Three Essential Lesbian Relationship Goals for Lesbian Couples

Three Essential Lesbian Relationship Goals for Lesbian Couples

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Start your relationship on the right foot with these three essential lesbian relationship goals. Much of what we learn in relationships comes from trial and error. However, there are also some great strategies that you can intentionally practice to increase your odds of a happy and satisfying relationship. These three lesbian relationship goals will get you headed in the right direction.

1. Seek Security Within Before Expecting it From a Relationship

Security is the result of accurately predicting what to expect from your partner and responding effectively to that which you are not anticipating. You will know that you are secure in your relationship with yourself when you have faith that no matter what life brings you, you will be able to make the next right choice to move you into a better place. Sometimes we are unable to predict what our partner will do, say, think or how she will behave because many variables in life are out of control for both of us. An unexpected accident on the interstate could make her late coming home from work. A canceled flight could prevent her from making it back in time for your birthday party. The key to finding security within is to have generally accurate predictions about what you can expect from your partner, and to allow room for logical and believable explanations when your predictions are off, or to respond with confidence when explanations are not believable.

On the other hand, when there is a lack of security within your self and within your relationship, the confidence that you can predict what to expect is replaced by expectations, demands, and a need for her to be a certain way, and do and say certain things, in order for you to feel safe with her. When you approach relationships from this perspective, you will notice yourself feeling more reactive, panicky, worried and angry when things do not go as you want. 

The best way to improve your sense of security is to recognize what is your business, or “in your lane,” and what is not. The only thing in this life that you can control or influence is that which is in your lane. Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is, says all things in life fall in one of three categories: your business (what you can control), my business (what I can control), and the business of the universe or God (what is not controlled by humans).  When you get good at recognizing what is “my business,” you will feel increasingly more secure in this world. Insecurity stems from trying to control the uncontrollable. 


2. Maintain Your Interests, Hobbies, and Friendships

Maintaining friendships (with the exception of your ex), hobbies and interests are the second of three essential lesbian relationship goals. Because security is one of the most important things to women (not just lesbians) in relationships, women will often trade their independence for a sense of security. When this happens, the differentiation of who I am, and who you are, begin to breakdown and lesbian couples begin to think and operate very similarly, even if it is not authentically how each of them feels. This is referred to as “fusion,” or “merging,” and one of the adverse side effects of this is that there is not enough distance between partners to create the feeling of longing or desire. 

At the start of a relationship, you have the opportunity to see your partner from a distance, with more objectivity and curiosity. She is someone you want to know better. You are literally drawn to her, eager to move closer, closing the gap that exists when we do not know someone well.  You see her in HER environrment, doing her thing, being who she is – separate from you. I call this the desire gap. The desire gap is created by the independence you express in your relationship that produces enough distance, but not too much, between partners to generate a desire and longing for closeness. 

The instinct for lesbians is to bond rapidly, commit quickly, settle in and nest with her new partner, and to stop nurturing self-interests, hobbies, and friendships that are not shared. In time, this begins to close the desire gap, leaving little to no distance necessary for desire and longing. There must be a “you,” and there must be a “her,” separately, for you to experience desire for one another. It is difficult to generate longing and desire for a “we.”

If you are already in a relationship and have allowed your interests to fall away, you can make a movement toward this lesbian relationship goal by slowly returning to your natural interests and nurturing your friendships and hobbies. While you may be met with some resistance, suspicion or even anxiety at first, the benefits to you and your relationship, in the long run, are worth the discomfort involved in getting to this point. 


3. Allowing Emotional Wiggle Room

The third of three essential lesbian relationship goals is allowing. I call this giving one another the emotional wiggle room to have feelings without having to process and rid oneself of them immediately. In my work with lesbian couples over the past two decades, I have noticed a recurring pattern of aversion to any form of negative emotion among lesbians, whether it is directed toward a partner or elsewhere. 

In the presence of strong negative emotions, lesbian partners will often respond in one of two ways:

1) efforts to minimize or fix the negative feelings by acquiescing to what she believes her partner wants; or defensiveness and;

2) personalization of the negative emotions that can result in an extended conflict, brooding by one partner, or a hard withdrawal by both partners.

None of these responses offers the partner with the original feelings the time or space to process her experience and allow her emotions to run their course, or the opportunity to be understood by her partner for how she is feeling.

