Lesbians and Dog Custody: What happens to the dog when lesbians break up?

Lesbians and Dogs: Shared Custody With Ex’s?

 

Survey Visits: 389

Survey’s Completed: 159

The lesbians and dogs custody survey was reader-suggested. For this great topic, we are looking at the relationship between lesbians and their dogs.

For starters, the lesbians and dog custody survey inquired about how many lesbian couples adopted, purchased or acquired a dog with a female partner. A whoooping 74% said yes, and only 26% said no.

According to the 159 lesbians who complerted our survey, 26% report they got a dog with their female partner within the first year of their relationship. The majority (39%) of survey respondents report getting a dog together between years one and three. Twenty-six percent indicate they do not get a dog together.

What was the reason you wanted to adopt or purchase a dog with your partner?

      • My partner wanted one ~ 28%
      • I wanted one ~ 14%
      • We both wanted one ~ 50%
      • To feel like we “own” something together ~ 8%

In years one through three, 58% of lesbians report getting a dog because they both wanted one. This seems to be the most common reason and the most frequently reported time frame for getting one.

Interestingly, 18% of women who state the reason they got a dog was because their partner wanted one say they have kept, or will keep, the dog in the event of a separation, with 60% stating the partner wanting the dog keeps the dog, and 17% report joint custody of the dog. When asked how many different relationships lesbians aquired a new dog, only 27% indicate that they got a dog with a partner in more than one relationship. 

Who retained custody of the dogs, or will retain custody of the dog, if there is a break up?

  • I will keep, or have kept the dog ~ 24%
  • She will keep, or has kept, the dog ~ 25%
  • WE would have, or do have, joint custody 11%
  • I have experienced both situations where have gotten the dog, and I have lost the dog ~ 12%
  • Break up? We are in it for the U-Haul…I mean the long haul ~ 28%

Interesting observation: of those reporting they are in it for the long haul, 18% are in their first relationship, 27% are in their second relationship, 43% are in their 3rd to 5th relationship, 9% are in their 6th to 10th relationship and 2% are in their 11th or more relationship. Relationship optimism seems most prevalent among those in their 3rd to 5th relationship.

At what point in your relationship did you get dogs?

  • 0-3 months ~ 3%
  • 4-6 months ~ 9%
  • 7 -11 months ~ 14%
  • 1-3 years ~ 39%
  • 4+ years ~ 9%
  • Does not apply ~ 25%

What was the reason you wanted to adopt or purchase dogs with your partner?

  • My partner wanted one ~ 28%
  • I wanted one ~ 14%
  • We both wanted one ~ 50%
  • To feel like we “own” something together ~ 8%

 In years one through three, 58% of lesbians report getting a dog because they both wanted one. This seems to be the most common reason and the most frequently reported time frame for getting one.

Interestingly, 18% of women who state the reason they got a dog was because their partner wanted one say they have kept, or will keep, the dog in the event of a separation, with 60% stating the partner wanting the dog keeps the dog, and 17% report joint custody of the dog.

    In how many different relationships have you acquired new dogs with a female partner?

        • 0 ~ 35%
        • 1 ~ 39%
        • 2 ~ 22%
        • 3 ~ 4%
        • 4+ ~ 1%

    Who retained custody of the dogs, or will retain custody of the dogs, if there is a break up?

    • I will keep, or have kept the dog ~ 24%
    • She will keep, or has kept, the dog ~ 25%
    • WE would have, or do have, joint custody 11%
    • I have experienced both situations where have gotten the dog, and I have lost the dog ~ 12%
    • Break up? We are in it for the U-Haul…I mean the long haul ~ 28%

    Interesting observation: of those reporting they are in it for the long haul, 18% are in their first relationship, 27% are in their second relationship, 43% are in their 3rd to 5th relationship, 9% are in their 6th to 10th relationship and 2% are in their 11th or more relationship. Relationship optimism seems most prevalent among those in their 3rd to 5th relationship.

    How many lesbian relationships have you had?

    • 0 ~ 0%
    • 1 ~ 11%
    • 2 ~ 16%
    • 3-5 ~ 55%
    • 6-10 ~ 16%
    • 11+ ~ 3%

    What is your age?

    • 18-24 ~ 18%
    • 25-34 ~ 18%
    • 35-44 ~ 23%
    • 45-54 ~ 30%
    • 55+ ~ 10%

    Who's Behind This?

    Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D., that's me. Third-person "about me's" are too impersonal. It's like saying, "You are loved," when what I really mean is, "I love you." Relationships are my thing. Some would say, my obsession. While I only scored an 96% on my own "How Lesbian Are You" test,  don't let that fool you. Since returning to school in the'90s for my MSW, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: help lesbian couples grow love. While my fantasy to be in the WNBA, and my dream of joining the Peace Corp, or my desire to have twelve children, has faded with time, my fixation on helping lesbians grow love remains. I am that person who has built her life around one thing: lesbian relationships. For fun, I do things like create online quiz's at asklesbians.com, to learn more about real lesbians. Or I write books. like, "Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship," to give couples an easy way to communicate. (Shameless plug - you can get this on Kindle on Amazon, as well as an app on Itunes /Google play). And, now that our boys are young men, my love, and my wife, Kristen, and I are growing lesbian love through Lesbian Couples Retreats throughout the U.S. in awesome destinations where our motto is, "love out loud" with Adventures in Love.  You can learn more about those at lesbiancouples.co.

    #1 Desire in Lesbian Relationships is to Feel Loved

    #1 Desire in Lesbian Relationships is to Feel Loved


    to feel loved
    Survey says that above all else, feeling loved is most important to lesbians. In a very brief, no-nonsense survey on asklesbians.com, lesbians were asked not only about how important it is to feel loved, but also to rate 13 other aspects of a relationship according to importance. The scale was 1-5, with one being very low importance, and 5 being the highest importance.

    Twenty four lesbians completed the survey. Their ages ranged from age from 18 to over 54 with the majority falling into two age groups:

    • 38% ages 18-24
    • 29% ages 35-44

    The bulk of women completing the survey identify as cis-gender female (which means they were assigned female at birth and this gender assignment suits them just fine). Four participants did not identify as cis (one transfemale, and three non-binary).

    The following scores represent the weighted scores for each variable on the survey. The higher the number, the more important this variable is to the lesbians who completed the survey.

    • 4.25 Feeling Loved
    • 4.17 Feeling Understood
    • 4.09 Humor
    • 4.08 Overall Relationship Satisfaction
    • 4.04 Sexual Chemistry
    • 3.92 Emotional Connection
    • 3.92 Emotional Safety and Security
    • 3.88 Fidelity/Faithfulness
    • 3.83 Intellectual Connection
    • 3.71 Pleasure from Sex
    • 3.46 Social Compatibility
    • 3.33 Frequency of Sex
    • 2.96 Spiritual Connection
    • 2.5 Financial Security

    What surprised me most about these results is that Safety and Security weren’t higher. Granted, the survey sample is small. I’m also curious about what makes financial security so low. I find myself wondering if that is a reflection of not wanting to place the value of money above the value of love? However, for this survey, you can have both (rate them both a 5), so it’s curious to me if there is a rejection of or disinterest in financial security?

    The top four make sense to me. Except, again, it’s curious to me that feeling loved doesn’t ring in at a solid 5. Does this mean that there are a couple of lesbians that find that to feel loved is overrated? Or feeling understood is only generally important, but not always important?

    • 4.25 Feeling Loved
    • 4.17 Feeling Understood
    • 4.09 Humor
    • 4.08 Overall Relationship Satisfaction

    These surveys always leave me even more curious. How about you? What do you think about these results? Do you agree it’s most important to feel loved in your relationship?

    Who's Behind This?

    Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D., that's me. Third-person "about me's" are too impersonal. It's like saying, "You are loved," when what I really mean is, "I love you." Relationships are my thing. Some would say, my obsession. While I only scored an 96% on my own "How Lesbian Are You" test,  don't let that fool you. Since returning to school in the'90s for my MSW, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: help lesbian couples grow love. While my fantasy to be in the WNBA, and my dream of joining the Peace Corp, or my desire to have twelve children, has faded with time, my fixation on helping lesbians grow love remains. I am that person who has built her life around one thing: lesbian relationships. For fun, I do things like create online quiz's at asklesbians.com, to learn more about real lesbians. Or I write books. like, "Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship," to give couples an easy way to communicate. (Shameless plug - you can get this on Kindle on Amazon, as well as an app on Itunes /Google play). And, now that our boys are young men, my love, and my wife, Kristen, and I are growing lesbian love through Lesbian Couples Retreats throughout the U.S. in awesome destinations where our motto is, "love out loud" with Adventures in Love.  You can learn more about those at lesbiancouples.co.

    Do you have a lesbian date? How many dates before you commit?

    Do you have a lesbian date? How many dates before you commit?

    Should I commit after one lesbian date?

