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TSVandenberg's picture

Easter Day Solutions

So today’s Easter Sunday, and we’re all wearing Easter colours to work, instead of our usual uniforms. Easter colours, of course, being pastels.
TSVandenberg's picture

Lady Gaga Was Not Born This Way

the gay love coach's picture

Quick Tips for Building Your Risk-Taker Muscles in Dating

Introduction

There is probably no greater topic of importance to gay dating and relationship success than self-esteem. How you feel about yourself definitely translates itself in everything that you think, feel, and do. Having confidence and a belief that you have value and worth gives you that extra boost you need to take risks that will improve your life. It gives you that little extra sexy appeal and makes you feel positive and attractive to yourself and others. It also helps you in making sound and responsible decisions that will ensure you're living with integrity. Additionally, when you feel good about yourself, you're more likely to set boundaries with others to avoid being taken advantage of and helps you feel more able to be assertive and to go after what you need and what.

Much of the quality of our life comes from the choices we make. To grow as a person, we must be able to step outside our comfort zone to break free from stagnation and reach for progressively higher goals that lead toward self-actualization. The ability to take risks and "go for it" is correlated with a solid sense of self-esteem. In dating and relationships, being able to take risks is critical to being able to reach the visions you've set for yourself as it pertains to your love-life. Approaching that cute guy across the bar entails risk. Telling your boyfriend that you love him is another form of risk. Without having the confidence and motivation to conquer our anxieties and inhibitions about being vulnerable, we will never be able to realize and experience our romantic and relationship potentials to the fullest.

What follows in this short article is a tips list of things you can do to build your self-esteem and risk-taking muscles. The ideas may sound a little text-book and some suggestions may seem a little far-fetched, but I encourage you to pick and choose the points that make sense for you and apply those most relevant for your current life situation. Self-esteem is such a broad-based concept and once fixed, it can be difficult to challenge. Achieving positive self-esteem and confidence can't be accomplished from reading a tips sheet; it requires consistent practice and diligence in challenging oneself to think, feel, and behave in ways that are in greater alignment with the type of person you want to be. If you find that you struggle with low self-esteem or anxiety about making things happen in your life, it's important to be persistent in your efforts to overcome those things that bring you down and to enlist the services of a coach or therapist who can work with you to personalize your own program for self-esteem enhancement.

the gay love coach's picture

Gay Dating & "The Average Joe"

Opening Remarks

Gay culture highlights youth, muscle, and good looks as valuable assets and commodities when it comes to sexuality and relationships. All one has to do is turn the pages of your favorite gay newspaper or magazine (that doesn't necessarily have to be sexual in nature) and you'll be distracted by photographs and advertisements of attractive men with chiseled bodies oozing sex appeal to titillate the senses. Or log on to any dating or personals site on the Web and you'll find hosts of men demanding youth and rugged masculine good-looks as personal requirements in their profiles to consider even corresponding or chatting with them.

The harsh reality of the worldwide gay community and society at large is that physical attractiveness is deemed a significant value and those who fit the mold of how this description is defined are admired and rewarded with social privileges and positive reinforcement. This isn't to say that being a "hottie" is all it's cracked up to be...they can struggle in the dating realm as well as they are often times pigeonholed with superficialities or viewed solely as sexual objects. Dating hardships for the "very good-looking" (VGL) could be a whole separate article! But it can often times be a different experience for those who do not espouse the redeeming qualities or status awarded to those labeled as "beautiful" by cultural standards.

So what if you are a single gay man who might be lower on the "hotness scale" because of your physical appearance and looks, your age, your weight, or because you may have a disability? It can feel like your worth in the gay community means nothing and it can undermine your confidence in your dating efforts...but only if you let it! This article will offer some insights and tips for helping the Gay Average or Not-So-Average Joe navigate through the sometimes cruel dating waters of the gay community to maximize their success as single men on the hunt for Mr. Right. This isn't intended to be a Pollyanna approach to the situation because the cold reality is that it is unfortunately more challenging and competitive for those that don't necessarily fit the prototype of "VGL". But it's also not a lost cause! As you will see, developing and accessing a positive self-esteem and sense of sexiness that we all embody, no matter who we are or what we look like, goes a long way toward attracting the attentions and affection of a significant other.

the gay love coach's picture

Gay & Single on Valentine's Day--8 Holiday Survival Strategies

INTRODUCTION

For those singles unhappy with their relationship status, Valentine's Day can represent a sense of foreboding and dread as it highlights all the things they wish they had in their lives. Everywhere they look it seems like there is a happy couple on every street corner, and it seems inescapable to walk into a store without some image or product associated with the holiday being shoved in one's face to reinforce the value of love and relationships.

