Advice from 7 Lesbian Couples Who Have Been Together for More Than 30 Years


Lez be honest: Keeping your long-term relationship intact can sometimes feel like more work than you have the energy for. You love your partner unconditionally, but there are moments along the way that might have you frustrated, overwhelmed or even heartbroken. 

As someone who has been in a relationship for 10 years, I can tell you that I have had some of the most magical and breathtaking times of my life over the last decade. I can also tell you there have been some absolutely devastating times as well, and it’s been in those dark times that finding strength in each other as individuals and as a team is where putting in the work is most important, as well as the most fulfilling.

We talked to seven lesbian couples who have been together for 30 years or more in hopes of getting some advice about making a relationship last a lifetime. Some of these couples have faced incredible odds together; some of them endured tragedy, separation and illnesses. While great advancements have been made for the LGBTQ community, these couples suffered through decades of intense shame from the world, some hiding who they were and who they loved. If anyone knows about how to make a relationship last, it is these women, who have participated in fighting not only for equality but for their relationships to go the distance. 

I encourage all of you, whether you are in a relationship or not, to read through each of these couples stories and pieces of advice they are passing on to us. Take to heart their words and their intentions behind them, because it is not every day you will get relationship advice from a generation of lesbians who know what it is like to have loved the same woman for years and years and years.

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Janette (65) and Rachel (63), together for 34 years

Do not take your relationship for granted. Long-term relationships are supposed to feel safe and secure, but there should be a degree of uncertainty that will make you continue to improve and/or work on it. If you do not have the assumption you will be together forever, then it keeps you both on your toes.”

“Be ready and able to change. Be ready to talk about and accept (usually) your partner’s changes. You should not expect to be the same couple you were 30 years ago—you go through a lot of stuff together.”

“Hash out issues. Never let a problem build. Be prepared to go over the same issues many, many times. People do not learn or change quickly—it takes a long time to learn how to have a good relationship.”

“Be prepared to both love and hate your partner, because at times you will hate them for something. There must obviously be more love, though, than hate.”

“Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Be humble and prepared to laugh at how ridiculous you sometimes will be. Accept that everyone is imperfect.”

“Don’t make the classic lesbian move of moving in quickly. Give yourself enough time to see how things are going. If it’s going to be a long-term relationship, you will have lots of time.”

“There needs to be continual sexual desire for one another, but there may be times you do not act on it as frequently as when you first got together. Your passion will wax and wane, but you need a steady delight in being with each other.”

“Relish your shared interests, but allow for differences of interests and, in some cases, irreconcilable views on certain topics. It is good, though, if your political views are closely aligned.”

“Really listen to each other and know what the other wants so you can act on it.”

“Practice continued acts of kindness and generosity towards one another.”

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