Ask Mr. Manners

Love for the realist

Let’s stop for a moment and do some math. There are roughly 7.2 billion people on Earth. Approximately 4 to 8 percent of these people are something other than heterosexual. Let’s assume they’re all gay, just to make the math easier. So, there are 576 million gay people, max, on Earth. Compared to 6.6 billion heterosexual people.

It makes logical sense that, at the very least, it would be more difficult to find someone else who was gay just to date, let alone with whom to fall in love. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

Diving into the dating pool can be both exciting and nerve-racking. Dating can include being vulnerable and stepping out of your comfort zone. On the first few dates with a potential partner, you’ll likely notice if you have any chemistry. While chemistry is important, you should look at other factors before starting a sexual relationship. When you enter a relationship, it’s also important to focus on your health and well-being.

There are several considerations when developing a relationship with another person. While we have all been told the obvious parts of love, I’m going to share a few other “real” considerations about relationships.

The first consideration is sexual health. Your partner may have been sexually active before and it may be a good time to talk about HIV and STIs. Dating someone with an STI or an HIV diagnosis is still possible. Educate yourself about how STIs and HIV transmission occur. It will help you feel confident about remaining protected.

It’s a good idea for you and your partner to receive screening for STIs so you can get treatment if needed. The CDC recommends getting screened every three to six months if you have casual sex, if you have more than one sexual partner, or are in an open relationship.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to share another consideration which seems to be growing in our community — abuse.

Before entering the dating scene, it’s important you understand the warning signs of domestic violence. Gay and bisexual men are at risk for intimate-partner violence, domestic violence, or stalking at equal or greater rates than heterosexual men, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Twenty-six percent of gay men, 37 percent of bisexual men, 44 percent of lesbian women, and 61 percent of bisexual women will be victims of such violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. You should reach out for help if a partner hurts you or threatens you with physical violence.

Dating can be a wonderful experience. It’s a chance to connect with other people and form a lasting connection with someone special. You may even meet a person with whom you want to have a life-long sexual and emotional relationship.

When this occurs, be open with your partner, receive screening for STIs, and choose the best safer sex options for you. Be authentic and transparent with your partner and maintain a sense of personal responsibility. It will ultimately make your relationship stronger and safer.

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