For my very first blog post, I was inspired by an article I’ve seen some of my fellow gay friends sharing on Facebook recently that infuriated me.
If you like, go take a gander at it and see what you think about my critiques of it below.
Entitled “Common Relationship Mistakes Gay Men Make”, the author attempts to pen an authoritative roadmap to a successful gay relationship, but instead, ends up throwing around a series of half-baked judgments and poorly written, narrow-minded criticisms. I couldn’t help myself but actually wonder if the author has ever been in an actual successful relationship himself.
I have to say, as a gay man who has been in a rewarding, committed, loving, permanent, relationship for almost 7 years, which began when I was 19 – I find the majority of this list to be absolute horseshit that appears to be written by a dude with a history of failed relationships.
A.) “1. Open Relationships:” The concept of “open relationship” is a vague and obtuse term that exists on a continuum. Just as human sexuality is a broad field devoid of discrete categories, so are styles of relationships. Simply put, there are plenty of successful and committed relationships that outsiders would deem as “open”. It takes a very judgmental and arrogant attitude to decide for others what makes a successful relationship for them in the first place. The only way to know whether this would be appropriate for your relationship or not is for you to talk to your partner about it – nobody else.
Another reason why I am skeptical of this pervasive negative societal opinion of “open relationships” is that I’ve noticed that most people who speak negatively about the concept of “open relationships” have:
- Never been in one.
- Never had any close friends who have been in one.
- Never really known of anybody who has been in one.
So, maybe we should re-examine this ‘default’ opinion (read: an opinion we have about something without having any direct or indirect experience with it) and ask ourselves, ‘why do I have that default opinion in the first place?’
Watermarked stock photos definitely lend a certain gravitas to your ill-informed, judgmental online masterpiece.
B.) “2. Neediness” “A common relationship mistake Gay men make is attaching themselves too much and too quickly.” This is a ridiculous generalization that lacks any true meaning. My boyfriend and I fell in love instantly; we used the “L” word within a few weeks of meeting each other and moved in with each other after 8 months. OMG, does that mean we are doomed? Of course not, everyone is different! Some couples need a longer “incubation” time before they commit themselves to one another, and some don’t. It’s called diversity, shouldn’t gay men of all people know what this means and respect it?
Arguments between gay partners always involve playful, shirtless noogies.
C.) “3. Arguing:” “No relationship is perfect, and we all argue and disagree sooner or later. But arguing about everything can be very toxic.” Wrong again! Arguing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, what is bad is how you argue. My partner and I argue in some degree or another almost daily. But guess what, when we argue we don’t look like those trashy couples on VH1 do, we actually respect each other when we argue. Yes, it’s possible for you and your partner to have frequent argumentative discourse that actually positively contributes to communication building. You can do so in a way that displays respect and an eagerness to seek to understand your partner. Again, how often you argue doesn’t matter, how you go about arguing makes all the difference.
The hottest new club in town is called “nap”.
D.) “5: Going to the club together” Oh man, this one really makes my blood boil. Maybe this list was written by some sheltered gay 17-year old Mormon. Either that or by some jackass who knows nothing about successful relationships or human psychology. My bet is on the latter.
“A club is never a place to spend quality time with your boyfriend.” First off, who are you to tell me what I can and cannot, or should and should not, do with my partner? Prepare yourself to be shocked: Not everyone goes to a club for the sole reason of having indiscriminate sex. My partner and I have been frequenting gay bars and clubs for nearly our entire relationship, and guess what? We love it! We both love drinking, dancing, hanging with our friends, and being able to be in a public place where we can act however we want together without feeling like an outsider. Moreover, I know tons of gay couples who do as well! And guess what? We are all still happily partnered!
“there is a lot of distraction and a lot of men who are not afraid to flirt hardcore. Some men go to clubs just to find a man to fuck.” Oh my god, you are telling me there are flirtatious attractive guys at clubs who are just looking for a dude to fuck? You’re KIDDING! Um… duh? We all know this, but it must take an incredibly insecure, shallow relationship for 2 partners to have to constantly “police” each other by making huge boundaries all the time because you are worried about attractive other men. What, do you ban porn too? What about suggestive movies?
“ Unfortunately, in the Gay community there are people who don’t respect what you have” Of course there are men in the gay community who don’t respect what you have, that exists in the straight community too! But why the hell does that have to have any bearing whatsoever on your relationship? It doesn’t! People can talk shit, people can be jealous, people can be disrespectful, and you and your partner and go about existing in a happy, respectful, honest, *secure* relationship, just like my partner and I do.
“and while its all about trust, I don’t think you want to complicate it by having a guy shake his ass in front of you.” Why does this automatically serve as a complicating factor? Dudes shake their asses in front of my partner at clubs all the time; do I feel threatened by this? Of course not. I tend to watch and laugh it off: just like ANY securely bonded couple would. I can’t imagine being in a relationship where I feel like I would have to constantly hover around my boyfriend in dire fear of some guy ruining the entire relationship we built with a simple ass shake – it sounds like misery. You HAVE to trust your partner to build a successful, committed, long-term relationship – period. With this trust, anything can be thrown your way and you won’t worry in the slightest. Without it, you will live in a constant state of anxiety and suspicion, emotions that will overshadow any love you have for your partner.
