importance of meeting emotional needs in relationships.

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be honored if you would rate, follow, and review the Forty Drinks Podcast.

Guest Resources

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Sponsor

The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

Transcript

Stephanie: Hello, Karl. Welcome to the show.

Karl: Hi, Stephanie. Thanks for having me.

Stephanie: It's such a pleasure to have you here today. You and I have been wrangling with schedules and, and we've had a couple of near misses. So it's fabulous to finally be here with you today.

Karl: Yes. I'm glad we connected.

Stephanie: Yes. Yes. Well, let's just jump right in. As we do with each one of these stories, I like to start with the prologue. Tell us made you the adult that you were in those late thirties, early forties period when we come to the beginning of our story. What shaped you? Mm

Karl: Yeah. So I'd been hypersexual in my younger days and thought that God wanted me to avoid sex. And specifically with men. And so by the time I kind of got control of myself around the age of 40, I went to another extreme, which was something that the Universe, god never wanted for me. And that was, I became kind of a recluse and for about 10 years, I had not a lot of social contact. I had my family and a few straight friends, but it was not, it was not healthy.

Stephanie: Okay, Okay,

Karl: Yeah.

Stephanie: So let's go all the way back. What, what was it that set you on this path?

Karl: So I was exposed to sex when I was eight years old by a male peer. I wouldn't call it molested because he was a peer, but I think he was molested because he knew stuff that I, I mean, I didn't even know what sex was.

Stephanie: Sure. Sure.

Karl: And so after that point, an eight year old can't handle something like that. And I was sexually active from, from that early age and was not really in control of myself.

Stephanie: Wow. Did you know when you were that young that, that you were gay? Okay.

Karl: No and in fact, I'm actually bisexual but I lean more towards attraction to men.

Stephanie: Okay.

Karl: Yeah, but I did remember fixating on men as a young child, not sexually before, you know, before that time at age eight, but just fixating on men. And I think that's typical. I think girls fixate on women, boys fixate on men just to emulate them. And, you know,

Stephanie: Yeah.

Karl: but then it became sexualized.

Stephanie: And so that sort of launched you into this path of hyper sexuality and through your jeepers you know, preteens, teens, twenties. Tell me what that looked like for you. I mean, obviously not, I'm not asking for the graphic details, but from a big, big picture perspective, what was that doing?

Karl: So, it's interesting because I acknowledged that I was attracted to men, but I also was attracted to women. So I was dating women at the same time. As I got older, of course. And I, I think my thought process back then was, well, if I marry a woman, then I probably won't have this attraction to men anymore, which was erroneous. The real difficult thing about it was not being in control, was acting sexually with people that I didn't even want to be with.

Stephanie: Oh, okay.

Karl: And so that was, that was terrifying.

Stephanie: Yeah, I'll bet. Did you end up marrying a woman at some point?

Karl: I came close several times and either she would back out or I would back out depending on the, the circumstance. And it was only once was it over my attraction to men, just other, other things. But I'm glad that it didn't happen because I feel like I needed to go on this journey. I needed to learn these things.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. How did you know that you were out of control?

Karl: Because I would wake up and this was before, you know, internet hookups, but I would wake up and I would say, I'm not going to that hookup place, this location, and then I would end up there that same day.

Stephanie: Mm. Would you consider it a sex addiction at that point?

Karl: Yeah. Compulsion at least, if it wasn't an addiction, it was very compulsive.

Stephanie: Mm. And I was looking through some notes that you had sent over that, that, and one of them stuck out to me and you said emotional connection is a need and that it can manifest as sexual desire, like feeling feeling hungry when you're dehydrated, talk a little bit about that.

Karl: So that was a huge epiphany to discover is that and I think for a lot of people I think most people experienced being hungry, but or being dehydrated when it feels like hunger. And for me having this drive to act sexually only to discover that that's not what I needed. And once I met my emotional need, my libido has been calm. I still have a libido. It's healthy, but it's been, it hasn't been in control of me.

Stephanie: Yeah. So through your twenties and your thirties, was that drive in control? Did it affect other areas of your life? Did it screw with, you know, work or pardon the pun, I guess. Sorry about that. With work or social or, you know, friendship relationships or family relationships?

Karl: I'm sure it did. It's funny. The thing that comes to mind is that I was a dishonest person because I was hiding all of this. And so in my other relationships with family and friends and work, I, I was a liar. And so one of the steps that actually helped me move past this being out of control phase was to be honest with myself and with other people. And once I started to speak out loud what I was doing, finally, the self control that I felt like I didn't have started to come. It was like the Universe was saying, you cannot overcome something that you won't acknowledge.

