Guest jekessans

Maintaining Your Relationship Pasture: A Lesbian Primer for

Maintaining Your Relationship Pasture: A Lesbian Primer for a Successful Long-Term Relationship

By: jekessans (a.k.a. Scout223, Rabbi Freaky Sheets, Unda Wrapz, Missed Manners)

As any Lesbian can attest to, dating isn’t the hard part of being a Lesbian. In fact it is the easiest part of any relationship and let’s admit it – one of the most fun. Staying together is the most difficult thing to accomplish for many. To actually stay in a long-term relationship is at best elusive for most and for those that do are thought to have accomplished nothing short of an absolute “miracle”. So what is the secret to achieving such a miraculous event?

First, let’s define what long-term means. For Lesbians a long-term relationship is defined as more than 3 calendar years or 27 “Lesbian” years. Because of the level of difficulty Lesbians have of staying in a committed relationship and the light-speed in which Lesbian relationships progress there is a difference between regular calendar years and Lesbian years. The conversion is as follows: 1 calendar year is equal to 9 Lesbian years. What is the difference you ask? Because as any Lesbian will admit one calendar year of being in a committed relationship feels like 9 years. So technically being together for say 3 calendar years is equivalent to 27 Lesbian years.

But generally once the 3 year mark is achieved, most Lesbians have long since moved on to greener pastures, are getting ready to move on to greener pastures, are looking at someone else’s greener pasture or are tiring of the confines of their own pasture.

As someone in a long, and I mean long-term relationship of almost 9 years (81 in Lesbian years) I’ve learned a few things along the way to making pasture thrive:

1. Know the grass is not greener or better in another’s pasture. Realize that it is different perhaps in some ways—texture, look, feel, smell, taste, but it is still just grass.

2. Understand that while you are putting up with your partner’s silly ways, she too is putting up with yours. You’re not perfect like you would like to think you are.

3. Expect curve balls as life will throw plenty at you and your partner. When one or several hit, stick together because the most successful people have someone who always has their back.

4. Avoid living together until you’re very certain you want to be with that person for a very long time. Aside from the sheer costs of continually renting a moving truck, starting all over again and again causes instability. Moreover, moving to a new location and replacing yet another set of dishes is not a ‘new beginning’ but rather a habit.

5. Realize that the most appealing thing about you when you’re in a committed relationship is the fact that you’re ‘taken.’ For many in the Lesbian world, nothing is so sweet as successfully snatching someone from another’s pasture. It’s just too deliciously taboo. See it for what it is, a game, and avoid becoming someone’s trophy.

6. Continually build, maintain, and repair your relationship. Like a pasture and its fencing, they too will need continual maintenance and repairs along the way. If you ignore them, then they will deteriorate and all you’ll be left with is broken rails and nasty weeds.

7. Figure out what you do best in the relationship and do it. Realize that work is never split 50/50 but rather split based on what each person is comfortable doing. For example, Jane cuts the grass and feeds the cats while Roxie fixes the car and washes the dishes. (Ya’ know the one’s that have been replaced 47 times.)

8. Practice autonomy. Your friends, her friends, shared friends. Get it? Do some things on your own and let her do her own things. No one can completely fulfill another person’s every need and want. Think of it this way…if you spend all your time together then you’ll actually have spent the equivalent of roughly quadruple the time together in just one-quarter the length of time. It’s a simple equation: Divide number of years by .25 and multiply by 4. So in the span of just 3 calendar years, you’ll actually have spent the equivalent of 48 years together. No wonder you’re burned out on each other. Trust me on this one, spread out spending time together – it’s one of the secrets to staying together. Oh and one more thing….just don’t practice autonomy in someone else’s private pasture.

9. Don’t take your partner for granted. Always show her goodwill and consideration. You want to be treated with kindness, why shouldn’t she? See number 1 – ‘cause the grass generally isn’t greener in another’s pasture.

10. Keep your pasture to yourself and only it share with your partner. This is so amazingly simple but the main problem Lesbians have is they just can’t avoid wandering onto someone else’s private pasture or letting someone wander onto their’s. Re-read and commit to memory number 5, then number 6. Believe me relationships are like pension plans – once your in one for 5 years you’re essentially vested. So why lose everything for a piece of pasture that is likely nothing more than a weedy crabgrass patch?

Admittedly, even if you do all these things she or you may ultimately decide to move on to someone else’s seemingly greener pasture. And if this does happen, then ya’ better keep a look out for cow patties and crabgrass along the way – ‘cause every pasture has the same perils in the end.

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I'm really wondering about your "3-year mark" analysis, and exactly upon what you've based that.

Noooooo . . . I'm not saying I disagree. But I'm not saying I totally AGREE either, I'd just like to hear more. From you, and from anyone else reading this.

I'm in an 8-year and change relationship. Not dating since then. Dated HEAVILY before then, for many years. Some longer-term relationships, but nothing like my current, in terms of longevity, emotional stability, or overall happiness.

