Same Sex Monogamy

bedsadcplSince the subject of gay marriage is top of the list right now, it feels right to tackle the subject of monogamy, commitment and expectations. Most gay men I know support gay marriage from the position of equality rather than their own desire to be legally bound, but the dream of ‘settling down’ still resonates through every gay meeting place and dating site.

Our heterosexual friends have proved that monogamy is not for everyone, many have informed us that marriage is not what it’s made out to be in this form of committed capture, and the idea that love conquers everything, is now obsolete. Take two examples I have come across; the sex addict who thinks a relationship will stop his ‘acting out”, in the same way that a wife is often seen as ‘taming’ her newly acquired husband from his seed sowing activities, and the codependant  who ‘needs’ a relationship in order to feel complete and wanted, whilst avoiding the fear of abandonment.

In my Relationship Coach Training the phrase that stood out like a fey gay at school is that ‘ Love brings up everything unlike itself for the purpose of healing’. This means that everything you buried like abandonment, low esteem, guilt, control and fear of rejection, simmers likes a slow cooker beneath the ritual of coupling, so a committed relationship gives you the chance to see what defects of character hold court. Many who have taken the route of commitment take an ‘open relationship route’ once an emotional baseline is held which, in my practice experience, is not always the answer to sexual needs and emotional functioning.

A relationship that lasts, needs honesty from the beginning, when initial boundaries are created, so future changes can progress with equal honesty, so going straight into an ‘open relationship’ from the beginning is ill-advised as one partner often agrees in order to capture the boyfriend, people pleasing their way into emotional suppression. The idea sounds great, but without honest boundaries at any point, a car crash looms. A frequently reviewed and discussed ‘open relationship’ is one that is more likely to reap rewards and is one that has had a period of monogamy to act as foundation.

tumblr_l7d9rdwiwg1qc17moo1_400Michael Shelton author of ‘BOY CRAZY’ – Why Monogamy Is So Hard for Gay Men and What You Can Do About It, writes ‘ Though there are many variations in the ground rules for sexual activity in relationships, they are still variations of just a few core themes. A couple may opt for mutual celibacy, to remain monogamous for the duration of the relationship, choose some form of open relationship, or have occasional or even frequent covert sexual activity outside the parameters of their established relationship. None of these decisions is written in stone, and they can and often do damage, particularly in an environment that places so much importance on sexual satisfaction ‘.

The sex addict thinks that aquirring a monogamous relationship will kill the natural urge to shop around, it doesn’t, nor does it reduce the desire for approval addiction. The solution to this conundrum is loving yourself more, warts and all, so you lovingly approve of yourself without the need for others to give you a 5* review. This is how I healed my own sex addictions, compulsions, codependencies and negating habits. It may work for you too.

Self awareness, recovery and liking more of yourself is also the path to those addicted to relationships, the serial relationship seekers who don’t take breath in between one ending and finding another so quickly. We know who they are, their Facebook status’s that bounce ‘in a relationship’ every few months, give us the opportunity to raise eyebrows in their speed and dedication to not being alone. Many self-help books on gay relationships often discourage open relationships, whilst encouraging commitment to monogamy, yet in my experience of viewing client relationships over 2 decades, the best commitment you can make in a relationship is to be honest ‘at all times’.

Honesty and clear communication is the best wedding present to give yourselves. Some spiritually based readers like myself, don’t believe in the concept of ownership, romantic fantasy or capture. Interdependent relationships, with a ring on it or not, recognise that change is inevitable over time, that everything is temporary, including feelings, and that guilt shame and fear holds no purpose except to hold you to ransom, kidnapped by the fear of abandonment.

boy-crazy-why-monogamy-is-so-hard-for-gay-men-and-what-you-can-do-about-itI found BOY CRAZY to be a trusted tome on relationship education, without judgement of choices, one way or another and suggest you give it a try. Think of all the study books you have read to acquire a career, yet how few you have read to acquire peace of mind and relationship satisfaction. In London it’s available from GAY’S THE WORD bookshop or the usual online book sites worldwide.

Don’t treat me like a child

Spend a few minutes thinking how many times you acted like a child in a relationship, when you couldn’t get your own way. Maybe you still act like a child in a present relationship. Adult childishness occurs in many unconscious forms, getting treated like a child by a know-all partner, making you feel like a dog when they say ” FETCH “, and patting you on the head in a patronising way, is one way. It’s OK to be trained as a pup as a fetish set-up but tiresome to be controlled by a partner to the extent you feel inadequate or trapped. When it comes to acting out control, the reality is that a person who feels victimised often needs a controller, as much as control freaks seeks out other kids to bully. Many still believe that a good relationship consists of finding a babysitter lover or substitute parent which is why protection, safety and security are high on the emotional agenda disguised as ” Love” or” Being in Love “. I know of many gay men who wait to be ‘rescued’, the low esteemers who people please in order to be loved, but when you don’t love yourself it is also difficult to receive love when it comes your way. The core of co-dependency is fear of rejection or abandonment, so it’s no surprise that many internet profile addicts gain love and acceptance from how many messages they receive in the morning before work. Fewer messages means less attention, and while an adult accepts this situation for what it is, a codependent adult in a child’s mind sees it as total rejection of self. The sexual attention we got in our twenties wanes as we age, while the need to be noticed can increase as hair recedes and bellies expand. Such is gay life. Off course we have to thank the Bear Brigade for changing these viewpoints, but not every 45 year old wants to wear a tartan shirt, a beard and go TONKER till 2am.
 Melody Beattie’s take on the subject is this –
” Codependent’s experience quite a few intense emotions about current events that are not mature adult feelings but stem from other sources. For example, a codependent may easily pick up and carry feelings for others taking on board misguided responsibility. Codependents are also prone to harbour feelings picked up during childhood from parents and to project them onto others in adult life. In addition, codependents can quickly sink into a child ego state when current events trigger a child feeling reality that was not sufficiently dealt with during childhood. When we sink into the child ego state, we feel small, vulnerable, and often defensive. Even in recovery, however, these old feelings will continue to come up to a certain degree. The difference is that when they do come up, you can unload them with a therapist/counsellor or aftercare support or with friends who are mature enough to listen to them. This will prevent you from using these strong feelings from childhood to create intensity within your relationships. “
Recovery from codependent patterning means responding to your partner or situation, rather than re-acting  or reacting like a child who can’t get their own way. This reaction seldom works long term in a relationship, because the partners mind and mouth clam up as an act of survival, in much the same way that a mother reacts to a crying child night and day. She switches off until she can’t stand anymore. Constant nagging of a partner just takes them back to childhood, to those previous times of emotional silence when they felt helpless, victimised and controlled. When one partner is in recovery from Love Addiction and the other is not, a re-written script gets acted out when patterns change and reality is faced. Partners often refrain from adhering to the new regime because it means growing up and taking responsibility for themselves, which defeats the object of the exercise in starting the relationship in the first place. This is why it takes courage to change. Just because you may be excited about a new way of thinking, working and expressing yourself, others may not, but the reality is that when WE make a stand of change others are challenged to follow. Without this level of challenge we dig deeper into our own emotional graves – and stay there.