The Unique Challenges Lesbian Couples Face

Two women embracing
image credit: photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

In terms of men and women who identify themselves as LGBT in New York, and by extension, Long Island, we’re definitely among the highest percentage per population in the country at 3.8%. [source: Wikipedia.com] And that’s a great thing! It means more support networks, more understanding of our uniqueness, and more chances for a great relationship.

Nevertheless sometimes, those relationships hit a snag. Whether gay or straight, every relationship can go through some bumps. When it happens to us, though, we’re often left floundering – wondering where to turn, and even sometimes turning to the wrong people to discuss our problems.

If we are in love with another woman, we know that our needs are unique. Two women in a relationship together can present some very different challenges. Let’s identify some of the stereotypes head on: 

  • Lesbian relationships tend to be more emotional.
  • We’re more likely to go into a relationship quickly, and with our whole hearts. 

Understanding Stereotypes Better

And while these are definitely stereotypes, and don’t necessarily apply to us, it might stand to reason that when two women are in a relationship, emotions can multiply, and some of these stereotypes may have some validity.

Biology has given us ample proof that women do think slightly differently, and again, that’s a good thing! It means we can potentially have more insight into our partners.

As with any relationship, though, the big stressors tend to crop up: money, time, and family. And then really we find ourselves wondering what we got into.

The stress of living together might be further exacerbated by our tendency to jump in with both feet, perhaps not protecting ourselves (or our children, or our finances) in the bargain. In addition, if children are brought to the table in a relationship, this can add more complexity. The blending of new families is tough even under the best of circumstances. 

Emotional Cheating

Cheating is not necessarily straightforward. One other challenge that may have particular resonance is called emotional cheating.

There is no real definition of emotional cheating, however, if one partner feels that the other is having emotional needs met somewhere else (either with intimate thoughts being conveyed to another, discussions about the relationship that more likely need to be happening together, or even just a sense of worth or affection from someone other than our partners), then this really needs to be addressed.

Communication Is Key To Resolutions, Remedies, And Better Outcomes

Of course, communication is the key to resolving any of our problems. It takes practice to be able to discuss these difficult topics, but techniques can be learned that help both you and your partner.

First, try to discuss whatever is bothering you in a time that you are calm, happy, and alone with each other. Then try some of these ideas:

  • Start off the conversation with “I”: “I felt hurt when you didn’t acknowledge the front yard. I feel as if my work is somehow not seen.”
  • Never use “never”. Or “always”. Or “Every time”. These can only enflame the situation. Keep it to a specific instance, and don’t bring up the past.
  • Don’t bring up other people’s opinions of the situation. This is about you and her, and your feelings for each other.
  • Listen to what she has to say in her response. Let her speak fully, and then repeat back everything she has said in order to make sure you have understood fully and processed it. (This part is really important!)
  • Consider getting professional help. When you seem to be having the same fights over and over, or when the fighting has spiraled out of control (fighting in front of others, the kids, infidelity of any kind) – then it may take a little more help to get back on track.

Getting Help!

A great psychotherapist is not going to listen to a rehash of a fight and provide a referee; they will help to look at the ways to argue (and not argue!), in order to make a committed relationship into the kind of relationship we’d all like to be in: emotionally supportive, engaging, and loving.

At Nassau Guidance, we work with LGBT individuals and couples in order to do just that. Our therapists are sensitive to your unique needs. We specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy: the practice of retraining our thoughts and words to make us happier and healthier, as well as a myriad of other therapeutic approaches.

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