Social media is regarded as one of the most popular inventions of our time, but is it helping or destroying lesbian relationships? Has it changed our views about relationships and the way we think about love and commitment? With the heavy influence of social media in our everyday lives, how do we establish what’s real and what’s not real?
We have begun to depend on texting and social media to hash out our relationship problems, and are now more than ever before turning to the Internet to get instant gratification instead of working out our real issues with our partners.
In order to shed some light on this controversial topic and more, we asked Dr. Frankie Bashan, one of the top lesbian matchmakers in the country, to provide her expert advice about some of the most complex issues lesbian couples experience in their relationships. We encourage you to share this article with your LGBTQ friends and family.
(Florence): In your opinion, has there been a spike in lesbian break-ups since gay marriage became legal? If so, what do you think is one of the main causes?
(Dr. Frankie): I would say that the more "normalized" and accepted gay relationships become in our society, a few things are happening:
1) With our new protections and improved social status, we no longer have to pretend we don't struggle because increasingly, society doesn't see us as “less thans/abnormals.” In other words, we don't have the pressure to overcompensate by putting on a perfect facade.
2) The more mainstream anything becomes, from the gentrifying of cities to the legalizing of gay marriage, the more you risk ruining what made it special in the first place.
For the former, unique, quirky neighborhoods with interesting people in NY and SF. For the latter, "gay pride" is no longer a novelty since there's no need to "come out, come out wherever you are and celebrate!" It's lost its specialness that no longer gets the reverence and respect within the community it once got when it had to stay underground.
3) As a result of these two things, we can now live our daily lives openly and it more or less mirrors every other type of human relationship.
We never were and still aren’t much different than the rest of society trying to be successful in long-term relationships. I would also like to emphasize that there is no evidence to indicate gay and lesbian relationships are failing at a more rapid rate than their hetero counterparts. Unfortunately, long term relationships of all types are failing at increasing rates in today's modern age. (If this is in fact true).
(Florence): What are 3 top reasons long-term lesbian relationships fail, and why did lesbians stay together in the past longer than they do today?
1) Women stop actively putting effort into maintaining a healthy relationship. Jumping ship and starting fresh with a new woman is much easier than actually working on the already established relationship. Most lesbians would probably agree that the unresolved issues that existed in their current relationship will undoubtedly follow them into their next relationship.
2) One or both women fall out of love with each other and the love they have for each other isn’t enough to sustain them.
3) When we’re not continuously working on our long term relationship and the gap continues to increase, both women become vulnerable to being drawn to someone else because of the lack of attention, affection and affirmation in their relationship.
An outsider may be making one of the women in the relationship feel desirable and attractive. This is tempting and alluring when one isn’t feeling these essential feelings in their long term relationship. Many relationships in the lesbian community fail secondary to an affair.
(Florence): Why Did Lesbians Stay Together in the Past Longer Than They Do Today?
(Dr. Frankie): This may sound counterintuitive, but with the acceptance and legalization of same-sex marriages in many states, we actually have more dating and relationship options. We no longer feel pressure to maintain a façade in order to deflect the negative attention that we felt because we’re gay.
Our lifestyles were stigmatized and as a result, we felt pressure to show society they were legitimate and healthy, when perhaps they may not have been. Now it’s more acceptable to be gay and display our love and commitment to one another, and therefore, it’s more acceptable to appear like every other straight person who decides to no longer stay in an unfulfilling union.
Additionally, technology has impacted us all whether we’re straight or gay. Technology increasingly exposes us to an abundance of temptation and alternative possibilities that weren’t as easily accessible in the past. For example, Online Dating has given us access to information about what we’re “missing out on” or what other “options” are out there.
Sites like Facebook have given us access to connecting with past loves, friends, and friends of friends which can be distracting and dangerous for someone who is unhappy in their marriage/union and hungry for connection. The idea that the invigorating feeling of attraction and love can be a click away, for some, is too difficult a temptation to resist.
