To PDA or Not PDA? That is the question!

When do you PDA? If at all? 

For a heterosexual couple, public displays of affection are usually no big deal. Nobody is going to get upset if they see a man and woman kissing on the street. But with gays and lesbians it’s a different story.

This is something I realized right after my first relationship. My first relationship was a heterosexual one, and back then, I never felt uncomfortable showing affection in public. But when I entered a lesbian relationship it became much more complex. I felt like all eyes were on me whenever I made any move towards my partner. Even kissing my partner in a deserted part of town by the water where no one was watching felt unsafe. After all, anybody could come upon us at any minute and discover what we were doing. And who knows what would happen then? (Yes, I do admit to being a bit paranoid.)

You may think I live in the Midwest but actually I live in New York City, and even in this liberated city, it is a very rare sight for me to see two men or two women being affectionate with each other, unless it’s at a club or other kind of gay event. Turns out it’s not just me—a lot of other gay men and women are paranoid too. And it’s understandable why: you simply never know the reaction someone is going to have. Just because you live in New York, it doesn’t mean everyone is pro-gay.

And then there are some gay people who don’t like being lovey-dovey in public, and it has nothing to do with fear. They don’t want to be put on display. They believe love is for the bedroom. That’s understandable as well. Just because you are gay doesn’t mean you are comfortable with public displays of your sexuality.

If you feel uncomfortable with public displays of affection, for whatever reason, discuss it with your partner. Don’t just reject him or her without giving a reason. That’s the worst thing you could do and will lead to major tension within your relationship.

But they are doing it too!

Explain why you feel wary about it. Some gays and lesbians are afraid of public displays of affection because they’ve been harassed before while kissing a partner. If that has happened to you, tell your partner about it. It will help her to understand your fear better.

In addition, it can be a problem even if both of you like PDAs. You may not mind a public display of affection once in a while, but the girlfriend who constantly wants to grab your butt in public is a problem. She is trying to say to the world: “This is my possession and you can’t have it.” Do you really want to go out with someone like that?

Whatever you do, don’t let your partner pressure you into doing something you are uncomfortable with. Don’t let her make you feel guilty, or make you feel like it’s your duty as an activist to showcase your relationship in front of straight people. It’s not your duty to do that; it’s only your duty to be happy. 

Posted on February 25, 2013 .

Go ahead, make the first move!

It can be very intimidating to make the first move, whether on a dating website or in person. We fear being judged. Many years ago, there was a book called The Rules which stated women should never talk to men first. And though that book was released for a heterosexual audience, I think a lot of queer people have internalized that message as well. Femme lesbians may feel they shouldn’t have to make the first move when a butch is around. Or a more feminine gay guy might think that his more masculine crush should make the first move.

Regardless of who you are, it is a bad idea to stand on ceremony when it comes to making the first move. If someone likes you, he will not be creeped out if you approach him first. Just the contrary: he will (or at least should) be flattered. Of course, your approach matters a lot. There are certainly ways to ick someone out with a weird approach at a bar or on a dating site.

Here are some ideas of what to do and what not to do when making the first move:

Don’t be stalkery. When you like someone, you may be tempted to follow her around the bar or send a hundred emails. Don’t do that. It will make you look very strange. One nicely-written email or sweet hello at a bar is all it should take to get someone’s attention. If she is not interested after that, then it wasn’t meant to be.

Try to relax. Making the first move is enough to send anyone’s nerves reeling. Take a few deep breaths before approaching your crush, or before sending out an email. If you appear too nervous, it may lower your chances of attracting that person.

Go ahead and make the first move! 

Go ahead and make the first move! 

Don’t be too overly familiar. Being flirtatious is one thing, but invading someone’s personal space or giving out intimate details of your life is another. Avoid touching someone’s hair or clothing when approaching them. You may think you are just being harmlessly friendly, but you may risk upsetting him. Also, and this especially applies in any place liquor is being served, do not reveal too much personal info about yourself. You don’t want to give a stranger your address or where you work, even if she or he seems lovely. And you also don’t want to tell him you used to be an alcoholic, or you have mental health issues, or anything of that sort when you first meet him. Save that for the second date at least.

Don’t assume someone doesn’t like you or is out of your league. Just because someone didn’t approach you first, doesn’t mean they don’t like you. He or she could just be shy or busy. Also, don’t assume someone else is too pretty or too successful for you to date. First of all: you are probably selling yourself short. And secondly, people are attracted to all sorts. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of people with partners who weren’t as attractive or successful as them. People fall in love with each other not always based on their job or how they look but how much fun they have together. 