Stephanie: Right. Right.

Karl: And the other key to that was speaking these things out loud to another human being is the basis for relationship. And so I was having pseudo relationship being sexual, but when you're honest with all your stuff with another person, and hopefully that person won't reject you, then you're starting to establish a relationship of trust and you're starting to meet your emotional need.

Stephanie: So when you started talking about this, when you started being honest about this, I'm guessing that that was coming sort of in your 30s as you were, as you were coming to the end of this period. What did that look like? Who were you talking to?

Karl: That was interesting. I had been to church leaders. I've been to counselors and both had encouraged me. You need to go to a group. You need to be with people like yourself and find out that you're not an alien. You know, you're not evil. There are people like you who've been able to move past this. And so, yes, going to a group, and then speaking these things out loud. You know, it's funny because for a while going to a group of, you know, people who are compulsive sexually, I would think, Oh, these people are sick. But it was me. You know, the longer I stayed with that and, and held myself to the fire there when they opened their mouths, they were telling my story. So I was like, Oh, I'm, I'm them.

Stephanie: Hmm. Interesting. So then what was the shift from that from starting to acknowledge and own those behaviors to becoming a recluse?

Karl: So I had tried everything I could think of prior to going to a group to not be out of control and everything I tried failed. You know, willpower, white knuckling. Trying to sequester myself. None of that worked and you know. Being a person who believes in God, I would pray and, and I just felt like nothing was making a difference.

And it was so interesting because the change happened so gradually that I wasn't even aware of it at first. One morning I woke up and I said, Oh my gosh, it's been three months since I was sexual with somebody. And then later on, you know, a couple of years. And I had to look back and examine what, what happened? Cause I didn't do it.

Stephanie: Right?

Karl: And it was, it was God, or the Universe, and my being honest.

Stephanie: Yeah. So what led you to that, that period of being a recluse? What, what,

Karl: Oh yes.

Stephanie: make, why did you make that choice or, or, and, and not that it was an active choice that I'm going to lock myself away for a decade, but like, what led you there?

Karl: It almost was a conscious choice because I had been trying for so long to gain control of my life that even once the sexual activity was going away, I was still like, okay, what do I do to make sure this never happens? Because it was so terrifying, the way it was before. And so I believed that God wanted me to put on blinders and go to the grave without interacting with another guy again ever in my life. And so that's what I did for 10 years. Totally unhelpful.

Stephanie: Yeah, how'd you do that? I mean, cause it, it is truly the opposite end of the spectrum from where you had been. So how?

Karl: I at least knew that it wasn't me that had gotten me sober. Quote, unquote, sober. It was just like, I don't know what did this, but whatever it is, I got to keep a hold of it. So it was kind of compulsive also.

Stephanie: Oh, interesting.

Karl: Yeah.

Stephanie: You almost didn't know why you had, I'm not going to, I'm going to use this word, but I don't mean it this way. You don't, you didn't know why you had quote unquote recovered. Or quote unquote been able to stop this behavior that you were, that you considered to be negative. And so you just kind of shut the door on the world.

Karl: And I didn't realize at the time that I was also shutting the door on what was meeting my emotional needs, because I was going to these meetings and being honest and disclosing and establishing, you know, relationships of trust with other human beings. And I didn't realize that that was key. I needed to keep that and I didn't always keep that.

Stephanie: Okay. So, so closing the door on the world also meant closing the door on these groups that you had been participating in. Okay.

Karl: Not, not totally because I recognized that there was some value in though I couldn't identify what. And so I would still go occasionally, but if I'd understood back then the need to meet emotional need, I would have been more social rather than less social.

Stephanie: Okay. So throughout all of this, throughout one end of the spectrum and then the other end of the spectrum, you still haven't identified what the problem is. Right?

Karl: Yeah. Up to that, up till about seven years ago, I hadn't. I had ideas, but I was wrong.

Stephanie: What were your ideas? What were your wrong ideas?

Karl: That interacting with guys was bad.

Stephanie: Are you saying that that homosexuality itself was bad?

Karl: Yeah. At least from my experience,

Stephanie: Right. Right. Yeah.

Karl: I erroneously believed that all interaction between guys for me was bad.

Stephanie: Okay. Okay. So, so real extreme thinking.

