7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 1

Every long term relationship has its ups and downs, and how we deal with difficulties in a relationship defines us as people and defines the partnership. In the next two posts, we’ll look at seven deadly relationship sins, how to recognise them, and most importantly, how to avoid them ruining your relationship.

1. Lack of communication

Lack of communication is something that one or both partners will complain about at some stage of a long term relationship and it is one of the biggest relationship killers. It can manifest itself in a number of different ways, including:

a) Not listening to your partner – one of the biggest complaints between partners and something couples therapists make a ton of money from. Learn to read the body language of your partner and gauge whether something is important to them. Properly, actively listening to your partner is one way of showing that you respect them, support them and are interested in them.

b) Not communicating feelings – your fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, issues, and problems. People do change with time and without periodically updating your partner on your thoughts, feelings and interested, you can naturally drift apart (see The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last). Even small issues, like for example a man leaving the toilet seat up over and over again, can build up to resentment over time and injure your relationship.

c) Keeping secrets – a cornerstone of a healthy and strong relationship is trust (see 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2), but keeping secrets and having your partner find out can make them feel untrusted and question your own trustworthiness. To build trust in your relationship, check out our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy And More Trusting.

2. Physical or emotional cheating

Cheating doesn’t always have to be physical, and you can do just as much damage to a relationship, if not more, by emotionally cheating. Temptation is all around us, and with the development of the internet, smartphones and other technologies connecting us with people all around the world, there are more and more opportunities to cheat. A fling with someone else – or even mutually entertaining the thought of it – may make you feel wanted or loved (or at least lusted after), but it is masking a void or deficiency in your own relationship that you need to address. In addition, the definition of acceptable behaviour when around others outside the relationship can differ from person to person and couple to couple. Think about the things you might say or write to others, or your body language, in the context of your own partner and your own relationship. How would you feel if your partner said or did similar things to another person? When does harmless, friendly flirting become something more?

3. Jealousy

A little jealousy can be good and healthy in a relationship – it can promote protectiveness and competitiveness to care and protect both your partner and relationship from the perceived threat. It can remind you of your feelings for your partner, and it can help you to think about and understand yourself a little better. In this way, healthy jealousy acts to guard and support a relationship. But too much, too often can be a deadly relationship killer. Overly jealous people see the world through a distorted lens, losing perspective and perceiving danger where there might not be. Jealousy is a highly complex emotion and can be incredibly powerful, causing us to lose control. Jealousy can be caused by insecurity and possessiveness. It can also be caused by a fear of rejection, abandonment or loss, and it can be triggered by feelings of powerlessness or a lack of control. Overcoming jealousy isn’t an easy task, but you can start by learning to love yourself (see Part 1: Find Love. Step 1. Love Yourself) to develop self-love and self-worth, creating a healthy relationship within us. This develops self-esteem and creates a healthy ego, allowing us develop healthy and productive interpersonal relationships with others. Building trust can strengthen your relationship and help overcome jealousy.

Be sure to check out the second part of this post, 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 2, which examines the other four deadly relationship sins. And don’t forget to read 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1 and Part 2.

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Online Dating – Creating A Successful Online Dating Profile

In this post, Find Keep Love looks at how to create a successful online dating profile, to give you the best possible chance of attracting possible suitors and finding the most suitable person for you. Here are our three biggest tips for perfecting your profile:

1. Choose your best, most appropriate photo(s)

The photo(s) you choose for your online dating profile are crucial. Your first impression, as in real life, is a visual one. Within the first few seconds of seeing someone new, we make a number of subconscious decisions and judgements based on what we see. Are you someone to engage with or avoid? Are you similar or different? Will you have compatible tastes? Do you appear friendly, trustworthy, competent and likeable? The world of online dating can be cut-throat and your profile picture(s) make a significant first impression one way or another. Think hard about how you want to be viewed. How you are perceived by others can be related to who you attract and an inappropriate choice of photo might attract undesirable suitors. Make sure your photo truly represents who you are and is recent. Some photos to avoid posting include:

  • Retro photos (from 10 years ago when you may have been younger, slimmer and more carefree).
  • Photos with ex-partners (who may be present or cropped out),
  • The bathroom mirror self-shot (with or without the modern day ‘duck-face’ pout),
  • Photos with others (particularly if which one you are is ambiguous), and
  • Party photos (you might like to advertise that you’re fun and exciting, but not many bar/nightclub photos bring out the best in us, often making us look tired, drunk and/or sweaty).

