Six Stages of Gay Relationships You Should Know!

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Gay Relationship Stages

By: John Hollywood

Gay relationships are unique. They can be difficult to enter into and hard to maintain. There are multiple reasons for this, ranging from compatibility issues to personality challenges. But when gay relationships are successful, they can be a beautiful thing.

Because of their uniqueness, some scholars believe there are six special stages to gay relationships that are important to be aware of. Knowing these stages may be helpful as a way of better understanding the dynamics at play in your own love life.

What follows is a breakdown of these stages, synthesized from the literature.

FYI: It’s important to note that not all gay relationships fit this model. Some stages can overlap. Think “big picture” when as you review.

Let’s jump right in!

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Blending Phase

1. Blending Stage

Blending happens during the first year of a relationship. This is the time when everything seems possible and things seem “magical”.

Major characteristics of this stage include:

  • Discovery of major interests
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Mutual, intense attraction
  • Amazing, “hot” sex

In many ways, this is the “make or break” stage of a new gay relationship. One or both parties may have strong feelings of jealousy because a foundation of trust has not yet been solidified.

Perceived faults are often overlooked during this time period but have a way of rearing their head later on.

Related Post: Top 10 Reasons Gay Relationships Fail

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Nesting Stage

2. Nesting Stage

Gay couples who enter their second and third year of a relationship are considered to be in the nesting stage. As the name suggests, nesting is all about being domestic.

Major characteristics include:

  • Setting up a home together
  • Working through personality differences
  • Foundation of trust takes root
  • Decisions regarding openness or monogamy happen

Couples in the nesting stage may find this is the time where important discussions take place about the future. Examples include identifying joint relationship goals, such as buying a home, getting a pet or adopting a child.

It is also during the nesting stage that many gay couples make the decision to be exclusive or open.

Related: Gays who criticize open relationships

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Maintaining Stage

3. Maintaining Stage

When a gay couple have been together for 3-5 years, they are in the maintaining phase. A key feature of maintaining is establishing independence.

Major characteristics include:

  • Rediscovery of former interests
  • New interests are developed
  • Relational drifting can take place
  • Attraction becomes less intense

Because sex becomes less frequent and less intense during this stage, some couples may rethink monogamy. It is also during the maintaining stage that couples are most likely to bring in a third person. That doesn’t mean it will happen.

Related: Should we bring in a third to our bedroom?

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Building Stage

4. Building Stage

When gay couples are in years 5-10 of a relationship, they are in the building stage. This particular stage is considered a huge milestone because many of the issues from previous years have been worked out.

Major characteristics include:

  • Dependability upon one another
  • Deep, mutual understanding
  • Strong feelings of safety and comfort
  • Obtainment of previously set goals
  • Boredom can set in

Gay men who are in the building stage can sometimes find this period of time challenging. The reasons are multi factorial, including a sense of relational boredom and complacency.

This is often the time couples will seek out counseling to help iron out problems.

Related: Do we need a gay couples counselor?

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Releasing Stage

5. Releasing Stage

When gay couples are together from 11-20 years, they are in the releasing stage. Here, both parties have usually accepted their partners for who they are and realize trying to change them is futile.

Major characteristics include:

  • Strong bond with partner
  • Considers partner “best friend”
  • Propensity to take partner for granted is high

The reason this stage is called releasing is because it is during this time that both parties let go of long held expectations and love their mate without barriers.

Related: Breathing new life into your gay relationship

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Renewing Phase

6. Renewing Stage

When a gay couple makes it to year 20 and beyond, they are in the renewing stage. Getting to this point for many is rare and beautiful.

Main Characteristics include:

  • Feelings of permanence
  • Some health problems arise
  • Mutual care for one another
  • Relational safety is high

Couples in this stage have been together for a long time. They know one another well and can tell what their partner is thinking without verbal dialogue.

Sex becomes less important during the renewal period. Mental stimulation becomes highly important. Trust is most high and caring behaviors are center stage.