For those of us who are fortunate enough to have strong social networks that are there to support us through thick and thin, an overflow of gay relationship advice exists for us to sort through. Even if our friend group is mostly comprised of inexperienced gays, or girls who know little about the world of gay dating, social media and online dating forums bombard us with tips and tricks to help us attract those we find appealing, and keep them around long enough to formulate labels. It goes without saying that not all of these suggestions are founded in a depth of quality experience.
All relationships are different. Regardless of sexuality, gender, or personal preference for specific physical traits, it is difficult to generalize and provide solid answers to problems that arise between two people that are trying to make it work. Nonetheless, there are guidelines that apply specifically to gay relationships that we can employ in attempting to console our friends in need, or to help those who are seeking a relationship.
Here are 10 examples of bad gay relationship advice to avoid.
1. Talk About Your Past Relationships
Using personal experience is a double-edged sword, in my opinion. Having a general baseline knowledge of how gay relationships work (and don’t work) that is rooted in experience is great. However, as I stated above, it is tricky to compare specific personal experience when trying to provide relationship advice. What has worked for you in your previous or current relationships might not necessarily apply, especially if you consider all the possible variables that differ between you and your friend in need.
More importantly, if your friend is enduring a relationship crisis and is seeking someone to listen, he probably does not want to hear about how successful or unsuccessful your specific relationships were. Instead, removing names or references to actual experiences is more useful in crafting advice.
2. Brainstorm Leverage
One of the most juvenile methods I often encounter is creating leverage in a relationship. Perhaps your friend is sexually frustrated with his partner because they are not on the same page when it comes to sexual drive. Maybe your friend is simply frustrated because he feels that his boyfriend is not putting enough effort into planning dates or setting aside quality time. One of the worst things you can do to help your friend think of ways to address the situation is to suggest finding leverage to hold over his boyfriend in order to motivate him to change his behavior. Not only is this counterintuitive, but it’s outright stupid.
3. Tell Your Friend To “Be Less Available”
I will admit that I have advocated for this approach once or twice when consulting a friend. However, my opinions about availability have seen a dramatic shift over the years as I have come to understand more about what motivates people to pursue intimacy. When I reference “availability,” I am not only referring to the physical effort you put in to make yourself easily accessible to your partner/boyfriend/prospective relationship. I am also talking about the time you take to message the boy back on whatever app or messenger service you use, the idea of which individual should initiate a conversation, and other ways we interact both virtually and face-to-face.
What it really boils down to is maturity. If both individuals want to make a relationship happen, or if both parties are open to exploring the idea of strengthening their relationship, there should be no game of pursuit. Yes, it is validating to experience the feeling of being sought after. However, making yourself less accessible is a foolish long-term strategy.
4. Suggest Deleting All Dating Apps
Grindr, Scruff, Adam4Adam, and other gay “networking” apps are a part of modern gay life. The fact that they exist is not good or bad. The ways in which we virtually interact gives them unique utility value, and this is different for everyone.
I often see articles written about relationships and gay app use, questioning the legitimacy of someone’s ability to have a boyfriend if all they do is scout these applications. I have personally written about gay app use and how user experience is designed to influence behavior. Yes, I think there is something to be said about shifting the way in which people use these apps if they are really seeking a legitimate relationship.
However, I do not advocate for a total shutdown of gay app use. We have all met couples who found each other on these apps, and we all know couples who still use these apps for a variety of reasons. If you want to have a legitimate conversation with your friend regarding app usage, help them shift their behavior rather than deleting the app entirely.
5. Advise Your Friend To Feign Sexual Preference
We all know that it is foolish to pretend to be someone we’re not. It is particularly damaging to a new developing relationship to pretend that you are sexually versatile/dominant/submissive simply to appease your potential partner. This only sets the stage for problems later on in the relationship, and these are easily avoidable by being up-front from the beginning. Sexual chemistry is an invaluable component to a healthy enduring relationship, and being open and honest early on with regard to preference, expectations, and turn-ons is vital.
6. Give Advice On No/Little Personal Experience
IF you are going to give gay relationship advice at all, I would advise that you know what you are talking about. I find it particularly comical that the friends who often have the least experience in gay dating have the most to say or critique about their friends’ relationships. How can you really make a good judgement call if you have never been in a similar position?
Your friend is most likely approaching you with this issue to have someone to talk out loud to. Oftentimes this person’s mind is already made up with regard to the action they are going to take, and they are simply seeking a venting outlet. Maybe they really are looking for useful advice to help them craft a decision, in which case the best thing you can do is be honest about your personal experience.
Regardless of intent, listening should be the #1 service you are providing. This leads into my next point…
7. Do Anything But Listen
When I see a friend making decisions in a relationship that I know are clearly bad for them, I find it extremely difficult to refrain from interjecting and voicing my opinion. However, over time I have learned that friends who approach me with relationship issues are not always seeking advice. I do think a standard exists whereby it is your responsibility as a friend to advise someone to take action if they are in immediate danger or distress. However, most situations I have encountered do not have those qualifying values, and my friends are more grateful when I simply listen and empathize.
8. Tell Your Friend To Snoop
Going through your boyfriend’s phone is an invasion of privacy and trust. Period. It is never a good idea to suggest that your friend goes searching through his boyfriend’s emails/texts/Facebook for evidence of infidelity. If your friend is worried his boyfriend is being unfaithful, the best way you can help is to ask him to explain his reasoning. Ask questions like “have you brought this up with your boyfriend?” The one piece of advice I absolutely advocate for is suggesting better communication.
9. Set A Number For Minimum Time Before “X”
I know couples that have moved in together after only two months of dating and are still going strong years later. I also know couples who moved in after a full year of dating and experienced a total meltdown. Everyone has different views toward sharing personal space, how long to wait before sex, when to consider getting a dog, etc.
My point is, it’s not useful to anyone to put numerical labels on advances in a relationship. Instead, I suggest asking your friend how he feels about the implications of these actions he is considering. For example, if your friend is contemplating moving in with his boyfriend and is asking for advice, tell him to consider all the possible consequences, both good and bad. “Do you value alone time or need a safe space to center yourself” would be a good example.
10. Suggest Exploring The Playground
Are you really helping by showing your friend what he is “missing out on?” Especially if he is having a relationship struggle that is making him question whether he should stay at all, clouding his conscience with the “playing field” is simply a distraction, at best. Focus on the issues that really matter: those that exist solely between your friend and his partner.