2. Be honest

It is fairly obvious that if you lie about your physical characteristics on your profile, you’ll be found out eventually when you meet for a date. But you’d be surprised how many people describe themselves as a little bit taller, slimmer or even younger than they actually are (good, recent photos can avoid this temptation to overstate reality). When filling out your profile, try to give as much information about yourself as possible, while avoiding some of the security issues with releasing personal information on the internet (see our post on Online Dating – Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online). In particular, if a site uses a matching algorithm, you have more chances of finding a good match if you have a complete profile. As described in The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last, without honesty, you might find your partner falling in love with the person you portray to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on, and this starts with your profile.

3. Sell yourself

One key advantage of online dating is that you can browse profiles without having to interact with anyone and do so in the privacy of your own home, but this allowance for anonymity can make it feel harsh for those who are overlooked with a simple scroll of the mouse. So, whilst honesty in your profile is laudable, you mustn’t forget to sell yourself and paint yourself in the best possible light. How can you set yourself ahead of the competition?

  • Treat your dating profile as you would your resume when applying for a job (without listing all the juicy/gory details of your past experiences, of course). Keep your profile, including your relationship needs/wants, goals, and so on, up to date.
  • Create a profile heading that’s catchy and grabs people’s attention. Something ideally that stays in the reader’s mind, even after reading dozens of other profiles.
  • Be original and creative. By all means use other profiles for inspiration, but focus on what makes you, well YOU. Try to avoid clichéd interests like ‘socialising with friends,’ ‘reading,’ or ‘watching beautiful sunsets’. What are the things in life you’re really passionate about? Write about these.
  • Avoid negativity. Although you may have had bad experiences in the past, or your luck in love might be down, try not to express this too much in your language on your profile. Avoid talk of horrible relationships, cheating ex-partners or how desperate you are to find love.
  • Ask friends/family what they see as your positive characteristics. Sometimes they can see something your own judgement cannot. You could also ask them to review your profile – an extra pair of eyes can make a world of difference.
  • Keep your profile simple and succinct. Simple doesn’t have to mean dull if you’re wise with the words you use.
  • Do one final spelling and grammar check. You wouldn’t send out a resume with spelling and grammar errors in it, and you shouldn’t do the same with your online dating profile.

Following these three steps will put you in the best possible position to get and maintain interest in your online dating profile and take the first step in finding love online. Now you can use some of the suggested tools and websites in our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love to start perfecting your profile.

Avoiding Toxic Relationships Or Leaving The One You’re In

“How many times do you need to get hurt for you to know it’s time to let go?” one questioned. “A break up is just like a broken mirror. It is better to leave it broken than hurt yourself trying to fix it,” another said.

While it’s all very well receiving comforting advice in the form of deep and meaningful quotes, actions truly speak louder than words. This is why even after all is said and done, it is your actions that will truly define the type of person you really are. So who exactly are you?

Should I stay… or should I go?

While you might feel a sense of loyalty to your other half – or even to yourself to keep the relationship going –  sometimes it’s best to leave and start over. See if you can identify with these five reasons for why you should break up:

1. History repeats itself

You know those couples who break up, get back together, break up, get back together, break up – and then get back together again? It isn’t healthy to keep repeating these cycles as this not only impacts upon your relationship, it impacts upon your friends and family who have to see and hear about it. If you keep having to go repeat history, then maybe it’s time to rewrite it and meet someone new.

