( Continued From Yesterday )
Tips For Managing the Gawking Impulse In Your Relationship
*In the very beginning of your developing relationship, it's important that you both set clear boundaries from the offset about issues like monogamy and commitment and what that would look like and be experienced as. "Gawking", flirting, and becoming involved with others could also be discussed in casual conversation to ensure you're both "on the same page" and to lay the proper foundation. You could forgo this and bring it up in the event that a behavioral infraction actually occurs as a natural segue for a discussion, but to err on the side of caution by planning ahead to avoid hurt feelings and resentment is usually best.
Communicate your thoughts and feelings directly and assertively, as this is a way to teach your partner how you like to be treated. In the early stages of your relationship formation, every couple could benefit from creating personalized relationship ethics around all types of issues, not just "gawking", and continually revisit them throughout the course of time to determine if these values remain the same or if any revisions are required due to the fact that both individuals and the relationship itself can change.
*As a "gawker", try to understand your motives for this behavior. If it's a natural, spontaneous, harmless reaction, that's one thing. But sometimes partners will intentionally "gawk" for the purpose of inspiring jealousy in their mate or as an act of control. Is it a symptom of unmet needs or problems in the relationship? Are you bored? Do you do it to feel needed? Some men also do it because it's validating if the other man reciprocates the attraction or interest with a mutual "gawk" in return; this gives them an ego or a self-esteem boost. If this is the case, it's important to find healthier ways to obtain this validation within the context of your relationship and through your own personal growth work. Try to see what the purpose is behind your "gawking" tendencies to see if there's anything underlying it.
*The stage of relationship you and your partner are in is likely to be impacted by "gawking" behavior at various levels. For example, if you're just starting to date someone, staring at other guys while you're in his presence would be deemed disrespectful and rude. Or if you and your partner have gone through a crisis state in your relationship and trust is a little shaky, "sizing up" other guys would probably not be a good idea until more security is reestablished. Following common courtesy and good manners is always a good rule-of-thumb.
*Noticing other attractive men could potentially enhance your love-life with your partner by inspiring fantasy and increased desire. This is done in much the same way that pornography and erotic art is used to bring about more spice and excitement to one's bedroom antics. The only prerequisite with this, however, is that these should never be used as a substitute for intimacy with your partner, should only be used intermittently and in moderation, and that your relationship with your partner should always be the primary focus with no competition from outside sources.
Determining your values around "gawking behavior" in your relationship and communicating your needs and feelings about this to reach a mutual agreement will be important in minimizing any potential conflicts that could arise.
Boundaries are essential for keeping your relationship on track and respect for yourself, your partner, and your relationship must always be kept in the forefront of your mind to avoid acts of poor judgment that could sabotage what you and your partner have built together. And while you may not be able to resist sneaking a peek at that hottie at the laundromat or finding your heart skipping a beat when that handsome waiter approaches your table, never lose sight of the attraction and devotion you have for your partner.
An intimate and committed connection with your loved one holds much more value and power than a fleeting moment of hormonal desire for an unknown stranger. Get into the habit of "gawking" at your partner and just watch the benefits that you'll derive from this simple strategy.
Just remember to come up for air!
© 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