6 Secrets Every Gay Person Should Know About Their Relationship

06/26/2015 11:40 am ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016

Much of my life has centered on finding a new way to live. Even in childhood I was looking for a different path, a way to escape a life that felt cold and unaccepting. Those early experiences were profound in forming the adult I grew to be, and I still struggle with overcoming long-ago lessons learned. But today, I am a strong gay man. I spend my days advocating for those who, like me, have lived through difficult times, have felt deep sadness and self-hate. I speak out publicly for my LGBT brothers and sisters, and my hope is to help them find peace, love, and acceptance in their adult lives. My life experience working with gay and lesbian couples has taught me 6 secrets that every gay person should know about there relationships.

1. For me, happiness in my relationships did not begin until I found a place of "self" acceptance. I like many others did not learn how to love myself on a deeper level until later in life, and as a result, sought out unhealthy relationships with unhealthy people that never had the capacity to love me in the first place. I jumped into relationships with the first person that came along that expressed some interest in me, hoping that he would love me until I learned to love myself. This "fake it until you make it" syndrome worked for a little while, but eventually I had to make some decisions, some of which changed my life forever.

2. Sigmund Freud believed that our need for love was centered on our need for an "ego ideal" or image of the person that we wanted to become and of whom we held in high respect. There was no tolerance for microwave (quick) love. Love was defined by action and not just words. Today our perception of love has become convoluted causing us to end up in unhealthy relationships looking for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong faces. Below are

3. Through my many years of experience working with same-sex couples, I have learned that being in a healthy and committed relationship, starts with us learning how to first love ourselves. Basing our self-worth on external stimuli will never lead to self-love. Using affirmations to train your mind to love "you" first is a powerful step towards self-love.

4. We all have things about ourselves and our relationships that we wish we could change. Learning how to dance through the rain will go a long way towards becoming a stronger person who can not only embrace pain, but also live through it to learn the lesson. There is liberating power in looking at our difficulties in life by the lessons we get to learn. Let's face it; living life on life's terms isn't always easy to do; especially when it relates to matters of the heart. But trust me, it's better to learn the lesson about our relationships than it is to prolong the pain.

5. We all are guilty of holding on to pain that we should have let go many years ago. Our parents didn't accept us. Our peers made us feel less than. The church damned us to hell. Get over it and let it go!

6. The only person that you can change is yourself. I have learned to replace my greatest pain with love. Contrary to major belief, being in a gay relationship or marriage isn't about money, property, or prestige. Gay relationships and marriages at there core are about family, being able to publicly declare our love and commitment for each other and enjoying the benefits, rights, and privileges federally afforded to married couples.

As gay men and women, we have a responsibility to show the world that we respect the sanctity of marriage; we love ourselves first, we respect ourselves, we understand self-acceptance, and we are equipped and prepared to love our spouses with the same passion and fervor as our "straight" brothers and sisters.

For more than six years Psychotherapist and Life Coach, Dr. Warrick T. Stewart (affectionately known as Dr. Warrick) has been an integral and innovative addition to the counseling, and mental health field. Dr. Warrick is a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor in both North Carolina and Georgia. He is also a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.