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29th July 2015
When Sex Gets Boring
“I’ve got to beat the clock before we each lose interest.” Someone recently made that statement to me about his erotic life with his partner. His experience has been that erotic interest between two people dies pretty quickly, so you better get in as much sex as possible during the early years of the relationship.
If you don’t have good sex early on, it’s never going to get any better. Single guys sometimes tell me they get tired of their sexual routine, too: sex may be easy to get, but it’s often not deeply satisfying. They find themselves in a rut, feeling like they ought to be enjoying themselves more than they actually do....
Feeling like sex has become a chore can take a toll on how you feel about yourself. If you’re in a relationship, a sex life that’s as predictable as a 70’s sitcom rerun can make you feel like you with the wrong guy. Ruts suck. They’re boring and the siphon the juice out of just about anything: your job, your diet, and your relationships.
People are creatures of habit, whether we’re talking grocery shopping or lovemaking. Habits aren’t necessarily bad if they work for you. Trouble is, routines can become so…routine. We want a little variety, some jalapeno peppers spicing up the same old dish.
How to change things? A good place to start is with yourself. What’s it like when you’re feeling sexual and you’re also alone? Many of us have been pleasuring ourselves in the same way since we left adolescence. Get out the lube, turn on the VCR, enjoy yourself for 5 minutes, get a towel to clean up and turn out the lights for the evening.
Talk about ruts! What would it be like to take your time, to really notice how your body feels, to run your hands over the smooth places and furry places, etc? Or to get off your back, put on some music and touch yourself while you move and dance.
You may find your eyes starting to glaze over when you hear “So what are you into?” For too many men words like “top” or “bottom” become like straightjackets, confining sex to predictable routines. Why not mix it up?
Whether tricking, dating or relating, too many of us have picked up the mistaken message that a good lover is in charge of his partner’s pleasure. This is actually a little grandiose; how are you supposed to know what makes him feel good, especially if he doesn’t tell you? “I’m responsible for his pleasure” leads to disappointment. Try replacing it with “I’m responsible for my own pleasure and for being present with my partner.”
A problem some men experience when they are in relationships is that we seek unconditional love from our partner, but that sort of love can seem less sexy. In fact, the affection that builds over time can make the other guy feel like family – and sex with him feel incestuous on an unconscious level. Keeping a relationship sexy means breaking that taboo.
With a partner or someone else with whom you’re sharing erotic life, it can be fun to play the “Your Turn/My Turn Game.” It goes like this: Ask your partner to undress and lay back while you explore his body. (You may want to have some conversation first about his general likes and dislikes.) Explore touching different places in his body – including touching with your hands, fingertips, fingernails, lips, etc.
Try varying the pressure – light sometimes, more forceful. ake it playful; imagine a devilish look in your eyes, asking him “Which feels better, A or B?” See if you can learn what sort of touch doesn’t work for him, what’s pleasurable, what’s a major turn-on. When you’ve finished, it’s his turn to give and your turn to receive. The object of the game is for each guy to find out more about what sort of touch feels pleasurable to receive, and for each man to learn something about how to touch the other.
Don’t let your erotic life get boring. A guy could spend an entire lifetime learning about the landscape of his own desires and learning how to be a good lover. Turn off the TV and see what happens.
Quote of the Day
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
- Herman Melville
27th July 2015
Stages Of Dating To Mating
It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves. What’s the rush? I think dating is easier for straight couples.
For one thing, if your straight everyone wants to fix you up with someone they know. But gay guys are really at a disadvantage when it comes to language about dating. And language often affects how we see and interpret reality.
Think about it. There is no gay equivalent of words like “fiancé” or “engaged” that imply a relationship has progressed to a certain level of seriousness (though still short of lifetime commitment).
If you go back 25 years or so, gay men didn’t talk about “dating” at all. Partners were divided into one of two discrete camps: tricks or lovers. Perhaps as a result of this language shortage, it’s sometimes hard for dating couples to understand exactly where they are in the journey of exploration and commitment. That makes many of us too quick to presume there is more of a commitment than is warranted.