I would argue that the couple that feels like they have to avoid clubs in order to stay together is a very insecure, troubled, distrusting couple indeed. This couple should really analyze the underlying problems in their relationship that are preventing them from actually trusting each other in the first place.
Does anybody actually still read the newspaper in bed anymore, anyway?
A.) “6. Putting Your Relationship Status on FB:” This one is just downright silly. My partner and I have had our relationship status public on facebook since day 1 and we haven’t ever had a reason to change it. I am proud of my partner and our deeply committed relationship to each other, why wouldn’t I make it public?
“this may harm you more than it works for you. Why? Because you or your boyfriend may notice that your friend requests keep growing only because people want to know who this guy is.” Umm, ok? And this harms my relationship how…? It doesn’t. If someone requests me as a friend on facebook that I don’t know, I choose not to add them, end of story.
“Some guys don’t care and will hit on your boyfriend even if it says In Relationship.” Of course that can happen. It can happen on facebook, at the club, at walmart, or at work. But I don’t force my boyfriend to live in a cage, disconnected from the world because of it. When we get “hit on” by other people, we trust each other to respond appropriately. And guess what? We do! We have trust: a powerful weapon that is the bond that keeps us together. With this magical weapon, we have the power to go anywhere together! Even facebook and gay clubs! omg!
If anything, leaving your relationship off facebook will leave many to assume you both are single! And while what other people think about you or your partner shouldn’t mean jack shit to either of you, I am betting that the super-paranoid, distrusting author of this article would absolutely freak if somebody interacted with his boyfriend while *gasp* assuming he was single!
“ Sometimes its better to just not put up a relationship status to begin with and just trust your partner. “ This advice seems to directly contradict what was said a few lines before. If you just trust your partner, then why the fuck do you care if someone else hits on him? I tell couples to display their relationship status on facebook as a badge of pride. You should be proud of yourselves for working hard to building a committed and trusting partnership. That is what you two have anyway, right?
“Honey, I trust you enough to go out with friends, just not anywhere gay people might be.”
A.) “7. Not Allowing Your Boyfriend To Go Out With Friends:” This one seems reasonable until… “He’s his own person and whether you like it or not, we’re in the real world. Unlike the club where you’re in a close capacity to horny drunk men.” Where the hell do you think those horny drunk men spend the other 90% of their time? In a dark, gay, rave-cave? (Not to self: that sounds like an awesome business idea.) Be prepared for another shocker… They live in the real world! I don’t understand for a second how this author advocates for his boyfriend to go out into the real world with his friends because he “trusts” him, yet if they were to step foot in a club, they would instantly be headed for splitsville because some horny twink might give one of them the come-hither look? It doesn’t go both ways: if you trust your partner, you trust him wholeheartedly, whether it’s at walmart, a bowling alley, the club, or Facebook. The trusting, secure couple can go anywhere together, or separately, and not have to worry for a second about what might happen.
Bottom line: At the end of the day, gay relationships are no different than straight relationships. We don’t need special scripts to follow, and there is no one-size-fits-all guide to a successful relationship. Nobody can publish an “instruction booklet” on the right or wrong way to approach a relationship because successful relationships are as broad and diverse as people themselves. The only person who can envision what a successful relationship for you would be is YOU.
I would hate to know what being in a relationship with the author of this article would be like. I’m assuming he locks his partner in a cage (unless he wants to go out with friends), and deathly fears anything close to a perceived “threat” coming along. Apparently trust is overrated.
There are relationships out there I don’t quite understand, yet they are successful. Contrary to this author’s “authoritative” account, there are plenty of committed, successful relationships out there that some would consider “open”, couples that frequent clubs, couples that are publically honest on Facebook, couples that argue frequently, and even couples that admitted their undying love to each other “too quickly”. Again, relationships are as diverse as the people contained within them, and many are different than the one you may either be in, or see yourself being in. But just because a relationship is different than yours is no reason to judge them or criticize them unfairly. Get to know the people in that relationship and you may find they aren’t as weird or different as you assumed.
As for tips on building a successful relationship, I have the only four that matter, and they apply equally to any relationship of any orientation:
1) Open yourself to loving your partner to no end.
2) Trust your partner with every ounce of your being.
3) When you argue, do so respectfully with the goal of exploring the inherent difference at hand.
4) Put your partner’s needs and concerns above your own as much as you possibly can.
These are the only things that matter. As for the ignorant assholes like the author of this article who want to throw around judgments about other people’s relationships without knowing shit about them, ignore them (or write a blog post about them).
These disobedient heretics are certainly doomed for not adhering to this guide.
A big thanks to Chantelle Moghadam and Aaron Underwood for helping me edit and format this blog entry.
Hi, I’m Greyson. I’m a psychology major at Mizzou where I work in the Existential Motivations research lab in the Psychological Sciences department. I’m a self-proclaimed “gaytheist” (lack of a space in that word incredibly important), and I reside with my partner, Bobby, whom I’ve shared unlawful matrimony with for 6 years. My hobbies include putting copious amounts of salt on my food, being a news junkie, and complaining about hypocrites and why Americans love such salty foods.