Speaking strictly personally, I DID find dating somewhat difficult. It was fun. It was exciting. It was crazy-making, but in the sort of "fun" way where you call your friends and have really interesting and passionate conversations relating it all. I had a good time, and I'm still telling a few of those stories. Sometimes I do miss the drama of that. Getting up in the morning and wondering who you're going to sleep with that night, and thinking . . . there's more than one (or sometimes even two!) possibility(ies) here. Definitely . . . ENTERTAINING! But sometimes in the throes of a new relationship . . . women are a bit nuts. I'm not saying this in a misogynist way . . . I know men are nuts too, I'm just less familiar with that. But would ***I*** (like you?) say "dating . . . is the easiest part of any relationship?" Um . . . no. I would NOT say that. I think I'm the sort of dyke that actually wants to fast-forward to the part where you're more comfortable with each other. Even if it's slightly more boring. Ultimately, I stomach that better than nutsy.

You say: "But generally once the 3 year mark is achieved, most Lesbians have long since moved on to greener pastures, are getting ready to move on to greener pastures, are looking at someone else’s greener pasture or are tiring of the confines of their own pasture."

I'm really wondering about this, and would like to know if you've taken some sort of survey, or upon what you've based that. Myself and my partner did do some personal analysis, and . . . unfortunately, we can't TOTALLY disagree, but we can somewhat. Meaning . . . in terms of disagreement, we did some surveying and personal "tallying," and while we certainly know and have known many lesbian couples that disbanded prior to the 3-year mark . . . we also know many heterosexual couples that did the EXACT SAME THING.

We started making a list of dyke couple that broke up before 3 years and then we were like, "Oh NO! It's TRUE!" But then we did the same with hetero couples and . . . same result, more or less.

If we keep it within our own generation and relative social group (meaning, we're excluding our parents and their friends) . . . it's kinda roughly equal. We know a bunch of dykes that broke up, but we also know a bunch of hetero couples that did too . . . and we're not seeing the big hetero/lesbo divide, at least not us, personally.

Some (and no, I don't have a quote handy, but I swear I've heard this multiple places) suggest that queer relationships (lesbians AND gay men) don't have the staying power that heterosexual relationships do (???) because there aren't as many social strictures around breaking up. Meaning . . . a lot of hetero couples get married, have kids, buy a house, etc., and breaking up all of that would be just SOOOO difficult . . . they just end up staying together against all odds just to avoid the fucking hassle of . . . NOT. Or they get counseling and work it out BECAUSE of all those entanglements, where otherwise they wouldn't have bothered, and they'd have dumped each other already. The suggestion being that hetero couples WOULD break up at the same rate queer couples do, if not for all the legal rigamarole in actually accomplishing that. But increasingly lesbian (and gay) couples are doing really similar stuff. Collectively purchased home, domestic partnership agreements, definitely some collective pets, perhaps even an adopted or otherwise alternatively-created kid or two. How does this figure into your analysis?

Are lesbian couples who have legal or financial entanglements more similar to typical heterosexual couples, and thus less likely to break up . . . or do you think that somehow their "lesbian tendency" to break up more quickly than heterosexual couples and/or within 3 years or less will somehow prevail?

Or am I totally misunderstanding your "article"/post in the sense that you are JUST talking about lesbians, and any comparison to heterosexual couples is merely erroneously perceived on my part? ???

Feedback most appreciated . . . thanks! 

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Um . . hey, me again. I just wanted to say, in case my previous post didn't convey, that despite my questioning of some of the stuff in your post, the 10 things you recommended I feel were mostly spot on. My personal faves included:

" . . . stick together, because the most successful people have someone who always has their back."

So, so . . . SO true.

another . . . "Realize that work is never split 50/50 but rather split based on what each person is comfortable doing. . . ."

and . . .

"Don't take your partner for granted. Always show her goodwill and consideration."

Your suggestions rock. Thanks for sharing. 

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Link to post I was never referring to hetro couples. Basically I write these articles for a humor column I write for on Out in America which is a gay social website.

However, my three-year mark premise was based on basically what most believe to be "the seven-year itch" most couples get (regardless of orientation) but psychology has shown that it is actually more like a three-year itch. Apparently, at about three years all the newness wears off and this is a time when a couple has to move to a deeper level in the relationship. No longer can it be maintained just based on that initial giddy in-love feeling but one based on other shared interests, experiences, deeper emotions, etc.

So like you from what I have generally seen is that most lesbian relationships break-up before or at around the three year mark when the romance part wears down. To me this is basically a national epidemic (for gays and hetros alike) who are in-love with being in-love. And my point on the article is that everyone and every relationship has their flaws, but at least you know what they are then when you stick around because relationships are not all fun and games.

I have a friend who knows this hetro couple who has been married for over 60 years. When she asked them how they stayed together so long – they answered “We always look for the OK days. Great days are fun and bad days aren’t any fun, but most relationships that last are built on mostly OK days – these are days where nothing really eventful happens – when you go to work and come home to one another, talk, eat dinner, watch tv, then go to sleep.”

