When you’re a young, gay 20-something just coming into his own, it can definitely feel like you still have your whole life ahead of you. If you’re like most, you definitely know you’re not a kid anymore, but you probably also think you have plenty of time left before you really have to buckle down and start adulting. Time has a way of flying by more quickly than you think though.
That said, the following are just a few of the things every gay man will eventually be glad he prioritized while he was still young and fresh-faced. The more of them you incorporate into your routine while you’re still young, the better. Your future self will thank you for it!
- Having Safe Sex
Hopefully you’re already having safe sex, but if you’re not, it’s officially time to start. Many men that realize they’re gay in their teens or early 20’s don’t make safe sex the top priority it should be. Some are still partially in the closet and don’t plan ahead for the possibility of sex the way they should for that reason. Others are just being careless. Don’t be one of them. Use a condom every time you have sex, especially if you’re into casual gay sex. Make sure you’re getting tested every three months as well.
- Taking PrEP
In a perfect world, we’d all be having squeaky clean, spotlessly safe sex 100% of the time. We don’t live in a perfect world though, so things happen sometimes. That’s why it’s such a good idea to consider getting on PrEP (if you’re not on it already). The risks attached to taking it are small, especially compared to the benefits. Not only is PrEP 99% effective, but it gives you peace of mind as well. Yes, PrEP can be cost-prohibitive if you don’t have health insurance. However, there are ways to get on it affordably, if not for free, if you’re in need. Make sure you look into your options.
- Making the First Move
Life is shorter than you think it is when you’re still in your 20’s, so don’t let shyness or fear of rejection stop you from connecting with anyone that really grabs your interest. If you see someone you like, go ahead and make the first move. Be the one to send the first message on that gay dating app you like or go up and say hello at the club you go to on Saturday nights. The worst thing that can happen is he’s not interested, right? At least you’ll be able to say you gave it a shot.
- Being Emotionally Honest
High school is over. If it’s not already, college will be soon. That means it’s officially time to leave passive-aggression, lies, and mind games in the rearview mirror where they belong. Whether you’re ultimately interested in a long-term relationship or prefer keeping your options open, your love life will be easier and more rewarding if you embrace emotional honesty sooner rather than later. It’s time to mindfully face drama head-on as well. If you have an issue with someone, just talk to them about it. It makes everyone’s life easier, including yours.
- Going to the Polls
Voting has always been important, but it’s even more important now, especially if you’re part of the LGBTQ community. It’s not just essential to make it to the polls and cast your vote for presidential elections either. It’s officially time to stay on top of what’s going on in the world and cast votes for the senators, congressmen, and decisions we want as well. Every gay man’s voice is critical, including yours. Make sure it’s being heard loud and clear, especially when it’s time to vote.
- Getting Enough Exercise
If there’s one thing people in their 30’s and older consistently wish they’d paid more attention to when they were younger, it’s fitness. If you’re not already working out on the regular, start. If you do exercise, definitely keep it up. It’s about more than simply looking good (although that certainly never hurts). Exercising is the best way to keep your muscles, bones, and joints in excellent working order as you age. It’s one of the cheapest, most effective ways to keep depression at bay as well. Plus, gyms are great places to meet guys.
- Knowing What You Want in Bed
You’re officially old enough now to shift your sexual focus from just trying to get laid to actually having good, mutually satisfying sex. It’s important to not only know what you do and don’t want in bed, but to get 100% comfortable with asking for it. That definitely includes getting comfortable with saying “no” if you’re not into something somebody else wants. Yes, we know you were the one that initiated things with that dude you met on Grindr or GuyHop. That doesn’t mean he’s entitled to pity sex once he gets to your place if you decide you don’t really dig him that much after all. Just say “thanks but no thanks” and send him on his merry way.
- Being Responsible with Alcohol
Binge drinking every single weekend was one thing when you were still in college. If you’re older than college age though, it’s definitely time to man up and start drinking responsibly. Being drunk all the time is no longer a socially acceptable part of the culture anymore and you really don’t want to be “that guy”. Hangovers don’t get any easier as you age either, so do yourself and your friends a favor by reeling it back a little bit (and getting help sooner rather than later if you know you need it).
- Taking Care of Your Skin
Sure, your skin looks pretty fantastic now, but that won’t always be the case. As with fitness and exercise, preventative maintenance is the key to looking your best for many years to come. Start by making sure you pretty much always have on sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. The sun is not your friend when it comes to keeping aging (not to mention cancer) out of the picture. It’s time to get religious about moisturizing as well. At the very least, get in the habit of applying lotion to your entire body when you’re fresh out of the shower. It really does make a difference!
- Paying Attention to Sexual Hygiene
Nobody likes going to bed with a guy that doesn’t pay enough attention to how clean or groomed he is down there. It’s definitely not a bad idea to get used to manscaping on the regular. You don’t have to shave or wax yourself bare (unless you want to), but a nice trim helps keep things in check. If you’re into the all-natural approach, that’s cool as well. Just make sure you’re squeaky clean and thoroughly washed so odors don’t get out of hand. If you’re into bottoming, you might want to explore the wide, wonderful world of anal douching and enemas as well. Everyone appreciates a dude that cares about cleanliness!
- Learning How to Cook
You don’t have to love to cook or aspire to be the gay man’s answer to Gordon Ramsay. Now that you’re a full-fledged adult though, you’ll definitely want some basic knowledge. For one thing, you need to know how to prepare healthy, quick, and delicious meals for yourself if you’re serious about staying healthy (which you should be). Everyone should know how to prepare a couple of nicer dishes as well though. You’ll be glad you learned when you’re actually able to cook like a boss for a regulation hottie you really want to impress… or for your parents and friends, for that matter. Everyone loves a man who can cook.
- Becoming Well-Read
Reading does for your mind what your gym membership does for your body. Every bona fide adult should care about being well-rounded and that means also being well-read. What you read is totally up to you, but it never hurts to pick a combination of options. Read non-fiction, biographies, and memoirs in addition to literary classics and contemporary works. Make sure you’re staying in the know as far as what’s going on in the world by reading a variety of different magazines and newspapers as well. It really does make you smarter, not to mention exponentially an attractive gay dude.
- Accepting Yourself
We get it. It’s not easy for a gay man to stop obsessing about all the ways he doesn’t feel he’s as sexy or attractive as every other guy on the planet. Seriously though, we can’t all be model perfect, but the good news is no one really expects us to be. Decide right now that you’re going to give up body shaming both others and yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace what’s uniquely incredible about you and do whatever it takes to become comfortable in your own skin. No, it won’t be easy, nor will it happen overnight. It’s something that’s well worth accomplishing though. The process of living your best life starts now!