Nov 25, 2007

[Pink Culture] Thinking About Relationships

Flickr: My Little Photo Album - Gay Couples
Gay Couples
by My Little Photo Album.

Yesterday, a friend of ours dropped by our place to hang out and to vent a bit about recent complications with his new boyfriend. Their relationship is not necessarily an unusual one - it has its fair share of highs and lows. It's been said that beginnings are such delicate times, at least in the world of Frank Herbert, and I've always found that statement to be very true.

Seeing him shift from happy storytelling to crying over the phone got me thinking about how relationships go for gay men these days. It's somewhat ironic that no matter how much many have claimed in the past that ours would be very different from those of the "heterosexual world" but in the end we seem to fall into to same pitfalls and mistakes. It just goes to show that relationships are universal in nature and are not necessarily dependent on the gender preferences of those involved.

My partner and I have been together for 6 years now and thankfully things remain pretty strong so far. In no way does this have me claiming to be more of an expert in this area or anything, but I think I have a pretty decent perspective. Yeah, that was sort of a little disclaimer, I guess.

In many ways, gay relationships are very different from more "traditional" ones. One cannot deny there are bound to be new frontiers in that respect. One of the more typical aspects would normally revolve around the more liberal take on sexual activity ranging from willingness to sleep on the first date and going as far as exploring open relationships and multiple partners while still committed. I guess it somewhat stems from the fact that since it takes a certain belief in one's inherent right to practice one's sexual preference, it naturally requires more liberal thinking which can expand in other areas. This of course gets misinterpreted as moral depravity by more conservative observers.

Then again, there are infinite levels of liberal thinking even within the gay population and this naturally affects the nature of our relationships. Not every couple can immediately see eye-to-eye when it comes to sex and other complicated topics like defining your combined stance on cheating / sleeping with people outside the relationship, when you get to say the L-word and all that stuff.

This is when we find more common ground with traditional relationships. In some cases you find compromises can be reached - this happens a lot between me and my partner when we reach impasses and items we disagree on. In other cases, one person is bound to be more compromising to the other and the degrees of compromise get pretty diverse as well. It never seems fun when there's an imbalance in the relationship - when one is clearly more dominant than the other.

It's a tale as old as time - out of love one keeps on giving ground and keeping his thoughts, decisions and pretty much his life defined around the wants, whims and desires of the other. We call it sacrifices done for love but unless you're on the outside looking in, you don't see that you've already crossed that line into the realm of not loving yourself enough.

I guess love does that to everyone, gay or straight alike. A friend of mine used to say that the head empties as the heart fills, which is true in many ways. It doesn't mean we become total idiots once we fall in love, but we do become more emotional and that impairs our judgment and colors our perceptions somewhat. This is most true during the early stages of a relationship, a time when things are most uncertain. Sometimes we want to believe in the relationship so much we lose perspective and fail to see when things just aren't working out and it's time to remember to protect your own interests.

There's no manual or handbook for this sort of thing. Advice and tips are everywhere and we can read self-help books and attend seminars to our heart's content. Still, nothing will fully prepare you for that first fall, when your eyes meet, you feel like swooning and logic abandons you as emotion fills you. Once you're in, you're in and your friends will do their best to either support you or save you if need be and in most cases we won't listen right away, not unless we come to realizations ourselves even though everyone else has been trying to point out the folly of our ways for days, months and even years. Such is the challenge of the human experience.

What do you think? What makes gay relationships so complicated? Or, are they no more complicated than any other relationship these days?

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