     

    Survey visits: 404 

    Completed  the lesbian date survey:  105 

     

    One of the most common jokes about lesbians, ever, is:

     Question: What does a lesbian bring on their second date? 

    Answer: A U-Haul

     (Full disclosure, we are guilty of keeping this alive by selling a t-shirt about this at our lesbiangift.store) 

    lesbian date, u-haulResearchers have come up with terms to describe the rapid bonding that occurs between women in love, such as, the urge to merge, fusion, and lack of individuation, etc. What this means in everyday terms is that women who love women are prone to moving quickly, bonding deeply, and the stereotype that may or may not be true, is that women lose themselves in their relationships with other women in no time at all.

    In research conducted by Charlene Yvette Senn (2010), points out that “given the strength of this fundamental assumption about fusion in writing by and about women in same-sex couples, there has been little research demonstrating problematic levels of closeness, merger, and/or fusion in their relationships.” She also shares that “Some authors have suggested that there may be pathological components to closeness or fusion if the relationship lacks boundaries or is characterized by excessive appeasement and conflict avoidance, but that a high degree of closeness itself is not pathological (Ackbar & Senn, 2010; Kitzinger, 1996).

    Anecdotally, it has been my experience in working with female same-sex couples that it is precisely the desire to AVOID CONFLICT, and I would add FOSTER SECURITY/ATTACHMENT (rather than closeness, per se), that moves women toward each other in ways that cause challenges in relationship.

    How long do you date before committing?

     

    1-4 dates: 40%

    5-10 dates: 46%

    11-20 dates: 11%

    21-60 dates: 2%

    60 or more dates: 2%

    As you can see, the survey participants on the lesbian date survey reveal that 86% of lesbians commit to a relationship between 1 and 10 dates. What is curious to me is, what motivates women to move in together so quickly? If it isn’t the desire to be super close, super fast (the urge to merge, or fusion), might it help foster security and attachment? This is what makes sense to me. What are your thoughts?

    Just to give you insight about who completed the lesbian date survey, here are the stats on their dating activity, dating history, age and relationship status and history. 

    With how many women have you had at least one date where there was physical contact (at least kissing or more)?

    None ~ 6%

    1 ~ 11%

    2-4 ~36%

    5-10 ~ 28%

    11-20 ~ 11%

    20-30 ~ 4%

    30+ ~ 6%

    With how many women have you had at least one date in your lifetime?

    None ~ 0

    1 ~ 10%

    2-4 ~37%

    5-10 ~ 31%

    11-20 ~ 11%

    20-30 ~ 4%

    30+ ~ 7%

    How many committed, intimate relationships with woman have you had?

    1 ~ 17%

    2 ~ 27%

    3-5 ~ 47%

    6-10 ~ 8%

    11+ ~ 2%

    How old are you?

    18-24 ~ 21%

     24-29 ~ 11%

     29-30 ~ 2%

     31-35 ~ 11%

     36-40 ~ 12%

     41-50 ~ 25%

     50+ 19%

    Who's Behind This?

    Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D., that's me. Third-person "about me's" are too impersonal. It's like saying, "You are loved," when what I really mean is, "I love you." Relationships are my thing. Some would say, my obsession. While I only scored an 96% on my own "How Lesbian Are You" test,  don't let that fool you. Since returning to school in the'90s for my MSW, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: help lesbian couples grow love. While my fantasy to be in the WNBA, and my dream of joining the Peace Corp, or my desire to have twelve children, has faded with time, my fixation on helping lesbians grow love remains. I am that person who has built her life around one thing: lesbian relationships. For fun, I do things like create online quiz's at asklesbians.com, to learn more about real lesbians. Or I write books. like, "Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship," to give couples an easy way to communicate. (Shameless plug - you can get this on Kindle on Amazon, as well as an app on Itunes /Google play). And, now that our boys are young men, my love, and my wife, Kristen, and I are growing lesbian love through Lesbian Couples Retreats throughout the U.S. in awesome destinations where our motto is, "love out loud" with Adventures in Love.  You can learn more about those at lesbiancouples.co.

    Lesbian Bed Death Meaning and History

    Lesbian Bed Death Meaning and History

    Lesbian Bed Death Meaning and History

    Is the death bed really a thing for lesbian couples?

     

    lesbian bed death, death bed, lesbian sex quiz, lesbian death bedWhat is lesbian bed death?