Our society being a “want everyday to be a great day" kind of society has basically sold consumers a bill of goods that is impossible to maintain especially in personal relationships. I’ve been with my partner for almost 9 years and had great days, bad days, but mostly ok days and that has worked for me.

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Hey everyone. First, I'd like to thank jekessans for sharing her articles with lesbotronic. That was cool.

Second, I'd guess most of us see ourselves in her "Lesbian Primer," at least if we've been around the block a few times. It's good to get support around maintaining longer-term relationships, not just around "hooking up" or dating.

She said, "To actually stay in a long-term relationship is at best elusive for most and for those that do are thought to have accomplished nothing short of an absolute 'miracle'." I'd guess that statement isn't hard to understand for most lesbians, from personal experience or observation of others.

However, this article raises a few other questions for us, the main one being, "How do you decide you're in THAT relationship?" The one that's worth slugging it out through the difficulties discussed above?

Even if you agree that it's better to stay in the "same pasture" rather than just move on to another and another and another and another (etc.) SIMILAR or SAME or LESSER "pasture" . . . how do you make the decision that the pasture you're in is THE pasture in which you should stick around? Even if you've decided that "switching pastures" over and over is NOT your goal, how/when do you know you've arrived in the RIGHT one? Or if not "for keeps" (like, FOREVER) at least for the next few years or so?

Ramona wondered how jekessans' thoughts on the longevity of typical lesbian relationships compared to similar dynamics involving heterosexuals. We pretty much wondered that too. Even if the comparison wasn't explicitly stated (and no, it wasn't, we did read the article), it'd hard to read anything involving Relationships Involving Lesbians and not at least SORT of compare it to either heterosexuals or gay men. Jekessans said that for her, it didn't. I guess we wondered the same thing Ramona did, but perhaps "heterosexuality" is not even the right yardstick. Maybe we as lesbians are just OUR OWN SOCIAL DYNAMIC, and thus not to be compared to anything else?


Sooooo . . . along those lines . . . how does one lesbian to another decide they're both worth sticking it out for the long haul? The longER haul? The U-Haul? ???

Or . . . NOT???? Most peeps would feel you can't successfully and happily commit to just ANYONE, and at least some degree of relationship failure might be due to picking the wrong person.

It can't just be ANY lesbian, but it might want to be SOME lesbian . . . right? ??? Seriously, even if you're polyamorous/non-monogamous, still, the benefits of having a significant other who has your back and who supports your domestic situation on the homefront . . . it's all good, if it all works out. (Yes, we know there is a really large assumption here, that whoever is reading wants a domestic partner, and we admit to that. We've also talked to a hell of a lot of poly and non-monogamous peeps as well as monogamous ones, and most frequently, the happiest and best-adjusted ones in all categories have a primary partner despite and/or/including/happily involving their other activities. That is our bias here, we admit to it.) For the sake of discussion we are assuming that having a domestic partner of some sort who lasts longer than your current magazine subscriptions is a desirable goal . . . or at least, desirable for those that do desire it. :)

If we take as an assumption that the typical hetero relationship stuff isn't necessarily on the table (bye bye Dr. Phil), how DO we do it?

What are the criteria? What are we looking for? When do we know we should stop looking, or at least that we've found our current domestic partner and should stop looking for that?

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lesbotronic said:

What are the criteria? What are we looking for? When do we know we should stop looking, or at least that we've found our current domestic partner and should stop looking for that?

I don't think there is any way to answer this that will actually make sense in any recognizably logical way. We all laid out our individual criteria in our profiles when we answered the "who are you looking for" question but that really doesn't cover it, does it? After all, the real connections between people are more emotional than logical and emotions have a tendency to defy logic in the most spectacular ways. It doesn't really matter if a woman has the look that always attracts you and the right kind of job that usually impresses you, plus she's super nice and treats you really well - if there is no chemistry, no feeling of arousal, no anticipation for the moment when you come together - that's a relationship that will never make you happy and will ultimately fail.

On the other hand, if you find that your heart beats just a little bit faster and your eyes shine just a little bit brighter every time you are in the presence of one certain woman - does it matter that nothing about her would normally render her swoon worthy in your eyes? If you rely on logic, you'll dismiss her and possibly lose a real shot at that all too elusive "happily ever after". 

I can absolutely get behind the advice for maintaining a long term relationship, but before you get there you have to wade through the waters of the new relationship long enough for that newness to wear off. There's no universal rules, no magic formula. Personally, I can't settle into anything at break neck speed. In the contest between the tortoise and the hare, I'm the slug who finishes behind them both. I want - no, it's more than that - I need my partner to be more than just the woman who shares my home and my bed. She needs to be my friend, my confidant, my safe haven. Above all else - she needs to be effected by me in the same way as I am by her. That doesn't happen in a day or a week- or even in a month.

If you expect to move beyond relationships that cater to today's standard of instant gratification, you have to learn how to slow down and savor the opportunities that are out there waiting to be discovered.




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