Five Things Gay Men Get Right in Relationships
I have noticed an odd and frankly negative trend in the sphere of dating and relationships under the heading of “gay men”. We love to pile on and point out the grossness of things. Maybe it’s to point out what some perceive as “wrong” so we don’t make the same mistakes, or maybe it’s a bit of hewing towards the drama and pop culture that social media seems so intent on cultivating. Whatever the reason, I went against the grain (I know, shocking) and wrote a little missive of some things that I feel gay men get right about relationships.
1) Communication: We are men. When the shit hits the fan and we have a moment of mistrust, or miscommunication or misunderstanding, we talk that shit out and conclude it. You feel you are not being listened too or you have been misunderstood? You tell your partner exactly what’s on your mind and then provide space for your partner to vocalize their perspective. It’s really a win-win situation and you may learn some things about your significant other. I call it brutal honesty and it can be uncomfortable, challenging and downright scary, but it’s necessary. And the most awesome thing is: when you’re done talking about it and you reach consensus and understanding, as men, we get to put it to bed. The case is closed and the issue, adequately addressed and resolved, should not rear its ugly head and be brought up again to flavor or instigate a wholly different topic.
2) Sex and Sexuality within a Relationship: The diversity within the gay community and how we define and engage in relationships is at once awesome and intriguing. I can’t tell you how often I get asked, “so, what do you guys do?” With the implicit question, “are you guys open and how does it work?” The beauty of it all is that we can define our relationships and the sex that goes with it any way we choose. Here are five examples of extremely functional, long-term relationships of couples I know and how they handle their sex and relationship;
1) They are best friends and happily married and do not have sex with each other. There is an understanding that they are free to safely engage with others without drama or an inquisition. (15+ years together)
2) They have sex together but probably more often with another individual present as a cycling third, many times under the guise of a mentor situation (absolutely needed in our world and awesome) and they also play in groups. (20+ years together)
3) A is married to B and A has a long term boyfriend C. A and C fuck anything and everything on two legs (preferably with a third leg in the middle). This is not to insinuate this is a hierarchical polyamorous relationship as delineated by the A, B, C labels, it’s just for clarity. The communication, love, sexiness, lack of shame, and non-drama is something to behold, truly lovely. (Husbands 14+ years, Boyfriend 3+ years)
4) They are in a long-term relatively asexual relationship and they are monogamous insomuch as they do not have sex outside the relationship. The love and respect they share is palpable. (19+ years)
5) They encompass a love that is shared deeply and communication that is forthcoming and honest. They have organic, non-drama, sexual guest appearances should they occur, but without seeking it out or needing it to have great sex one-on-one. Out of town rules if one travels for any length of time. Oh, those horny young men. (5+ years)
What’s the common thread? There isn’t one. By defining relationships and the sex within them under the four main tenets of sex-positive ideals (capacity, consent, communication, and safety) then you can create your fulfilling relationship, however you define it, and have your sex however you choose.
I find it important to add that I put this in the context of relationships but single boys and the freedom to explore, engage, and have as many (or as little) sexual partners or explore relationships however defined by you is a valid and encompassing relationship within itself.
3) Freedom: The ability to be who we want to be and explore the things that are important to us without judgment. There is an ebb and flow to every relationship and the individuals within it will grow and change. When my boyfriend (now husband) met me I was a feisty, motorcycle riding, rugby playing escort. Now, I’ve sold my bike and concentrated on classic cars, I hung up my cleats (but still appreciate a rugby ass in a jock) and am months away from my Masters in Social Work in Clinical Therapy where I can help people with my clothes on instead of dick out. But throughout it all, he gave me the freedom to explore, explain, and allow me to be myself and engage in the things I like. And I did the same for him. If you want to see me tune-out post haste, just start playing World of Warcraft or start talking about your WOD (crossfit/cult). But I will be the first one in line to watch him compete (and there’s BBQ) and support his interests. It’s important to have shared visions; be it education, future living arrangements, travel, hobbies, sports, or even socialization, but those shared visions cannot usurp your partner’s individuality and your support for said individuality. That is what initially attracted you to them, let them shine and evolve into someone you like even more, and grow along with them.
4) Friendships: We create and cultivate the most beautiful and strong friendships. Be it a result of challenges within our own family, or bonding over shared escapades, some of the strongest relationships I see are based on created and maintained non-bio families. Gay men can discuss anything and everything and know that one or more of their friends has their back, no matter what. This is not unique to da gays, but it takes on a special level of importance and commitment when it can seem that your childhood acquaintances and even your dad (the ones posting about “Yay, guns!”, “Go, Jeb!”, and “Blessed are we for…”) may be better left under the heading of past acquaintances and your immediate family is relegated to a polite holiday dinner. A truly beautiful thing occurs when we, through our wit and charm, bridge that gap and commingle the facets of loving bio-family, childhood besties, and our current gay friend/loves. The bond that is created through shared experiences, both negative and positive, is something that cannot be underestimated and helps stave off a host of negativistic thoughts and will only make you and your friends better people.
5) Claiming Their Love: We are gay men. And as more rights and “privileges” (that is in quotes because they are not privileges per se but more an evolution of things that should be innate) become realities for us there can be instances of bigotry, homophobia, judgment, slut-shaming, and bullshit that frankly we will not tolerate. By embracing, loving, or having sex with another man, and claiming that truth, and living your life to the best of your ability, you are paving the way for not just acceptance but the big shrug of “this is us.” I hate to “should” on anyone (you should…) but I will say this: you should be claiming your love for your gay partner because it’s awesome. And it’s acceptable. And there is absolutely no reason to not live your truth, now. I recently read an article about a preteen bullied for being gay. His father wrote the post and said, (paraphrasing): “I didn’t see a boy cowed by cowardice. I saw a boy angry and indignant that anyone would dare speak to him or bully him for something that obviously wasn’t wrong.” It’s happening. Being gay “is” and it’s beautiful. Own it.
That’s it. Cultivate your relationships in the positive, be they friendships, love affairs, “scrindr”, or family and treat yourself the best, make yourself a priority, because you’re the most important relationship of all.