    When I first heard this term, I associated its meaning with violence (like a lesbian killing her partner in bed) and death (or a lesbian dying in bed). Yes, pretty concrete of me. I share this in case you have had a similar thought run through your head. Fortunately, lesbian bed death has nothing to do with lesbians killing or lesbians dying in bed.

    It’s a strange, but sticky phrase that dates back to the ’80s. While it is not clear when and precisely where or by whom the term was created, there is a long and winding journey (which I traced while working on my Ph.D. dissertation on lesbian sexuality) that reveals the history and development of this phrase.

    Admittedly, for some, this part of this article will be too much (boring) information and you may wish to skip to learning how often lesbians report having sex.

    Quick Links to Article Content

     

    Where it all started

    In 1983, a research study was published that identified lesbian couples as the least sexual couple pairing (Pepper Schwartz and Phillip Blumstein). This research led to more research which further confirmed that lesbians were not only having less sex than other couples, they were also experiencing a more rapid and dramatic drop in sexual frequency as their relationships continued (Loulan 1984). Soon, these statistics were broadcast in the media and just like that, a narrative of lesbians as non-sexual started to coalesce in our culture. And, it still lingers in our collective conscience today.

    The three-word phrase that captured the essence of this emerging concept of lesbians having infrequent sexual activity, combined with a rapid decline in sexual frequency in long-term relationships is lesbian bed death (LBD).

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    Lesbian Bed Death Meaning

    Lesbian Bed Death describes a phenomenon in which lesbian couples experience a comparatively lower rate of sexual frequency as well as a rapid decline in sexual frequency the longer they are coupled.

    Who coined the phrase lesbian bed death?

     Three women are most commonly credited for the phrase, lesbian bed death: researcher and co-author of the book American Couples, Pepper Schwartz;  author of Lesbian Sex  (1984) Joann Loulan; and famous lesbian comedian Kate Clinton.  

    When American Couples was published in 1983, it provided a credible source to describe lesbians as less sexually active than other couple pairs. How they arrived at this conclusion was through a massive study of 12,000 couples, in which Schwartz and Blumstein explored the behaviors of four couple pairings: married, co-habitating (heterosexuals), gay males and lesbian couples. Lesbians were identified as the pairing with the lowest rates of sexual frequency. When I asked Dr. Schwartz if she coined the phrase lesbian bed death in response to their research, she said, “It is attributed to me—people I know say I said it—but I never wrote it. Sadly, I have no memory about it—so I can’t deny or confirm!”

    LESBIAN TEST – HOW LESBIAN ARE YOU?

     

    Shortly after American Couples was published, Joann Loulan authored Lesbian Sex in 1984. In a conversation with Loulan, she shared with me, “I did not coin the phrase Lesbian Bed Death.” She explained, “I used it frequently, but of course my life was (and is) trying to make that change within the lesbian community and make sex sexy again.” 

    The last source credited for this phrase, Kate Clinton, also denied creating this unflattering narrative. She did, however, joke that rather than a same-sex relationship, she often joked that lesbians have a “some sex relationship.” Clinton led me to LGBT advocate Sue Hyde and her partner Jade McGleughlin. Sue Hyde thought her partner, Jade McGleughlin, was the one who captured the “entire phenomenon of decreasing lesbian sex activity in long term couples” into the well-known phrase in 1985 or so.  In a conversation with Jade McGleughlin, however, she said she believed the phrase “coalesced spontaneously among a group of lesbians for whom it captured an experience particular to that moment.”

    This is consistent with Sue Moir, another lesbian whose name surfaced during my search for the roots of LBD, who said she heard this phrase “at a dyke gabfest in Newton,” and shared it with McGleughlin. McGleughlin was working on a Master’s thesis at the time on the topic of lesbian bed death. While she didn’t coin the phrase, she said she viewed herslf as a messenger. During the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, McGleughlin gave a speech during the Sex and Politics Forum. Sue Moir was there, and Moir said, “I can tell you it was the first time that the audience had heard it [lesbian bed death].”

    The timing of McGleughlin’s speech also coincided with the lesbian sexuality research (Schwartz and Blumstein 1983, Loulan 1984, 1987) at the time, which became an accelerant for the spread of the LBD message. Ultimately, Lesbian Bed Death took on a new and unintended meaning that gave shape to lesbian sexuality as inferior, and in some way doomed. McGleughlin expressed regret about the impact of this phrase. In her opinion, the phrase “collapsed the complexity of lesbian sexuality,” and what might otherwise have been a historical phenomenon became a “condensation” and “condemnation” of lesbian sexuality. Ultimately, it took a village of lesbians to create a shared narrative about the experience of declining sexual activity in lesbian relationships and this message spread like wildfire across the United States.