Interestingly, commonly cited research, by John Gottman, reports that during fights gay and lesbian couples take things less personally than heterosexual couples. This is not consistent with my experience in working with lesbian couples for the past two decades. In fact, it is quite common for women in relationships with women to take very personally all of the comments made by her partner, and for the two of them to spend countless hours processing these hurt feelings. I am inclined to think that the sample of only 12 lesbian couples in Gottman’s study is not large enough to accurately describe the common lesbian relationship experience. 

Women are emotionally attuned to one another more intensely than other couple pairings that involve men (gay or heterosexual). While emotional awareness and attunement to one another is generally a very positive relationship characteristic, there are times when it can create obstacles and limit emotional wiggle room in the context of relationships. To strengthen your ability to allow your partner emotional wiggle room, begin to notice when you are responding to her mood and not her words. If you find yourself wanting to ask, “what’s wrong?” or to “fix” her mood by pleasing her, instead, extend an invitation to talk when and if she wishes to. You might say, “Seems like something’s on your mind. I’m here if you want to talk about it.” If she says, “I’m fine,” and her body language screams “My mouth is saying I am fine, but I am not fine,” it is important to honor her words and let her come to you if she decides to. Your anxiety will make this difficult. Tend to your own feelings in these moments instead of hers, and see what a difference that makes.

More article by Michele O’Mara, PhD, LCSW

How to make relationships work when you have no common interests

5 Common Issues for Lesbian Couples

How to learn what your relationship imago is


❤️ Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D. is an expert lesbian relationship coach 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. Lastly, she and her wife Kristen host Lesbian Couples Retreats in various destinations, and you can learn more about those here.

Strategy 16 for Lesbian Couples: (What do all five love languages require?)

Strategy 16 for Lesbian Couples: (What do all five love languages require?)

Strategy 16 for Happy Lesbian Couples:  Do you know what the five love languages have in common?

While there are several different languages that communicate love (Gifts, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation), they all have one thing in common – GIVING ATTENTION.  When you give gifts, give attention, give time, give acts of service, or give words of affirmation, you are giving your attention.

By the way, if you have not read the Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman, I view this book as required reading for all couples, and lesbian couples are no exception!  I just checked, and there are 10,652 customer book reviews with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars.  So, yep, it’s a good one for your happy relationship reading list.  If you don’t like to read, get the audio version here and listen to it together.

I do not know of a more basic method of expressing love, than that of simply giving someone your full
lesbian couples, five love languagesattention. Your attention may simply be listening, spending time together, or holding your partner when she needs held. Or, it may involve calling to check on her when she is feeling sick, or asking her to talk about her feelings when she seems blue.  Maybe you pick up a special treat from her while you are out, and bring it home.  Leave her a note on her car seat if she leaves after you do.  The possibilities all include the five love languages, and they are endless.

Happy lesbian couples know that attention comes in many forms, and when you intend to let your lesbian love know she’s your priority, the one you choose, and that she matters to you, be sure you offer her your gazing, smiling, dancing eyes; your open, allowing and listening ears; your laughing, loving, and  kissing lips; your soothing, sexy, complementing voice; your helping, healing, loving hands; and your embracing open and accepting arms.  Be present, aware, and engaged.  You are what she wants.  Give her more of you.

Giving someone your full attention is possibly the single most powerful way to show someone you love them.  Be among the happy lesbian couples who take time to better their relationships a little step at at time.  You will be sure to increase your ability to speak the five love languages, too, if you keep expanding your list of ways to give her your attention.

For Relationship Strategy 17, Go Here.

My Dad: Fluent in Every Love Language

My Dad: Fluent in Every Love Language

My Dad was Fluent in every Love Language

March 1, 2014, my dad died.  

I’d like to share with you a little bit about my dad, also known as pops or to his grandkids, it is Poppy. Quite simply, he was an amazing man.  If he were here, hearing me say that, he would smile real big and say, “I resemble that remark.”  He was funny, playful, wise, supportive, kind, generous and one of my most favorite people in the world.

In 2012, he was diagnosed with MDS, a rare blood disorder, which we had hoped would give him at least five more years to live. During his final hospitalization, he asked me to talk at his funeral, which I did. I am sharing my reflections here, in honor of him. He has taught me more about love and life than most anyone, or anything I know, and I hope to share some of his wisdom with you.