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Deeply Satisfying, Lasting, Lesbian Love: Attract the Love of Your Life by Living a Healthy Life – in Mind, Body and Spirit!

As I considered the many directions I could go in writing this piece, my first draft contained a listing of the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial challenges ‘the lesbian community’ faces.  After thinking about it, I realized even though learning about trends amongst lesbians as a group might be interesting, I think it would be more helpful for the purposes of this article to:

  • Assess your ‘health’ in each important life area
  • Decide what you need or want to change
  • Support you in taking action to make positive changes

Again I’m generalizing but lesbians, like many women, are known to take care of others first, BEFORE taking care of themselves.  So, this article will work to help you do the reverse, if you haven’t made the shift already!  At a later time we can talk about how some issues are problems in our community and what we can do to help address them.

Your Physical and Emotional Health

How would you rate your health?  Great, good, okay, or poor?  Do you follow doctor’s orders on physical and/or emotional health diagnoses and/or issues you are facing (or have faced)?  Do you go for yearly checkups with your primary care physician or OB/GYN?  Do you ‘under-treat’ emotional problems, thinking they aren’t as serious as physical problems?

A wonderful guide for getting in better touch with your mind and body was created by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and is called, ‘Top 10 Things Lesbians Should Discuss with their Healthcare Provider’[1].  As you read this article, please make note of any concerns you have about any of these issues and be sure to make an appointment with your primary care doctor to discuss.

Your Spiritual Health

Spirituality isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely an aspect of life you will want to consider as a support.  Studies have shown people who have a spiritual practice are healthier and happier.  Do you have a spiritual foundation?  If so, is it as accepting and loving as it can be for you?  Or if not, did you leave a religious community at some point in your past due to ‘second class’ treatment?  Some lesbians have a sour taste in their mouths for religion because of such negative experiences.

The good news I have to share is that there are so many positive options for developing your spiritual self today.  If you are Christian or Jewish, there are many gay-affirming churches and denominations.  Or, if you are seeking a new path, there are plenty of options.  If you are someone who has ‘fallen away’ from spirituality and you honestly miss it, be sure to investigate the variety of religions and spiritual practices and communities available in the world today.  The sky is the limit!

Your Financial Health

How would you characterize your financial health today?  Are you in great shape or out of shape in the money department!?!  Have you taken time to consider your financial goals, short and long term?  Every person’s situation is unique.  Your age is a factor in terms of any investing that you want to do.

The bottom line is becoming more empowered about your financial present and future.  It’s never too late to begin instituting some sound financial planning, such as budgeting, investing, retirement planning, etc.

What to do with your assessment

The above assessments are only a first step.  Once you’ve gotten a ‘pulse’ on each of these areas of your life, your next step is to take action to create a plan that addresses what you’ve discovered.  For example, if you are doing the assessment correctly, you’ve uncovered some areas needing change.  This is good!

You then need to elicit the help of experts and support persons to help you get where you want to go.  For example, if in assessing your health, you have determined that THIS time you are going to get help to quit smoking, congratulations on taking the step of acknowledging an area needing support.  Making this type of behavioral change can make a dramatic improvement in your quality of living.

Your next step is to create a very supportive plan for succeeding at quitting.  Back in the day, when I first trained to be a psychotherapist, I learned how important it is to help clients approach a problem behavior using a ‘multi-modal’ approach.  Basically, this means addressing your smoking from as many ‘angles’ as you can, such as…

  • Socially – addressing social cues that cause you to smoke; getting positive social support for not smoking
  • Biological – addressing biological reasons you smoke (this is why some doctors prescribe medications to help their patients quit)
  • Behavioral – addressing behaviors that are leading to smoking and reinforcing those that don’t
  • Cognitive – stopping thinking that is hurting your efforts and reinforcing thinking that is helping
  • Emotions – addressing emotions as they impact your ability to quit

Most importantly, you need to find support and help that focuses on you and what works best for you.  You can use a similar process for any challenge in your life.  For example, you can learn more about taking charge of your finances by any number of strategies which could include reading books by experts such as Suze Orman[2], regularly reading popular web sites such as CNN Money, Bloomberg, Forbes, Kiplingers, etc., and/or consulting certified financial planners and experts.

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Posted on January 18, 2013 and filed under Dating Advice.