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What Does It Mean To Be #ProperlyPartnered? 💙

Dr. Gregg A. Pizzi

Psychologist | Coach

Sex & Relationship Expert

I get all kinds of interesting responses to the title of my new structured approach to helping single gay men find and create serious, lasting love at last. The term #ProperlyPartnered triggers a range of emotional reactions and feelings in gay men, and understandably so. Many of us gay men have been raised, taught, and/or led to otherwise believe that there is no such thing as true romance and couplehood for gays, or that the concept is a restrictive remnant of the heterosexual world which is best left to the straights, or that we shouldn't tie ourselves down by 'conforming' to social pressures on coupling-off, settling-down, tying the knot, etc. I happen to agree with this last one.

I've consistently received comments (some not so nice) over the last year on social media, my website, and by email accusing me of trying to brainwash gay men into believing that only by getting married and following a pre-prescribed mold and cookie-cutter lifestyle can they truly find happiness, of forcing them into believing that being single makes them unworthy and that they need another man to make them complete, and even of offering 'too much help' to the gay community, a group that I was told by a follower already 'has all the rights and protections' a group could need and therefore doesn't require any more special treatment. WTF?

The vehemence of these reactions, in my opinion, stems from deep, emotional wounds, abandonment issues, and nightmare trauma stories behind the unmet need for loving, stable acceptance and companionship in the lives of many gay men. My initial reaction to the negativity I was receiving about my mission was to feel defensive myself, and think I needed to shut them all down for fear people would get the wrong idea and my message to single gay men wouldn't get through. However, I quickly realized that the things people were saying about my program #ProperlyPartnered would actually serve to help me better understand what gay men want and need—yet are afraid of having for themselves.

I emphasize with clients, in my talks and presentations, in my free Facebook group for single gay men, and in my writing on the topic of relationships and sexuality, that each person (and subsequently, the couple) has to define what being "properly partnered" means for them. This usually requires having a decent amount of life experience with sex, hooking-up and dating under your belt, including both good and bad experiences (successes and failures). This is the only way for us to know and decide for ourselves what we want—and equally as important—what we don't want.

Contrary to the fearful reactions I've gotten to the concept of #ProperlyPartnered and its associated assumptions, there are in fact NO ASSUMPTIONS being made by its application as to how any couple should think, feel, look, or act. That's what makes the relationship a "proper" one; the idea is for the couple to start with a blank slate and create something together that works FOR THEM. They become properly partnered by combining their individual wants, needs, dreams and goals and through effective, assertive, confident communication (which I teach in my program) build together a partnership that works FOR THEM.

While no two couples are alike, there are some common characteristics that support and nurture this goal. At the very least, we're talking about a relationship where both individuals are committed, supportive, and engaged in a healthy and fulfilling way. While this list is not exhaustive, here are more traits that commonly characterize a #ProperlyPartnered relationship:

1. Mutual Respect Both men value each other's opinions, boundaries, and individuality. There's a fundamental respect for each other's thoughts, feelings, and autonomy.

2. Effective Communication Open, honest, and respectful communication is essential. Both men listen actively, express themselves honestly, and work through issues together.

3. Trust & Honesty Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Being properly partnered means being truthful, reliable, and having confidence in each other.

4. Supportive Environment Each partner supports the other's goals, aspirations, and personal growth. They encourage each other to pursue their passions and dreams.

5. Shared Values & Goals Having common values, beliefs, and life goals helps in aligning the direction of the relationship. It creates a sense of unity and purpose.

6. Emotional Connection There is a deep emotional bond between partners. They understand each other's emotions, provide comfort, and are there for each other during difficult times.

7. Resolving Conflicts Conflicts are inevitable, but properly-partnered individuals know how to handle disagreements constructively. They're willing to compromise and find solutions that work for both men.

8. Physical & Emotional Intimacy Intimacy in a properly-partnered relationship between two men goes beyond the physical. It involves emotional closeness, sharing experiences, and feeling connected on multiple levels.

9. Equal Partnership Both men contribute to the relationship in balanced and equitable ways, whether it's in decision-making, responsibilities, or emotional support.

10. Continuous Growth Properly-partnered guys are committed to personal growth and the growth of their relationship. They learn from experiences, adapt to changes, and evolve together.

Remember, every relationship is unique, and what constitutes a properly partnered relationship vary from man to man and couple to couple. However, these aspects generally form a strong foundation for a healthy and fulfilling partnership upon which the couple can build and create whatever they desire.


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