Daddy and Relationships 101: A Study Guide

June 16, 2011

I always hear guys say their relationship is the most important thing in their lives, that relationships are hard work, and that communication is the key to a good relationship. But most of us have only our families of origin and Hollywood providing blueprints for how relationships are supposed to work. We go to school for years to advance our careers, take lessons for sports and musical instruments, we even study for a driver’s license. Yet for our relationships, we’re just winging it with a little help from Dr. Phil. Make sense to you? Me neither.

My last relationship lasted almost 12 years, and when it started falling apart, I researched the top-rated relationship self-help books, bought a dozen of them and started studying. These three offered the best insight and actionable advice - even for an older gay daddy with good emotional intelligence. Think of them as Relationship 101.

Extra Credit: What are your recommendations for nurturing a relationship?

The Dance of Connection - Harriet Lerner writes primarily for women, but her focus on emotional communication skills is incredibly helpful. Putting her advice to work improved all of my relationships, not just the one with my lover.

Love is All You Need and Other Lies About Marriage - The hetero-focus can be jarring, and the author doesn’t even consider the solutions (and complications!) offered by open relationships, but this book debunks the myth that love conquers all, and guides you through the challenges that all relationships face once the honeymoon phase is over.

Getting the Love You Want - This book outlines the work you can do to improve your relationship. Again, geared towards straight couples, but trust me, that doesn’t matter if you’re fighting about whose turn it is to take out the garbage.

Tags: Books, self-help
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Post written by Billy Kolber (View Author Profile)
About this author: Billy Kolber is a writer, consultant and entrepreneur, living and loving in New York City. Billy blogs about Shopping, Sex, Food and Travel at BillyKnowsBest.com.
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Comments

For a long-lasting relationship:

Live 150 miles apart.
Speak on the phone for around 10 minutes 6 days a week.
Meet up for 24 hours once every 6 weeks and enjoy each other's company and have great sex.

Very good post. To move forward to LTR, the only requirement is to basically 'come correct.' "When you just give love and never get love, you'd better let love depart.." from Nina Simone's 'Since I fell for you.' First and foremost there must, be emotional intelligence - intimacy, loyalty and fidelity. It's no big secret if I am with someone who is much less loyal, intimate, or faithful to me in this area, I become frustrated with his lack of emotional know-how. Second, it's harmful in trying to create a relationship with someone who is concerned about rules and doing the "right" thing. Third, both of you need to be flexible enough to handle changed or dropped plans. Fourth, if either of you prefer to make demands and have it your routine, the relationship could be a conflict. Fifth, handle stress, you should stop making demands and make him stick to your routine. And finally, spontaneous and open to each other and being able to communicate effectively.

Actually, "Since I Fell For You" was written by Woodrow Wilson "Buddy" Johnson in 1945 and introduced with his sister as the singer. Nina Simone was merely one of the many singers who recorded the song. That list of singers also includes Lenny Welch (who recorded the version that most of us know), Barbra Streisand and Neil Sedaka.

DofDC has obviously done his homework!!

Relationships are equal part efforts on all parties involved whether it is a couple or 3+... If just one party feels like he's doing all the work, DOOM can't be too far away. And often both parties feel they're the only one struggling to make it work.

My current partner has made me aware of the value (and importance) of communication. If you can't talk about, you are NEVER going to resolve the issues.

Honesty also goes a long way. If you're not ready to hear the truth perhaps you're better ALONE!

My problem is that I can't find a decent young guy to commit. These guys on this site talk a big game but are reluctant to follow through even when I seem to meet all of their "specs." It's very frustrating. However, I do get hits from guys that don't seem to read my profile well enough to know my likes and dislikes. Maybe it's the education system. lol

I should add that I once had a 15 yr "relationship." Trust me, it was compromise, compromise, compromise. It shouldn't have gone beyond two yrs. I finally told him he had 30 days to move out.

However, following that, I had a four-yr love affair which, by the way, is still going on....sort of....He died in 1992.

