This is a very dangerous topic to take on. The scary part is that everyone has an opinion on the topic, and there is no widely accepted definition.
After hearing guys talk about LOVE for decades, and listen to lyrics of love songs, and read books and watch TV all about love, it is now time to put myself out there on the topic. Guys are looking for a feeling of connectedness. To belong to, or feel part of a guy’s life.
I think most people have never felt love. I think that most people cannot explain what love is for them. An example is: “You say you love your boyfriend, but what does that mean?” The answers are not very clear and a bit defensive, often with generalities and platitudes.
Many guys feel strong feelings for a guy and interpret that as “love”. The strong feelings could come a from feeling: of belonging, feeling safe, or end of loneliness, mutual dependence, or having a purpose, or feeling “normal”, or finding his identity in the others identity, etc. All of these feelings can be very strong and be real to that person, so therefore it can be easy to reinterpret these strong feelings as love. If a guys has never experienced love then all of these feelings can be seen as love because they are very strong emotions.
I am often surprised how often crimes are committed in the name of LOVE. Does he really kill someone he loves? Does he really try to hurt the guy he loves? Yes there can be pain when a relationship ends. But the important aspect is what does one do with that pain. Hopefully you do not hurt yourself or hurt others.
My general concept of love is:
“Caring more for the happiness for the other person than your own happiness.”
The most blatant example of this is when one guy wants to end the relationship and the other is unhappy about ending the relationship and then tried take revenge on his partner. This is not caring about the other it is only selfishness. To me real love is when you are sad that he wants to end the relationship but you are also happy that he has found happiness with someone else. (Or is starting a new life adventure.)
I think that we do not see many models of selfless caring (love). Many of us experience conditional love from our parents. That is when we are “bad” our parents respond with retribution and painful actions. We also may see unkind treatment of one parent towards the other. If we do not have models of, and do not understand what love is then how can we feel love, feel loved, and know how to love.
I believe that many guys have long term relationships where both care deeply for the other and are supportive and want the best for him. Though they care deeply for each other I often see these guys as “buddies” But often neither of them understands that there is another way to have a relationship. I also must say that there is no “right” way to have a relationship if being buddies makes both of them happy then that great. The goal in life is to be happy.
When one looks at how a guy responds to being hurt/lied to/cheated on etc., then it exposes the type of relationship one has. Is there revenge? Does the guy who is hurt try to hurt his boyfriend? Does he want to “make him pay”? Doses the hurt guy try to make his boyfriend feel bad/guilty. Does he use the silent treatment to punish his boyfriend? None of this behaviour sounds like someone who cares deeply for his boyfriend, but does care deeply about his own selfish feelings.
What are some other ways to react to being hurt? Often when one is hurt he likely does not empathise with his boyfriend, to try to understand how he is feeling. He does not explore the relationship to try to understand how the situation came about to cause the hurt. He likely does not first think “He cares about me/he loves me/ he wants me to be happy; so how did it happen that he hurt me. In our lives we seldom see models, in our life/in our past of reacting to being hurt with understanding and caring. Often it is: Hurt him back. Revenge. Few people want to cause pain in others, but they just do not know of other ways of reacting to fear/frustration/hurt/fear.
If one guy is totally dependent on the other guy for his “happiness”, then the relationship is based on dependence. Then he focusses not on finding his own fulfillment but will focus on keeping the relationship going, and pleasing his boyfriend.
When a guy is in love with the image of who his boyfriend is but then finds out that his image of his boyfriend is not reality, he may find that he is not in love with the boyfriend but more in love with the self-created image of him. This may cause the relationship to end. Transparency in a relationship can eliminate this problem.
Keeping a relationship going is not always the best thing for each guy. We grow and change and maybe we are no longer the best for each other. We as gay guys do not have the social and often the economic constrictions that encourage people to stay together when they no longer are “good for each other”. Ending a relationship does not necessary mean failure but a transition. Two guys can still love each other very deeply but they may realize that they are no longer the best for each other to grow. In that situation separating can mean growth and change for each other and does not necessarily mean failure.
