Originally posted on Thought Catalog January 2, 2013
How long should I wait to say “I love you” to my partner after I think it might be true?
Aww. Congratulations on love! This is kind of non-related to the LGBTQ world as much as it’s just the world as a whole, so I’ll just give my advice based off of what I think.
Love is tricky. My ex-fiancé told me he loved me a couple of months in. We were so young, and I told him I wasn’t ready to say it. He respected that – I think he thought it was necessary since we had started to have sex, and when you’re in high school, that’s what mainstream media tells you to do. I dated a wonderful person after my fiancé who said they loved me over the phone, as we were seeing each other long-distance. The call cut out, and they had to repeat what they said. It was awkward, it was sweet, and it was nice to feel a little less like a Grinch and a little more like someone who found they were capable of feeling love after a relationship that ended so horribly. As for my current relationship, I knew two weeks into dating her that I would tell her I was in love with her. But it wasn’t the right time, and I sat on it for a while. A while meaning months. I needed to let the relationship gather stable footing; to find its ground. One morning, we woke up and I saw the sun hitting her in just the right way. I couldn’t stop myself from saying it. I spit out a lot of thoughts before saying that I couldn’t help it; I just loved her too much not to tell her so. She admitted that she had almost told me the night before, but she got too nervous. It’s still one of my favorite moments that I’ve experienced in my lifetime. It was raw and real and right for the time.
I think that the heart knows when the time is right. Even though I knew I was falling in love with my girlfriend, I knew it wouldn’t have done any good to tell her that immediately. I am so glad I waited to say it – by the time it came out, there was no way it could have lived inside of me for a second more. It’s like that really-gotta-pee feeling when you’re drunk: don’t break the seal too early. Otherwise you’ll pee all over yourself. Or something like that.
I am out to my family and they have met my previous partners. However, right now I am dating someone that identifies as a trans-man and I would like to introduce him to my family. I am not sure how to have the discussion with them. They think I am a lesbian, so this could be really confusing.
This is something incredible to deal with, and I wish you luck in your situation. Not only will it be difficult for your family, but also for your friends and even acquaintances that you meet. Remember – at the end of the day, you two are you two. Nothing more, nothing less. Your partnership and love for each other comes first, and no amount of judgment from anyone else can change who you are.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to it. Who your partner identifies as is important to them, and it is all-encompassing. Same for you – if you identify as a lesbian, that’s who you are. I’ve said this before: own up to who you are. The more you remember that, the easier it will be to explain to your family. When you’re going about telling your family, prepare yourself for the questions that they may ask. Prepare your partner as well – there are people who will ask questions that could come off offensively when at the end of the day, it’s unavoidable ignorance. If your family hasn’t met anyone that identifies as trans*, you need to understand that they will have a lot of questions, and they may not know how to ask them in the right way. Prepare for that.
The best way I can think to explain it (that is, the way I would deal with the situation if it were to happen to me) is that you have fallen in love with your partner, and you are on a journey together. If your family is anything like mine and had some trouble with your coming out as a lesbian, bring them back to that time. They learned that you were a woman that was attracted to women. Now, you are a woman who is attracted to your partner. And though your partner is someone that may have, at one point, been heteronormatively seen by society as a woman, it is not what they identify as now. They are who they are, you are who you are, your family is who they are, and none of that will change. You may not be asking for their support; you may just be letting them know for sensitivity issues (referring to your partner in the male sense, et cetera.) But if you are asking for their support, be aware that you need to be open to questions. Just as they may have had questions for you upon your coming out, they’re going to have questions for you, your partner, and your relationship. The waters may get murky, but it’s important to remember what I first said: your relationship with your partner is meant to be between the two of you. It’s hard to express with words what you have in any relationship, and so it’s important to sit and think about each question asked before you answer. Make things as clear as you want, and understand that a part of you will have to be open in a way you might not have had to be in the past. Clear communication will be the key to making your point known. Best of luck, and I hope this helps.
Any advice for dealing with lesbian bed death?
Eek. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s basically my worst nightmare. Lesbian bed death (or LBD) is when you’ve been with your partner for so long that sex drops out of the equation. You also stated in the longer version of this question that you don’t like the term being associated with the stereotype of women not being inherently sexual beings, and I agree. It’s tough to not only fight that stereotype, but to fight LBD as a whole, because really at the end of the day it’s a stressful situation.
There have been a lot of studies done on lesbian bed death. It was first coined in the 80’s by Pepper Schwartz, who said that lesbians in committed relationships had the least amount of sex compared to other couples she met with. It has since been debated on, even called a myth by many, but yet it’s still spoken about today. Questions of inherent sexuality, along with self-esteem issues in women, are still a factor. But, at the end of the day, you’re asking me about it and I’d like to give you a straight shot.
I feel like I can somewhat relate to this. I’m about to share something with y’all: I am an incredibly sexual human being. I really like having sex. Had you asked me this question a few years ago, I would have told you the complete opposite (before I had sex with women, I had sex with men. It turns out that sexuality has a lot to do with romantic relationships. Whoda thunk?) I’d like to be having sex probably more than whatever I’m doing in an average day. I’ve also learned that there’s nothing wrong with that, but that most people that I surround myself with (including my partner) don’t have the sexual appetite that I do. I had also convinced myself (after some heavy internet research) that I was suffering from the dreaded LBD. I sucked it up and asked my girlfriend about it, and she told me that I was being crazy. It wasn’t me, and it wasn’t that she didn’t love having sex with me; rather, it was that I am young, excitable, and new to the lesbian world. That made a lot of sense to me: I was finally having the sex that my body was craving for years before, so…duh! Why wouldn’t I want it all day? I’ve since learned that spreading out my sexual activity leads to much more fulfilling sex. It’s quality over quantity at the end of the day.
If you feel like you’re in this committed relationship with your partner but you’re having less sex, there are one of two ways I’d go about solving it. There’s my favorite route: communication. Talk to them about what’s up in your lives. Have you both been busy with your work/school/home routine? Is winter making you or your lover want to put on really comfy baggy pants and not shower for a couple of days? Did you go hard on the apps table during the holidays, and now you’re feeling a little bit uncomfortable with your body? These are all normal issues to have. Ask your partner about times that you can remember really great sex – what was going on in your lives at that time? Are there healthy lifestyle changes that you can do to get you back to where you were? Are they happy with your sex life, or is it something they’ve noticed dwindling as well?
Or, there’s the other route. This one isn’t so much avoiding the topic as it is facing it head on: do it to it. What are your favorite parts about your lover? When you think about pleasing your partner or being pleased by them, what comes to mind? Going through these things in your mind will not only get you thinking about what you want to change, they’ll get you in the mood. Wait for her to come home, and boom. Fun surprise sex can be a great way to start: what’s out of the ordinary? Have you not done it on the kitchen? Why the hell not? Instead of fearing the routine that you may have fallen into, find ways to get out of it. Having incredible sex before talking with your partner on how you’d like to do it more often may be a more exciting way to breach the topic, i.e. “How great was that? I would love if we could do it more often. How about this week, you surprise me with what you want?” It’s fun to spice things up. Turn the idea of LBD into a myth – it doesn’t have to be real if you don’t make it real. Good luck, and hurray for sex!