Ask Alyssa: “My Sexuality is Not in My Shorts!”

 
 

This week I answered some really interesting questions, ones that I thought that a lot of people could relate to regardless of their gender or sexuality. I hope that you all find this advice helpful and I am so looking forward to the next batch of questions!

The Best Kept Secret

Hey girl, I hope y’all are all well. I just need a little advice, so I thought I would come to the expert. My best friend has a daughter, Rachel, the same age as my daughter. Her daughter came out to me a long time ago but she did not tell her mom until a few weeks ago. With my daughter’s wedding and everything, my friend has not talked to me about it but has indicated that she needed to. Rachel told me she told her mom and her mom’s reaction was something like, “I’m totally embarrassed.”

I have had Rachel and her partner, Amanda, join us for family camping and pool parties. I love Amanda. She is an elementary school teacher and has a heart of gold. Amanda did not come to my daughter’s wedding because of the friction so I understand that.

But now that the wedding is over, and my husband will be traveling next week, I know Rachel’s mom (my best friend) and I will be getting together. Amanda’s parents told her to make a choice between them and Rachel, so in that aspect, my best friend is taking it better [than Amanda’s parents]. Rachel does not want her mom to know I have known and I don’t either. Her mother and I have been friends for years and she will feel betrayed. However, I will never betray the confidence of one of my kid’s friends unless it is life threatening.

I can act dumb but how do I talk to my best friend and get her to understand that this is not a choice Rachel has made? My girls grew up with Rachel and have taken baths together, went skinny-dipping, and slept in the same bed. They love Rachel for who she is. How do I talk to her mom?

Tell Whit “Hi” and I’m watching her on The Real L Word. My husband won’t. He says y’all are like his kids and loves you but does not want to see you nekkid! Love — Sharon

Dear Sharon,

I’m so glad that you wrote in! This is an amazing question that I think many people can relate to. I’m pretty sure that when I was young I came out to my mom’s best friend, too. I know for sure that I came out to other friend’s parents before I actually came out to my own. I think that in a way, you are testing the waters, finding out what other adults think and feel in order to see how your own parents might react. Being able to be yourself and be “out” in a home with your partner, your friends and their parents in a normal life atmosphere is so healthy and I’m glad that at the least, your daughter’s friend Rachel and her girlfriend Amanda have that kind of environment with your family.

As for your best friend, it sounds like she wants to talk about this with you. I get that you don’t want to tell her that her daughter came out to you first because you don’t want her to think you kept a secret from her, so for the first part of the discussion, just listen. Coming to terms with your child’s sexuality is not always easy. I know with my own mother, at first she was so upset at the “choice” I made. When I gently explained that I had always felt that way, even when I tried having relationships with guys, her emotions when right to “Well how will you get through life, I’m worried for you, people are going to treat you unfairly.” Then it went to “What are people going to think?”

That’s when it hit me: I think its almost impossible for many parents of gay children to not make it about them as well. They automatically feel embarrassed. Which is ironically exactly what Rachel’s mother said! Many parents often think, “How will my child’s sexuality make ME look; to my friends, to other parents, to the world?” It’s stressful for them. This is where you can be a big help to both your best friend and her daughter Rachel. Let her know, nicely, that this is not about her it’s about her daughter. Ask her to think about all of the things that she loves about her daughter. Ask her to think about how special her relationship with her daughter is. Then ask her, “Does the fact that Rachel is attracted to another woman change any of that?” Remind her that what’s important in life is happiness, and family. Tell her that, on one hand, Rachel will most likely surround herself with people that love and accept her so she won’t be constantly faced with hateful people who will treat her poorly, but on the other hand yes, there will be some at times that don’t accept her, and people who are hateful. Encourage her to tell her daughter that if that happens she can always count on her family to stand behind her.

Bullying is a huge issue right now, not just for the LGBTQ community, sadly its everywhere. It’s important for young people to have a place where they can feel completely safe and surrounded by unconditional love. That place should always be their home. You don’t have to tell your best friend that you knew first, but since she is going to tell you herself, let her know that you don’t think any differently about her daughter or about her as a parent, friend or as a person. Tell her that Rachel’s sexuality doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, and that her daughter is always welcome at your home. Tell her that if she ever needs anyone to talk that you will always be there to listen, and then tell her that she should say those exact same words to her daughter. If you want to give your best friend a place to go for support, you might want to suggest checking out a website called PFLAG. It’s a support group for parents, families and friends of LGBTQ. I wish you the best with this and hope you let me know how it turns out. Much love — Alyssa

Lesbian Bed Death

Dear Alyssa, I’ve been with my partner for three years. She makes me incredibly happy, she respects me, makes me laugh. For the most part, we have a great relationship. One thing — one huge thing to me — that is missing is passion.

