Men’s Health for Men Who Love Men

Am I in Love? 14 Signs to Look for, According to Experts

Men’s Health for Men Who Love Men

When it comes to falling in love, most people don’t experience the classic rom-com meet-cute.

These days, you’re stuck on an app, going on date after date, trying to find out who lives up to their online profiles.

But when is it time to put Tinder, Raya, and all the other swiping sites down? How do you know when you're truly in a loving and committed relationship, and ready to say the L-word?

Translation: How do you if you're in love?

We spoke with various relationship experts to understand the differences between fleeting attraction and long-lasting, healthy love.

One thing to know about love, right off the bat? Just because you don't feel it right away, doesn't mean you never will.

“While some people are struck by love at first sight, for others, love unfolds over time as attachments and commitment grow,” explains Pam Shaffer, a licensed psychotherapist.

Below, Shaffer, along with licensed marriage and family therapists Vienne Pharon and Shadeen Francis, and licensed therapist Jor-El Caraballo, share their advice for how to know how when you’re in love—as well as when your relationship may not be as healthy as you thought.

1. You prioritize the other person's needs on the same level as your own

When you start thinking about someone else's desires and needs as much as your own, it's a pretty good sign that you are in love, Shaffer says. «You may not necessarily want the same things but when you are in love, you start thinking of the other person's perspective just as much as your own.»

2. You feel comfortable being yourself

«When you start allowing your partner to see your flaws, that's when love can flourish,» Shaffer says. You should never feel that you have to hide something from your partner—and if you do, it's probably not real love.

That's not to say you should give up on being presentable and polite to your partner, but remember it's often our imperfections and quirks that make us lovable.

When you feel comfortable being yourself, for better or worse, that is a good sign that you are in a trusting, loving relationship.

3. You feel grateful for your partner without taking them for granted

If you find yourself feeling thankful for the little things your partner does—not just the grand gestures—then you may be in love. «You don't just assume they will be there for you, even though you trust that they will,» Shaffer says.

4. You are proud of their accomplishments as if they were your own

«When your partner finally publishes that novel they are working on or gets that promotion, your heart should swell with joy,» says Shaffer.

When you're in love, you want want to brag about your partner's accomplishments and take pride in their projects, whether they are something you are super interested in or not.

Love can be feeling in alignment with your partner's joy and success.

5. You are willing to put in the work to understand them even if you have a conflict

«Even when you are fighting, love is knowing that you are still on the same team,» Shaffer says. It can be frustrating but it's worth it to put in the work to peacefully resolve conflicts, which there will be, even and especially when you're in love. Of course it's not fun, but you still want to do it because you want to be with your partner.

6. You feel calm and secure

You should expect to feel some initial nerves when you're getting to know a partner, but eventually they should peter out, and you should feel relaxed around them.

After all, your partner is supposed to make you happy and be a positive force in your life. “When people are in love, they tend to experience greater levels of oxytocin (particularly due to physical contact kissing, sex, etc.),” Caraballo says.

“This often means feeling less stressed, more secure, calm, empathetic and trustful.”

7. Your feelings for them go beyond physical attraction

Some social scientists describe love as a series of characteristics, according to Francis.

“Most notably, Robert Sternberg described love as potentially containing commitment, passion (here meaning physical attraction), and intimacy (meaning emotional connection).

” When you're figuring out if you're in love, ask yourself if your feelings encompass all those things—instead of the just the infamous butterflies.

Kateryna SorokaGetty Images

1. You're not being your authentic self

You shouldn't hide yourself or compromise on your values in order to be with someone, explains Pharaon. «If you find yourself needing to be inauthentic in any way for fear of the other person leaving, then the dynamic is not as healthy as it could be.» It's also probably not love.

2. You're codependent

Love and codependency are two completely separate things, and it can be easy to conflate the two. «Wanting someone to need you has been romanticized in movies and media for ages,» says Pharaon. «This 'I can’t go on without you' might sound charming, but relying too heavily on one another eradicates a sense of autonomy and independence.»

3. You immediately feel you can talk about anything with them

Adjacent to being codependent is this idea that you can tell your partner everything from the moment you meet. This actually implies a lack of boundaries, according to Shaffer.

It's one thing to feel comfortable with your partner, but a whole 'nother to feel as though you can just spill your emotions all over someone you just met.

«Vulnerability is being judicious about who you trust and love, not just oversharing because you feel it,» she says.