However, I am here to tell you to stop the madness! Don't let this particular day dampen your spirits or cause you to feel depressed! As you know, Valentine's Day has become very commercialized and contributes to the stigmatization of being single-if you let it! Never forget that being single is an opportunity and an outright valid choice by many. Our society puts considerable pressure on us to become partnered and can cause one to feel minimized, left out, and "less than". Not true! Recognize the power and growth potential that the single lifestyle affords you and embrace the fact that Valentine's Day is just that-a day like any other day that's intended for you to live it to the maximum and keep striving toward your dreams and goals.

But at the same time, it does seem near impossible to shield oneself from the hoopla that the media places on Valentine's Day. And if you are struggling with trying to reconcile with your single status, it can be a difficult day if you allow it to define how you feel. So what follows is a list of tips and activities that you can try on for size to help you overcome "The Valentine's Day Blues". They're not earth-shattering ideas, particularly if you don't feel that there would be any viable substitute for having a hot guy on your arm for the evening, but they just might be a catalyst to help you take some positive actions that might help you achieve a renewed sense of spirit and perspective.

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Calendar of Love Tasks for Gay Couples for the New Year

Introduction

It's the beginning of a New Year and people all around the globe are making resolutions and goals for self-improvement and personal growth. But while everyone is creating individual objectives to accomplish their ideals, an important part of our lives tends to be overlooked and neglected when going through this period of introspection and renewal. Our relationships! Whether it's an intimate relationship with a significant other or our connections with family and friends, all relationships require consistent attention, feeding, and sustenance to keep them healthy and vital. What better time of the year to take stock of your relationships and give them some much needed "Tender Loving Care" than now! For purposes of this article, we will focus on some specific strategies you can implement within the context of your relationship with your partner that will keep the focus on your identity as a couple.

One of the factors that contribute to the demise of many gay relationships is when the partners take each other for granted. That can certainly be easy to do when you consider the realities inherent in the hectic hustle-bustle craziness that life entails. We can get so caught up in the distractions of work, family, friends, household management, working out, and all the other extracurricular activities that we involve ourselves in that we actually end up losing sight of what's really most important and valuable-our relationships with our partners.

A common danger is that once dating partners become coupled, many become comfortable and complacent and begin to settle into monotonous routines and rituals that can kill the spark that had once attracted them to each other. It also then becomes easy for the other responsibilities and demands of life to take center stage and the relationship takes a back seat to all these other competing forces. Relationships require energy and effort; lack of attention will create a division between the partners and this distance makes the individuals feel unwanted, unloved, and unappreciated. This spells disaster and conflict. Don't let your relationship suffer this fate! You've worked hard to build a solid foundation of trust and intimacy. All that's needed now is some consistent reinforcement of your love and devotion for each other.

the gay love coach's picture

New Year's Resolutions for Gay Couples

Introduction

Probably the number one question I get asked most often by gay couples is, unsurprisingly, "How do I make my relationship better?" So, in line with the holiday and beginning of a New Year, I thought I'd write a short blurb that lists some possible action steps you might take to improve your partnership in the coming year. We've all heard of making personal New Year's Resolutions like "I'm going to lose weight this year" or "I'm going to go to the health club more often", but what would happen if we expanded upon that concept and created Resolutions for our relationships as couples?

With our busy lifestyles and excessive demands placed upon our time, it can be very easy to take our relationships for granted and unconsciously place them on the low end of our priority scales. And with those couples who have been together for a long time, it's even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (as if on auto-pilot) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This neglect is a primary reason for relationship discord, boredom, and a host of other problems that begin to erode at the foundation of our bonds as lovers/husbands.

Catapult Your Relationship In The New Year!

Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its longevity and success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year's Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to attend to the items on your list. In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. In essence, the two of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to strive toward and celebrate the successes along the way.

Need some help creating some Resolutions? While it'll have more meaning and substance if you and your partner can create your own, here's some examples that you might use; they might even spark some additional ideas of your own! Have at it, and enjoy the process!

the gay love coach's picture

Guy Gawking in Gay Relationships

Introduction

When I first came out to myself as a gay man many years ago, I was completely clueless about the gay lifestyle. Like any culture, I quickly came to learn that the gay community has its own norms and practices that differed to lesser or greater degrees than what I'd experienced in the mainstream heterosexual world that we all grow up in and internalize.