If you have an agenda beyond just loving from transaction to transaction then your "relationship" is doomed from the start, and healthy-minded young guys intuitively know this even if they can't express it. Self-help books can be great if they really challenge your psyche: they will however compound your misery and waste your money if they're coming from the "How To Trap a Man in 10 Easy Steps" angle.

It's a sad reflection on gay men when we insist that the frame needs to dominate the picture, instead of the other way around. How did we become so manipulative, needy and disrespectful that we can only view another dude in terms of the role he should play in our romantic fantasy? And then assume there's something wrong with him when he won't "co-operate"?

Perhaps you can get what you want in terms of achievement and money, but to want or need a committed relationship is fundamentally the stuff of deluded fools. You want something for yourself, and you will connive and set traps and withhold love and sex to get what you want. From this toxic waste dump arises the notion of gay-men-as-sensistive- people...yeah, right.

Grow up: you don't deserve a committed relationship unless it's something that happens organically as a direct result of loving openly without an agenda. Those of us who are happy to be single can't stand the clammy demands and expectations of men who just see us as husband material to be reeled in to meet their wants and needs i.e. to have a relationship for the sake of having a relationship. And no doubt based on Hollywood stereotypes and romance novels.

Realistically, long-term relationships have long periods of boredom and bad communications and dull sex. But there's only so much "work" that's really appropriate: if it's not fundamentally light-hearted, very loving, and supportive of individual growth then you're probably wasting your time pursuing something which will never "come good".

Well said rickinoz!

I read He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt a few years ago. It's marketed to straight women, but almost every word of it is good advice for gay men too. It has helped me stop wasting time on players and other typesof guys who will waste your time if you let them. I highly recommend it. It will give your self-confidence a boost.

lol yes indeed.

The obvious answer to the old-age anguish question of "Why hasn't he called?" has nothing to do with his problems, his phone or the harmonic alignment of the planets: he probably just doesnt want to talk to you.

Probably because he never learned how to really communicate.

Trust,maturity,understanding,little bit compromise,good communication,great sex, caring are important ingredients for a good long relationship n the most important part in a relationship(which i feel) both must respect eachother for what they actually are....

A very wise man said: "if you want a meaningful, loving, committed relationship, clean up the one you have with your parents." They set all your standards, expectations and installed most of your 'buttons'. Until that field is clean nothing new can flourish. So much for the pithy comment.

We are a race that lives by narrative, we tell stories to each other, and ourselves as a tool to make sense of the world. Nothing in my experience is more devestating that to wake up and see the myth you have been living revealed for a fiction. If you want a solid relationship, then let the guy in your bed be himself and not who you imagine him to be. It's worth noting I was trained how to be a husband, but would rather lose a limb than be saddled with a 'wife' with or without a penis. I suspect, I am not alone in either case.

Husband hunters are a bloody nusiance! They assemble a shopping list of qualities and traits 'that will make them happy' then pursue and serialy discard every body that resembles the profile but fails to hit all the marks. Really, why on earth would I twist my life around, to make this guy Happy? What is he going to do for me?

As bad, is the guy that after a half hour conversation announces he wants to make me 'happy'; what possess somebody to assume they have the powers of a Genii, or that they know enough about me to make an improvement. Certainly my life is not all I would like it to be, but it is nothing to sneeze at either, and I made it, no one gave it to me, and it IS MINE.

LTR sounds like a grand idea. I would like one, if a guy comes along that can and wants to share my life without turning it into chaos, hotdamn I'm there. Until then I will putter along in my boring beige universe. I count my life better spent correcting grammar, than searching for the ONE.

Is everyone missing the point?

1. First of all there is physical attraction. That needs to be strong and mutual.
2. Then there needs to be enough mutual interests so that you are best friends and just naturally want to hang out with each other all the time without doing things like going to the movies and going out for dinner just to do things together.
You both need to continue doing the things that you did alone separately before you met each other.
These are the things that you are interested in and your "partner" will be interested in them too, if he is right for you.
3. After that, you need to have an open relationship so that you can never betray the person that is your best friend and intimacy partner.
We are men, we have strong desires for varied sexual outlets.
If you are already best friends and both very attracted to each other, there is NOTHING to fear from an open relationship.
There is a lot to fear from a relationship which traps both of you into only ever having (boring) sex with each other.

4. Apart from the points above, what is the point in a "relationship"?

If you don't meet the one who meets the criteria above, then have a friends with benefits arrangement. But that probably isn't good enough because you fear that he will meet someone and enter into a monogamous relationship and you will lose your regular intimacy.

If that happens, move on to the next person.

"Apart from the points above, what is the point in a "relationship"?"

Based on what you wrote previously to asking that question, I would suspect that your answer to that question would be; "To have a reliable fuck when I can't find anyone else".

Unfortunately, that seems to be the reason most gay men get into a relationship. However, once the novelty wears off and the sex becomes boring, they start looking elsewhere. It is no wonder that so many relationships fail in a short period of time.

From all the gay men I have known who have been in long term relationships for more than 25 years, the key to the longevity was open ccommunication, as has been previously pointed out, but the open communication came BEFORE they made a commitment to each other. They openly discussed their needs, wants, and goals in life, and once they realized that their needs, wants, and goals were compatible, they made the commitment to each other, and then proceeded to work together to achievve those goals, and in the process, enhanced and enriched each other's lives. THAT is the point of a relationship !!

<<Submitted by bearlyy on Fri, 2011-06-17 19:11

Is everyone missing the point?

1. First of all there is physical attraction. That needs to be strong and mutual.
2. Then there needs to be enough mutual interests so that you are best friends and just naturally want to hang out with each other all the time without doing things like going to the movies and going out for dinner just to do things together.
3. After that, you need to have an open relationship so that you can never betray the person that is your best friend and intimacy partner.>>

No I'd say it's you who's missing the point. This is the usual superficial drivel promoted by gay men forever and ever amen; and which coincidentally hasn't worked in the past, isn't working in the present and therfore is unlikely to work in the future.

1. Physical attraction doesn't need to be initially overly strong. In my experience physical attraction definitely grows: I'm much more likely to find a dude more appealing as time goes by. My LTR partners say much the same thing.

2. Mutual interests are irrelevant - as are political beliefs etc. Shared values and a shared history are the two necessary components of a successful relationship. The things you do together are about your intimacy and enjoying shared space - not the activities you participate in. Two bottoms who love Madonna aren't a good recipe for an LTR after all. And you need a best friend outside your relationship for balance: that's not your partner's responsibility.

3. Why do you need an open relationship? I have no problem being exclusive with a partner who is loving and tender, if that's what he wants. Invariably I find a guy more sexually attractive with time anyhow, and since satisfying one partner takes some effort I'm just too busy to stray. I actually get off on satisfying a partner, and enjoy the loss of inhibitions that intimacy brings.

If you think of fidelity as a gift that you're man enough to give on a daily basis, then you won't be coming up with biological excuses to screw around because you're simply emotionally retarded. Hunters - in ever-growing numbers - have their reasons for hunting, and I'd say that few of 'em are looking for emotionally retarded daddys.

"Maybe he's just not that into you" is sound advice.
A lot more could be said on this topic, but as with relationships, two people either agree or they don't.
It either works or it doesn't.
"The human brain perceives the external world through the senses and each individual
human is influenced greatly by his or her experiences leading to subjective views of existence."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human

The original question was: What are your recommendations for nurturing a relationship?

Relationships grow from dating. In the beginning, each person is on their best behavior, ready to impress the object of their desire. Conversations are light, dinners, dancing and sexual exploration all transpire at first with awkwardness and in time with ease. Many feel a longing to be with the other, butterflies and an excitement fill our hearts and minds. We realize in time that this could be more than just a fling. Our sexual rendezvous become more intense, more emotional and more passionate as we learn more about the others desires.

