Do Same Sex Couples Have Unique Relationship Issues?
Since the 1970s, LGBTQ people in this country have been fighting for equal rights and dismantling the stereotype that their relationships have no intrinsic value.
The truth is that LGBTQ relationships can be just as loving and committed as heterosexual ones. And they can also have similar challenges to heterosexual relationships regarding finances, parenting, household chores, etc.
There are, however, specific conflicts and interests that are unique to same-sex couples.
In heterosexual relationships, there is a clear boundary marked by sex. For instance, a woman may spend a “night out with the girls” without creating feelings of insecurity in her male partner. Similarly, a man could spend the day watching the football game with his best guy friend, and there would be no issue.
If, however, she wanted to hang out with an ex-boyfriend or he was helping a female coworker train for a marathon, there may be some tension.
This tension is commonplace for same-sex couples as most friends and exes are of the same sex.
Same-sex partners cannot expect to spend 100% of the time together. And in fact, it is healthy to spend time apart. But I always suggest that my clients set definitive rules at the beginning of the relationship and have open and honest conversations so feelings don’t get hurt and both parties are heard.
Out VS Not Out
Same-sex couples have another unique issue: each partner may have a different level of comfort in being open about their homosexuality. For instance, one partner may be “out of the closet” and want to show physical affection in public, while the other may not be as out or comfortable.
I help my clients communicate so each party can express their needs in these situations. Every person is entitled to develop their feelings of ease in this regard in their way and own time.
Many same-sex couples wish to start a family just as heterosexual couples do. But it can be stressful and frustrating when running into situations where non-inclusive language is the norm. For instance, their teacher repeatedly tells your child, “Bring this permission slip home to your mommy and daddy.” Or when a man is in the park pushing his baby in a stroller, and a well-meaning passerby says, “Aw, adorable, does he look like you or your wife?” Over time, these situations can wear a person down.
Being in a committed couple is challenging, no matter the sex of each partner, and you are sure to run into your fair share of conflicts. How you handle them makes the difference between a robust and healthy relationship and one that isn’t.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you and your partner are struggling with any issues and want to work with someone who can help.