A successful lesbian relationship doesn’t just happen. There have to be key elements in place for a lesbian relationship to work. Lesbians starting out in a relationship already have a few strikes against them. They may have friends and family members who are homophobic, or at least a bit leery of a same-sex relationship.
Lesbians also don’t have a lot of the social institutions that straight couples have to help them succeed. Same-sex marriage is only legal in a few states and unless you live in a major urban area, you might not have only a handful of places where you feel free to show affection to your lesbian partner in public.
So make sure you’re armed with what it takes to make a relationship a success. Here are five key components for a successful lesbian relationship.
1. Communication. Communication happens both ways. You’re able to express how you’re feeling and you’re able to listen and really hear her. One of the keys to any relationship is feeling like you are being heard, that your feelings or concerns are valid and important. It’s important to be able to bring up issues and concerns in a way that your partner can respond to. That means trying to be defensive, or worse, go on the offensive.
It also means active listening. You may have participated in active listening workshops where the facilitator has you parrot back to your partner, “What I heard you say is…” That’s not what we’re talking about here. Active listening is really just about showing signs that you’re listening, nodding, looking her in the eye, not playing on your cell phone or just nodding complacently. Pay attention and hear what she has to say.
2. Sexual compatibility. One of the biggest relationship killers is incongruent sexual desire. If you both have a similar sexual appetite, it doesn’t matter how frequent you do or don’t have sex, as long as each of you are happy with the way it is.
Sexual compatibility can also be about the willingness to take risks and try new things. No matter how much you love each other, any sex life can get stale without incorporating new things into the bedroom. Be willing to be vulnerable with each other and to talk about desires, fantasies, turn-ons and turn-offs. Read sex books together, watch educational videos or take a sex workshop together.
3. A mixture of shared interests and personal interests. Sharing hobbies, activities and values is important, but it is equally important to have friends and interests that are solely your own. In order to stay interesting to one another, it’s important to have friends of your own, interests of your own and goals of your own. You need to balance this with things you like to do together as a couple. If you don’t share any common interests, you’ll quickly find yourselves simply growing apart.
Keep developing and growing as a couple and as an individual. Honor your partner by participating in things that she enjoys that don’t necessarily excite you. If she’s into the opera, agree to go with her to at least one show a year. If she loves hockey, try and sit through at least the play-offs with her and try to learn the basics rules and strategies of the game. Even if you never become the kind of fan she is (although, you never know) she will appreciate your effort and you can share in some of her passion and excitement of the game.
4. Sense of humor. If you can laugh at yourself and laugh together, you’ve got something that many relationships lack. And need. A good sense of humor is not about making fun of or shaming her in front of her friends, but about knowing the time and place a good laugh will help ease the tension and make you remember what is really important in life.
5. Your “baggage” works. We’ve all got baggage. When your buttons are pushed, your ideal partner is the one who will tell you exactly what you need to hear when you’re triggered. She’s not the one to trigger you or make it worse. Sometimes this just happens, is the result of a similar upbringing and sometimes it’ something you have to actively work on.