When you’re on the dating scene, it can seem overwhelming trying to remain centered on staying true to your personal requirements for a compatible partner and potential relationship when you have so many competing forces vying for your attention.
Not only do you have to keep the other parts of your life (work, family, friends, recreation, etc.) in balance and attended to, but you also can become easily distracted and confused when you meet a variety of men as potential dating prospects who trigger various forms of chemistry and attraction within you that may or may not necessarily align with your vision for an ideal partner.
For example, have you ever been in a situation where you met a totally hot guy who filled you with feelings of lust and were tempted to continue seeing him despite the fact you saw “red flags” of his incompatibility with your values? Yep, we’ve all been there and it can create all sorts of inner turmoil and indecision if you let it.
Not only is it important to know who you are and what you’re looking for, but there are also some essential ingredients that are common to all intimate relationships that will be important to be present in a dating situation with men you become involved with.
What follows is a list of those critical relational elements that you’ll want to be attuned to as you’re dating to help you with your decision-making about whether you and a certain guy are truly a goodness-of-fit before actually committing to each other. These aren’t hard-fast rules, but the more of these characteristics that are present in your relationship with your dating partner, the greater the chances are of your becoming a successful couple. So be observant of the presence, or lack thereof, of these qualities as you’re getting to know each new guy until you land a winner!
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to like the man you’re with and to enjoy spending time with each other. The two of you share a special and meaningful camaraderie that is unique only to you and you have a solid foundation built for intimacy and sharing.
You honor and celebrate your guy for who he is, not who you want him to be, and treat him with dignity and admiration.
The two of you have compatible interests and you can share these experiences to enrich your relationship and build a history. You have the ability to play with each other and also have your own separate pursuits that diversify your identities, which only serves to benefit your relationship.
4. Shared Values
The most successful couples have a shared value system and philosophies of life. This is perhaps the #1 cause of many conflicts in a relationship when the partners don’t share similar visions and often times leads to break-ups due to the “deal-breaker” nature of such beliefs and stances on issues. Discover each other’s values VERY early on in your dating to avoid becoming too emotionally invested should a serious discrepancy emerge later on down the road.
Without trust there is no relationship. To be a couple requires both men to be vulnerable, open, loyal, and committed to honesty. A climate of safety must be established and evolves slowly over time with each experience and behavioral action. Making sure you do what you say you’re going to do consistently is a hallmark of integrity.
You must be able to openly dialog about your thoughts and feelings and also be able to listen to each other non-defensively and without judgment.
7. Good Conflict Resolution Skills
This requires you both to be able to mange anger and conflict appropriately without lashing out and learning how to compromise and problem-solve dilemmas that will inevitably emerge in the relationship. Developing a collaborative “teamwork” approach to challenges is essential, as is learning to how to deal with stalemates and respecting each other’s differences and perspectives.
8. Affection & Sexual Passion
A healthy intimacy fueled with passion, desire, and attraction keeps the spark alive in a long-term relationship. Creativity, variety, and spontaneity are all important in manifesting continued captivation and intrigue. Nonsexual affection is also critically vital.
9. Compatible Levels of ‘Outness’ and Gay Pride
Men with similar comfort levels with their sexual orientation tend to fare better (two closeted men and two “out” men as opposed to a variation of these themes) overall due to the shared understandings of those lifestyles. Couples with greater pride in being gay also tend to enjoy in most cases higher satisfaction levels due to the ability to be uninhibited and free with their partnership in all settings.
10. Sound Mental Health & Well-Being
Men who are devoted to personal growth and are motivated to stay healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, and spiritually are in great positions for solid relationship potential. This entails healing emotional wounds from the past, completing unfinished baggage from the past, building a solid self-esteem, cultivating a positive relationship with their sexual identity and masculinity, and developing resilience to life’s challenges. These men are open and available for men free from unsettling distractions.
There are of course many more characteristics that go into crafting a healthy relationship, but by keeping these foundational elements in the back of your mind as you’re building rapport and friendship with a dating prospect, you’ll be able to use these as an additional screening tool toward selecting the best potential Mr. Right for yourself.
Enjoy the process!
© Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, The Gay Love Coach
The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.
Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, contributing author to GAYTWOGETHER, is one of the leading love coaches for the gay community. As a licensed dating and relationship coach, Dr. Brian Rzepczynski, DHS, MSW has over 18 years experience as a psychotherapist and life coach specializing in helping GLBT individuals and couples develop and maintain successful and fulfilling intimate relationships. He holds a doctorate degree in human sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Western Michigan University. He also runs a successful private therapy practice, Personal Victory Counseling, Inc. http://thegaylovecoach.com