Watch Dr. Frankie’s video: How to Fight Fairly
(Florence): Some women who label themselves as lesbians leave their mates to date the opposite sex. Why does this seem to be more prevalent amongst lesbians than with gay men and their partners?
(Dr. Frankie): Sexuality is more fluid amongst women than men. When a man says he’s gay, it usually means he’s not sexually attracted to women. However, when a woman says she's lesbian, she may still be sexually attracted to men but prefer women.
Some lesbians who identify as such have said they are sexually attracted to men but can’t become emotionally connected to them. There are also lesbians who have never been sexually attracted to men and have known they were lesbian from an early age.
There is variability on the sexual orientation continuum whether you’re a male or a female. It just appears that in general women have more fluidity when it comes to their sexual attraction to men and/or women. This could also be in part due to greater societal acceptance of lesbians than gay men.
(Florence): It seems that more lesbians in long-term relationships are leaving their spouses for women they meet online, and that emotional cheating is becoming more common. What are two things a person in a relationship should do if they find themselves tempted to have an emotional affair? Should they tell their partner?
(Dr. Frankie): An affair is a symptom of a problem occurring in the relationship, which means it’s imperative to speak to your partner about your concerns and temptations. To avoid speaking about it is like trying to avoid the inevitable. The hope is that once you bring up your fears about your desire and impulse to engage in damaging behaviors, she will be open to hearing what you have to say. Ideally, she will do her part in improving the relationship so that you’re not feeling the need to go elsewhere to get your emotional/sexual needs met.
The truth is that we all enjoy the high a new relationship brings, but it doesn’t include a sense of comfort, safety, familiarity that time creates when two people are committed to each other. If you’re finding yourself jumping from one relationship to the next because you lose interest or are seeking the high of a new relationship, I would suggest exploring what is preventing you from being able to commit to someone.
Often, the inability to commit is a fear of intimacy, engulfment or abandonment. Also, it’s just as easy to walk away from a long-term relationship, find a quick rendezvous, and find someone who can give you that spark and instant gratification. Recognize that the problem will continue to repeat itself if you don’t figure out what it is that’s making it so hard to stay in the relationship you currently have. Long term relationships are hard work.
And the truth is that we have busy lives trying to get through the daily grind. Sometimes it feels like too much effort to work on something that feels really difficult. There is such a great reward that comes when two women can be committed to each other with a willingness to work through the deep and painful stuff that we all bring from childhood, past experiences etc.
Watch Dr. Frankie’s video: How to know if my partner is cheating
Read Dr. Frankie’s Blog Post: Your partner cheated-Now What:
(Florence): Many lesbian couples engage in sexual experimentation with other couples. Is this healthy for couples in long-term relationships, or does it signal a deeper problem in a relationship?
(Dr. Frankie): It depends. For some couples who have a strong sense of trust, emotional maturity and good communication, engaging with other couples can actually enhance their degree of intimacy and sexual chemistry. For others, it could mean they’re not getting what they need in their own relationship and are looking to fill that void elsewhere.
Even if that’s the case, sometimes with healthy communication and trust between the primary couple, getting ones needs met elsewhere may be a temporary but workable solution. The majority of humans seem to struggle greatly with opening their relationship up to sexual intimacy with others. It often brings up feelings of rejection, jealousy, fear of abandonment etc.
From what I have seen, it seems women who are able to navigate an open relationship/poly relationship well are quite self-actualized and confident in their own skin and relationship. This helps them manage uncomfortable feelings that inevitably emerge when they're in a vulnerable state, such as allowing their partner to be intimate with someone else.
Sexual experimentation and definitions of what is “healthy,” are different for every individual and every couple. It’s always a good practice to have a very specific agreement with your partner when it comes to boundaries and what is and is not ok.
For example, one partner might find that watching her partner kiss another person is too intimate, but be less triggered by oral sex. And vice versa.
(Florence): Are there any deal breakers in relationships, or do you believe that every issue can be resolved?