Dating can be divided into three stages: prospecting, mutual discovery and exploring commitment. Each stage has it’s own tasks, joys and challenges.
Prospecting - This is the initial stage where you find out the basics about your new guy and see if there is enough interest for him to be worth your time. You have a first date and decide if you’re interested in another one. If the chemistry is right, you may really click and feel like you’ve known him longer than you really have. But remember – you may like the guy, but you don’t yet really know him. And if there isn’t much attraction, calling it quits here hurts the least.
Mutual discovery - OK, you’ve had a few dates and decide that you like this guy. In fact, you like him quite a bit. That’s good. But there is much to be learned about your new man, and this stuff can’t be completed in a few dates. What motivates him? Are his interests, values and lifestyle compatible with your own? If they aren’t, it doesn’t matter how great a guy he is – he’s someone else’s future partner, not yours. Ending a relationship at this stage is more painful, but if you haven’t rushed into commitment prematurely the bruises will heal quickly.
Exploring commitment - Your basic questions have been answered and you’re getting a sense that this has real potential. The idea of dating other men has little appeal, and you’re pretty sure he feels the same. You’re not ready to put both your names on the checking account – you may never be – but where you are has gone beyond simply “going out” with the guy. Your friends are starting to think of you as a couple. If you were a hetero couple you might be thinking about announcing your engagement. This stage feels pretty intimate: you know your guy, and he knows you. And it feels good.
Now the question becomes, “Is it safe to trust you with my heart?” It’s more than just attraction now. You need to know more about his integrity and personality. Is he able to make the sort of commitment you want? If he’s not, the time to end it is now – not after years of unhappiness.
While people can get in trouble when they move too slowly to deepen commitment, more people probably suffer from moving too quickly to commit. After a few weeks or even a few months, you’re still getting to know one another.
Taking a relationship seriously means not taking it too quickly.
26th July 2015
Intimacy, Vulnerability and Commitment
Intimate relationships come in many flavors: dinner-and-a-movie dates that develop slowly into something else, dating one guy exclusively and becoming boyfriends, establishing something more permanent, perhaps as lovers or husbands or partners.
Some relationships evolve hastily; others take time. Some men are comfortable “playing the field,” while others move so quickly to stake a claim on a boyfriend's affections that it feels like a return to California Gold Rush days.
"An unarmed encounter between two vulnerable individuals is my favorite definition of intimacy. Most of us understand the "unarmed'part of that equation without too much difficulty. But "vulnerable?" That's tougher. Especially for men; toughness is associated with masculinity – vulnerability is something we're taught to avoid.
Vulnerability is a paradox. A friend recently talked to me about how much closer he felt to the person he was dating after getting food poisoning while on a skiing trip. The experience of being cared for while he was weak (and not very attractive!) helped him to genuinely feel the loving words his boyfriend had been speaking for several weeks. He's not eager to feel that sick again, but he recognized that amid the misery, he received an offering that was very intimate and loving.
If we are going to allow ourselves to open up and feel vulnerable, we need assurance that the person we are with will continue to respect us and will not abandon us. We need loyalty from the other person. In a healthy relationship, that means he'll want a similar assurance from us as well.
Commitments aren't all the same. Some commitments are lifelong pledges of fidelity, and that's probably what most of us thing of first when we think of commitment. But a commitment may look quite differently. Ron tells Jeff he won't date anyone else while they are going out. Mark and Ray agree that while they may have sex outside their relationship of several years, they will always put one another first. Jim and John agree not to discuss ending their relationship until they have given counseling a try. That's a commitment, too.
It's understandable that people often feel hesitant, even ambivalent, about making a commitment. Choosing one person means not choosing someone else. It can be hard to make that sort of choice – especially in a culture like ours, that values romance over commitment. Also, many of us have seen marriage commitments not taken very seriously. Why would we be eager to do the same?
