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Valentine's Special Feature! We Talk 'Relationships' with Influential Gay Couples

To mark Valentine’s Day, we wanted to get into the romantic spirit by opening up a conversation about relationships and what helps to make them so extraordinary. To find out more about this important area of our lives, we spoke to three adorable and influential gay couples about their own relationships and connections. Here’s what they had to say: 

Our first featured couple is Arif and Ricky.

Arif and Ricky gay couple beside a pond

Question 1 - Introduce yourselves!  

Hi we’re Arif and Ricky, a Spanish (Arif) and Italian (Ricky) couple who live in London, UK. We’re celebrating 4 years together in 2021. We are both artists, and we used to work in the West End theatre industry. It was June 2017 when we met during the interval of the big hit musical "Mamma Mia." I went to buy an ice-cream when I got lost in Ricky's eyes. We don’t remember the flavour of ice-cream anymore; we were only interested in each other's eyes. 

Though nothing happened that night, we met again a few months later in the same theatre, and it was then when Ricky kissed me. Yes, he did! Unexpectedly, but it was very hot. The rest is history and now, here we are, happier than ever, building our own Wonderland and inspiring the world to build theirs! Together, we have developed our personal brand, we became Art and Life Coaches, and we’ve just bought our first tiny home! We have purchased an RV class C, and did a full renovation form head to toe. This will be our house till we get married. Ricky added that is not going to happen for a couple of years still, lol. 

Question 2 - In your experience, what is the most important element towards sustaining a happy long-term relationship?  

Transparency and Trust. There is nothing more important than looking into your partner's eyes, and feeling that nothing is hidden. That level of transparency is unfortunately missing from many relationships, and it is indeed a reason why so many couples break up. Being open and honest about everything is incredibly powerful and brings the relationship to the next level.  

Loads of Intimacy. It's important to keep the physical side of your relationship unpredictable and exciting over time. In doing so, it’s important to look outside of the bedroom! Try sneaking in a little kiss in the most unexpected place. Pinch your partner's behind in a lift full of your neighbours. Hug him before you open the door to leave home for work. Whatever you can think of to surprise him!   

Strong Communication. This is an extension of tip number one. Communication is an exchange of information. One gives, and the other not just receives, but also feeds back. It is not enough if we just tell our thoughts or feelings; there must be a dialogue. Even if you don't understand what your partner is telling you, it is better to feel confused. That is life. That is what a relationship is all about. Talk, listen and give honest feedback. Everyday. About everything and anything. 

Question 3 - What do you feel are some of the main challenges which gay couples face today? Have you had to overcome any in particular?  

We live in a world where anything and anyone is reachable with just a click. The possibility of having whatever you want at any moment can have a huge impact on your personal and sexual life with your partner. Overcoming that feeling of not being enough and not being accountable in your relationship is probably one of the hardest challenges we faced, and we have proudly overcome it. 

Another challenge is coming to terms with those things we don’t like about our partner. A target we set for ourselves is to fall in love with each other's flaws. We make fun of them, and then when they suddenly reappear, after laughing so much about them, they become powerless, which means that we have overcome them, as individuals and as a couple. 

Question 4 - Are you generally enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day? 

Enthusiasm is our middle name! We are always enthusiastic about festivities, especially Valentine’s Day as we genuinely love creating romantic rituals. So, the 14th of February is another opportunity to create signs of love that we are going to follow for the rest of our life! If you would like to find out more, we will be posting a video on our YouTube channel about our Valentine's Day romantic ritual! What we can say is, it will involve loads of baking, cuddling and sexy stuff! 

Question 5 - Tell us about your ideal date night?  

Even before the pandemic started, we have never been a 'going out couple'. Although we love being surrounded by people, especially if we can empower them and support them, we love spending time at home. Our ideal date night is usually pretty simple. We take a long bath with music and candles, and cooking together, especially something we have never eaten before. We love cooking, and we love eating and that was actually what we did on our first date ever! After dinner, we usually watch a Disney movie with a glass of red wine, loads of hummus and crispy bread. Then what we do after the film is not for a prime time audience, lol. 

Be sure to check out Arif and Ricky’s life coaching website and their YouTube channel. We absolutely love their videos! You can also follow them on Instagram @arif_and_ricky

Our next adorable couple is Jase and Brandon.

Question 1 - How about a quick introduction to yourselves?  

Hi guys, Jase and Brandon here! We are two late 20 something romantics from rural Indiana, 2 hours apart from each other. We actually have Brandon’s ex-boyfriend to thank for bringing us together and into each other's lives. While we started out as strong friends, we have been together for a year and plan on many more to follow. We see a future with lots of kids running around on a big piece of land with a couple of dogs, a winery and event center for us to open and run. Currently we enjoying traveling the world together and blogging our journey to show inclusion, love, support, inspiration, and empowerment. Our goal is to normalize even MORE the love that we share for one another all around the world. Love is love and love will always win. 

Question 2 - In your experience, what is the most important element towards sustaining a happy long-term relationship?  