(Dr. Frankie): Again, it all comes down to each individual. We all come from different genetics, backgrounds, experiences, and varying levels of exposure to relationships/life etc. All of these contribute to whether an individual has the ability to see past someone’s flaws.
For example, I have worked with clients who have forgiven their partner for being unfaithful and emerged with a more loving relationship and deeper commitment to each other. However, more often than not, overcoming such a hurdle is insurmountable and rebuilding trust can feel impossible for some, which results in the decision to move on.
Watch Dr. Frankie’s video: Deal Breakers
(Florence): What action steps would you recommend to a couple who is considering a divorce/separation besides counseling?
(Dr. Frankie): Counseling should always be considered as an option, whether you want to work on the relationship, figure out how to consciously uncouple, or acquire the necessary skills/tools to co-parent more effectively. I also recommend both individuals make a pact that they will be committed to being mindful, kind and respectful in their communication and behavior, no matter how difficult things get. It’s a difficult endeavor that you will not be able to perfectly maintain because separations and divorces are fraught with so many painful emotions.
However, as long as you both strive to be kind and respectful, and understand that redefining a relationship is more art than science, the outcome will be so much more positive. At the end of the day we all want to be treated with kindness and be understood. Keep in mind how you would like to be treated and try and stick as closely as possible to that ideal.
And remember, as long as you’re treating her with respect and kindness you are modeling the kind of behavior you would like to receive in turn. Watch Dr. Frankie’s video: My girlfriend suddenly broke up with me & I'm having trouble getting over her.
(Florence): Lack of sexual compatibility causes some women to look outside of their relationship to get sexual gratification. What are two things couples who lack sexual compatibility do to have a fulfilling sex life?
(Dr. Frankie): Compatibility is defined as, “a state in which two things are able to exist or occur together without problems or conflict.” If a couple lacks compatibility, especially early on, that is a serious and potentially fatal concern.
For example, if two women identify as “tops,” and both are inflexible on that, then there’s no space for negotiation, or sex. Unfortunately this predicament is actually not that uncommon. In fact, I have a video about just how two lesbian tops can enjoy sex.
If the compatibility has to do with one partner feeling shyer than the other or not feeling confident, taking a local sex workshop together can help improve one's confidence individually and sexually.
Additionally, a few things a couple can do to add fulfillment to their sex life includes:
1. Mutual masturbation: This can be performed simultaneously or individually, allowing each partner to watch the other one climax.
2. Opening up the relationship for sexual exploration either together as a couple, or with permission and parameters separately.
If this is your first time laying eyes on the gorgeous Dr. Frankie, let me give you a brief introduction. Dr. Frankie Bashan is the owner of Little Gay Book, and an advice columnist for Curve Magazine, the best-selling lesbian magazine. View her column here:
She is also a licensed clinical psychologist who has over a decade of experience working with couples and individuals. Dr. Frankie also has specialized training and experience in the field of trauma.
If you’re new to the lesbian/bisexual dating scene, or if you are in an unhappy relationship, she can also provide winning strategies that will help you and your partner create more intimacy, attraction and a deeper connection than you’ve ever experienced before.
Dr. Frankie’s Little Gay Book is the perfect solution for meeting hot professional lesbians and bisexual women of substance who are seeking a long term relationships with someone real. Here’s just one of the many testimonials Dr. Frankie has received over the years:
"Dr. Frankie's coaching has helped me define what I am really looking for in a life partner. Through her sessions I have gained the confidence to venture back out into the dating world. If you are ready to jump start your love life towards a more positive path and to stop repeating past decisions that have not served your best self, invest in the coaching series Dr. Frankie offers."
-Stacy, Real Estate Broker
Aside from mixers and speed dating events, Dr. Frankie focuses on matchmaking and dating/relationship coaching. She is always looking for potential quality dates for her matchmaking clients. If you are a single, professional lesbian or bisexual woman who is looking for love, complete a profile in Dr. Frankie’s confidential database. Her services extend across the country and she currently has offices in SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, Hawaii and New York City.
Find more information about Dr. Frankie and her matchmaking company by visiting her website/social media pages: