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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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Am I Mr. Right?

Introduction

So you're single and looking for Mr. Right. Perhaps you enjoy the freedom of this time of your life and date recreationally, keeping your options open until "the right guy" comes along. Or maybe you're the type who feels like dating is his sealed fate, forever going out on dates with guy after guy, only to walk away from each experience disappointed and questioning whether you'll ever find a compatible life partner. Whatever your situation, it's important to remember that finding Mr. Right is only part of the equation to landing a successful relationship. The other part, which is actually more important, is to become Mr. Right yourself.

The Law of Attraction states that like attracts like. What you put out there in your life will be mirrored back to you. This theory purports that, for example, if you exude confidence and positivity, this will draw like-minded people toward you like a magnet. Conversely, if you portray a demeanor of depression and pessimism, you will likely attract those with similar qualities...if even! So whether you're happily single and just "going with the flow" or are frustrated by your lack of return on your dating efforts, the most important thing you can do for yourself at this phase of your development as a single person is to invest in yourself and become Mr. Right. You want to be at your best so that when your Mr. Right actually does enter your life, you'll be ready and available for him and won't potentially miss out on a golden opportunity.

Evolution of A Great Guy

Self-actualization, or striving to reach one's full potential, is at the core of this evolution toward becoming Mr. Right and is a lifelong process for all of us as we grow, change, and learn valuable lessons through the challenges we face in our everyday lives. By taking the emphasis off of preoccupations with why it's so difficult to find a decent man and ruminating about if you're going to be single forever, you can channel these feelings and unproductive thoughts toward something meaningful that will actually impact your life in a positive way. This is not to minimize the value and importance of having a special man in your life for companionship and intimacy--it is a basic human need to achieve a sense of belonging and connection. But until that time comes, putting all the focus on something external to you that you may not have much control over only leads you toward feelings of helplessness and powerlessness that will sabotage your ultimate goals. You can't will Mr. Right into your life. You only have control and responsibility over yourself and your choices and actions. Take advantage of this valuable phase of your life as a single gay man to get your life in order so you won't have any distractions to keep you from snagging that special stud. Nothing would be more brutal than missing out on him because you weren't emotionally available or even aware that he was right in front of your face.

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Boundaries for You & Your Guy

Introduction

Have you ever skipped going to the health club one day because you just absolutely had no motivation to get all sweaty and tired? Or what about gorging on a half-gallon of ice cream to cope with your stress? Ever leave the mall wondering what the heck you were thinking maxing out your credit card? Do you work more hours at your job than need be? These are situations where a boundary violation of the self has occurred and we've all been there.

Boundaries are the limits we set around ourselves to keep safe, centered, and accountable. They are usually drawn from our values and they define who we are and what we will and won't accept in our lives to keep our integrity and well-being intact. The more aligned our behavior is with our defined boundaries, the more balance and harmony we tend to experience in our lives. When we act outside the confines of our boundaries, our self-esteem can take a hit and we actually can create a whole host of other stressors that will disrupt us and leave us feeling badly and out-of-integrity. It is human nature to stumble outside our boundaries from time to time, but when it becomes a way of life, underlying issues may be at play that will require some attention and intervention to avoid ongoing conflicts in one's life.

Not only do we have self-imposed boundaries, but boundaries also pertain to our relationships. A healthy relationship is comprised of two men with a solid sense of self and identity. Boundaries help protect the partners of a couple from abuse or outside influences of others. They help create a sense of security in the partnership, allowing safe communication of needs and feelings between the partners that helps to solidify a positive connection and intimacy. Boundaries help cement what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate conduct both within and outside the context of being a couple and help to define who you are and what you stand for as life partners.

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Long-Distance Lovers Lament No More!

Introduction

Nothing pains the heart more than being separated from your honey. You worked really hard to find Mr. Right and build a fulfilling life with him over the years. You've encountered and conquered so many challenges together and relish in the romance and richness of being a committed couple. You view the rewards of your partnership as great and can't wait to share more experiences that will further enrich your relationship. That's the vision that most happy couples report!

But what if you and your partner don't live together and are physically separated, perhaps living on opposite sides of the globe? Maybe a job or a family crisis has forced you apart. Perhaps it's just a temporary departure from each other; for some, the situation is permanent and must be adapted to. Whatever the circumstance, maintaining a long-distance relationship can be very difficult and taxing for couples. But while this scenario can be challenging and put a relationship to the test, it can be done and there are scores of people that are in this predicament and make it work successfully. This article will shed some light and offer some tips for coping with the "long-distance relationship blues" so that you can continue to nourish and strengthen the bond with your man and promote its longevity and satisfaction. Nothing compares to having your partner by your side but there are ways to overcome the obstacle of distance and still keep your relationship alive and well!

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Dating Slumps & the HIV+ Gay Man

Introduction

Ok, guys, let's face it. Dating can be a frustrating process when you're single and on the market for a long-term committed relationship. Trying to find a compatible guy for romance and companionship can make you feel like banging your head against the wall sometimes as you struggle to figure out where to meet these men in the first place, and then to go through the whole screening process...it can feel like a full-time job sometimes!

But what happens if you are HIV+ and looking for love? I get letters frequently from single men with HIV who voice difficulties with the gay dating scene trying to find people to date. Dating can be hard enough at times, but for those with health issues or disabilities, the problems can be compounded and the sense of hopelessness and uncertainty doubled as these men question whether love is even possible for them in a gay culture that seems fixated on shallow definitions of what makes a man attractive and "viable."

I'm not going to sugar-coat things. The harsh reality is that having HIV can complicate the process of meeting people for dating and can make it more difficult. The availability pool for dating prospects will be reduced because there are a percentage of men who will not date HIV+ guys. That being said, having HIV does not preclude you to a permanent life of singlehood unless you choose that lifestyle consciously.

The fact of the matter is that you can realize and live the dream of having a life partner if that's your vision. Vast numbers of HIV+ gay men are currently enjoying long-term relationships and you, too, can join these ranks if that is your desire. This article will offer some strategies and suggestions for improving your dating success to empower you to "go for it" and keep the motivation burning for your boyfriend quest.

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Shy Guys Make Good Boyfriends Too!

Introduction

You look up from your book at the coffee shop and become paralyzed with nervous anticipation as you see the hot guy you've been smitten with from afar sit down at the table across the room. He's alone today and what a great opportunity it would be to finally approach him and introduce yourself. But the anxiety is mounting as you visualize yourself doing this and you bury yourself back in your book. You feel your face burning as you berate yourself for not having the guts to make yourself known. "He'd never be interested in me!" "I'd just die if he rejected me!" "And what if he did show some interest? What would I say? He'd think I'm a complete idiot and loser the second I'd open my mouth!" These thoughts swirl through your mind as you look up to find another guy has swooped in for the kill and has been invited to sit at the table with the object of your desire. Another missed opportunity!

If you're a shy guy, and don't want to be, dating can be a frustrating and daunting experience. When you're out and about, it looks so easy for other guys to approach and cozy up to other men. Or if you do have advances made toward you, you just want to kick yourself when you freeze up and don't know what to say and feel like you've made a bad impression and scare him off.

This article will shed some light on the symptoms and psychology behind shyness and offer some suggestions for breaking free of its chains that hold you back from experiencing a satisfying social and dating life.

What It's Like For The Shy Guy

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