English is not the only language my father spoke.  I’m quite convinced that his native language was the language of love.  According to the author Gary Chapman, there are five love languages:  words of affirmation, quality time spent together, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service.  Chapman says we typically lean into one or two languages when we communicate our love, but not my pops; he spoke all of these languages fluently.

Words of affirmation came easily for my dad.  I was in middle school, approaching high school, and I was self-conscious and worried about not being liked, and I was anxious about fitting in.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  We were walking through the mall, and he turned to me and said, “Be your self.  If you can do that, then everyone will love you just like I do.”  I remember feeling such relief.  He was telling me that who I am is already enough.  I don’t have to create any other version of myself than the one that I already am.  I think about that still today.

The second love language is quality time.  Growing up, there was a revolving front door on my childhood home.  It was always open and frequently friends would wander over, sit in our kitchen or living room and just talk.  He was always ready for a conversation and happy to have the company.  He was easy to be with.  He had a way of making you feel like you are the only one in the room – the only one that matters.

So many times in my life I have felt like he could read my mind.  I never used to understand how.  I realize now that all he did was simply pay attention.  He noticed me and my moods, my fears, my dreams, and my wishes.  We talked every day.  And he always listened.  He believed in me and I always knew it.  He appreciated me and I always felt it.  He loved me and I always trusted it.  

This came easily for him, as did most of the five love languages. I remember the night I was broken-hearted about a boy (I know, imagine that) and he said, “Get the keys, we’re going for a drive.”  And with my learner’s permit in hand, he let me drive for miles, landing us in a nearby town where we had pizza.   With our bellies full and my bruised heart on the mend, he let me drive all the way home.  I still remember our conversations about love and life, while listening to his favorite 60’s music playing in the background that Saturday night.  

The third love language is Acts of Service.  My dad was the guy who cleared the snow off neighbors driveway while they were warmly tucked inside their homes.  He fixed his buddies’ broken sink, drove you to the airport, took you to your first AA meeting, helped you work on your house or your car, fixed your jet skis, helped you build your deck, install a patio, lay carpet or flooring in your house, fixed your washer or dryer, tuned up your lawn mower, waxed or detailed your car, and many other things I am sure I am forgetting.  He was resourceful, kind, talented, and in the service of someone – ready to make life better and easier for you.  This made him happy and he delighted in doing so. 

The fourth language of love is Touch.   My pops was a very affectionate man, and he knew how to give the best bear hug ever, and he was generous about doing so.  

The last language of love is Gifts.  One of my dad’s habits was to buy large bags of mints, and everywhere he went, he offered them to whomever he came in contact.  He was very generous. He will delay buying himself anything until it goes on sale, mind you, but he would have given you the shirt off his back today if you needed it.  

When I was a student at IU, I briefly worked where my dad worked.  It was Christmas time, and one day I happened to see him putting some blank envelopes on a few of the secretary’s desks.  I asked him what he was doing, and he said, “These women are single moms and I know they struggle financially.  I’m just giving them some extra money to help them with Christmas gifts for their children.”  He asked me not to say anything – he didn’t want them to know the money was from him.  This was a normal sort of thing for my dad.  Nothing about it surprised me.

Many friends actually lived in our home over the years.  I don’t mean they spent the night, though many, many people did that too.  My childhood home was often referred to as The O’Mara Hotel.  My mom and dad have opened their home in one of the most generous ways I have ever seen with families living with them when building a new home, or their friends with kids at IU who stayed there while in college, and just about any other scenario you can imagine.  Our home was open, social, and a place people knew they could enjoy laughter and good company. 

So yes, my dad spoke the five love languages fluently.  I feel blessed a million times over for the gift of calling him dad.  He was a good and kind person and had an enormous, generous, loving heart.  He taught me that I could achieve anything I desire.  He showed me how to respect others.  He modeled for me how to be a good, trustworthy, reliable friend.  He taught me how to use my voice, to look people in the eye, to shake hands firmly.  He encouraged me to hold my head up and pull my shoulder’s back.  I always thought he was focused on my posture, now I realize that it was personal pride he was shaping.  He showed me, very patiently, exactly how to press a shirt.  He even tried to teach me to cook, yet accepted that I didn’t want to learn.  As it turns out, that was a lesson I should have heeded.

He taught me that “what goes around comes around,” and he has proven this in his life, and through his actions.  He always made sure that my mom, brother and I were well cared for.

He is forever my hero, this wonderful, silly, brilliant, kind, generous, funny-as-hell, playful, loving man…

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