It is interesting to think about why a guy may not experience the type of love with his boyfriend that I am referring to here. One reason is he may not believe he is able to find a guy who would care for him in such a way, he may feel he is unlovable. He may not be able to find someone he cares for enough so he accepts what is easily available. Another reason for not seeking the type of love I am describing is it could be too scary. He may not know how to let go and love. Caring intensely for another is a bit overwhelming!
Gay guys and monogamy is rare and complex. I use to be a Psychologist at a sexually transmitted disease clinic. Many gay guys would tell me “My boyfriend thinks he is in a monogamous relationship.”
I do believe that monogamous relationships do exist for gay couples but I think they are much rarer than we know. A person once told me he was at a dinner with 6 gay couples and they all said they were in a monogamous relationship while the host said he had sex with all of them while in their monogamous relationship.
First problem with gay monogamy is that it is rarely defined what is monogamous. For many gay couples chatting with guys on sex sites is fine, maybe even masturbating while chatting is fine. And maybe even masturbating on line with live video is fine. How about masturbating with a guy when you do not touch each other is that ok? How far does this go, does saying “we didn’t kiss.”,” He only masturbated me”, “We slept together but did not have sex”, “I was lonely we only cuddled and kissed a little, we never had sex.” This list could go on for ever but it is seldom talked about what is meant when a person talks about monogamy. It is important to get it clear what is meant by monogamy.
The first part in a relationship when talking about monogamy is to define what is meant by monogamy for each person. It is also helpful to explain why you have the feelings you do have about monogamy. But knowing and discussing why the concept of monogamy is important for the partner(s). The important part is to understand why a partner needs rules to feel secure. It is important to understand what he is concerned about. Is it concern of a threat to the relationship? Or is it around social insecurity (what will people think. Is it jealously? Are there fears about STIs? Etc.
At the beginning of relationships monogamy may come easy but after a few weeks, months, or years, monogamy may become more difficult. It is important the partners continue to explore how the concept of monogamy fits into the evolving relationship.
Gay guys come up with elaborate rule around sex outside the relationship. There are such things “not in our hometown”, “not with mutual friends”, “not more than once/twice etc. not with the same guy”, “no fucking”, “he can’t fuck you”, “you can’t fuck him”, “only safe sex”, “ only have sex with other guys together”. This list can go on for pages.
All relationships will grow and evolve in many ways. This also applies to how monogamy fits into a relationship. People grow, people change in relationships the role of sex in a relationship can also change, love can continue through all these changes.
Too often in relationships partners will agree to monogamy to “please” the partner. At the beginning of a relationship it is easy to agree to monogamy but as time goes on monogamy may feel restrictive. It is important to talk about these concerns early in a relationship. It can feel threating to a partner when he is told by the guy he loves wants sex with other guys. Often this is a hard discussion to have, in fact it is so difficult that many guys will not bring up the discussion and just “cheat”.
There is a strong tendency for a guy who violates the rules about sex with others to not discuss the violation of the “rules” of the relationship. This often leads to guilt, shame, resentment, and distance in the relationship. While talking about the “mistake” may be difficult and cause hurt in the long run a stronger relationship is formed by honesty and working out problems.
It is important to understand that feelings about monogamy often will change over time, that is, there may be no one else but him/me at first but after a while (months, or years) other sexual experiences become exciting. It is important to talk about these feelings. Often guys will say “We are guys, we know sex is just sex, it does not mean anything personal”. Discussion around this topic is important in an open relationship.
There are a smaller number of gay guys who prefer to have an emotional connection when they are having sex. This can be problematic in an open relationship. This guy can have an emotional connection with someone without it being a threat to the primary relationship. In the same way close friendships do not have to be a threat to the primary relationship. We all feel emotional connections to many people at one time. For the guy who wishes to have an emotional and sexual connection it can be more complicated but open communication between the primary partners can address any concerns as they arise.