I dislike labeling people, especially regarding their sexual orientation. I don’t introduce people by saying: “This is my gay friend, Jay,” the same way I don’t say: “This is my straight friend Mary,” or “This is my sex-toy-loving, single friend Anne.” I allow people to come to their own conclusions, unless someone expresses a romantic interest towards another of my friends and I have to tell them they are knocking on the wrong door, to save them from heartbreak. But for the purpose of this post, I will mention sexual orientation because the lessons I’m sharing here, I learned exclusively from my dear, gay friends.

Read Related: Gay As the New Normal

In celebration of the U.S. Supreme Court’s tossing of the Defense of Marriage Act, better known as DOMA, and California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, here are just some of the “love lessons” I’ve learned from my gay friends:

  • In relationships, we choose our battles. We will not find the “perfect” person and there will be things we choose to tolerate from our partner because he, and the relationship, are worth it, however annoying that character trait may be. It’s all about finding a balance.
  • Respect your partner’s hobbies and support him or her. If you decide to join him, great! If not, find something else to do by yourself. Whether it’s bike riding, playing tennis or brewing beer, if you’re not doing whatever it is alongside him, don’t nag him or her for enjoying time away from you, engaging in activities he loves.
  • Praise your partner and try to show your appreciation in small and big ways as often as you can. Feeling appreciated never gets old.
  • Communicate often and indulge in pillow talk as much as you can.
  • If you think you are going to fight over who does what and can’t commit to a system for completing the household chores, hire someone to do it.
  • Travel together. If you or your partner are always traveling alone, besides the dangers of affairs, this can be the beginning of drifting apart.
  • If you’re not hiring help, share chores. If one cooks, the other does the dishes, for example.
  • Don’t let a relationship drag on for 30 years just because you are afraid of being alone or because you feel you have no other options. Choosing to be alone and feeling lonely are two different things. Being alone is not bad and you can feel lonely even when you’re with someone.
  • Don’t jump ship immediately when the going gets tough, though. There are ups and downs in every relationship so work it out, or at least give it a try.
  • Maintain friendships. Don’t lock yourself up in a relationship and shun your friends. We need to keep a close circle of friends whether we’re attached or not. You’ll need them someday, and besides, it’s healthy to have a strong social circle.

You might not find all or any of these lessons to be particularly remarkable, but that’s just the point. These love lessons apply to any couple, gay or straight, young or old. And that’s the most important lesson of them all.

I have taken it upon myself to spread the word in support of marriage equality for all. We feel, live and breathe the same air, and no matter what we do behind closed doors, we are all the same. I feel kinship with my gay friends because I too suffered, as many homosexuals have, from feeling different -due to addictions and anxiety disorders- and leading a secret life so as not to be singled out as the weird one. Luckily, today, many of us have evolved and the new generation is free to be and live as they please with their heads held up high. Let’s open our eyes, ears, and hearts and maybe we will learn a lesson or two.