Karl: Yeah. I mean, I still had my brothers and I, like I said, a couple of straight friends who were not any risk of being sexual with me. Yeah.

Stephanie: Okay. So you came to that incorrect conclusion. How did you find a truer conclusion? How did you come to an understanding that was a little closer to the truth?

Karl: It was this thirst. Our emotional needs for other human beings are legitimate. I say God driven. And so I had this yearning to connect with people. And in fact, I started to be resentful, you know, in work or church or other situations where I would interact with a guy, shake my hand or pat me on the shoulder. And I would think inside, that's, that's nice and polite, but I would really rather have a hug. You know, inside I started to develop this resentment towards people for not being more engaging, you know. And I was the one who was being the standoffish person.

Stephanie: Right.

Karl: I, so this emotional need, this thirst that I had before tried to fix with food or sex, basically, I, it drove me to look for another way of living.

Stephanie: Okay.

Karl: I started to, I started to go online and look for platonic social sites. And I, I was terrified. I was like, I am compulsive sexually. Is this a good idea? But it turns out it was a great idea.

Stephanie: Really? Talk about that.

Karl: So it was very difficult to find platonic social sites anywhere at the time.

Stephanie: Sure. Mm

Karl: And I eventually did find one or two. And fortunately I connected with someone. Okay. This is the really wild part is I connected with someone who's quite promiscuous with, with men and, but he agreed to respect my, my boundaries. And again, terror here. But the interesting thing about hanging out with a promiscuous gay man was that because he knew so many men, he was like, oh, I know all these guys that don't want sex. So he introduced me to all these, all these guys.

Stephanie: Okay. That's funny. Yeah, your, your connector.

Karl: Yeah. And so once I started to have my emotional needs met, so basically everybody that I interacted with, I said, sex is off the table. I've had plenty of that. It doesn't do for me what I thought it would do. So I'm going to try to live life without it and see what relationships relationships. How they go without it. And immediately, like the first person that I ever had contact with where I said sex is off the table, I experienced this deep, profound connection that I'd never had in all the years I was sexual and it lasted. Yeah. I mean, I still love the guy to this day.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. just said something I want to, I want to jump back to. You said when you were making the statement of that sex is off the table and you said it never did for me what I thought it would do. What was it that you had thought that it would do for you?

Karl: Oh, you know, there's the fantasy that there's this one person out there who's going to meet all your needs and know all your thoughts, even unspoken thoughts. And you're just going to be one being and sex is going to cement that. And I never heard that. And there's a little bit farfetched romanticism is kind of crazy and thinking that there's one person who's going to meet all your needs. But I found the deep connection that I was always yearning for.

Stephanie: Okay What did that look like?

Karl: It didn't look like what I thought because it wasn't one individual. And after a time I went to a buddy and I said, I think I'm an, I think I'm a freak in the gay world because I'm in love with three men. And my friend, he probed, he said, okay, so are you ever jealous if they hold someone else's hand or put their arm around some other guy? And my immediate response was no. And he says, that's because you have learned how the male heart works toward men. And the male heart is designed to love more than one man, made to love men.

Stephanie: Mm hmm.

Karl: And that took a huge burden off me because I realized that I wasn't cheating anybody. I wasn't denying anybody anything by loving more than one person deeply.

Stephanie: This is a really interesting place and I'm I have questions, but I'm not even sure quite how to ask them. I guess what I'm trying to connect is you're saying that you're in love with three men, which fine. I have, I'm trying to, let me, I'm trying to say this carefully so that I'm, I'm as respectful as possible. Might other people consider that just great connection with people. Great friendships. I mean, I love some of my friends, you know, quite, quite intensely. You know, I guess what I'm trying to understand is you had a hole that you couldn't fill for so long again. Sorry about the terrible allusion. That, that now, you know, if you're finding this, emotional connection and this relationship connection with people. When I'm hearing you, I'm coming around to it. I'm finally realizing what I'm trying to say. I'm hearing it as when you say I love three men, I'm hearing it as romantic love, cause that's the way I use that word, but it is not the full meaning of the word. So can you characterize.

Right. Because I don't romantically love my girlfriends, although they're fabulous. So can you help me characterize, put a little bit more life into this, into what you're talking about?

Karl: It's been difficult to define because when I initially approached my buddy and said, I think I'm in love with three men. That's, those were the only words I could think of to articulate what I was feeling. And over time it was difficult because I would think, okay, it's more than friendship. But it's, yeah, it's not a partner, romance love.

