Are you in a gay relationship? Is your relationship fairly new? Do you find it difficult at times to navigate the world of dating as a freshly minted gay couple? If so, you are not alone. Many gay men struggle with making their relationship a success, particularly during that first critical year of being together. In fact, the unique dating challenges facing gay men are a major reason why so many gay couples don’t make it and end up breaking up.
So why do so many gay men find difficulty with dating one another successfully? What is it about gay relationships that are so unique? How can you maximize the chances of entering into a long term relationship with another man and avoid unnecessary pitfalls?
This article will offer 7 big mistakes gay couples make during the first year of a relationship. Concrete information is offered from relationship experts who have keen insight into the world of gay dating and romance. Tools and resources are offered as a way of helping you avoid the mistakes listed here and become better educated on the entire world of gay dating.
Disclaimer: The list of big mistakes new gay couples make is not intended to cover everything. What you see here, however, are some of the “biggies” as identified by our Chicago counseling professionals.
Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!
1. Continuing to frequent gay bars
When two gay men start dating one another, there is a propensity to engage in activities that are familiar. Specifically, we are talking about visiting bars and nightclubs on a regular basis. While there is nothing wrong with the occasional night out, frequent visits to clubs can cause major problems.
- Sends the message to others that one or both of you are available.
- Increased attention seeking from a place of competition.
- Impaired judgment due to potential over-drinking.
- One or both parties getting “hit on” which can cause jealousy.
2. Dating too soon too fast
Some gay men decide to enter into a relationship with one another without first letting the wounds from the previous relationship heal. This is particularly true for individuals who recently broke up with someone after a long-term gay relationship.
Defining a long-term relationship can be subjective however; a general rule of thumb is any intimate relationship that lasts 2-years. The key to knowing if the person is ready for a new relationship is by assessing how long the guy has been single.
Here are some additional ways of knowing someone if someone is relationship ready.
- He continually talks about his ex.
- He (or you) is not emotionally available.
- One or both of you try to re-create a relationship with an ex.
3. Moving in together too fast
When you are in love with someone, it is understandable that you want to be with them as possible. This is particularly true if one or both of you works odd hours, making it difficult to find quality boyfriend time.
As a result, some couples decide the best way to love on one another is to move in together. While there are some definite pluses to this approach, there are also many minuses. Generally speaking, moving in together during the first year of dating should be avoided.
- Both of you are still figuring out one another’s groove.
- Deciding to live together during the “honeymoon” phase is just a bad idea.
- Financial challenges have not been worked out.
- One or both parties may not be ready to give up autonomy.
4. Focusing too much on friends
Another major mistake new gay couples make during the first year of dating relates to friends. The conventional advice suggests that you should not abandon friendships when you start dating someone new. There is, however, a flip-side that is often not discussed but just as important – focusing too much on friendships.
Those first six-months to a year of seeing someone requires that the two of you spend quality time together. This simply isn’t going to happen if there is a constant parade of outings with pals and buddies. If the focus is on constantly needing to be entertained by others, you (or your man) seriously need to consider if there exists a fear of intimacy.
- Using time with friends as a buffer to intimacy.
- Making friends too involved with your relationship.
- Focusing too much on a friend’s needs and not your man’s.
Generally speaking, men are a competitive bunch. Gay men in particular can be very competitive, especially when it comes to getting the attention of other gay men. It is just the reality of the gay community sub-culture. This point is not being made to pass judgment but instead to acknowledge a simple truth.
Competing with one another can present itself in many forms, including physical appearance (aka looks) and clothing. While some of this is to be expected, over-competing should serve as a warning sign of challenges around self-esteem.
6. Financial compatibility
During the honeymoon phase of a relationship, which generally lasts about six-months, it is super easy to overlook major differences. One important area relates to finances. Here, we are talking about how much money each person makes in the relationship as well as their level of debt.
The old saying that “love will conquer all” is wonderfully romantic but in the real world it simply isn’t true. At the end of the day, money is what is needed to pay the bills, buy a home, and save for the future. If one of you makes significantly less money than the other, it can spell trouble. The same holds true if you or your man are in serious financial debt. If the two of you haven’t talked about your financial differences, you are setting yourself up for disaster.
- Resentment can build up for the higher wage earner.
- Feelings of toxic insecurity can settle in for the lower wage earner.
- Confusion over who should pay what will become apparent.
7. Opening up the relationship too fast
It is no secret that many people, including gay men, have agreements to be in open relationships. To a greater or lesser degree, gay couples seem more comfortable about this construct than others. For many same sex couples, this arrangement works out just fine, provided certain ground rules are set with mutually agreed upon boundaries. Polyamory can also be an option for some gay men.
The decision to have a threesome or to engage in one on one activity in the absence of your man should not be taken lightly. Once that horse is out of the barn, it cannot be put back in. New gay couples who move too quickly for an open relationship run the risk of disabling intimacy, increasing insecurity and damaging self-esteem.
- Increased potential for STI’s (STD’s).
- Possible jealousies.
- Disagreements on what constitutes “cheating”.