2. After the love has gone

Relationships change over time, and sometimes the passion or spark you once had diminishes, making you question whether you are still in love with your partner. If a relationship isn’t nurtured (see Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts), you can fall into a routine where you act no longer as lovers, but more like friends or roommates. In many cases, all the relationship needs is a “pick me up,” but sometimes it’s time to realise that the relationship has run its course – and that you should choose another course of action, too. This is all discussed in detail in The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last.

3. When opposites don’t attract

Sure, it might be fun at first to not share mutual interests – he likes sci-fi, while you’re into documentaries, he loves red peppers when you can’t stand the taste of them, and he’s messy, while you’re obsessively clean. While it might seem like fun at first, doing something different and getting out of your comfort zone, if it gets to the point where being opposites repels either of you, then you either try to compromise or agree to disagree. Whether opposites really do attract or not is up for debate: Dating Someone Similar Or Different – Opposites Attract?

4. When the cat’s away, the mice will play

Cheating is one of the most common reasons for lovers to part ways, and naturally so. Once the damage of knowing your partner has cheated on you has hit home, and having your trust betrayed, it can be hard to let go. Learning to trust again takes time, patience and commitment – but this doesn’t just apply to the person who cheated; this can also be true in the case of the person who was cheated on. If their infidelity has hurt you to the point of no return, then leave the relationship immediately. Find Keep Love looks how to build trust in relationships in 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy And More Trusting.

5. The relationship is at a dead end

So you’ve had the honeymoon period, but then ‘the’ conversation comes up. One of you raises the subject of moving in together, along with hints of marriage, but the other person isn’t so sure. Is there any long-term potential, and do you want that, or was it only ever a brief fling? It’s best for the both of you to talk about your feelings and decide what you want from the relationship, and if either of you conclude that you don’t see any future, then enjoy the relationship for what it was and walk away. Not being on the same level and wanting the same things out of the relationship is one of the biggest relationship killers.

This post was written for Find Keep Love by Susie Francis a content writer for Select Personal Services. Susie specifically loves to write about relationships, dating and travel, but her writing skills are widespread. You can find out more about Susie on Twitter (@SusieFrancisW).

Online Dating – Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online

The internet offers so many different and exciting opportunities to explore, share information, and meet new people. In Part 1: Find Love. Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love., internet/online dating was introduced as one of the common places to look for love, which was then extended in Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Find Keep Love also covered the potential of Facebook as a dating tool in Online Dating – Could A Facebook Dating App Become The World’s Biggest Dating Site?

But using the internet can put you at risk of illegal activities or abuse, including bullying, fraud, cyber crime or something more serious. Unlike seeing someone face to face, people aren’t always what they first seem in the digital world. In this post, Find Keep Love looks at how to stay safe online, so that you can utilise the huge potential of the internet to enjoy meeting new friends and date safely.

  • Protect your privacy on social networking sites. Almost everyone nowadays is connected via one or more social network, such as Facebook, Google+, Sina Weibo [Chinese], LinkedIn, Bebo and so on. Check your social media privacy settings and the information you are allowing into the public domain and to your connections. The abundant personal information available on such sites is a predator’s dream come true. Set up privacy restrictions to give only trusted people access to personal information and activities. Do not give strangers access to your social networking sites, but if you must connect with strangers for some reason (some games encourage you to build a large social network), make sure you restrict their access.
  • Understand the settings for your GPS and geolocation services on your electronic devices, as well as your social media networks. Consider turning off the GPS on your mobile phones and cameras, unless you want people to know where you are. You may be inadvertently be posting your location when you post photos, status updates, and so on. To keep your location private, avoid sending or posting images from GPS-enabled devices.
  • Don’t give out private personal information online. Unless you are 100% sure of the person you are giving it to, of course. Use discretion when deciding what information to reveal about yourself, but never, ever disclose private information such as bank details, your passport number, account passwords, and so on.
  • Keep your login information and passwords private and secure. Your passwords are the most common way to prove your identity when using websites, email accounts and even your computer itself (via User Accounts). Avoid public or shared computers where login information can be saved or cached, and avoid automatic login features and do not save passwords to avoid entering a password. The use of strong (varied and difficult) passwords is essential to protect your security and identity. The best security in the world is useless if a malicious person has a legitimate user name and password. Here are some tips for choosing the best passwords:

Password Dos:

  • Choose a password with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and keyboard symbols such as @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +. For example, SP1D3Rm@n – a variation of Spiderman, with letters and numbers, upper and lower case. But be aware that some of these punctuation marks may be difficult to enter on foreign keyboards.
  • Choose a password containing at least eight characters. Longer passwords are harder for criminals to guess or break.