Before we know it we are sharing stories about our lives; we are opening up our hearts and letting someone see our vulnerabilities. When we realize that they aren't running for the hills but instead reciprocating, it is evident that we are now beginning a relationship. Communication is of utmost importance for the longevity of any relationship; it is voicing our hopes and dreams, our concerns, our disappointments or our hidden desires of exploration. It is understanding what affects our partner and working together to find resolutions to situations before they destroy what has been built.

Finding your best friend; the one who will learn all the secrets in your heart, the one who will challenge you, who will make you laugh, hold you when you are sad, the one who will love you faults and all ... who will want you to do the same for him ... this is important to a long lasting union of hearts. Friendship is the best foundation for any relationship; falling asleep and waking every morning in each others arms ... knowing it is exactly where you want to be.

Recreating the romance everyday in your relationship is also important. If you treat each day as if it is the first day that you met; if you create fresh ideas, reignite the romance, create new scenes or role play ... if you keep the passion alive ... you can not fail.

Relationships often end due to arguments that go unresolved; they end because you grow apart and they also end because life becomes mundane, stale and old. Opening a relationship is rarely a healthy thing to do if you find you are growing apart. You are basically giving each other the right to cheat. If they are doing it on their own without you, you risk your partner developing feelings for the person they are sleeping with and who they can leave you for. You are opening Pandora's Box. Have a heart to heart talk, discuss your unhappiness and if you can't resolve the issues, then perhaps it's best if you end the relationship amicably. It's like the old saying, " If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours ... if it doesn't, it was never meant to be".

People develop a lot of assumptions based on scripted sanitized media, movies, TV etc. In a time of daycare and institutional solutions then parents don't have to keep track of the kids as they just say its fine if a village raises their kids. Then the kids wear earphones in class and get their feeling of things from Lady Gaga or crime and legal show fantasy characters. Having friends in real life reduces need for professional services due to social neglect and people being so busy that there is no time to relate to family and real life as they drive past the various naughty peasant neighborhoods without having been anywhere other than jumping into an office straight from school with no life. Relationships can be more simple than the more complex people think. Birds of a feather recognize each other sometimes almost right away without a lot of couch potato analysis. Then there are the procrastinating ones where life flies by while they ask a million questions out of curiosity and its like your being probed and evaluated and put into a pile of papers for someones consideration. If a person is more specific about things they like then you can tell a lot from that. If someone loves National Public radio then the Star Wars guy shouldn't engage in any long exchange. Being too sanitized in the beginning makes for more booboo's due to holding back early on and then guys engage in activities that are taboo within a relationship and they get stuck between a clinical experience and the naughty experiences that they end up needing once in a blue moon and that makes for too much drama to puts some stuff in the closet just to be revealed later after months of proper chat. Hope everyone has a nice day for sure.

The truth is probably that very few people actually fall in love, that's the reason relationships break up.
Even a huge percentage of hetero relationships break up and they usually have "the children" as a reason to stay together.
Yes, very, very few people probably actually fall in love.
And what does "in love" mean?
Well my guess is that it means you are best friends with someone who is also very much your type physically and vice-versa and also you are both sexually compatible.
Best friends usually means that you are very interested in the same stuff and you share the same sense of humour and the same nature (whether that be an easy-going nature or a difficult-going nature).
This is not my opinion, this is fact.
Actually, I've just re-checked that and it is in fact, just my opinion.

A oldie, but goodie book is 'The Male Couple'. Written by two male therapist who were also a couple. Written by David P. McWhirter.

Also, Male Couple's Guide: Finding a Man, Making a Home, Building a Life , by Eric Marcus.

My mother, during my parents divorce, told me one bit of advice regarding relationships...

"Son, relationships are not 50/50.. they are 100% each way"

I was 15 at the time. It took me 15 more years to realize what that really meant.