There’s a quote from the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower that comes to mind whenever I discuss relationships with any of my friends. “You accept the love you think you deserve.” Many people feel undeserving of love and affection. This is especially true for us gays who want to fall in love like the straights in the movies we watched growing up. Now that it’s legal to get gay married and there’s more representation of romances that resemble our own, how do we know if our relationship — that consists of two men who don’t adhere to traditional heteronormative expectations — is healthy and loving?
Here are five areas to reflect on:
1. You can speak honestly about anything.
If you can tell your beau he has bad breath or body odor, or that you don’t really want to go to dinner with his homophobic boss, you two are on the right track. Partners can talk to one another about anything, no matter how small or how delicate, especially if both parties know the words are always coming from a place of love.
2. You are okay being away from one another from time to time.
Here’s something people don’t tell you. It is perfectly okay to want some time away from your significant other – time to go to happy hour with just your friends or even a night in where you can read or watch YouTube videos in bed alone. Partners who let one another grow separately also grow together.
3. You make decisions together.
Even if your relationship is new, if your BF involves you in making decisions and seeks your opinion, you should probably call up Delilah and dedicate a song to him tonight. Involving each other in decision making indicates mutual respect for each other’s concerns and desires.
4. You trust each other.
From sharing your bank account or your bed with your bae and everything in between, trust is key. Following rule #1, you speak honestly about anything, so there are no secrets between the two of you.
5. Your relationship is a safe space.
Being with your boo should feel like home – sacred, affirming, and supportive. If you can be your flamboyant, crazy-in-love self, you have a safe space. If you can ask stupid questions, you have a safe space. If you can cry and show fear, you have a safe space. The answer to Whitney’s question of “How Will I Know?” is if you can be emotionally vulnerable with your partner; that’s how you know. But I guess that’s not as catchy as saying a prayer with every heartbeat.