Gay relationships can be tricky and they almost all come with many challenges. If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the red flags before they become too serious. There are the obvious ones, such as emotional, verbal or physical abuse, that are automatic grounds for ending things. And a lot of drama (yelling, crying, continuous bickering, roller coaster emotions) rarely indicates a happy union.
There is a fallacy that somehow lgbtq+ relationships are different than straight relationships. But, whether gay, straight, trans or any other combination, when two people come together to date or to get serious, they face the same highs and lows that surface in any relationship.
But then there are the less obvious mistakes. The ones that, if left ignored or uncorrected, cause strain and could even ruin your happily ever after. If you are guilty of one or several of the eight below, don’t panic. All relationships involve learning and growing. Recognize where you can make improvements and then get to it.
If you asked my partner what his biggest pet peeve is about our disagreements, this would be it. I have a crazy-awesome memory, which is really neat when it comes to pinpointing exactly what month of what year a song from my childhood came out. It’s not so neat when I remember every little slight or sacrifice from the past. Life is long, and if you keep a tally in your relationship, you’ll end up exhausted and resentful. When your partner apologizes for something and an issue is resolved, bury it six feet under. If you revisit the issue, it was never resolved in the first place. Move on. Accept apologies fully. You’ll both make plenty of mistakes, and you’ll both do plenty of wonderful things. Nothing will even out, of course, but the resulting happiness of letting things go is far better than any perfectly balanced scorecard.
Trust me, as someone who’s been in my gay relationship for over 15 years, I know the value of being tested regularly — and so does my man. Every healthy gay relationship gets tested… otherwise it wouldn’t be a healthy gay relationship. We push buttons, ignore needs, and think we’re the only one not getting the attention we desire. The mistake? Assuming your gay relationship is above being tested. Test, test, test or the relationship could go to rest. Of course, test out of love for yourself, for him, and for the good of the relationship.
Having unrealistic expectations.
Wouldn’t it be great if our love relationships could play out like they do in the movies? Unfortunately, Hollywood movie bliss is not the stuff of real life. Many of us believe that if there is enough initial attraction and common interests everything else will fall into place – another movie myth!
Solution: Understand that relationships take hard work. While chemistry and attraction are very important initially, what follows is even more so. Communication, mutual respect, commitment, and maturity and are the ingredients for real success.
Remaining in your relationship because it’s comfortable.
Here’s a little secret that we’ll keep just between us boys! No matter how much money he has, available party favors, “to die for sex,” or the size of his loft apartment on 5th Avenue…if the relationship sucks, it sucks. It’s a false sense of comfort to believe “If I leave, I’ll be single and that’s bad.” Yes, you’ll end up single and without his money, or the party favors, or the great sex. But you might actually be happier, and isn’t that what you’re really after? The mistake? Creating a false sense of comfort; believing you need others to feel “worthy” when all you need is love… self-love, to be exact.
Letting yourself go.
Quite often we get too comfortable with the other person and we think we can just schlep around sloppily and neglect some of our hygiene habits. Being comfortable and familiar is no reason to get lazy and start taking the relationship for granted. Doing so becomes yet another big turnoff.
Solution: Understand that taking care of yourself still matters, perhaps even more so. Continue to exercise, eat healthily, and be interested in your work and the world around you. Staying healthy and vibrant helps keep your relationship healthy and vibrant.
Define “open”! How you and your guy define having an “open gay relationship,” determines whether you and your guy screw it up royally or masterfully make things work. It’s all about boundaries and agreements, both of which need to be checked and discussed about every 3-6 months. The mistake? No boundaries, no agreements, no relationship… period! Next!
Being too dependent, needy and clingy.
When you first meet someone it’s not unusual to want to spend a lot of time together, however, after a while instead of bringing you closer as a couple, too much time together can make one, or both of you, feel stifled, smothered and entrapped. Not a good way to being a relationship!
Solution: Take things slowly and let the relationship unfold as you get to know each other better. Carry on with your life normally and give each other space. Do not neglect your work life, other relationships, or your own physical and emotional health.
Reacting on emotion.
This is the hardest one for me. I’m an emotional person who likes to openly express my feelings, positive or negative, as soon as I feel them. When I first started dating my boyfriend, I would tell him right away when I was upset. Sometimes it was a good thing, but most times I made assumptions and reacted on those assumptions. I still remember my breakthrough moment: We were watching TV and he was checking Facebook on his computer when I saw over his shoulder that a certain ex of his had messaged him. Unlike usual, I resisted the urge to say something. I took a deep breath and decided to give it a night. The next morning he told me about the message on his own accord. By taking a step back, I had avoided a completely unnecessary fight born of emotion and assumptions.
Comparing your partner to an ex.
The human mind naturally looks for patterns. When we experience a situation that’s even remotely similar to something from our past, we draw conclusions based on that past experience. This is how we improve our lives and learn, after all. But when it comes to relationships, this logic can be detrimental. For example, let’s say your ex took a long time to return your calls when he was losing interest in the relationship. Lately, your current partner hasn’t returned your calls quickly. Conclusion: Your current partner is no longer interested in you. Wrong! Fight your brain’s addiction to patterns and remember that every single person and situation is unique. This is not to say you shouldn’t learn from your past or set standards for yourself. Rather, keep an open mind and afford each person a clean slate. One final note: Never, ever say to your significant other, “My ex did that all the time.” Comparing someone you care about to someone you don’t is incredibly hurtful.
Avoiding money talks.
Just because we’re gay, it doesn’t mean we’re immune from having “money talks”. If you can’t talk about the big stuff, then the rest of the talks are just kinda fluff. Not that money is everything, but when you start analyzing the water bill based on who was home more on which days of the month, it might be time to have a real conversation. The mistake? Nickel and diming each other’s spending habits in our heads, rather than banking on the fact that a real conversation about the state of the finances could lead to more cash in the love bank!
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