Monogamy with your long-term Valentine
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There's a widespread myth that gay men can't, won't, or don't maintain long-term monogamous relationships. The reality, according to good research, is that hundreds of thousands of gay men in long-term relationships are enjoying sexually satisfying monogamous relationships.
If you are interested in maintaining a long-term monogamous relationship, here are four tips to help you along the way.
Talk about sex
Perhaps we learn from the movies that good sex should just happen immediately and automatically, with lots of passionate bumping into tables and knocking pictures off walls. In reality, like all aspects of a relationship, it gets much better if we talk about it.
For some couples this is difficult. Sex for gay men â€" as well as for everyone else â€" can be doused with a heavy serving of shame, which can make it embarrassing to discuss. It takes practice and courage. For many couples it is safer to talk about sex with your clothes on. For best results give the conversation a spirit of playfulness and flirtation rather than criticism. After all, the whole purpose of sex is to have fun.
The best topic for conversation? Simply tell each other what you like.
Over time, sex with your partner can become boring. Doing something the same way over and over again can make anything dull.
To add variety to your sex life together, consider accessing your creativity or your bravery and start exploring some of your private sexual fantasies together. You and your partner can create the experience of something new by pretending that your partner is someone else.
It's no secret that newness is a turn-on for most people, so why deny it? Fantasy takes the familiar and makes it fresh and exciting again.
Perhaps you may be thinking that it is distancing or unromantic to think about someone else when you are having sex with the man you love. Consider this: it can actually be very intimate to share your fantasies with your mate. It becomes intimate when your partner knows that you are engaging in a fantasy together.
For more inspiration you might consider taking a couples workshop at the Body Electric School (www.thebodyelectricschool.com). It is a respected organization that offers powerful erotic education workshops.
I believe the number one reason couples stop having sex is due to resentments that have built up over the years that have not been worked through. Nothing kills a sex life faster than feeling annoyed or angry with your partner.
If on the surface you and your partner get along well but have stopped having sex, then it may be time to look deeper to discover what is blocking this important expression of intimacy. Ignoring your sex life for years often leads to trouble and crisis in a relationship.
The art of resolving conflict is an essential relationship skill. In a healthy relationship it can't be avoided, but it can be learned.
Know what you are yearning for
If you find yourself secretly looking for sex outside of your monogamous relationship it is important for you to understand why.
We may tell ourselves that we are looking for hot sex but more commonly we are looking for validation. In fact, most people I work with report that sex with that cute stranger is ultimately disappointing but the chase and knowing that he finds you attractive is delicious.
When it comes to sex with strangers, the truth is our fantasies are often more exciting than reality.
If you are looking for validation (who isn't?) then you might want to take some time to explore what is missing in that sphere. Do you and your partner validate each other regularly? If not, why not?
Many gay men have an unmet need to be validated as sexual beings. Most of us spent puberty and beyond feeling that something was wrong with our sexuality. So we can be especially hungry for messages that remind us that we are sexually desirable.
How do you merge your need for validation and your desire for monogamy? You create relationships with your partner and friends that are abundant with mutual validation. You develop your talents and skills at work and in hobbies. You confront and soften your inner critic so that you get a steady stream of self-validation.
And perhaps, after discussing it with your partner, you engage in eye contact and light flirtation with other men. This allows you to get much of the benefit of an open relationship (validation) without the drawbacks (hurt feelings, disappointing sex, and the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases) that can accompany hook ups. It also brings "out of the closet" a universal truth: we all appreciate looking at beauty in its many forms.
While you won't find much talk about it on Grindr or Manhunt or at most gay bars, many gay men prefer monogamy. If you haven't found a man willing to join you in your desire for monogamy then you may be looking in the wrong places. You'll find them volunteering at gay community organizations, finding inspiration at gay cultural events, or building their skills at gay recreational or educational clubs.
Adam D. Blum, MFT, is a San Francisco psychotherapist specializing in relationship and self-esteem issues for gay men. He writes a blog on these topics at http://www.gaytherapist-sanfrancisco.com/blog. He can be reached at (415)255-4266 or on his website at www.gaytherapist-sanfrancisco.com.