The lack of legal structure in gay relationships means that we have great latitude in deciding what we want our relationships to look like; all areas of commitment are open to negotiation. Sometimes the lack of a formal ritual (like a wedding) can mean that we find ourselves with lots of assumptions about our relationships, but little frank conversation about the nature of our relationships.
Making our commitments clear helps to make them powerful. Sitting down with your boyfriend or partner to talk about your spoken and unspoken understandings is important work within a relationship. Some suggestions:
- Choose a time when things are going well, rather than when your relationship is struggling.
- Speak about your own needs and desires; use statements that start with "I."
- Listen as much as you speak.
Remember that a commitment is much more likely to mean something if it is freely offered and not given because your partner feels intimidated.
23rd July 2015
What's for Dinner?
Penne Pasta with Alfredo Sauce and Diced Chicken
Green Salad and Garlic Bread
Dating For The 40+ Gay Man: Seven Steps To Success - Part 2
[ continued from yesterday ]
Midlife is sexy! Here's Part 2 of the seven tips to help boost your dating success as a 40+ single gay man to enhance your readiness for a relationship!
STEP 3: DESTROY THE MONSTER IN YOUR HEAD
What we say to ourselves impacts our mood and behavior. The “monster in your head” is that little voice that whispers (and sometimes screams) negative statements about yourself and the world around you. Our internal dialogue impacts whether we look at life through a lens of optimism and hope versus pessimism and negativity.
Examine your self-talk as it pertains to being middle-aged and your views on dating and gay men. Create a list of all the thoughts that come to mind about these topics unedited. If you have such thoughts as “I’m too old to find love”, “All the good ones are taken”, “I’m going to be all alone”, or “Nobody will find me attractive, I’m 50!” then your monster needs an ass-kicking.
Don’t fall into the trap of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Begin creating a list of counter-statements or affirmations that will defeat this negative thinking. The more you believe these myths about midlife dating, the more you are setting yourself up for sabotage and it’s important to begin challenging these beliefs by taking stock of true-life success stories or by taking risks and creating your own triumphant victory. Refuse to be held victim to such deprecating thoughts and start developing a mindset around midlife as a positive time in your life to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
STEP 4: EMBRACE YOUR AGE
There’s no point becoming preoccupied with your youth “in the days gone by.” You’re as young as you feel and resisting the fact that life changes will only keep you arrested in your development and is a recipe for unhappiness and regret. Learn to accept all the physical and emotional changes that accompany midlife and be proud of who you are and your story.
Do your best to reduce ageism and ensure that you yourself are not behaving in ways that perpetuate this type of discrimination. For example, if you utilize personal ads as a venue for seeking dating partners, make sure you are honest about all aspects of yourself and don’t fudge on your age. This will increase your odds of attracting more compatible people responding to your ad; remember, it’s quality and not the quantity of your responses.
STEP 5: ALIGN YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT VENUES
Where do you meet other quality guys?! No matter what your age, this is one of the most common questions surrounding dating and it all boils down to your vision and values. While picking up other men in bars could be a viable approach, it’s a difficult setting to do so because there are so many guys to have to sift through and screen to determine their suitability with your vision for a life partner.
The key is to match your values, needs, preferences, and life purpose with a venue that has some of these qualities and characteristics. This way, you’re surrounded by other men who share at least some semblance of your vision; that makes you one step closer to possibly finding someone who’d be a “good fit.” Examples might be volunteering for a worthy cause or advocacy center, joining a support group, participating in a sporting club, becoming active in a gay-friendly church, signing on to a personal ads site that caters to the middle-aged crowd, etc. The possibilities are endless, but self-knowledge about your vision and passions is a critical key to its success.
STEP 6: BUILD YOUR SUPPORT TEAM & MENTORSHIP CLUB
Nothing helps you through the trials and tribulations of dating better than a solid support system of friends and people who care about you. Invest in current and new relationships with friends and family to give you that boost and sense of connection that we all need. Make sure to look for other midlife gay men who display positive dating lifestyles or older gay couples who can be looked upon as role models to keep them visible in your mind and to help motivate you to see the possibilities that abound. You could even become a mentor yourself to a younger gay man to “give back” in some way and form other positive alliances.
