First year gay relationship mistakes
Have you been dating a guy for a while now? Do people identify you and your man as an official couple? Struggling to find the right balance between maintaining your independence while also being lovers?
If the answer is yes, you aren’t alone – particularly for gay men during their first year in a relationship.
That’s because during those first 12-months together, it can be make or break for newly minted couples. In truth, gay men face several challenges during year one that are unique to our vibrant sub-culture.
When handled properly, things can run smoothly. But if mishandled, it can spell a relational collapse.
In this article, you will learn:
- Issues that makes gay relationships unique
- 10 common mistakes new gay couples make
- Options for success
- Gay relationship resources
Before diving in, it’s important to state that the relationship mistakes listed below aren’t exhaustive. There’s no way in one article every possible issue could be listed. Instead, we’ve focused on the biggies.
As part of this piece, we’ve enlisted the guidance of several relationship experts that specialize in helping gay men.
Let’s jump right in!
1. Dating someone that’s not relationship ready
Some guys make the decision to enter into a relationship with another without first allowing wounds from a previous love to heal.
This point is particularly true for gay men gay men who were once in a longer-term arrangement. It’s only human to yearn for the familiar.
So how do you know if you know if that guy you’ve been with is relationship ready? The answer can be observed through the lens of observation.
Generally speaking, here’s a few signs to look out for:
- Regularly talks about his ex.
- He (or you) isn’t emotionally available.
- He (or you) tries to re-create a dynamic from an ex.
2. Continuing to stay on the apps
Within gay culture, many of us use dating and hookup apps. It’s a way of staying in touch with others and scoping out new possibilities.
The problem is that once you enter into a serious dating situation, apps can cause problems. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons gay men break up during year one.
- Remaining on the apps sends the message to a partner that you are available.
- Broadcasts (unintentionally or intentionally) a lack of commitment.
- Creates an environment of mistrust, particularly when an agreement has been made to be exclusive.
3. Continuing to go to bars
During the initial phases of a gay relationship, there is a pull to engage in activities that are familiar. Specifically, we are talking about frequenting old haunts, like bars, on a regular basis.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with an occasional night out, regular visits to clubs can cause serious problems.
Let’s look at why:
- may send a message to others that one or both of you are available.
- Activates attention seeking behaviors and competition.
- Over-drinking, which can lead to impaired judgement.
- Puts you, your man or the both of you in a position of being “hit on”. In turn, this can cause jealousy.
4. Too much focus on friends
To be sure, friends are an important pillar of emotional support. But during the first year of a relationship, focusing too much on friends can spell disaster for a new couple.
During those first critical 12 months, it’s important to spend quality time together. That can’t happen if there’s a constant parade of outings with pals and buddies. Obviously, balance is the key.
If the focus is on being around others for the purpose of attention or “showing off”, this may be a sign of intimacy problems. How can you build something together if it’s always about other people?
- Scheduling time with friends as a buffer to intimacy.
- Allowing friends to become too involved with your relationship.
- Plastering every moment of your relationship on Facebook to gain attention from others.
- Focusing too much on a buddy’s needs and not your boyfriend’s.
As a tribe, it’s fair to say gay men are a competitive bunch. To keep it real, this can be particularly true when it comes to gaining the attention from other guys.
This is being mentioned not to judge but instead, acknowledge a truth. If left unchecked, competition can cause a new gay couple to rip apart.
Here’s some signs that unhealthy competition may be happening:
- One upping a partner with attention seeking behaviors from others.
- Trying to outspend a partner in an effort to prove financial strength that may not exist.
- Attempting to become physically bigger or stronger than a boyfriend due to perceived inadequacies or body image issues.
6. Opening the relationship too soon
There is no shame in experiencing a threesome. In fact, for many gay couples, this arrangement works fine, provided certain ground rules are set with mutually agreed upon boundaries.
With that shared, the decision to invite a third or to engage in one on one activities in the absence of your man should not be taken lightly.
Once a couple crosses this Rubicon, there’s no going back. A new gay couple that moves too quickly for something open runs the risk of weakening intimacy, increasing insecurity and damaging self-esteem.
- Potential exposure to STI’s.
- The sparking of jealousies.
- Differing views on what constitutes “cheating”.
7. Ongoing use of drugs or alcohol
This point is certainly not true of all gay relationships but can be an issue for some. If you or your boyfriend regularly need to use alcohol or drugs (or both) to have a “good time”, it’s a recipe for disaster.
While there’s nothing wrong with having fun here and there, it can’t be the glue that binds your relationship.
- Regular use of alcohol as emotional lubricant in the relationship
- Requiring substances as part of sex.
- The need to be around others who regularly “party” or drink.
8. Moving in too soon, too fast
When you love a man, it’s understandable you want to be with him as much as possible. This is particularly true if the both of you work different shifts or can only spend weekends together.
As a coping approach, some couples decide the best way to solve the problem is to move in together. While there’s certainly some pluses to this approach, it also holds many minuses.
Generally speaking, moving in together during year one should be avoided.
- You are still trying to understand his groove.
- Moving in during the “honeymoon” phase just isn’t a good idea.
- Finances haven’t been worked out and that’s huge!
- You or your boyfriend may not be ready to give up autonomy.
9. Thinking “Something better might come along”
This point may be difficult to read but needs to be stated. If you keep jumping into and out of relationships believing the next guy will be “the one”, you are sabotaging any chance of long term success.
It takes a lot more than a few months together to determine long term compatibility.
Unless there’s a strong reason to believe he isn’t the right fit, there needs to be an opportunity for the relationship to grow and flourish.
Examples of thinking something better will come along include:
- Severing the chord on a relationship before getting to know him.
- Believing someone is out there who makes more money or is hotter in bed.
- Regularly comparing your last relationship to the one you are in now.
- Cherry picking perceived negatives of a boyfriend and ignoring his positives attributes.
10. Unrealistic expectations
Perhaps the fastest route to destroying a new gay relationship is holding unrealistic expectations of the man you are dating.
Translation: You possess a list of requirements that you think a boyfriend needs to possess in order for things to work.
- Unyielding salary requirements for your boyfriend.
- Expecting your man to always be in a good mood
- Thinking your boyfriend can “read your mind”
- Believing each sexual encounter with your man has to be “off the charts”.
Gay First Year Relationship Poll
Below you will find a poll that lists the top 10 mistakes gay men make during year one of the relationship. While the results aren’t scientific, they can be used for greater insight and understanding.
After making your selection, see how your vote stacks up against others.
New gay relationships are unique. Given same sex marriage is now available to all of us, it’s critical to keep the long game in mind.
A helpful resource to consider is the book: 10 Smart Things Gay Men Do To Find Better Love by Joe Kort.
Inside, you’ll find page after page of useful insight on building healthier romantic relationships with specifics aimed towards gay men.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks to CCC for their guidance and consultation for this article.