Living in the suburbs of Chicago where few resources existed for learning about and meeting other gay folk, I established a friendship base in the Windy City itself, which houses a fairly large gay metropolis. It was here that my virginal journey into gay society began. So naïve I was in learning all the social nuances involved in this new land I was venturing into! I amusingly recall one day walking through the gay ghetto with one of my friends, just chatting away about this and that, when all of a sudden in mid-sentence, his neck spun around in a double-take (very similar to Linda Blair in "The Exorcist") when a striking man in a tank-top walked past us. I found myself a little startled and taken aback by his behavior, which seemed so overt and untamed by my conventional standards with his eyes bugged out and tongue wagging. As I quickly came to learn, this commonplace ritual is called "cruising", an important social skill that all single gay men quickly learn to develop to snag themselves a potential date or casual sex partner for the night.

My continued immersion into the gay brotherhood brought an interesting tidbit to light about gay socialization; that is, this whole "gay gawking" phenomenon of sizing up with the eyes of one's attraction to another is not exclusive to the singles' scene. It's not unusual for gay couples to partake in this activity, either together or separate from one another. And that is the topic for this article, spurred by an interview I gave for journalist Diane Maples who was writing a piece for MSNBC.com on the practice of "ogling" that occurs and its impact on monogamous relationships. The following includes some of the content I offered during the interview for her story.

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The Power Bottom

I was interviewed by Ian Bassingthwaighte from Esquire Magazine for an article in their sex column in the publication’s December 2010 issue. It was about the concept of “the power bottom” as it pertains to gay sexuality. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the official pages of the magazine, but below are the questions I was asked with my corresponding answers.

1.  What is the difference between a bottom and a power bottom, or how is power bottom defined?

In gay sexuality terms, a “bottom” is understood to be the male partner who is on the receptive end of anal intercourse and enjoys being penetrated. A “power bottom” could be defined as a bottom who has a strong enthusiasm and drive for engaging in long sessions of anal penetrative sex, whether as an extended single encounter with no interruption of being “topped”, or having the desire and ability to engage in multiple instances of anal sex over a long period of time within a sexual episode. A man who can accommodate penile thrusting for long periods without stopping and shows exuberance, lack of inhibition, and active participation in the sexual encounter are characterized as “power bottoms.” Many tops (the penetrator) who have endurance and enjoy long sessions of anal intercourse commonly complain about bottoms who have to terminate penetration because of discomfort, pain, or exhaustion. Conversely, power bottoms can also be discontented with a top who ejaculates too quickly during sex and halts the sexual encounter before he has been thoroughly satisfied.

the gay love coach's picture

The Magnetic Relationship: When Positive & Negative Meet and Mate

Introduction

Gay relationships come in all varieties and combinations...that's what makes our community so diverse and eclectic! One such couple pairing has been coined "magnetic relationships", which is defined as an HIV-positive and an HIV-negative man in a committed partnership together. Perhaps it stems from fear, ignorance, or other sociopolitical factors, but surprisingly very little has been written on this subject.

One of the most important components of any single gay man's dating plan is a clear vision of the type of partner and relationship he seeks. Knowledge of his negotiable and non-negotiable needs is then used to form a template that he refers to when screening potential dating partners. Such criteria might include looks, professional status, age, race, certain emotional characteristics, etc. When meeting new men, singles intent on searching for Mr. Right will then take special note of the potential goodness-of-fit that exists with his relational vision and values with every dating encounter to avoid investing energy (and their hearts) into mismatched connections. One such criteria that every man must contemplate are his feelings about whether to date within or outside his particular HIV status. They must decide how important or not it is to them in the scheme of their visions for a long-term relationship. In response to a recent poll on my website's "Question of the Month" voting poll regarding whether gay men would date others opposite of their own HIV status, 34% replied "yes" and 66% said "no."

This article addresses those men who have discordant HIV statuses and have decided that other partner traits and relational characteristics hold more importance and priority to them than HIV/AIDS and have invested into committed partnerships. With such minimal literature available on this relationship style, it is hoped that this article will offer some useful tips and support for that segment of the gay population who has been unrepresented.

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