Waiting / Dating / Mating: New Gay Relationships - Part Two
Nurturing new relationships takes time and effort. Let’s look at two uncomfortable issues that can come up: arguments and sexual interest. Perhaps you’re home with Mr. Right and you have your first argument. Nothing too serious, but it’s hard not to feel unsettled. What’s going on here?
A piece of advice many couples have found works for them is: never go to bed angry. Stay with the argument until it gets resolved instead. Conflict can make you anxious when a relationship is new, but don’t shy away from speaking your mind.
Relationships where one or both partners avoid showing their true feelings in disputes with one another are relationships that aren’t going to last. See if you can let your partner express what he’s feeling upset about without getting defensive. Acknowledge that you’ve heard what he’s saying; if you think he’s right, say so. If you think he’s off base, let him know. Understand that relationships require compromise. The optimal outcome isn’t likely to be your partner unconditionally surrendering because you’ve out-argued him; the best outcome is going to be something that leaves each of you feeling well-heard and respected, and the issue in question moved toward resolution.
Don’t take everything personally, even if it’s tempting to do so. Some conflicts are just differences that need to be worked out in the interest of harmony. Maybe the biggest mistake partners make is believing “I know what he is thinking.” You don’t – at least not until you ask him. You think his lack of interest in sex last night meant he’s getting bored; maybe it just means he’s tired. Don’t make assumptions. Ask your partner what he’s thinking or feeling.
In fact, taking a few minutes regularly each week to check in is great practice that can deepen relationships. Even ten minutes apiece to ask one another, “How are you this week?” can lead to better mutual understanding, greater closeness and more opportunity for intimacy.
Another difficult issue for couples moving beyond the newlywed stage is sexual interest. When you are dating, sex with your new boyfriend feels pretty special. After a while you will get to know every hair and freckle on your partner’s body, and the novelty of sex will wear off. Life’s other demands can crowd out lovemaking. Most of us aren’t all that eager for sex after working long hours and knowing we’ve got another exhausting day ahead of us tomorrow. Throw in household chores and a hundred other distractions and sex can get pretty stale before you know it.
It may feel unromantic to schedule date night together, but doing penciling it in your Daytimers is a lot more romantic than watching another week go by without making enough time for one another. Some couples create routines or rituals that work for them: Friday nights are strictly for the two of them, no intrusions permitted, or Tuesday evenings are the night to cook a special dinner together rather than rely on the usual quick meal after work.
Keeping sex passionate requires paying attention. When you are first together, the sex may be so hot it’s hard to believe things will every cool down – but they probably will. The frequency of lovemaking often slows down after a few months, but the satisfaction both partners receive from sex can increase as they learn more about how to turn one another on.
Take time to start your relationship off on the right foot and you’ll like the results.
John R. Ballew, M.S.an author and contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER or John R. Ballew, M.S. - www.bodymindsoul.org.