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Five tips for gay men on hot and healthy relationships

Sarah Oughton

06 December 2023

Power dynamics and communication challenges are something all couples face. But as a gay man you may face some extra hurdles.

Here are five tips to make sure your relationships are as hot, steamy and healthy as they can be!

Gay couple in bed gazing in each other's eyes
Photos are used for illustrative purposes. They do not imply health status or behaviour. Credit: iStock/franckreporter

1. Be aware of expectations and stereotypes

Just because some people like casual sex or being in open relationships – where both people in the couple agree it’s okay to have sex with other people – it doesn’t mean everyone does. This pretty much goes without saying in heterosexual relationships. But often gay men feel a pressure and an expectation for them to be okay with a non-exclusive relationship.

If you feel jealous or uncomfortable with your partner having sex with someone else, then an open relationship probably isn’t for you. And that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner what you are looking for in a relationship.

2. Avoid the trap of being macho

Many societies create a culture where men are expected to be macho and competitive. For men in same-sex relationships this can put added pressure on a relationship. It’s important to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else – whether that be your body, finances, skills or anything else – or feeling competitive if that’s not your thing. Concentrate on supporting and celebrating the successes of friends and partners instead and see how much better that feels.

You may also think that sharing your feelings and being vulnerable is not how men are supposed to behave. But this is a dangerous and misguided social concept. Men with real emotional intelligence and strength have the courage to open up and share their feelings with the people they care about.

3. Protect your mental health

For men in same-sex relationships there is an added stress that comes from being in a minority in society. Experiences of homophobia and abuse can cause all sorts of mental health issues, including internalised homophobia (when you accept negative views about gay men and turn them into negative feelings about yourself).

Talking these issues through with your partner and having a plan in place can help you cope better with stigma and discrimination. Helping to make sure that you and your partner support each other when you most need it.

Whatever challenges you may face, finding ways to cope is vital to protect your mental health and wellbeing. A fundamental strategy that we can all benefit from when in safe relationships, is being emotionally open, and communicating our feelings and needs.

4. Understand sexual consent

Do I want to have sex right now? Before having sex it is right that every person should ask themselves that question. And it is absolutely okay if the answer is no. Whatever the context.

No matter what our gender or sexual orientation we all need to understand and practice sexual consent. This means, no one should ever be forced or persuaded into having sex against their will and everyone has a right to change their mind at any point.

For gay men and other men who have sex with men, consent can be a particularly tricky issue. Cultural stereotypes about gay men ‘always being up for it’ can put pressure on you to meet the expectations of your partner. But you never need to have sex if you don’t want to.

To have the best, hot and steamy sex both partners need to be 100% into it. So understanding your right and your partner’s right to say no at any time, means when you both say yes the sky is your orgasmic limit!

5. Communication is key

Healthy relationships are based on respect, honesty, trust and communication.  Some couples find it helpful to create their own ‘sexual agreement’. This can include deciding whether you are in an open or exclusive relationship.

Talking to your partner about preventing HIV may feel like it’s a passion killer. But if it’s something you’ve talked through before things get steamy then it takes the stress out of sex and makes things even better. Your sexual agreement can include plans around your sexual health – such as committing to using HIV protection and getting tested regularly.

Communication is the key which links all the above tips and can really open the door to the best relationship you can possibly have, from mind-blowing sex to the thrill of true intimacy and trust.

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