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Great sex is important in most relationships, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor of whether or not you're in love. Throughout loving relationships, sexual activity can change over time. «If it's the only thing going for your relationship, that's not going to go very well,» says Shaffer.

5. You feel you're on an emotional rollercoaster

«All those ups and downs are usually more of a sign of mismatched attachment styles or potentially a disaster waiting to happen,» says Shaffer. When you are in love, there will be some particularly spectacular moments, but you should not feel you're constantly up and down.

People sometimes confuse boring relationships with not being enough, while «chaotic» relationships get confused with excitement and connection, explains Pharaon.

«If the family you grew up in operated with a lot of chaos, it’s very easy to find yourself in dynamics that resemble or reenact the ways you tried to receive love as a kid,» she says.

«Remember, not everything that’s familiar is healthy.»

6. You’re obsessing or fantasizing about the person

Remember: Infatuation isn’t the same thing as love. Pinning your hopes on someone instead of focusing on who they are in reality can be dangerous, according to Francis. “If you feel you are obsessing or making plans fantasies, hopes, or assumptions rather than agreements and plans, you might be experiencing infatuation or limerence,» she says.

7. You feel pressured to continue the relationship

It takes work to love another person, but it shouldn’t feel a second job. Caraballo says you shouldn’t feel any internal or external pressure to stay with your partner; it shouldn’t be an obligation.

“In those situations, it's good to take stock of your feelings, particularly helpful if you do so with a therapist, to help you sort through things and make the best choices for you moving forward,” Caraballo says.

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The importance of addressing men’s health in 2021

Men’s Health for Men Who Love Men

© motortion

As progressive as we to think we are in 2021, gender roles still play a huge part in the ways societies function around the world.

The disparity between men and women concerning physical and mental health is an extreme one, but what are the reasons behind this and what can be done to ensure a healthier future for men?

Why are there health disparities between men and women?

According to a number of studies both in the UK and USA male life expectancy is significantly lower than that of women’s, some say by half a decade. Without looking into a biological reason for this disparity – there are many external factors that contribute to this disparity and they need to be addressed and dealt with.

According to the World Health Organisation, ‘men across socioeconomic groups demonstrate unhealthier smoking practices, unhealthier dietary patterns, higher alcohol consumption levels and higher rates of injuries and interpersonal violence than women’. Throughout history, the male gender has been known to live a riskier lifestyle than that of women, however in 2021 why are these practices still being adopted and associated with men.

With men engaging in riskier activities and lifestyle choices they are already at an increased risk of health complications, this increases exponentially when taking into account that close to 60% of American men do not regularly see a doctor unless seriously ill.

Even today, with healthcare research going further than ever before, men are still falling behind women in taking care of themselves. Millions of men are putting themselves at risk by not reporting their medical issues and worries.

Even today, with healthcare research going further than ever before, men are still falling behind women in taking care of themselves.

In a 2019 survey from the American non-profit Cleveland Clinic, the extent to which men, in particular, tend to ignore their health was illustrated. Surveying 1174 American men aged 18 and older the clinic showed that 72% would rather do household chores than see a door and it was shown that 20% of them admitted to not being honest with their doctor.

Cleveland showed that among the 20% of men who had not been entirely honest at the doctor’s the top reasons for doing so included:

  • Embarrassment (46%)
  • Didn’t want to be told to change their lifestyle/diet (36%)
  • They knew something was wrong but weren’t ready to face the diagnosis and/or would rather not know (37%)

Why are men feeling these pressures more than any other gender? And what can the government and general public do to change and reduce this dangerous stigma?

‘Man up’

With phrases ‘man up’ and ‘be a man’  still cropping up in 2021, we need to address the ways in which our ideas of masculinity are affecting men’s health on a global scale.

These phrases represent the narrow-minded expectation we continue to have of masculinity.

Societal expectations and gender roles control the way in which we interact with each other, the way we perceive ourselves and how we perceive others and their negative impact cannot be overlooked anymore.

These phrases have historically been used as ways to tell men to step up to their responsibilities, be stronger and control their emotions, this is proving to have a detrimental effect on the mental health and subsequently physical wellbeing of men around the world.

In a piece for Esquire magazine, Stuart Heritage addressed that phrases such as ‘man up’ and ‘be a man’ and ‘don’t be a girl’ – are “outdated and destructive. They equate strength with gender. They belittle emotion. They’re dismissive of vulnerability.”

By continuing the use of phrases such as these we are continuing to promote the idea that being open about one’s emotions equals femininity and therefore is not a quality that men should possess. With global statistics illustrating how “on average one man dies by suicide every minute of every day” we cannot afford to continue this dangerous attitude.