Password Don’ts:

Don’t use the following as passwords:

  • Your username, actual name or business name.
  • Family members’ or pets’ names.
  • Your birthday or the birthdays of family members.
  • Favourite sports team or other words easy to work out with a little background knowledge of your likes and dislikes.
  • The word ‘password’ (you’d be surprised how many people use this as their deafult password!).
  • Numerical sequences.
  • A commonplace dictionary word, which could be cracked by common hacking programs.
  • Protect your computer from viruses, malware and spyware. Use software, such as free software like Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast, AVG or McAfee’s free virus removal tools.
  • Make sure you’re using a reputable online dating service, chat site or phone app. There are many, many dodgy internet sites, and a number of these are dating sites wanting to exploit those seriously looking for love. For our recommended websites and phone apps, check out our post on Online Dating – The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love. Make sure you read the dating site or app’s terms of service and privacy policy. This can be difficult at times, because many privacy policies seem to be written in the most confusing language possible. Here are some things you should look for:
  • A dating site should provide online security – HTTPS
  • It should delete all your personal data after you close the account.
  • It should be upfront about how it shares your personal information with other members.
  • It should be upfront about who else gets to see your data.
  • It should indicate whether the dating site shares your e-mail address with third parties.
  • Does it give you a chance to opt out?
  • Does it provide the name of a real human being to contact if you have questions?
  • Use an email address without your full name or use a pseudonym or nickname. If you use a work or personal email account, your full name may appear on any email you send. With your full name and location, someone may find your address and even phone number via people search websites like 192.com. To get around this, we suggest you get a free email account (for example, from Yahoo Mail, Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook.com) and avoid using your last name. You may even want to use a different first name – try making up a fun nickname like “StaticKitten”. This nickname doesn’t need to be your screen name.
  • Take your time and don’t rush into things. Do not feel compelled or pressured to do anything you are not completely comfortable with. The online world allows for anonymity, which can work for you and against you. Start with a few emails back and forth or use online chat (some dating websites offer this as part of their package), then a few phone calls, before meeting in person. A highly recommended alternative to the phone is Skype, which offers free video calls over the internet and cheap calls to phones. There are also a number of smartphone apps, like Line, WhatsApp*, ooVoo, Viber and Tango that offer various combinations of free messaging and audio/video calling.
    *WhatsApp is now a paid service.
  • Be aware that webcams and Skype calls may be recorded. Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other private things in front of your webcam, which could be used against you, even if you feel comfortable with and think you know the other party. It is really easy these days to record both video and audio using a number of different software packages. Some chat websites, for example, cache live images to show on your profile. Webcam blackmail is becoming more commonplace, where fraudsters record your webcam then use the recording to extort money. Emails, messages, screen captures and so on can be forwarded to others at the click of a button, so be careful what you do and say.
  • When you do meet your new date (especially the first time), do it with a friend and in a public place. If you can’t arrange a friend to be there physically with you (or nearby), at least tell a friend or family member and check in with them at some stage during the date.
  • Never leave or go home with them. Be wary if they suggest going somewhere more private (unless the date is going well and heading in that direction). If you begin to feel uncomfortable (in a more serious way, not those normal dating jitters) or unsafe, leave the situation as soon as possible.
  • Report any attacks or threats to the police immediately.

Are you as safe as you should be online? Have you ever had a bad experience with someone or something online?

With these tips – and following the dos and don’ts in our post on Part 1: Find Love. First Date Dos and Don’ts – you’ll ensure your date is both safe and enjoyable.