The honeymoon stage, of course was incredible. We couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. We became engaged and domestic partners very early. Soon after our commitment, the spark started to die. She explained that things that have happened in her past have lowered her sex drive. Which I understand and am sympathetic to, but why was it so intense in the beginning? She shows me she loves me in all sorts of ways, but I really need that physical connection more than every few months.

How do I get her to come alive again? We’ve discussed it many times, but despite how many nights I cry myself to sleep, nothing changes. Thank you! — Mel

Mel, “Lesbian bed death!” I hear that phrase in an over the top, dramatic late ’50s horror film narrator voice! Let me start off by telling — no — reassuring you, that this happens to so many couples. Its very common to start off in a relationship where you are magnetized to your partner then, in the tradition of one trillion lesbian couples before you, move in together and become domestic partners in .5 seconds. Now, I’m not saying that this was your first mistake, but it might have been your first mistake.

I once dated someone who fell into this category. She actually got a tattoo on her body that reads “Everything all the time” which to me, wasn’t just cool song lyrics, but also a kind of symbol for why many of her relationships have been kind of, eh, short lived. [If you’re reading this, I mean it in the sweetest way possible.] What I mean by this, is that far too often, we as lesbians enter into a relationship and after a flash in the pan whirlwind of dates, decide to be in a committed relationship; where we move in together and all cards are on the table. The mystery is gone, the chase is over and the monotony of day-to-day life sucks us into a repetitious cycle of snooooooze fest. You can’t be in your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse’s face all day every day and expect that the same level of passion you had at the beginning will still be there, and if it is, you truly are a Unicorn couple and I applaud you.

The truth is, 99.9% of us need to keep the flame burning and the best way to do this is to start off slowly, don’t rush into things and blow all your ace cards in the first month. If you find that you have already done this (like it sounds like you have) then you need to reinvent your passion. I have been in a relationship, with the same woman for over eight years. In lesbian years we would have just celebrated our 25th anniversary.

Now, in no way am I saying that we have always been the model couple, but what I can tell you, is that after eight years together we’ve finally realized how to make it work for us. I can’t tell you exactly what to do step by step with your partner, but I can tell you what we do and maybe it will give you some ideas. First, try to eliminate some of the things from your relationship that you would have never done in the beginning. For example, try not coming into the bathroom to “do some paper work” while your partner is brushing their teeth. Spruce yourself up. Try to get yourself looking good to show them that you still want to impress them. I don’t mean that you have to do it all the time, but make an effort.

Which leads me to one of the best things that we ever did and something I highly recommend: Date night! Pick a couple nights a month where you take your partner on a date, make it special, try to remember things that you did in the beginning and how you set it up to make that person feel special and do it again! If you were the one being courted in the beginning, then take the initiative, court them this time. It should be worlds easier now because you have gotten to know one another on a deeper level.

Also, a lot of times its not the big things that matter most, it’s a lot of little things that add up. Do things that show them that you pay attention or that you care. Fold the laundry and put it away before they get home, write each other cute little notes, or try to take walks together.

The most important piece of advice I can give is this: Remember what made you the most attracted to each other in the very beginning and recreate those moments. For me it’s seeing my fiancé playing music, or being creative. When she is in those moments I am right back where we were in the beginning. I know what things attracted her to me in the beginning too, so if I want to reel her back in, I turn it on.

A relationship is like a full time job, or a plant, or a baby, or a cute chihuahua — you have to care for it, give it attention and work at it if you want it to last and thrive. At the end of the day though, it’s an ebb and flow and it has to be equal. A bridge won’t stand if one side gives out. If you are the only one trying, then as hard as it is maybe its time to have a real conversation with your partner about where the relationship is going. The worst feeling ever is to all of a sudden realize that your once passionate relationship has turned into a sexless forever sleep over party with your best friend.

So before it turns into that, make moves. And if that doesn’t work, there are more fish in the sea my friend. Love always — Alyssa

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