You’ve sown your oats, and now you’re ready to settle down with Mr. Right. Sure, buddy, dream on. Like he’ll be waiting for you in the underwear aisle the next time you stroll into Abercrombie and Finch.
Seriously, though, if you met a guy, THE guy, who is more than just terrific sex; who you share commonalities with beyond reciting lines from Bette Davis movies; who’s financially stable, and has no excess baggage like drinking, drugs or psychoses (I know, that leaves out 70% of the gay population – just kidding); and who, most importantly, gives a shit, really gives a shit about your welfare and well-being, what do the two of you need to work at, and relationships are work, to make it last?
1. Set the ground rules from the beginning, particularly, when it comes to other men, friends, fuck buddies or ships in the night. Every relationship is different and handles this touchy issue in a different way. Just make sure that both of you are on the same wave length.
2. Celebrate and rejoice in your differences. Hey, I’m in love with myself, but I’m sure my twin would get to be boring after awhile. Just as long as some of what you enjoy as individuals you can also enjoy together. (And I don’t mean just jerking off together over some porn.)
3. If kids are in the equation (yea, gay and bi-daddies I’m talking to you), make sure their needs and questions are addressed, too.
4. Don’t move in together right away. Spend some long weekends or a week at his place or vice versa. Can you deal with his leaving the toilet seat down in the middle of the night, or he with your halitosis at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning? And who says you’ve got to cohabitate for the relationship to work anyway? How about that little word, trust?
5. Don’t co-mingle assets until it makes sense. (You know, it’s $$$ strife, not infidelity, that wrecks most straight marriages.) Sure, decide how joint bills will be paid, but keep separate checking accounts, credit cards, etc.; after all, the credit reporting bureaus don’t award joint credit ratings to lovers. If you eventually buy a home or a condo, make absolutely certain that the deed and mortgage are in both your names (so you aren’t left holding the bag if the other picks up and leaves; you know how many guys I know were forced to file for personal bankruptcy because of this stupidity?), and that you each have the right to survivorship, which means you or he gets the property should something happen. Again, when the moment is right, get your asses over to a gay-friendly lawyer and establish respective powers of attorney, health care proxies, and wills. You may not want your next of kin, your Marine corporal homophobic brother, making decisions if you can’t, or inheriting your estate.
(I learned the hard way when my partner took sick at our PA home and I couldn’t even get his mail forwarded down to Lauderdale without his nephew signing the change-of-address card.)
6. Be open to compromise. Don’t let the little shit destroy a relationship. So he leaves the sponge in the sink after he washes the dishes. So? Put it back where you want it without making a federal case. A federal case is him bringing home a trick at 3 a.m. who may end up tying the both of you up, beating the shit out of you, and then taking the keys to YOUR Cooper.
7. Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes, particularly when he’s faced with a dilemma or has a tough decision to make and he turns to you for advice, not parenting. (There may be relationships where one partner is the driver but any guy who just blindly follows another guy’s orders I think is a fuckin’ jerk).
8. Give one another space. Guys who are too clingy smother a relationship. If you feel that insecure, either the coupling was built on sand to begin with, or you’re not ready.
9. Finally, TALK. Sure it’s uncomfortable, but when there’s an “issue,” it’s better to discuss it even if there’s some yelling (just no throwing furniture or smothering one another with a pillow, huh, guys?) and try to work things out, than to let it fester and you both end up on “Forensic Files,” only, one of you will be watching it – from prison.
And if, in the end, it means it’s time to call it quits, so be it. A relationship is supposed to be a safe harbor, not a disaster flick.
Tomorrow: The Story of Ironside: My Wheelchair Bound Lover