STEP 7: BE PROACTIVE AND HAVE THE RIGHT STUFF
Dating is not a passive activity. You must be proactive and go after what you want or the likelihood of success is minimized. Develop a strong resource bank of dating skills and behaviors that will promote the chances of more positive outcomes. Strengthen your social skills, build more assertiveness and comfort with boundaries, enhance your self-esteem and body image, resolve unfinished business from the past, and get yourself into good physical and emotional shape. Get yourself armed and ready for love!
Conclusion - Gay dating success can be yours in midlife, and at any age! By incorporating these seven steps into your dating plan, you’re well on your way to increasing the odds of success. Know yourself, develop a positive and optimistic mindset, build your repertoire of dating skills and behaviors, and live your life to the fullest! This can be the best time of your life; don’t waste another minute!
22nd July 2015
Dating For The 40+ Gay Man: Seven Steps To Success - Part 1
Dating can be hard enough at times, but the situation can be made that much more challenging for those single gay men who represent the age 40 and up crowd. In a society where youth and beauty are highly valued, many middle-aged men report feeling segregated and unappreciated in dating pools, making it difficult to meet and sustain relationships with potential dating prospects.
The problem can seem even more compounded in the gay community in which the emphasis on youth and brawn is amplified, causing many mature gay men to feel undesirable and like outsiders within gay circles. They feel unwanted and that their age hinders them and limits the pool of men available to them for dating, particularly when they report being rejected by men in their own cohort for younger guys.
Ageism, or discrimination against someone because of his age, plagues many different layers of our culture—and it also can and does rear its ugly head in the gay dating world. This “over-the-hill” mentality is very damaging, robbing us of the opportunity to really experience life, take risks toward goals, and make the most of what we have (if we let it!). This case is illustrated in the comment of a former 29-year old client: “I turn 30 later this year and then I officially am old! I’ll never have a boyfriend now! I feel like my life is over and it’s all downhill from here on out!”
It is hoped that this article will prove all that wrong and provide you with some tips for maximizing your midlife dating success! While the reality is that ageism does exist and there are obstacles in the dating jungle (at any age), these hurdles do not have to dictate the outcome of your love-life. In actuality, your stage-of-life puts you in an advantageous position to conquer this adversity. With your life experience and history, you probably have a greater repertoire of coping skills, resiliency, sense of self, assertiveness, self-esteem, and an expansive support system and resources. This will take you far and makes you a very good catch!
So let’s push aside those fears that you won’t be able to attract someone after you reach a certain age. Let’s destroy that stereotype that all older gay men are unhappy, lonely, and camp out at the local strip bar every night “trolling.” It’s nonsense! YOU make your life what you want it to be and “you’re only as old as you feel”, as the “old” saying goes. Midlife is sexy! And here are seven tips to help boost your dating success as a 40+ single gay man to enhance your readiness for a relationship!
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR VISION
No matter what your age, this is the most critical first step. It’s very important that you take the time to develop a clear and vivid image of who you are and what you want out of your life, including your dating life. Are you seeking a long-term relationship and a life partner or just casual dating? What does the rest of your life look like? What would your ideal partner be like and how would your relationship function?
Your answers to such questions will help give you the direction you need to accomplish your goals, giving you a measuring stick to keep you on track and assess your status. How much of a gap exists between your idealized vision and your current reality?
Do the work that’s needed to bridge that gap and begin the process of identifying your needs, differentiating between those that are negotiable and non-negotiable so you can more adequately screen future dating partners for their suitability with your vision.
STEP 2: BEFRIEND THE MIDLIFE CRISIS
Erik Erickson is best known in the psychology field as having developed eight stages of psychosocial human development that we all pass through as we age through the lifespan. Every age group has its own unique challenges and developmental tasks to conquer before being able to successfully move on to the next stage. According to this theory, such hallmarks that exist for the middle-aged man include nurturing close relationships, career management, household maintenance, creativity, and commitment to family and the community. Having a sense of purpose and passion and being able to impact the world with one’s talents is a central feature.
