Whether it’s a woman seeking sex tips on how to please her man (because gay men are the ultimate authorities on male sexual pleasure), or a hetero bro asking why his fiancé has been so distant lately (because, as homosexual males, we’re somehow more in tune with the female psyche), you’d be hard-pressed to find a gay guy who hasn’t found himself playing devil’s advocate for a straight couple suffering romantic challenges.
In theory, we’re probably the last people these folks should be turning to for advice. After all, most of us have absolutely zero experience with opposite-sex relationships. And surely we have just as many problems in our partnerships. But let’s face it: there are certain things we do differently and, well, better. (Of course, we’re sure opposite-sex couples could teach us a thing or two, too.)
Maybe it has to do with John Gray’s whole “men are from Mars, women are from venus” metaphor, and the fact that we come from the same “planet” as our partners. At any rate, to give our homo readers a bit of a breather from answering these kinds of questions, we’ve come up with some answers for our hetero pals even though they didn’t exactly ask for our advice.
Here are seven tips for making your heterosexual romance work.
1. Make your own rules
One of the benefits of being in a non-traditional partnership is that it’s, well, non-traditional. Unlike straight couples, gay men aren’t bogged down by societal expectations of how a relationship should be or how a couple is supposed to act. We’ve always done things on our own terms. Once you are an outcast, you think like an outcast.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping separate bank accounts, running in different social circles, or sleeping in separate bedrooms, as long as you’re both happy. Do what works for you. Don’t let other people’s preconceived notions or peer pressure dictate how you act in your relationship.
2. Let it go
There’s a reason why Idina Menzel’s Frozen anthem “Let It Go” was such a huge hit among the gays last year. The song basically captured our entire life’s philosophy in just 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
So you caught your boyfriend sneaking a peek at another woman’s donque at the beach. Let it go.
So your girlfriend just received a text message from her ex who lives in another state. Let it go.
Nine times out of ten these are innocuous offenses not worthy of getting upset over, or even commenting to your partner about. Not to mention, nobody wants a significant other who’s constantly chastising them every time they act human.
3. A little harmless flirting never hurt anyone
As gay men, we’re not above asking our boyfriend to bat his eyelashes at the male flight attendant if it means complimentary in-flight cocktails for the next six hours. Flirting can be an excellent way of getting things: discounts, free upgrades, special treatments, you name it.
Can your girlfriend’s cleavage get you an upgrade on your rental car? Great! Can your boyfriend’s sparkling blue eyes and dashing smile charm the hostess into seating you early? Awesome! Allowing your partner permission to work his or her magic on others can actually benefit you, too. And it will keep him or her happy short of having to sleep with the subject of the flirting. So stop acting all jealous and insecure and enjoy the perks of being in a relationship with someone other people find desirable. It won’t last forever, honey.
4. Rethink monogamy
Contrary to what some idealogues say, human beings are not biologically programmed to be monogamous. Gay men understand this better than anyone. That’s why many of us–many, not all–have open relationships. We’ve learned how to separate sex from love, and how to communicate our needs with our partners in ways that work for everyone.
Just because a couple is in an open relationship doesn’t mean they are any less committed to one another, or that their relationship is somehow fractured or destined for failure. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Being in an open relationship requires an even deeper level of trust and understanding in one’s partner.
You may decide that keeping the bedroom door in your relationship slightly ajar isn’t for you, and that’s perfectly fine. But it’s something to at least consider now that we’re well into the 21st century.
5. Honestly really is the best policy
Most everyone understands that relationships involve making sacrifices. Sometimes one must give up certain behaviors for the sake of their significant other.
Let’s say your girlfriend tells you she doesn’t want you e-mailing your ex-fiancé anymore, even though the two of you are just friends and the e-mails are 100 percent innocent. You now have a choice to make: Either do as she asks or explain why you can’t. Whatever you do, don’t lie and tell her you’ll cut off communication only to continue maintaing a secret e-mail relationship on the side. Because one day, no matter how careful you are, you’re going to leave your computer open and she’s going to see the e-mails and be upset. It could be years from now, but it will happen. And she might dump you as a result. And, quite frankly, she’d be justified in doing so. After all, you lied. For years. And that isn’t cool.
6. Don’t fear being single
Why is it when the economy gets better, fewer people cohabitate? It’s because, generally speaking, people, when free of economic pressure, prefer to live alone. Nowadays there’s so much less stigma attached to being single. So stop buying into the old Hollywood lie that you’re going to end up old and lonely if you don’t settle down with someone by the time you’re 35. There are too many happy older single people and too many older, isolated, unhappy couples to believe that fiction any more.
7. You don’t have to get married. Ever
Too many people view marriage as the ultimate end goal in a relationship. Why bother being together, they think, if not to one day wed?
Sure, marriage has its perks. If your spouse murders someone, for instance, you can’t be forced to testify against him or her in court. And if they go to prison, you’re entitled to visitation rights. Then, of course, there’s the excuse to throw a big party and register for expensive gifts at your favorite department store. These are all good things. But they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
It wasn’t that long ago that same-sex couples were forbidden from getting married in the United States. Yet we still managed to maintain long, happy, and successful partnerships. And many of us are now choosing to stay unmarried despite more and more states adopting marriage equality. It kind of goes back to our first point about making your own rules.
Every relationship is different, so do what feels most natural to you and yours. That’s the key to living happily ever after.