A special thanks goes to Alastair at CitizenArc for providing a number of useful tips for this article. CitizenArc is a West London-based computer support service offering technical support and professional training for individuals and businesses, specialising in Apple Mac and iOS.

For more information on staying safe online, check out Google’s post on How you can stay safe and secure online.

The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last

The roles of men and women have changed in Western society over the past few decades and it’s now estimated that up to a half of all marriages end in divorce. Why has this happened? Are people more immoral than they used to be? Are modern couples not as strong-willed as ones in the past? No, divorce rates are now higher because the laws have changed, the stigma attached to a being a divorcée has been reduced, and society has placed a higher premium on individual rights. We all have a greater awareness of the fragility of life and that life really is too short to be unhappy and stick in situations that are no good for our mental and/or physical well-being. People are realising the importance of individual happiness against sticking together for some other reason (because they “said till death do us part” or to do so “for the kids” and so on) and enduring a life of unhappiness. An interesting post on the reasons for divorce can be found here, but in this post I’ll be discussing relationships that didn’t break down due to infidelity, a traumatic, life-changing or significantly stressful event, domestic violence or addiction(s).

There aren’t too many couples who aren’t madly in love when they first get married (with the exception being arranged marriages), so how does a relationship end up in such a state? People do change with time – not just physically, but their personality, likes and dislikes, and even beliefs. Think about the person you were five years ago, or even a year ago, and how much you have changed since then. The pace of modern life means these changes occur at a faster rate than ever before. If you don’t keep up to date with your partner’s thoughts, feelings and activities, you may end up loving the person they once were, and not who they’re becoming (and then feeling like you don’t know them anymore). This is one reason why couples ‘drift apart’ or feel like they ‘don’t know each other anymore,’ but is this because the relationship hasn’t been maintained properly? By maintaining your relationship (see our post on Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts) and by keeping the love strong by doing an occasional nice thing (see 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner), your love for your partner will change dynamically with time and be continually refreshed.

Perhaps the relationship just wasn’t meant to be? People – friends, as well as lovers – come into our lives to help form new chapters of our lives, some can be brief (a seasonal love), others longer, but there are some gems that last a lifetime. Sometimes we misjudge relationships – we can hang onto the wrong person, trying as we might to make things work, or we can give up the right person prematurely. It is incredibly rare for two people to find themselves exactly on the same page.

Or perhaps you weren’t being honest from the very start? Perhaps your partner fell in love with the person you portrayed to win their affection, and not your true self. Being yourself from the outset can avoid this later on. The longer you date someone, the harder it is to fake who you really are. As someone who’s been there before, and told a white lie or two to gain someone’s interest – in the early stages of dating, meeting someone say once a week or month, you can almost be anyone you like. This reminds me of the movie There’s Something About Mary, where each of the guys vying for Mary’s attention create their own fake persona to win her over.

The proliferation of romantic movies, including romantic comedies, can also share the blame as many of these give a false sense of hope and aren’t treated as merely a form of escapism. Treating them as realistic can give unrealistic expectations of your partner and your relationship, particularly when times are tough in a relationship and the parties involved think a quick and amicable solution can be reached immediately. Hardly ever are the normal, everyday parts of the relationship portrayed in a 90 minute movie (well, it wouldn’t sell movie tickets, would it?). This topic is also covered in Romantic comedies make us ‘unrealistic about relationships’, claim scientists and Romantic Comedies Are Ruining Real Life Relationships. However, there are a few movies that do keep it real – It’s Complicated, The Change-Up (except for the switching bodies part), This Is 40, Crazy Stupid Love, and the latest release, I Give It A Year, which looks at the trials and tribulations of a newlywed couple during their first year of marriage. The trailers for these movies can be found at the end of this post.

There are also scientific explanations for why feelings seem to change with time and why we shouldn’t panic when they do, but I’ll save that discussion for another day… stay tuned for Scientific Explanations For Love (And Why Hearts Seem To Change).