    Three women are commonly credited with the phrase lesbian bed death.

    Pepper Schwartz, Co-Author of American Couples

    “It is attributed to me—people I know say I said it—but I never wrote it. Sadly, I have no memory about it—so I can’t deny or confirm!”

    Joann Loulan, author of Lesbian Sex

    “I did not coin the phrase Lesbian Bed Death.” She admitted, “I used it frequently, but of course my life was (and is) trying to make that change within the lesbian community and make sex sexy again.”

    Kate Clinton, Lesbian Comedian

    Always the comedian, Clinton joked that lesbians aren’t in a same-sex relationships, they are in a “some-sex relationships.”

    Sexual Frequency of Lesbians

    Until the 80’s lesbians were judged negatively if they had sex with women. Therefore, as lesbian bed death gained some traction, and the collective conscious shifted, it was an ironic flip of the script when lesbians were being judged for not having enough sex with women. Go figure! Most of the research between the 80’s and 2010 (when I conducted my own research) was consistently reporting lower levels of sexual frequency for lesbians than other couple pairings. 

    I was also seeing lesbian couples in my private practice who were reporting low levels of sexual activity. Same-sex female couples would report having minimal and sometimes no sexual activity for years. This was a key motivation for my return to school in 2010 to get my PhD in Clinical Sexology. I wanted to understand lesbian sexuality better, therefore, the focus of my research was lesbian sexual frequency and how this affects lesbian relationship satisfaction.

    I conducted my research with 498 lesbians. Using a snowball approach to finding lesbians, I started with the large sample of lesbians I knew from providing same-sex couples counseling to females for over a decade. With the help of social media, the initial group of lebians I contacted were able to then reach out to other lesbians across the United States to create a wider-reaching sample. Lesbians from most states were represented, and 

    This is what I learned:

    • 12% reported having no sex in the last six months
    • 37% reported having sex once or less per month
    • 20% report having sex 2-3 x’s per month
    • 27% report having sex 1- 3 x’s weekly
    • 5% report having sex 5 or more times weekly

    Sexual Frequency of Lesbians Based on Age

    Age

    4+ x’s
    Per Week

    1-3 x’s
    Per Week

    2-3 x’s
    Per Month

    1x Monthly
    or Less

    1x weekly or more

    < 21 Years (n=6)

    17%

    17%

    33%

    33%

    34%

    21-30 Years (n=50)

    10%

    38%

    18%

    34%

    48%

    31-40 Years (n=127)

    6%

    28%

    20%

    47%d

    34%

    41-50 Years (n=169)

    4%

    27%

    24%

    44%

    31%

    51-60 Years (n=72)

    6%

    15%

    17%

    63%

    21%

    60 + Years (n=15)

    7%

    7%

    13%

    73%

    14%

    (Percentages reflect sexual frequencies per age group and n=lesbians per age )

    Summary of Sexual Frequency of Lesbians Based on Age

    As might be expected, lesbians in their 20’s report the greatest frequency of sexual activity, followed by women in their 30’s. There is a minimal decline in reported sexual frequency for women in their 40’s and the most significant drop occurs with lesbians once they turn 50. Because 51 is the average age of menopause, and menopause is known to affect women’s libido, the 10% drop in sexual frequency that is reported by women in their 50’s is not a shocking discovery. 

    What is important about sexual frequency is whether or not you are happy and satisfied with your sexual relationship with your partner. There is no right amount of sex that anyone “should” be having, regardless of your sexual orientation. Sex is personal, and it plays a different role in the lives of different women. The key is to understand what sex means to you, what sex means to your partner or wife, and to maintain open communication about your respective needs, and how each of you can get your needs met in your relationship. 

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D. is an expert lesbian relationship coach and psychotherapist with a comfortable obsession with all things related to love and relationships between women. She is particularly fascinated by lesbian couples in blended families, issues of infidelity, lesbian sexuality, and recovery from lesbian breakups. She is the author of Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship, which is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon, as well as an app on Itunes /Google play. As a side-hobby, she operates a quirky site called “AskLesbians.com” where she randomly polls lesbians to satisfy the quirkiest of curiosities. Lastly, she and her wife Kristen host Lesbian Couples Retreats in various destinations, and you can learn more about those at lesbiancouples.co.

    This article is an adaption of Chapter Six of a dissertation written by Michele O'Mara, PhD. Tap here t read the entire dissertation in a pdf format.

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