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Hello, readers! My name is Aram, and I plan to use my educational background in LGBT psychology, my experience as a psychotherapist to individuals and couples in our community, and the knowledge I’ve acquired as a socially and sexually active gay man to explore matters of the heart most relevant to us as gay men. The landscape of relationships in general is drastically changing, and this has never been more evident than in the world of gay relationships and community building.
In this recurring section of WHERE GENTLEMEN GO, I’d like to challenge readers to think outside of the box in regards to sex, love, and shared communal space. We as gay/queer men operate a little differently in these categories, and I’d like this section to provide a safe place to explore these issues while encouraging ways to do so without any shame or guilt.
Our language and our vocabulary in the realm of love and relationships has evolved in just the last decade, and it’s up to us to celebrate what makes us different from our heterosexual counterparts in order to operate and navigate this landscape with ease. It’s up to us to celebrate our community’s ability to work outside of the “normative.”
Here is an example. Recently, I typed in the following in a Google search to see what comes up. “What to do when someone you love…” Everything that came up was about ‘when they love someone else’ or ‘when they don’t love you back.’ The only variation was ‘when they are terrible with money.’
In my opinion, the reason relationships tend fail so easily in today’s world, especially in the gay community, is because we are becoming more complicated humans, yet still dealing with simple and dated terms and expectations about love and connection.
The exchange of information has grown exponentially in the last few decades, and “app culture” has had a massive effect on how we tend to connect with one another. More than anything, what’s happening here is that the heteronormative relationship ideals we’ve grown to value are less viable given the way we have socially evolved over time.
Let’s think about this for a moment. What other ways can we finish that sentence? “When to do when someone you love…”
My first thoughts were the following: ‘…is unkind,’ ‘…is overly sensitive,’ ‘…is passive aggressive,’ or ‘…is a poor communicator.’ I recently opened this up for discussion on my personal Facebook page, and got a slew of very different results.
Some took it the positive direction: “…loves you back” and “…makes you want to be your best self” were two responses.
A few others wanted to know how to deal with loved ones who had different views on the social experience: “…desires an open relationship” is a really good one, and conversely so is “…is socially inept.” This might yield less of a conversation, but “…only prefers to communicate via text” is a valid concern for some people, I suppose.
Others, rather than completing the sentence, opened up the comment thread to further avenues of discussion. One expressed that “love” is too small and limited a word to express what is expected within the confines of any given relationship. Another felt that happiness was not something that was necessarily always shared by partners, depending on any given situation. Our jobs are partners are to support each other, even if it means sitting out during an experience that makes your partner happy but might make you uncomfortable.
I enjoy discussions like these, and I’d like to encourage them here in the “sex & relationships” section of WGG. But the biggest takeaway I had from this discussion, that I’d like to impart on to you, dear reader, is the acceptance of accountability.
We might be programmed in times of conflict to think about all the ways we can “fix” our partners, but I believe looking for ways to take accountability for all the times WE exhibit these problematic behaviors is a better starting point. That way this becomes a conversation with our partners, rather than a lecture. And nobody, no matter who it is, likes being lectured anymore.
And submit your sex and relationship questions to WhereGentlemenGo@gmail.com