The Lesbian Gender Conundrum

Lesbian Lovers

Heterosexual women have it easy when it comes to female friendships, says Christine Allen, who wants to meet her gal pals without lesbian partners in tow. 


‘Is it okay if Susie comes along?’

I read the text from my friend and rolled my eyes. Our group’s bi-weekly catch-up had not been in operation for more than three weeks and already a request had been made for a girlfriend to tag along. While my friend is not the only one of us who has an other half, she was the first to make the suggestion, and to be frank, none of us were surprised.

‘Sorry. No girlfriends allowed!’ I texted back, hitting the send button before I could reconsider. After all, part of the reason that myself and my mates decided to arrange our bi-weekly social event was down to the fact that those of us who were in relationships wanted to dedicate more time to our friendships. We were all trying to avoid ‘the glue factor’, that all-too-familiar lesbian relationship pattern, where we remain stuck to our partners 24/7.

The friend in question simply stopped coming to our meet-ups, citing her girlfriends “hurt feelings” as the reason.

I Too Have Been That Needy Girl

Before I go any further I should hold my hands up and say, yes, I have been in relationships where my girlfriend and I have been inseparable – both in the flesh and online. I too have been that needy girl who has expressed “hurt feelings” when a girlfriend chose a night out with friends over a night in with me.

It’s a gender thing. Take it from Claudia Bepko, co-author of the paper ‘The Problem of Fusion in Lesbian Relationships‘ who says that part of the reason why women can become so close in lesbian relationships is to do with ‘gender socialisation’ and not necessarily sexual orientation.

“Women are taught to be more focused on relationships – to be helpers, to be overly engaged in their relationships, to be overly focused on the other person rather than themselves,” Claudia claims.

Such intensity inevitably results in a loss of separate identity. I’ve been in relationships where my friends forgot that I was ‘Christine’ and started calling me ‘Christine and (insert name of girlfriend here)’. And while the intimacy involved in such relationships is undoubtedly a wonderful thing, relying too much on your partner for both your emotional and social needs can only result in a dependency that will ultimately be detrimental to all your relationships.

Gender-based Jealousy

A number of years ago I had a lesbian pal who I would routinely go for coffee with. Before our backsides had hit the chairs in Starbucks her girlfriend (knowing we were having a catch-up) would call, keeping my friend on the phone for at least ten minutes.

That friendship ultimately fizzled out. There’s only so long you can sip on a signature hot chocolate while a mate tells her missus that she loves her.

Another friend, on breaking up with her girlfriend, informed me that her ex never liked us hanging out. Her reasoning was that I once described my ideal type as having “dark hair and piercings” – a description which, in her opinion, was far too close to her girlfriend’s appearance.

Isn’t such jealousy also gender-based? Most straight woman in relationships have squads of other heterosexual women to socialise with, and I’d bet their boyfriends don’t get too concerned about the women involved in their girlfriend’s lunch dates.

On the other hand, isn’t it somewhat understandable that a lesbian of the jealous disposition is going to view a gay female pal as more of a threat?

Maybe it was stupid of me to believe that my attached friends and I could have regular catch-ups without partners in tow. Perhaps, because there’s no gender divide in lesbian relationships, I’m fighting a losing battle and the glue factor will win out every time.




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