And I, for a while I would say soul brother. And then actually I went back to the word bromance because that old term really describes it because it's passionate. There's deep, deep affection, deep love. And and the other thing that I discovered was it wasn't just me. Women have gotten this, have understood this throughout all history. You know, they can marry someone and have their girlfriends. Guys, especially in the last 150 years we've been told to be your own man, you know, be your solo hero. And especially if you have a spouse or a partner, there should be no other people.

Stephanie: Right.

Karl: Both men and women have believed the guy shouldn't have anybody but his partner, his spouse.

Stephanie: Yeah,

Karl: And that's so unhealthy.

Stephanie: It really is. I remember reading an article. I can't remember if it was Esquire or, GQ or something, but I saw an article go by a couple of years ago that was like the crisis of male friendship. And that, you know, men in their middle years are truly experiencing a crisis of isolation and and, and a lack of connection with people who aren't their partners.

Intermission

Karl: And I think it's a new phenomenon. I think since the invention of the word homosexual, homophobia has come. And so men in fear of being accused of homosexual, because the word contains the word sex. And by, by inventing that word, it implies, Oh, male relationships involve sex. And so guys started distancing from each other more.

Stephanie: Sure. Sure. Okay. I can see that. I can see that theme. Right, because as it's funny that we're recording this week, because my, one of my closest friends lives in San Diego and she was home for a week and spent a couple nights at my house and, we're sitting up late chatting and my husband was in the room and, you know, we're all, visiting and sort of reconnecting. So it's interesting. I feel like we have a pretty good balance. My husband's got a handful of really close friends and I've got a couple of close friends as well. So there is a nice balance there, but I, I see what you're saying about that. If it's just the one person in your world that, you know, there might be some missing pieces.

Karl: Absolutely. And that can, that can be the root of some addictions, you know, gaming, gambling, workaholism. If you're not meeting your needs, it's like you have this thirst, but you don't know it's thirst. You're like trying to stuff something else into you.

Stephanie: Right. Oh, that's yeah. Yeah, that's an interesting connection. These, these three men that you that you were falling in love with were, what was their side of that relationship towards you? Were each of the three men falling in love with you? Or, I'm just curious.

Karl: Yeah. Different for each guy. Like one guy, the first guy that I told you about who was very promiscuous. We love each other to death. And he's still looking for a sexual partner, you know, to grow old with. And he knows that I'm not, so I'm not that, but he still loves me. And then other guys, like one guy wanted my heart exclusively. He wanted me to, I mean, I probably will end up living with somebody at some point, but he wanted me to move in and not care about other people in my life. And I couldn't turn my heart off. I told him I can't change how I feel about other people. And I need the other people.

Stephanie: Well, it's just what you just said, right? That you would be putting yourself into a situation of isolation there and only having the one person. So from my side of the fence, it sounds like you found, three great, great, deep, wonderful, fulfilling friendships. Would you characterize that as well?

Karl: Bromance, as I say. Because there's passion because we care deeply, I mean, and there's deep affection and yeah, and, and some guys get it. It's interesting. I thought I was the only one on the planet who thought this way. And then over time I discovered other, other people who discovered the same things that I had about male relationships, about emotional need. And that was gratifying. So I'm kind of on this quest now to evangelize the importance of having your emotional needs met.

Stephanie: And what does that look like for you these days? So, well, no, let me, let me, let's put a pin in that question and come back to it. Let's go back to your, linear story. Around 40, you kind of closed up shop, built yourself a cave and crawled in. And then around 10 years later, you came out and you started making friends and you met these men and you built a community. So what now does that getting your emotional needs met look like in all of its forms? Mm hmm.

Karl: Yeah. I think all of my relationships are better. For a short period when I was discovering these things, I was hanging out with gay guys and my straight friends started to resent they weren't getting any attention from me. And inside I was thinking, I love you, but you're not giving me what I need.

And so I was kind of neglectful of them, but I've come full circle and I realized that, you know, you don't have to have a physical attraction to a man to have a good deep relationship and even affection.

My straight friends are gradually seeing that I love them still and we're hanging out together and doing fun stuff. But I'm also, you know, I'm also hanging out with, with guys that will kiss me and hold me for, for hours, you know? That's wonderful.

Well, one question that a lot of people have for me is Karl, are you talking about a double standard that heterosexual couples enjoy sex and it's good and beneficial for their relationship and, and homosexual couples shouldn't, and it's bad for the relationship.

