Words by Liam Murphy | @liamwaterloo  | Photos: © Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

For issue #158 of FS we conducted a big survey on break-ups (to start the year on a cheering footing).

There’s a common misconception that gay men can’t hold down a relationship or that they jump from boyfriend to boyfriend always looking for the next best thing. We of course know that’s not true. Many gay men are in long-term relationships, have civil partnerships or are married.

In fact, we surveyed 1,097 gay men and 54% said they are in a relationship at the moment, and 46% of those people have been together two years or more.

However, what the survey did show is that many gay men lack communication skills. The responses indicated that a lack of communication and ability to find resolution to conflicts often led to the demise of a relationship. The survey indicated that the main reason people broke up with somebody was because they grew apart (51%), mainly due to the fact they stopped communicating.

The lack of communication was often down to gay men not telling each other how they feel and, in some cases, not being able to communicate the type of sex they want. 27% of gay men broke up with their partner because one of them had sex with somebody else.

Perhaps this is just a human trait. Where love is concerned it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees, especially when the trees are yelling at you in the kitchen because you didn’t load the dishwasher. However, it could also be because gay men lack full education around same sex relationships. Anything gay men do hear growing up tends to be focused on heterosexual couples and more ‘traditional’ relationships, whereas gay men often don’t follow this path.

A lack of sex and relationships education could be the reason they often find it difficult to navigate their way out of difficult relationships or unable to resolve issues to save them. Perhaps it’s another inequality that we as gay men face and seek to change.

Within the main feature we ask the advice of experts to help and guide gay men to better manage their relationships and help soften the impact of what can be the devastating process of a break-up. “Left unexpressed, our emotions, thoughts, worries and anxieties will turn from frustration into resentment – and sometimes get to the point of becoming extreme or toxic,” advises Andre Smith, the Health & Wellbeing Coordinator at Positive East. “If that happens, and the relationship is beyond the point of talking things through and is impacting on you in a very negative way, then that is time to up sticks and leave. The key is to keep communicating and never let it get to that point.”

By focusing on issues such as developing communication and relationship skills, we can help gay men establish healthy relationships, which benefit their general wellbeing and the wellbeing of current and future relationships.

Click here to read all the articles from FS #158