As a gay person, you may have met with your share of societal disapproval in this heterosexual-dominated world. But you have held on tight to what you know is your sexual orientation, and now find yourself in a great relationship. You are finally comfortable in your skin and you want to make sure that you stay happily coupled. What are some of the keys to sustaining a happy and satisfying same-sex relationship?
Make an effort every day
You love your partner and want to show them every day. It doesn’t need to be a big demonstration of feelings; bringing them a hot cup of coffee made just the way they like it can be enough to send a message that you care about them. When you are long past the heady, blissful beginning days of your relationship, continuing to do small, loving gestures for each other will go a long way in showing that your significant other truly is significant
Develop your own “you” outside of your identity as a couple
When couples first form, it is natural to experience a sense of fusion, a state where you do everything together. It is thrilling to have finally found someone that “gets” you and you want to spend each waking and sleeping moment together. But healthy relationships need breathing space to keep things interesting. Avoid the temptation to look to your partner to fulfill all your emotional and intellectual needs. Even though you may be head over heels in love, carve out time to maintain your outside separate interests and continue to work on self-development. When you come home, you will have something new to share, keeping conversation and the “spark” alive.
Be transparent about your sexual role and preferences
Are you a top or a bottom? Dominant? Submissive? Make sure your partner knows this from the start. Don’t make the mistake of pretending you are something that you are not, or could never be, just to attract this person you are interested in.
Make sure you understand what your partner means by “relationship”
It is no secret that in the gay subculture, “relationship” can mean many things. If for you it means being exclusive, you’ll want to make sure that is compatible with your partner’s views as well. If you both wish to keep the relationship open to include other people, outline what that mean. Does it mean continuing to frequent gay bars solo? Would you prefer a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, or would you require complete transparency from your partner when they see other people? Whatever you decide, make sure both of you agree, or resentment will build and your relationship is unlikely to last.
If you and your partner have made the decision to be exclusive, take action to help this decision stick.
You want to focus just on each other and build a legitimate relationship? Delete all those gay networking and dating apps. You may have to stop going to the gay bars that you used to use for hookups; find new places that you and your partner can go to that cater to gay couples. Do everything you can to foster support for keeping your couple intact, and do not venture virtually or physically into situations that tempt you to stray.
Work on developing emotional intimacy
You and your partner have awesome sex. But now that you have committed to each other, you will want to also work on deepening the emotional bond between you. This mean learning each other’s communication style. This is not always easy, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Spend some time out of bed, just talking and understanding each other’s emotional needs and desires. A relationship that relies uniquely on a sexual connection isn’t one that will last long term. Strengthening your mutual emotional intimacy through daily check-ins as well as time devoted to meaningful conversation will help you stay together through the inevitable conflicts that crop up in all relationships.
Keep past relationships in the past
You are now in a new and fulfilling relationship. You both want this to be a success, and are willing to do the work for it to be a healthy, life-enhancing partnership. Part of this means letting go of past relationships, especially relationships that ended on a bad note. Do what you need to leave these past hurts out of the present; perhaps some counseling sessions can be of help with this.
Protect each other physically
Get tested, and keep getting tested. This is particularly important if you and your partner have an agreement to have an open relationship.
Protect each other legally
If you are at the stage of your same-sex relationship where you are ready to tie the knot, check with your State’s or country’s’ laws to see if gay marriage is a legally allowed. If it is not yet legal, research how you might legally protect your partner so that they have spousal rights such as power-of-attorney, medical benefits or death benefits.
Schedule a weekly evening for quality together time
Once you have gotten into your relationship groove, it can be easy to take each other for granted. Don’t. The number one death knell to a relationship is neglecting to communicate to the other person how special they are to you. Schedule a date night each week, and honor it. Do not let anything conflict with the time that you have set aside to connect with your partner. When you are on your date, put away the screens. Check in not only with how their day/week/work is going, but see if there are any relationship-related issues that need to be aired. Happy gay couples will tell you that one key act that they do to keep their shared life rich and interesting is to focus on each other with no outside distractions at least once a week.