Sex Ed in Bed

I can’t see my soul mate from the relationship
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

Though LGBT relationships tend to have many of the same features as straight relationships (for better or for worse), ours are somehow viewed as distinctly different. Because of this we have been refused our rights and legitimacy in the eyes — perhaps with blinders on — of this society. However, this outcast status has given us the opportunity to design our relationships precisely the way they fit us best. On the one hand, this has been freeing for a lot of couples. On the other hand, it sometimes feels like we’re forging upstream without any guidelines, traditions, or support.

Nonetheless, whether a relationship is conservative or cutting edge in style, we all have our set of expectations as to what a romantic partnership should look like. Relationships can get so complex that they take on a life of their own, which conceptually is not a bad thing. They need nurturing, maintenance and occasional readjusting. Oh! But wait, I’m actually in relationship with another person! Expectations can’t be so high that the individual you fell in love gets lost in the shuffle. It’s kind of like keeping one eye on the forest and one eye on the trees.

Furthermore, it seems the simplest and most useful ideas tend to also get lost in the mix with all that we believe about relationships. So here are a few reminders that have enormously helped me in my relationships.

Monogamy is actually a matter of degree. Most people shut down when I say I am most comfortable in an open relationship. However, the light bulb turns back on when I add, “Don’t get me wrong. There are many things that I am monogamous about.” I have chortled on a number of occasions when a couple is adamant about upholding the “standard of monogamy,” but have never talked to one another about what that means. Sure, there’s the traditional “no outside mixing of the jiggly parts,” but where does a couple draw the line emotionally? Have you agreed with your partner about what should take place if the monogamy line is crossed?

No two people are identical. In a relationship one person is shorter. One is taller. One is older. One is younger. One eats more. One eats less. And one will be more interested in sex while the other will not be as interested. Don’t despair that you aren’t exactly at the same place, with the same amount of drive. You’re not friggin’ clones! Don’t view every miniscule difference as some predestined judgment of incompatibility. Furthermore, you’re not in some lifetime competition where the biggest cock wins. Wins what? This is your soul mate not your adversary. Celebrate your diversity! The point is not that you’re different, but what you do about it when you butt heads, which has to do with my next reminder:

Everything has a price. One unrealistic expectation in relationship is that sacrificial love conquers all. It does upon occasion, but the rest of the time we have to negotiate compromises to survive. Even most sacrifices have eventual paybacks. One partner can do most of the sacrificing for only so long before they’re taken advantage of, and the other partner should pick up the slack, which is (D’oh!) compromise. Don’t waste your time convincing yourself or your loved one that all your love is unconditional. If that were the case, you’d need so little from your partner that you wouldn’t need one at all. Instead, learn to be a clever, casual, and quality negotiator.

Occasionally stop all demands. Over the years it’s easy for the expectations on the relationship to gradually turn into demands on a partner. In one of my past relationships, our therapist (Yes, every relationship should have one) called a moratorium on all demands of each other — not even a complaint! It was a great period of insight. When living in such close proximity — when you love each other so much, it’s very easy to let your individual boundaries blur. What I ended up believing that I needed from my partner were things I should have only required of myself.

Being together is the point. I don’t expect my partner to make my dreams come true. It’s nice when he supports me in achieving my dreams, but I don’t expect it. I don’t expect my partner to be the only breadwinner, but it’s nice when we can help each other stabilize our financial future. When I strip away all the expectations, the number one reason I want to be in relationship is for companionship. In fact, I can’t quell loneliness by myself. After all, the results of romantic love are not the main reasons I connect with someone. In the words of Captain Redundant, relationship’s reward is itself — companionship.

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