Diving into the dating pool can be both exciting or 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 with another man, it’s also important to focus on your health and well-being.
Here are several considerations when developing a relationship with another man.
Knowing what you and your partner expect in your relationship is very important. A monogamous relationship may be the choice you decide will work best. This can help ensure you don’t risk exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You increase your chances of developing an STI if you have sex with more than one person. Make sure you and your partner are regularly screened for STIs if your relationship is open or casual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men who have sex with other men have an increased risk of developing STIs. This includes an increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). STIs can have serious consequences on your health, and not all are curable. Discuss your sexual history with your partner before engaging in sexual activity.
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 occurs. This can help you feel confident about remaining protected. If your partner is living with HIV, there are also medications you can take. This can reduce your chances of HIV exposure during sex.
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 or if you have more than one sexual partner or an “open” relationship.
Visit your doctor or a location that conducts STI tests. Doing so will ensure your sexual health is under control before entering a sexual relationship with a new partner.
Condoms and lubricants remain an essential option for preventing some STIs. Choose a condom that’s made from latex or other synthetic materials when having sex. Also, use lubricants that are water- or silicone-based. These will help keep the condom from breaking or slipping during sex.
Make sure you and your partner know how to use condoms before engaging in sexual activity. Check that the condom is new and that it hasn’t expired.
Using alcohol or drugs may increase your likelihood of engaging in sexual behaviors considered risky.
You may want to consider not drinking alcohol or misusing drugs to decrease your chance of engaging in practices that could result in an STI. Keep in mind that sharing intravenous needles or syringes is never a good idea and could increase the risk of HIV exposure.
If your partner is showing signs of alcohol or drug misuse, consider seeking professional help.
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 and 37 percent of bisexual men 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. Other warning signs of domestic violence include:
- threats about your sexuality
- threats about getting help
- statements that violence is normal in a relationship
Seek help from authorities or a close friend or family member if you encounter domestic violence in your relationship.
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 man you want to have a sexual relationship with. When this occurs, be open with your partner, receive screening for STIs, and choose the best safe sex options for you. Be authentic and transparent with your partner and maintain a sense of personal responsibility. This will ultimately make your relationship stronger and safer.