Not only did we as gay men not receive any education or guidance in how to date another man, but we certainly didn't get the training manual on how to sustain a healthy, intimate partnership with him once we found our ideal guy and decided to form a commitment with him.
Gay partnerships can be very rewarding and fulfilling, but they require conscious effort and attentiveness to foster their successful growth and intimacy. What follows is a short tips list that gay couples can use as a quick-reference guide for keeping their relationships on track. Keep these bullet points in mind and you'll have a solid foundation in place to make your relationship solid gold!
Relationship Success Tips
1. Avoid placing all your emotional needs on your partner. Develop your own individual identity and through those experiences, your relationship will be enriched as you keep breathing new life into it.
2. Even if you’ve been together a long time, never expect your partner to know what your needs are. Mind-reading and making assumptions only leads to misunderstandings and potential conflicts. Learn to be assertive and ask directly for what you want.
3. Periodically have a “check-in” with your partner to reexamine how the relationship is going and how satisfied you and your partner are. This keeps the channels of communication open and can help renew the relationship, reinforcing the positives and uncovering areas in need of attention before things get too misguided.
4. Characteristic of relationship development, most couples have a diminishment of that honeymoon phase “high” that’s experienced in the beginning of a relationship when they first started dating. This is normal and not a reason to be concerned that there is something necessarily wrong. When this occurs, strive to bring more creativity and vitality into your relationship and sex life to spice things up. Surprise your partner. Be spontaneous and playful. Make him see how special and important he is to you.
5. Examine your satisfaction with the roles you play in your relationship. A real advantage of gay relationships is the ability to be flexible with life roles and not to have to ascribe to traditional sex role stereotypes commonly held in heterosexual relationships. Negotiate such roles and tasks openly and freely with your partner, acknowledging areas of strength and talent in this decision-making.
6. Avoid letting disagreements turn into ugly verbal battles where things could be said that are later regretted. Learn basic anger management principles and know when to call a “Time-Out” to defuse unproductive anger. Also learn how to re-engage following the cool-down period so issues can be resolved peacefully.
7. Protect your relationship legally by seeking assistance from an attorney to obtain the necessary legal documents befitting your particular relationship situation, including such things as power of attorney, wills, beneficiary designations, etc. Planning ahead with such things can insure that you’re each taken care of in the event that something was to jeopardize your union.
8. Don't let the busyness of life take away from your relationship. Find a balance between work, alone time, friends, family, and time spent as a couple. Make “Date Night” a regular part of your lifestyle where you avoid discussing your problems or issues and just enjoy spending that quality time together. Never take each other for granted and remember that you’re a team.
© 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