Stephanie: Oh, that's a great question that people ask you that I should have asked you, but why don't you answer it anyway?

Karl: So my answer is, is not a double standard. The relationships are different. You know, there are parent child relationships. There are friendships. There are coworkers. There are neighbor relationships. There are sibling relationships. And for society to compare homosexual or gay relationships to straight couple pairings, I think is destructive and counterproductive. And it goes back to romanticism of finding that one person who's going to meet all your needs, which is bad for gay or straight. My response is there are different kinds of relationships and I experimented all different kinds with of ways with men. And I found that the deepest and most lasting, and this is key, lasting relationships with men for me come non sexually.

Stephanie: So there is no romantic partner in your life currently.

Karl: Yeah, I get lots of romance, but

Stephanie: Right. So I'm trying to make a comparison and you're saying there is no comparison. You're saying I'm trying to compare apples to giraffes.

Karl: Yeah, but the nice thing is I will, like I said, probably end up living with a guy, but it will be someone who values what I value, who appreciates non sexual connection because it's so deep and lasting, whereas so many gay men, I can't speak for gay women, but so many gay men just go from partner to partner to partner looking for that drink, but they're stuffing food in their mouths.

And so if I, even if I live with someone, yes, they will be someone special, but they won't be the only person in my life.

Stephanie: Interesting. This is all very new to me, so I'm trying to digest and, and, and,

Karl: Yeah,

Stephanie: formulate at the same time.

Karl: It was very new to me. It was so different from what I believed.

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah. I have I definitely have gay male friends that I love and adore. And, and I would say, though, that if I'm painting with a very broad brush, their ideas of relationships were different than mine, right? And that they were more open to different partners, even if they were in a relationship. And it might be something they did together. Or it might be something they did, you know, on on the side or. And so that was challenging to wrap my head around because for them, it didn't make the primary relationship any less important or any less wonderful. It was just something that was a little bit more understood and accepted in that culture than it would be in my culture of, you know, heterosexual marriage. Right. So, so you're talking about this and it's, it's, I suppose, as I really digested, it is just a little bit of a, um, variation on a theme that, that I actually am not completely unfamiliar with now that I, now that I'm, it's settling for me. Yeah.

Karl: And I'm not saying that there are no successful monogamous gay couples. I don't know that. But I've known a lot of gay couples and a lot of gay individuals. And yeah, I just feel like because orgasm feels good, people can get distracted and waylaid for the rest of their lives and not find out if there's anything better.

Stephanie: Interesting. You know, if I'm being honest, some of this kind of resonates from my,early adulthood. Probably my twenties and maybe even into my thirties, this concept of, of, of feeling hungry, but being dehydrated and looking for it with your pants off.

Karl: Yeah. Yeah.

Stephanie: I, I, I, I hadn't ever characterized it that way before, but I, I could envision if I, if I throw my brain back there, I could envision that some of that was, looking for connections that didn't necessarily need to be the way they were, but that's the way they happened. Right? Sothere's a universality there about what you're talking about. That, that, that search for connection.

Another thing in your notes that you said that I, I liked, which was, you said that few choices are binary. Talk a little bit about that.

Karl: Well, gosh, it's so ubiquitous. It's in everything, you know, in the grocery store or in your schooling or whatever. But in relationships I just had this stupid idea there was that there was not being sexual with men, which was good and actually not relating with men, which was good. Huh. Or relating with them, and it was always bad. It was so hard for me to open my brain up. See, there's other options, other ways to relate. I

Stephanie: Do you think, and, and I don't know how much you've dug into this in, in, in your groups or in counseling or whatever, but your early introduction to sex. I mean, at 8, again, we've said that's way, way, way too young for a child. Did that leave you? I don't know. It is stuck in a state of maybe arrested development or emotional development or

I

Karl: think it did for a long time.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Karl: Yeah. And maybe, maybe that's why I was 50 before I started to see differently.

Stephanie: It feels a little like some of the stuff you're talking about is still a little bit more towards the extreme than, than the norm, meaning you're saying for you non sexual relationships are more fulfilling than sexual relationships.

Karl: Yeah. That's surprising. I know.

Stephanie: It is. It's surprising. It's a, it's a little you know, unconventional. Have you met anyone else for whom that was true?