What is ‘Movember’?

According to the charity – “since 2003, Movember has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world, challenging the status quo, shaking up men’s health research and transforming the way health services reach and support men.”

The Australian movement ‘Movember’ began with an idea between two men, and thirty willing participants. It looks at both the physical and mental health of men and encourages an atmosphere of openness and honesty.

The core idea is to not shave throughout the month of November as a sign of solidarity and unity to men battling a variety of health issues and to raise awareness for said issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

By 2005 the organisation had already raised over £500,000 and helped fund 6 men’s health projects. Taking the world by storm, 2020 saw Movember embraced by over 20 countries and in the height of the pandemic, the charity announced funding for 34 separate projects to support the mental health and well-being of men and boys.

The charity is playing a key role that men around the world need. By joining together and openly talking about mental and physical wellbeing, Movember is changing the face of masculinity and pushing society towards a more open and honest future for men’s health.

© Brunoferreira

‘MENtal Health’

According to the Mental Health Foundation ‘Men are more ly to use potentially harmful coping methods such as drugs or alcohol and less ly to talk to family or friends about their mental health.’

Mental health in particular appears to be a difficult conversation for men to have both with themselves and others.

Historically men have been pushed to deal with their emotions themselves and not seek outside help and support from anyone.

With suicide being the biggest killer of men under 45, there needs to be an extended effort into creating inclusive spaces for men to open about their mental health and emotions.

We need to ensure that men are not excluded from the mental health conversation and that the mental health implications of Covid-19 are not ignored or overlooked.

The Pandemic and men’s health

2020 saw the world change dramatically in nearly all areas of living.

Nearly everyone felt the shadow of Covid-19 grow and spread, and with international lockdowns being put in place, a global decline in mental health was felt.

With lockdowns being introduced around the globe, many were cut off from their familiar support networks and found themselves working from home for the first time in their lives.

In another survey from the Cleveland clinic of men aged 18 and older, it was discovered that 77% of the participants reported that their stress levels had increased throughout the pandemic and 45% said that their emotional and mental health declined.

With men being statistically less ly to reach out for help when concerning their mental health, pandemic hit men’s mental health the hardest. There needs to be a shift in perception surrounding the idea of a ‘strong man’. There needs to be an emphasis on reaching out for help seen as a sign of strength instead of weakness.

We need to promote healthy masculinity, encouraging men to express and communicate their feelings in an open and honest way without violence or embarrassment, promoting the idea that emotions aren’t feminine they are human.

More men died by suicide than women and yet they are less ly to open up about mental health. Toxic masculinity is one of the reasons why. Being vulnerable emotionally is not a feminine thing. It’s ok to talk about it and seek help. Don’t suppress your emotions. #Movember


For Your Health: Recommendations for A Healthier You

Men’s Health for Men Who Love Men

Just all other men, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men need to know how to protect their health throughout their life. For all men, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death. However, compared to other men, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are additionally affected by:

  • Higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs);
  • Tobacco and drug use;
  • Depression.

There are many reasons why gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men may have higher rates of HIV and STDs. Some of them are:

  • Prevalence of HIV among sexual partners of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men is 40 times that of sexual partners of heterosexual men;
  • Receptive anal sex is 18 times more risky for HIV acquisition than receptive vaginal sex;
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men on average have a greater number of lifetime sexual partners.

Other factors that can negatively impact your health and ability to receive appropriate care:

  • Homophobia;
  • Stigma (negative and usually unfair beliefs);
  • Discrimination (unfairly treating a person or group of people differently);
  • Lack of access to culturally- and orientation-appropriate medical and support services;
  • Heightened concerns about confidentiality;
  • Fear of losing your job;
  • Fear of talking about your sexual practices or orientation.

These reasons and others may prevent you from seeking testing, prevention and treatment services, and support from friends and family.

In fact, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up more than half of the people living with HIV in the United States and experience two thirds of all new HIV infections each year.

Further, young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men 13-24 had over 72% of the estimated new HIV infections in 2010. In 2012, 75% of reported syphilis cases were among gay and bisexual men.

The large percentage of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who have HIV and STDs means that, as a group, they have a higher chance of being exposed to these diseases. Too many men don’t know their HIV or STD status (if they have a disease or not), which means they may not get medical care and are more ly to unknowingly spread these diseases to their sexual partners.

Most gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men get HIV by having anal sex, which is the riskiest type of sex for getting or spreading HIV.