Why do you think couples drift apart? If you’ve been in a long-term relationship before, did something cause your relationship to break down?

Realistic Rom Com #1: It’s Complicated

Realistic Rom Com #2: The Change-Up

Realistic Rom Com #3: This Is 40

Realistic Rom Com #4: Crazy Stupid Love

Realistic Rom Com #5: I Give It A Year

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2

In the previous post 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1, we examined the first three of six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. In this post, we examine the second three of six secrets, and summarise what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

4. Show affection & intimacy

It is important to show your love in the form of affection and intimacy. As life goes by, and we become more comfortable in our relationship, we often forget to not only show our gratitude, but to express our feelings and attraction physically. The ‘good feeling’ chemicals in the brain (we’ll address the science behind love in another post) that made us so excited at the beginning of the relationship start to wear off with time and I’m sure there aren’t many longer term relationships that are as physically involved (read sexual) as they were in the first few months. The good thing is that if you’re a couple in this position, you’re not alone! The bad thing is that affection and intimacy requires a little more effort and motivation than before. Dating someone once or twice a week or month is very different to seeing each other every day and seeing their ‘ugly’ side (the morning breath and other bad smells, the bed hair, no make-up, and so on). But it doesn’t have to be too hard – be spontaneous, grab your partner and kiss them occasionally, be playful, have fun doing silly things together, hold hands, hop in the shower or bath together – but maintain some form of physical contact that keeps your love alive.

5. Maintain individuality (“us” time vs. “me” time)

It is essential to maintain a bond of togetherness with your partner with mutual interests. Going on dates together is important (and scheduling them if you’re busy people) and ensuring adequate “us” time, to learn and grow together. But giving your partner freedom to explore their own life is also critically important, by letting your partner have their own friends, their own hobbies and interests, their own “me” time. A relationship is a partnership in love and a journey through life together, but one should never lose their own individuality. The longer you spend with someone in a relationship, the more your lives become intertwined, which can leave you feeling dependent on your partner and depended on, upsetting your emotional balance and making you feel trapped and restricted. Think of the relationship as two individuals joined together by love on a journey towards a common goal (or goals). As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “Love is not looking at each other, but looking together in the same direction.” You should both be able to do your own thing with or without others, without the other being jealous or thinking that they don’t love or enjoy spending time with them.

6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

All successful relationships are based on a healthy level of trust for without trust a relationship will not survive. Trust is a two-way street: you must have the correct combination of one partner being trustworthy and the other being trusting. A relationship just won’t last if one is trustworthy and the other untrusting, or one is trusting and the other untrustworthy. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in a relationship and is far easier to lose than to gain. It is earned over time and is built on integrity and confidence in another. Think about you and your personal relationships – do you think you are considered a trustworthy person? Do you have trouble trusting others? If you’re having trouble with trust in your relationship, you’ll want to read our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy and More Trusting.

Practising these six things – along with the suggestions in Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts – will ensure you and you partner are well on your way to a happy and successful long term relationship. In summary:

1. Show your gratitude
2. Encourage your partner
3. Tolerate their flaws & habits
4. Show affection & intimacy
5. Maintain individuality
6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

Why Gay Marriage Is A Step Forward For Humanity

Human beings have a long history of persecuting minorities and those different to others, and homosexuals are one minority group who have borne the brunt of societal disapproval over thousands of years, suffering discrimination, prejudice, and verbal and physical abuse. Like women’s suffrage and coloured rights before, it is now time to stop persecuting people based on their sexuality, and acknowledging publicly the right of homosexuals to same sex marriage.

The UK is taking positive steps towards legalisation of same sex marriage, and marriage rights for same sex couples are now supported by a majority of the US senate, but having just visited Australia, and heard and read some very ignorant and backwards views on the topic, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write an article on my own thoughts: to debunk some of the myths and fallacies, and convince those who are still against the issue that equality for all, gay or straight, is the best way forward.

