Relationships in general – LGBT and non-LGBT– take a lot of learning and work in order to be healthy. This is partly due to growing up without specifically being taught how to have stimulating and satisfying romantic partnerships. At most, we were able to see our parent’s relationship, however, that may not have been the best model for us, especially since it was not likely a model that involved a parent that identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
Below are some quick tips on how to maintain a healthy relationship when any of the partners identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
1) It is important to feel like a couple. Others, including family and friends, may not be as prone to see you as a couple as they would a non-LGBT couple, so make sure that you do things, like celebrating anniversaries, to ensure you see yourself as a unit. Seeing yourself as a couple will allow you to have an additional reason to work through difficult times and stay together.
2) Attempt engaging in a dialogue with your partner instead of talking at each other – trying to just prove a point. It is natural when someone feels attacked for them to do whatever necessary to survive. This often leads to arguments that do not get resolved. When you do not like something that your partner did, try to share your experience of what happened by speaking from the “I” and helping your partner understand how you feel about the situation.
3) When it comes to sex, try to get rid of any shame and stigma you may have by talking about what might be getting in the way of more intimate sex with your partner. Many of us may feel that we can just work out these issues while actually having sex, however, especially for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, there needs to be actual discussion about how each person feels about sex and what stimulates them.
Israel Martinez, LCSW
I am a psychotherapist who has been working with the LGBT community on a professional basis for over ten years. This background provides me with unique expertise on issues that tend to be a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender experience.