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He asks me how I like it in Berlin and after saying that I love the open-mindedness, inclusivity, diversity, and living energy of Berlin, he smiles, agrees, and points out that Berlin is like so many villages with its own culture and way of living together. However, if I left the Berlin ring (the very center of Berlin), and went to the outer parts of Berlin I would definitely see a different society that still thinks in stereotypes and judges a lot. Benno mentions a situation with homosexuality as an example. “if my girlfriend has a girlfriend, people would probably see them as a cool couple and strong women but if I was a gay, they would automatically consider me as a weak, sensitive boy and I have a feeling that sometimes the men take on this way of thinking. They consider being vulnerable and sensitive for a cool lifestyle and they make themselves into this role. Then he expands on this through the example of the business field. When gays run a company and are in the leadership position, they are sometimes eaten by the businesses, because of being too lenient and direct, and because of being too nice for this field…. Benno himself doesn’t believe in any stereotypes and tries to avoid them, but this is what he has been noticing during his work in a business, which is what he has been doing in his life.

A few years ago he had no balance in his life. Working in business took a lot of his energy, he was on the move from Monday to Wednesday (or even to Friday), and then he was lacking time for himself. After a while Benno needed a break, so he radically changed his life and stopped working completely, which wasn’t a balance either. However, thanks to this experience, Benno knows now what balance is and he needs to find it to be happy. 

“And the balance shouldn’t be just in your work life but also in your romantical life which is sometimes not easy to reach.” Benno talks about his feeling that he is often driven by his masculinity and he gets interested in other people, especially women. Sometimes he just sees someone, feels good and interesting energy, and wants to get to know the person more. He explains to me that when I am with someone it can work and be nice, but it could always be better and you could find someone even more compatible with you, someone who will give you even more energy and love. And when you are in a relationship, focused on just one person, you could miss this chance.  And that is exactly the feeling he doesn’t want to have. Missing out on anything…

“You know, I was in an 8-year-long committed relationship, I was faithful to my girlfriend, but I just felt something was missing, and I wasn’t able to stop being interested in other beautiful women… You know I think it is nice when people can stay in love with one person their whole life, but I personally don’t see it this way. I think I am maybe driven by my masculinity and sexuality, and I wish I could be happy and comfortable with only one person but for me and many people I know what feels natural is different…” He is accepting his nature and listening to his soul, trying to find the balance.

I passed by Benno on the bridge by the Turkish market. We smiled at each other, and then he stopped me to have a chat, since he is that kind of human who is interested in other people and their lives. And I have to say, that it wasn’t any  kind of a small talk you usually have with people you´ve just met on the street, but a genuine conversation about society stereotypes, masculinity and about finding balance in our lives. And despite our different energies, different life philosophies and disagreements with some of the topics, I was very happy to have this conversation where both sides are truly listening to each other and trying to see the world through their eyes instead of arguing. And I actually felt that I was able to understand what Benno meant with his words which was mainly thanks to his straightforwardness, honesty and curiosity about other people’s lives. That is also why he loves Berlin, a city full of interesting, original people and why he has been staying here all his life…

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