Is Your Same Sex Relationship On Edge?
Are you feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied with your relationship? Do you feel that your needs are not being met, leading to feelings of anger, frustration or sadness? Do you wonder if your relationship can work – or if you’re capable of making any relationship work? Have you encountered stress related to your same sex partnership? Do you struggle with a lack of acceptance or celebration about your choices by others or find that you’re still struggling with them yourself?
Same sex couples encounter the same relationship problems that heterosexual couples deal with. Intimacy and communication issues can arise, as can the common issues of balancing separateness and closeness. But, people in same sex partnerships can also experience another level of issues that may bring increased stress to the relationship. Because you’re still in a minority group, there are fewer relationship role models and, unfortunately, less societal acceptance. You may be struggling to figure out gender roles. You may be struggling to gain the acceptance of friends or family. And, you and or your partner still may be grappling to fully celebrate your partnership and choices connected to your sexual identities.
What You’re Experiencing is Normal
Encountering stress and relationship blocks is extremely common in all partnerships, and possibly even more so in same sex relationships. It’s actually kind of the norm. Most same sex couples experience some level of the typical stresses found in all romantic relationships, but with another layer of issues to deal with. The good news is that experience shows us that couple’s therapy is an extremely effective way of working through all these issues. And, sometimes it’s as simple as identifying the root causes of your problems and learning a few skills to improve communication. You can feel more intimately connected to you partner, and learn new and healthier ways to handle conflict.
Therapy Can Bring You Closer
With the help of a BPS therapist who specializes in couple’s work, LGBTQ issues and same sex couples counseling, you and your partner can learn ways to improve communication, respond well to each other’s needs and to stay engaged with one another – all the foundations of a solid relationship. In tandem to working on partnership issues, you’ll both also be encouraged to develop more individual self-awareness. This can include looking into your past and previous relationships with partners, friends and family. Developing an understanding of how your past has shaped who you are today can help you develop personal accountability and responsibility for what you bring to your relationship. Sharing these insights can lead to major breakthroughs in how you and your partner relate to and support each other.
In therapy, you will also learn simple and effective tools and skills that can make your relationship smoother. These can help you work through conflict, but they can also bring you and your partner closer. With a little guidance, you and your partner can co-create increased closeness and enjoy a higher level of intimacy. It is very possible to change the nature of your relationship, allow for more needs to be met and to create a space that fosters mutual growth and love.
But, you still may have questions or fears…
We’ve tried couple’s counseling in the past and it didn’t help. I’m afraid that therapy will be a waste of time and money.
Experience shows us that couple’s counseling can be very effective, but finding the right therapist is key. In your case, it’s important that you find one who understands both couple’s and LGBTQ issues. It’s also important that you find a therapist who both you and your partner can easily relate with in terms of personality and style.
And, you’re not the first couple who has tried and failed at therapy. Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to handle couple’s or LGBTQ issues or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct an initial assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced in working with same sex couples and whose personality is a good match with yours and your partner’s. Once you find that good match, it’s up to you. Making a commitment to better your relationship may prove to be the investment of a lifetime. Imagine being much happier in your relationship on a regular basis and ask yourself if that is worth giving therapy another shot.
I’m afraid of the things I might hear or say in therapy. I’m not sure if our relationship could survive the truth.
Your fear is very valid and, honestly, things might get worse before they can get better. It’s natural and normal to experience increased stress and tension in the relationship when you first begin therapy. But, the process of improving your relationship begins with addressing the difficult issues that have kept you from enjoying a healthy and loving partnership. Therapy can provide you with a safe and supportive environment in which you’ll work through those bumps that can keep you stuck. Facing the root of your conflicts can actually increase closeness and intimacy as you develop a stronger and more honest connection. And, in therapy, you can develop the skills needed to work through conflict on your own when it arises again.
I think we need a therapist who really understands LGBTQ issues or is part of the community.
Again, finding the right therapist is key. You can express this desire to Dr. Jan Hittelman, who can provide you and your partner with an initial assessment and help find the best match between you and a BPS therapist. Once you receive Jan’s recommendation, you’re encouraged to interview the therapist and ask questions about his or her background and relationship to the LGBTQ community. This will also give you an opportunity to feel out the dynamic of the potential therapeutic relationship and decide if personality is also a good fit.
We encourage you to schedule an initial assessment with Dr. Jan Hittelman. Jan will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise working with couples and LGBTQ issues.