Infidelity, it should seem apparent, isn’t an exclusive domain of heterosexual people.
A new survey conducted by the Health Equality and Rights Organisation (HERO), the parent organisation of GMFA, FS magazine and OutLife, found that 58% of gay men have been cheated on by their same-sex partner, while 51% admit to cheating themselves. If this is – somewhat – surprising, then it may be because among those who cheated, 45% said their partner never found out.
The survey – which involved 961 gay and bi men – also found that 17% of the men asked said they got an STI from being unfaithful, with 61% of them not informing their partner.
In a statement, HERO’s chief executive Ian Howley said that it is “clear to us from the results of the survey and what gay men told us about their experiences is that some gay men are making the same mistakes regarding communication, trust and boundaries. There’s huge issue of gay men not being able to talk to one another about what they want sexually. We grow up in a very heterosexual society where ‘cheating’ is enough to end relationships and long standing marriages because that’s what society has told us to do. And it’s not shocking to find that these standards are also put on gay men.”
As used in the survey, infidelity was defined as ‘the action or state of being unfaithful to a spouse or other sexual partner’. Ultimately, the actions that those surveyed considered as infidelity included:
- Anal sex (79%)
- Blow job (76%)
- Hand job (74%)
- Breaking the rules of an open relationship (68%)
- Kissing (66%)
- Emotional intimacy with another person (62%)
- Using hook-up apps (55%)
- Sharing sexual images (43%)
- Sending private messages (34%)
- Flirting (18%)
But for Howley, “of course sex is important for any relationship to work but you cannot and never will be able to meet the needs of someone 100% of the time. And we are foolish to put that pressure on ourselves. If you are lucky to find someone that does it for you, is there for you emotionally, physically and treats you with the respect you deserve, then you must work on the relationship.”
Howley added that “letting a relationship die because of sex is silly. More often he will work with you and you can work together to explore options that will keep your relationship tight. Communication is vital for relationships to succeed. If you are in a relationship and it’s got a bit stale, then you need to communicate this with your partner. He maybe thinking the same as you and by having the conversation you can hopefully avoid ‘cheating’ – whatever that means for you – and get your relationship back on track. However, if it’s over, then it’s over. We all must learn to know when a relationship is done and show respect for the person you are with. They’d much rather you broke up with them than hurt their feelings.”