Update (18/4/13): New Zealand has now legalised same-sex marriage with 77 of 121 members of parliament voting in favour of amending the 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to wed, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

This post is obviously more serious than the usual posts on Find Keep Love, but the issue at hand is one that is intertwined with love and relationships, and humanity and society in general. One of the myths I’ve heard quite often is that sexuality is a choice and that being gay is a lifestyle, not in-built biology. In the circle of gay friends I have, I can’t recall anyone who hasn’t said that their preference for the same sex began to develop around puberty (when sexual hormones begin to kick in), and I know of no-one who has specifically “chosen” the gay lifestyle.

The best humans are dynamic and fluid thinkers, and more progress is made in humanity when there are more open minds and hearts in the world. Education, experience and openness build stronger relationships between different cultures and people, foster understanding, and cultivate tolerance and acceptance of others. The world can always do with more love, and affording gay partnerships the same rights as heterosexual partnerships is one way in which we can share even more love and happiness throughout the world. Here are five important points as to why gay marriage is a step forward for humanity:

  1. Gay marriage is not a threat to straight marriage. It doesn’t infringe on the rights of straight people, but allows the same rights as traditional male-female couples to be held by non-heterosexual couples. Marriage ties biological parents to their children, but also step-parents, parents who adopt, and gay parents.
  2. Legalising gay marriage will not turn otherwise straight people gay. Just like you cannot convert a gay person to become a straight person, the opposite doesn’t work either!
  3. Sexuality, once developed, is an innate characteristic of that person, and there is a broad spectrum of sexuality: there aren’t just “straight” and “gay” people. Young adults (and even older adults) may experiment (as people do with non-sexual things), but to find out who they really are inside. Allowing gay marriage might increase reported gay numbers, but only because they feel safer to be themselves and “come out” – it won’t increase the number of gay people per head of population.
  4. Same sex marriages won’t harm children. Opponents of gay marriage often say that children do best when raised by their married (one male, one female) parents. But in the US today, a third of all children do not live with married parents – due co-habitation, divorce and single parenthood (a quarter live with a single parent). This trend began many years ago, decades before the same sex marriage was mainstream (see Social Indicators of Marital Health & Well-being – Fragile Families With Children). Recognising same sex marriage can be done separately to any parenting rights. There are already homosexual parents out there. The most important thing we can do as a society is to teach children that, above all, we value loving relationships.
  5. There’s often an argument with drugs: that a “softer” drug like marijuana will inevitably lead to harder drugs like heroin and cocaine. A similar argument has also been applied to gay marriage. Allowing gay marriage will not lead to the desire to allow marriage between humans and animals (bestiality), blood relatives (incest) and even multiple men and/or women (polygamy). It does, however, lead directly to assessing these options/futures and we should indeed think about consequences of such actions, including whether as a society allowing a particular type of relationship would be harmful. There are some interesting philosophical debates on why bestiality (for example, animals cannot consent or make rational decisions or judgements) and inter-family breeding (difficult to argue if the arguments of a religious or cultural nature and problems with reproduction are taken out of the equation) are wrong. Polygamy (or group marriage) is a discussion for another day, but if a trio, for example, are in love, why shouldn’t they have the right to have their partnership legally recognised? Watch this space, because this could be the next civil rights movement.

If I were to define modern marriage (or ‘civil partnerships’ if the majority wish to maintain this term for male-female heterosexual partnerships), I would state it as follows:

If two people (man and woman, man and man, woman and woman), unrelated by blood and of the same human species, wish to have their love for each other officially/legally recognised by their country/government/society and be afforded all of the benefits of being in such a partnership, they should be free to do so, and all such relationships should be of equal standing.

You’ll note this has nothing to do with religion as religion, like sexuality, should be a private matter and unique to each and every person. I have included “unrelated by blood” to cover those who believe gay marriage will lead to incestual relations, and included “of the same human species” to cover those who believe it will lead to bestiality.