During anal sex, it’s possible for either partner—the insertive (top) or the receptive (bottom) to get HIV. However, if you are HIV-negative, bottoming without a condom puts you at much greater risk for getting HIV than topping.

If you are HIV-positive, being on the top without a condom is riskier for giving HIV to your partner.

Your sexual health is important. There are a number of tests you can get to help you know your status and, if you have HIV or an STD, get treatment.

All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested regularly for STDs. The only way to know your STD status is to get tested (you can search for a testing site).

Having an STD ( gonorrhea) makes it easier to get HIV or give it to others, so it’s important that you get tested to protect your health and the health of your partner.

CDC recommends sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men test for:

  • HIV (at least once a year);
  • Syphilis;
  • Hepatitis B;
  • Hepatitis C if you were born between 1945 to 1965 or with risk behaviors (see “how is hepatitis C spread”);
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea of the rectum if you’ve had receptive anal sex or been a “bottom” in the past year;
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea of the penis (urethra) if you have had insertive anal sex (been on the “top”) or received oral sex in the past year; and
  • Gonorrhea of the throat if you’ve given oral sex (your mouth on your partner’s penis, vagina, or anus) in the past year.

Sometimes your doctor or health care provider may suggest a herpes blood test.

If you have more than one partner or have had casual sex with people you don’t know, you should be screened more often for STDs and may benefit from getting tested for HIV more often (for example, every 3 to 6 months).

Your doctor can offer you the best care if you discuss your sexual history openly. Talk with your doctor about getting vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, and HPV.

You should have a doctor or provider you are comfortable with. CDC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Services page has resources that can help you find health care providers that are skilled in providing health services to gay and bisexual men. If you have HIV, the Treatment Works-Get In Care page also has useful information.

Which vaccinations does CDC recommend for gay and bisexual men?

There are a number of vaccines that can help to protect your health.


  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations
    • Two doses of the Hepatitis A vaccine are needed for lasting protection and the doses should be given at least six months apart.
    • A series of three doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine are usually given providing long-lasting protection.
    • There is also a combination vaccine for both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

      It is usually given as a series of three doses in order to provide lasting protection.


  • Seasonal flu
    • The vaccine is a single dose shot given before the start of the flu season in the fall.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also available for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men up to 26 years of age to prevent genital warts and other HPV-associated diseases and conditions such as oropharyngeal or anal cancerexternal icon. The HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series over six months. It is best to be vaccinated before your first sexual contact, but later vaccination can still protect you if you have not been exposed to HPV.

How do I lower my risk for STDs?

You can do many things to protect your health. You can learn about how STDs are spread and how you can reduce your chances of getting an STD.

  • Talk honestly with your partner about STDs and getting tested—before you have sex.
  • Use a condom correctly and use one every time you have sex.
  • Think twice about mixing alcohol and/or drugs with sex. They can lower your ability to make good decisions and can lead to risky behavior— having sex without a condom.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners. You can lower your chances of getting STDs if you only have sex with one person who only has sex with you.
  • To find out more about lowering your chances of getting HIV, please go to the HIV section of this website.

What other steps can I take to protect my health?

  • Maintain mental health. Pay attention to your mental health and outlook. Seek counseling if you have persistent negative feelings about yourself or your health.
  • PrEP/PEP. Talk with your health care provider about whether PrEP or PEP are appropriate for you your HIV status and sexual practices.
  • Adhere to taking HIV medications. If you have HIV, work with your health care provider to ensure that you are taking the right medications the right way.
  • Eat a healthy dietexternal icon. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. To know whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website. Or visit CDC’s Healthy Weight website.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Visit CDC’s Physical Activity site.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking makes your chances of getting heart disease, cancer, and stroke much higher. If you have HIV, smoking also weakens your immune system and can raise your chances of getting tuberculosis (TB), if you come into contact with someone who with TB. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your chances of getting or having many medical problems. Visit CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco website.
  • Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can cause many health problems (high blood pressure or cancer, for example) and raise your chances of getting injured or participating in risky behaviors. Visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website.
  • Cholesterol screenings. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults who are 20 years of age or older have their cholesterol checked every five years.
  • Cancer screenings. Ask your health care provider for information on screening for prostate, testicular, colon, oral, and anal cancers.
  • Check your blood pressure. Getting your blood pressure checked is important because high blood pressure often has no symptoms.
  • Get checkups. Ask your doctor or nurse how you can lower your chances for health problems.


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