Love, Intensified!

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Love ... Intensified!

What do these two words mean in conjunction with dating, sex, and relationships between two men? It seems a catchy phrase to use for a column, but what does it really mean? Does the sex with your partner get hotter? Does a doorway into blissful ecstasy magically appear? Do you suddenly stop looking with flushed interest at people other than your partner? Is this finally the cure for the overwhelming, ever-constant desire to have wild, unbridled sex with every third person you meet? Will your relationship with yourself be more satisfying and intoxicating?

Maybe ... or maybe not. When it comes to intensifying love in a relationship, the choices, the decisions, and the rules, arbitrary or otherwise, are created by you and your partner. Sometimes these rules are negotiated and discussed, while other times they appear through convenience and normative behavior. There is no rulebook, no guide, and no right and wrong pamphlet when it comes to partnerships, whether new or long-term.

For so many years, due to anything relating to homosexual love and relationships being closeted, the only model the LGBT community could reference was the idealized "straight," mainstream version of sex, dating, and relationships. While this may have worked for Ward and June (Google "Leave It To Beaver" if you are too young to get this reference), the needs and desires of today's gay men beg for something more. And, as Reno Sweeney is fond of saying, "times have changed."

In this day and age you have the opportunity to make your own rules and build your relationship from the ground up according to what works for you. However, it's important to remember that engineering a relationship according to your own specs brings with it the responsibility of working together to figure out how to tend the growth of your custom-made relationship, a process that usually begins with constant and clear communication. What do you want to do in your relationship? What do you want for it to be, to look like, and to feel like? What do you desire to experience with your partner or on your own for that matter? You have to identify what you desire and then be brave enough to come out of the closet and share it with your special someone.

In my role as an LGBT affirmative therapist, having heard more stories than you can imagine about the winding paths of sex, dating, and partnerships, I have learned that there is someone or something out there for everybody and that each individual has drastically different needs in a relationship. Essentially, there is no right or wrong. Nothing is forbidden or taboo if both partners desire it, consent to it, and enter into it willingly.

The only rule not to be broken in building a powerful and exciting relationship is honest communication. If desires are expressed, they can be discussed and explored. You may find that you have both desired the same thing for a long time --- a new location to live, new paint color for the bedroom, new friends, a new job, or a new sexual fantasy involving the hunky barista at your local breakfast spot.

When you hold onto fear of hurting the other person or hurting the relationship by revealing a hidden secret desire, you carry guilt and shame. The heaviness of this burden weighs on both you and the relationship with your partner being in the dark about what's going on. The light of your love is dimmed because you cannot express yourself fully. You hide yourself; and the longer this goes on, inevitably, love will fade.

Make some time for yourself to discover what are the questions and desires you have about love, sex, dating, and relationship. What would it take for you to break the hetero-centric rules of relationship and write your own guide for creating a sizzling and dynamic partnership? Finding the answers to these deep needs and then addressing them openly with your partner can lead to freedom, excitement, and adventure.

When you feel the freedom to be yourself and express yourself completely (thank you, Madonna), your love shines brightly. You gain a greater appreciation for your partner and you feel good being able to be YOU, to be out of the closet of secrets. When this happens, your LOVE for yourself, your partner, and your relationship is INTENSIFIED!

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