As gay men, many of our developmental tasks were skipped or neglected because of our retreat to “the closet” in coping with the homophobic society we live in. Successful integration of your gay identity into your sense of self allows you to then address those developmental tasks that were suspended until you were ready. So the next step for you is explore any developmental tasks that still require mastery from earlier years and start working at them. For example, a middle-aged man who comes out later in life will likely experience the adolescent tasks of exploring his sexuality and practicing man-to-man relationship skills, causing him to feel like a teenager again. Perfectly normal in gay male development, no matter what your age!
And then the next step for your success is to discover something that you can do that will give you a sense of meaning and purpose and begin to express that. Find your calling and live it out. This will be your legacy of sorts and is a great way to solidify your identity. This will help anchor you during your dating trials and can be one of the top ways of meeting a compatible partner. Your passion and “zest for life” will be magnetic and you’ll likely be meeting others with similar interests and philosophies in the venues you pursue.
The illustrious “midlife crisis” strikes those men who experience anxiety and apprehension at realizing they’ve lived half their lives and begin to question and contemplate what they’ve accomplished in their lives thus far, fearing that not much time is left to live their visions.
Midlife is the perfect time to revisit your original vision and tweak it so it more accurately reflects who you are now and the man you’d still like to become. Reframe this time in your life as a time for growth and opportunity, not something to be abhorred. You have control over shaping your life into something spectacular and fulfilling!
[ Continued Tomorrow - Part 2 ]
20th July 2015
Are You Lost In Love?
Relationships are a dance in which sometimes one person leads and sometimes the other does. The dance can be awkward – especially if you are first learning the steps or when you have a new dance partner. Perhaps your partner crowds you and steps on your toes, or maybe he bobs and weaves and makes you dizzy. Often, however, we feel pulled in different directions at the same time. One pull is towards growing closer to the beloved. :
Western religious marriage rites celebrate the idea of “the two becoming one flesh.” The other pull is towards safety and independence, and it can be just as powerful as this urge to merge. We fear being engulfed by the other, becoming lost in love. Both of these urges are normal and understandable. If you had no desire to mesh with your partner, you might as well be roommates. But healthy relationships allow each partner to maintain his identity, distinct from the shared identity as a couple.
There is a dynamic balance that allows both connection and detachment. We’ve all grown up with the myths about relationships that are pervasive in our culture and in the media. Models of healthy relationships are rare.
One model most of us have tucked away somewhere inside us – for better or for worse – is the model presented by our parents. Did your parents model a healthy blending of connection and closeness, while also permitting individuality and distinctness?
Balance means sometimes putting your partners’ needs before your own – but not always doing so. Your partner may need more support around some challenge in his own life, for instance, or around a particular problem or challenge.
Being supportive of each other and feeling that support back is part of the joy of being in a relationship. But if you are always doing the supporting and rarely feel that backing in return, it’s time to change course. Another clue: if you find that after entering into the relationship you find that you no longer have time for your old friends or old hobbies and activities that had great meaning for you.
Or you are constantly rearranging your schedule to accommodate the needs, or potential needs, or your boyfriend. Do you know your own needs and desires, or do you find yourself just going along with your partner in everything from what to eat for dinner to what you want out of life?
Knowing yourself can be difficult, but it is not your partner’s job to give you the answers – even if you hope that he will. This taking responsibility for yourself is for you to do.
Make some time for yourself. Find pursuits that are yours alone, as well as ones to share with your boyfriend. Exercise, read a book, visit friends. Spending every moment with your partner isn’t necessarily a sign of your deep love and commitment, and it can become boring! Better to find a balance – there’s that word again – between things you do together and things you do by yourself.
Losing your identity and your sense of yourself is not a testimony to your great love for your partner. It’s a problem, and one that can undermine a relationship. Only when you have a sense of yourself can you truly connect with another in a healthy way.
Quote of the Day
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed
is more important than any other