There is also an argument that it is “natural” for men and women to marry, because only a man and a woman can reproduce via sexual intercourse. While it is true that heterosexuality is the most common sexuality, there is indeed a broad spectrum of sexuality (see the Kinsey scale, for example) from 100% straight (heterosexual) to 100% gay (homosexual) and everything in between (bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and so on). There are girls who like girls and boys, and boys who like girls and boys, in different proportions. While homosexuals cannot reproduce alone, there are heterosexual couples who can’t reproduce, too, and there are couples who don’t want to reproduce. Should they have lesser rights as well because they aren’t behaving as heterosexual reproducing couples?

Another key point I want to make is that I don’t believe churches should be forced to change their beliefs or marry homosexuals, because many religions don’t believe in it. This doesn’t mean that as a society on a whole we can’t progress and improve our own thinking to recognise non-traditional relationships. With many societies becoming more culturally, racially and religiously diverse, we need to encourage and support everyone equally. Modern science is also teaching us more and more about sexuality (see above regarding the sexuality spectrum) and sexual development, and this needs to be included in any sensible contemporary policy-making. The state should recognise each couple’s relationship in terms of the law (straight or gay). The choice of ceremony and location (religious or not) comes down to the personal beliefs and wishes of the couple, and whether or not that religion accepts their circumstances. The issue of same sex acceptance is being hotly debated even within some religions, as to whether in fact their religious practices allow for it (for example, interpretations of the Bible in this respect vary).

It is important to be actively aware of one’s own culture and this issue, if anything, is a good opportunity as a society to question our existing cultural practices and beliefs, and ask why do we do what we do? And, most importantly, do these practices help or hinder our progress of improving the world we live in? Having lived in Australia, Japan and now the UK for extended periods of time, and travelled extensively, I have experienced different cultural practices – some unique and good, some bizarre, some passed down from generation to generation as some kind of ritual or practice from another time. But just because you’ve done something a particular way in the past, it may not always be good and it doesn’t mean it should always be done that way. Adapting, changing and developing thoughts and practices based on new evidence and experiences is how we can better ourselves and improve society and the way we live. It is the core of the scientific principles and philosophy that I live and teach.

In the end, the ability to rationally discuss clearly emotive subjects like gay marriage, question our taboos, and muse philosophically is a good thing (and is what separates us from the animal kingdom). At Find Keep Love, our mission is spreading love, in all of its forms, and providing thoughtful discussions to provoke your own thinking. Our stance is that love – whether it be between a man and a woman, a man and a man, or woman and a woman – should be recognised and supported officially and legally. From the point of view of the state, marriage is about conferring rights with regards to taxation, inheritance, medical decisions, and so on, not to make value judgements. We should be teaching future generations the importance of loving relationships, to accept, understand and respect those born differently to the “norm” (I use quotation marks here to ask who and what defines a “normal person”), and that discrimination based on sexual preference is an infringement of an individual’s human rights.

How do you feel towards the legalisation of same sex marriages?

And finally, here are a couple more resources to help you understand the fallacies the anti-gay marriage lobby present.

Firstly, a great article from the American Psychological Association on ‘Sexual orientation and homosexuality,’ which discusses coming out, the nature of same sex relationships, and whether lesbians and gay men can be good parents.

Next, from the UK, a summary of ‘6 Myths about Gay Marriage Vote and the Facts‘:

  1. Myth: Adultery won’t be grounds for divorce among same sex couples.
  2. Myth: Teachers will be required to promote same sex marriage. A teacher who refuses to teach same sex marriage could be sacked.
  3. Myth: Allowing churches to opt-out of performing same sex marriages could be overturned by the European Court of Human Rights.
  4. Myth: There is no mandate for this change.
  5. Myth: Gay people don’t want this reform.
  6. Myth: This change could cost the [insert political party name] Party victory at the next election.

There is also a great post by Patrick Stokes on ‘Love thy neighbour: religious groups should not be exempt from discrimination laws‘.

Finally, based on US arguments, this image has been travelling around the internet recently (if anyone knows who to correctly attribute it to, please let me know):

Is Marriage a Civil Right?Thanks to M.B. and B.W. for their kind editing and comments.