We believe that communication and trust is key. If you are not upfront with your partner on what your needs are or how you are feeling it will never work. When there’s a lack of trust in a relationship, you will keep imagining things and will drive yourself crazy which will eventually steer you both away from each other. We also believe that no matter how long you have been together, you should always date each other. Go on dates, adventures, try new things together, and be romantic. Finally, have each other’s backs through the rough and good times. 

Question 3 - What do you feel are some of the main challenges which gay couples face today? Have you had to overcome any in particular?  

Hook-up culture is big in the LGBTQ+ community so if you want a committed relationship you should let your actions affirm that. Once in a relationship, the biggest challenge for any couple is the learning curve of discovering each other, fully. You learn new things about your partner every day; triggers, what to say, what not to say, mood swings, mindset, goals, opinions, etc. but you have to be patient with this process. Be patient with each other, discover each other, and always have love at the end of the day. I am discovering new things every day, not only about Brandon, but myself as well. I learn new ways to approach situations that bother me, how to be calmer with my TYPE A personality to accommodate his easy-goingness. How to be more care-free like he is. I truly feel like Brandon is making me into a better person and that’s what true love is all about. You support each other, guide one another, and bring out the best qualities from both sides. 

Question 4 - Are you generally enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day? 

Brandon has made me love every single holiday, before him I would get jealous or sad on those days because I have always wanted to spend it with my forever. I couldn’t be more excited for Valentine's Day this year to give him a romance like no other. 

Question 5 - Tell us about your ideal date night?  

An ideal date night would consist of us going someone with our picnic basket, portable lantern, dinner for two, wine of course, and a board game somewhere with a good scenery for sunset. 


To discover more about Jase and Brandon and follow their adventures you can check out Jase’s travel blog, it's awesome! You can also follow him on instagram @jasesjourney. 

Finally, we spoke to the amazing Steve and Joel.

Question 1 - How about a quick introduction to yourselves? 

We are Steve (American) and Joel (Filipino) and we’ve been together for seven years, with the last 3 years having been married.  We met online in Ft. Worth and chatted for nearly 2 weeks before we had our first date — which lasted nearly 9 hours... the rest is history. We were both “late-bloomers” having come out in our early-to-late 40s, with Steve having been married previously.  We don’t have any kids or pets although we hope to have a dog someday.  We love to travel, having been to over 35 countries in the last 3 years.   

Question 2 - In your experience, what is the most important element towards sustaining a happy long-term relationship?  

For us, there are some critical aspects that contribute to the strength of our relationship.  At the top of our list is communication, including ensuring that we frequently talk to each other, actively listen to each other’s hopes, feelings, dreams, and most importantly, we ensure there are no secrets or unsaid words. Next, we are always injecting humor and laughing as it truly is the best medicine.  Third would be ensuring that we are always enjoying physical contact, whether it be cuddling on the sofa watching TV, giving a quick “tickle” as we walk by or enjoying a kiss or hug for no reason.  While we believe these three elements create a strong base for the relationship, it also needs a bit of spice and excitement.  For us, we both share an adventurous spirit as we love to explore, travel, enjoy new experiences, and food and drink. We don’t believe in waiting until “someday” to go about traveling so we are taking advantage of the present.   

Question 3 - What do you feel are some of the main challenges which gay couples face today? Have you had to overcome any in particular?  

While we feel there are some hurdles that all couples face, such as communication, balancing work/home and financial, there are some unique challenges for gay couples.  Some of these include family acceptance of sexual orientation and the strain this can put on one or both parties in the relationship when family doesn’t accept the relationship or the couple must hide who they authentically are.  Additionally, with online dating apps and “open” relationships, there are many opportunities to stray in a relationship or to create moments of jealousy or other emotional challenges, especially if both members are not wanting the same thing.  We have both been surprised at the frequency we are approached by younger males inquiring if we are looking to “spice up” our sex lives and asking about an “open” relationship.  While not judging others that find it appropriate, we are of like mind and are still traditional and believe in monogamy. While relationships are a LOT of work and we have to work hard at making it work, we’ve been fortunate to have supportive family on both sides and we’ve found ways to ensure we can balance stressful jobs and our time together.   

Question 4 - Are you generally enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day? 

We are enthusiastic about romance, but not on Valentine’s Day.  We typically stay at home on this day as we find places crowded and expensive and it feels like a single day to show affection vs. being an ongoing feeling toward your loved one.  Our focus is on enjoying each other throughout the year with our weekly “date night” vs. just focusing on one day per year.   

Question 5 - Tell us about your ideal date night?  

Our “ideal” date night is typically quite simple...we get dressed up, go to dinner, then take a walk or enjoy a movie.  We try to do this on a weekly basis and take turns planning the evening.  Much of our time is just talking, being present and enjoying each other’s company.  Occasionally we will do something more special such as a concert or going away for the weekend, but usually a simple dinner at a favorite restaurant and a good bottle of wine is romantic, ending our crazy week and helping us reconnect given our busy schedules.  


Make sure to follow Steve & Joel on Instagram @two.ofa.kind. It's a very fitting Instagram handle!

A huge thank you to our featured couples for sharing their beautiful insights. If you enjoyed this article we’d love if you shared it with your friends and followers. Did you learn anything in particular or have any thoughts you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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