Karl: Yes. Multiple people. Yeah. Like I say, some people who had discovered it on their own before they even met, even met me. But then other people that I've interacted with sharing affection where sex is off the table, they'll in the middle of it, say, Oh my gosh, this is what I've always wanted and I didn't even know it.

Stephanie: Hmm. Interesting.

Karl: And the other thing is that it's very rare now for me to meet a man and share affection with him and have that bond dissolve, which was just the way it was before. That was just the way it was.

And now, it's just the bond gets stronger and stronger over time. Even, you know, the very first guy that I mentioned. He lives in another state. I hardly ever see him, but our connection is, I mean, what I feel for him is very deep.

Stephanie: That's interesting. I'm just trying to, I, I, when I have these conversations, I always try to take the stories I'm hearing and lay them over my life and see where some of the topography. And so like I'm saying, I can relate to some of those, you know, being a wild child in your 20s and 30s. I've talked about that before. How does your relationship with God play into the story? Were you always religious? I mean, were you religious as a child?

Karl: I actually was, I, I've never doubted the existence of God. And so that's why much of my early life was so painful because I felt like I was making him unhappy. And it took him, like I say, 50 years to get through to me. I want you to interact with guys. I gave you your, your need for people.

Stephanie: Right?

Karl: And, and for a time in my life, in my twenties, I remember praying and praying and praying that God would meet my needs. And he, and he was saying, no, I'm not going to do that because I gave you a need for people.

Stephanie: Are you an extrovert or an introvert?

Karl: You know, I thought I was an extrovert for most of my life, but recently I've realized that I'm not. I'm an introvert.

Stephanie: Yeah. It's funny that I have always been wildly like off the charts extroverted. And as I'm getting older, I'm finding not that I'm becoming introverted. But more that I enjoy relating in smaller groups and one on ones instead of, rooms full of 300 people at the business networking events and stuff, which I used to like, just thrive on. And now even at family events. I come from not one, but two big families so, family events are, you know, 40 plus people. And it's like, can't, why can't we just find a corner and like, let me grab you two and let's go, let's go have a conversation. And I think part of it isthe last couple of years I've been doing this podcast and I, I really have taken to, talking about things that are real and not just small talk. And so it's hard to do that in huge groups. So I, I have found that I am, I don't know that I'm becoming less extroverted. Maybe I am, but I'm just, my, my peopling has changed instead of huge groups, it's now, it's coming down to smaller groups.

Karl: Thank you for saying what I haven't said. It applies to this topic as well because you know, gay guys are all about experiences. And so when people like find out that they could cuddle with me non sexually, they'll say, Oh, let's invite these other guys to do it with us. And for a time I did try that. But, but you're right. The deepest connection happens one on one.

Stephanie: So where do you find yourself today, Karl? Do you find yourself happy?

Karl: Happier than I've ever been.

Stephanie: Fulfilled?

Karl: Yes. Gosh, I wish my, my business were, were more successful, but fulfilled in my emotional life. Yes.

Stephanie: Okay. All right. And you just said you said in your business life, and it's interesting, we haven't connected that to the rest of your story. How has your business journey been from, 20s to, mid to late 50s now. Is it, is it better now than it had been when you were in your 20s and 30s?

Karl: Yes, absolutely. I found my calling and I love what I do. In fact, I had a grandfather who years ago said, you're going to find something that will fulfill you and will also bless other people. And just like last year, I realized that came true because I love to communicate. I love to write. You know, 27 books out now. And and it's just so gratifying to have somebody read my work and say, this helped me in some way.

Stephanie: 27 is a lot of books. What kind of things do you write about?

Karl: So my early books were kids picture books. And then I've got short stories and a Western novel that won an international book award with a co author, which was wonderful. And then, yeah, self help now.

Stephanie: Okay. And your your most recent book is the one that you had sent me notes on that I was, that I was pulling out of. What is that book?

Karl: God Adores You, Beyond Either Or Thinking to Your Most Fulfilling LGBTQIA Life. And there's also a secular version. Many of my gay friends chafe at the mention of God or religion or anything like that. So I wrote the same book without all the references to God. It's called Abundant Paths.

Stephanie: Okay. Right. That's the title I have here. Abundant Paths. Nice. Well, Karl, I want to thank you for joining me and sharing your story and being so open and honest with with your journey. It's, it's been wonderful to hear yet another version of what this transition looks like in midlife. So thank you so much.

Karl: Thanks for being patient while we finally connected.

Stephanie: It was worth the wait.

Karl: Yeah.

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