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What's the Secret to a Long, Happy Relationship

Me at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro in 1983 with Columbus and Terry, who had been a couple for several years already and have now been together 40 years..

BAMMER47: In the LGBTQ world, until recently (and depending on where you reside, even now), we lacked the advantage of support from our families and the rest of society, the institutional imprimatur of marriage wasn’t available to us, and we had to forge ahead in our relationships, discovering our path on our own. How did many of us navigate such unfriendly terrain and still maintain fairly successful long-term partnerships?

I have a substantial number of friends in gay and lesbian relationships of thirty to fifty years duration. I could ask them this question, but I’d rather solicit the thoughts of viewers in such partnerships, if possible.

Me (left), my then-partner, John, Brad, Tony, Brian, and Steve. The latter couples have been together 40 and 36 years.

Is it simply that true compatibility predetermines duration to a degree? Or, has it taken a lot of work to remain together for so long (my belief is that every long relationship is the result of serendipity and effort)? Must the partners share basic values to fit well? Is good communication a major part of your success? How much does forgiveness play into the outcome, because along the path each of us is likely to do things that anger or hurt our partners, whether knowingly or not?

I especially look forward to viewers’ input and hope you’ll generously weigh in with your thoughts. The photos that accompany this post are each of my friends (except for me and my then-partner) who've been in relationships for 35-40 years.

—Mike Balaban


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