You may have heard the joke, “What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A U-Haul.” And you may have heard the follow up joke, “What does a gay man bring on a second date?” and the answer is “What second date?” These two jokes portray the stereotypical differences between the two genders. For those not familiar with the phrase “U-Haul Lesbian,” it describes how many lesbians jump quickly into relationships when it comes to love and then move in together after a very short period of dating.
Let’s face it; women are biologically more nurturing and emotionally expressive than men. They are known for making quick emotional decisions, such as moving in or getting married. Since women in general frequently respond based on emotion, it is common for the romantic bond to be a strong and intense one in lesbian relationships. This sensual and intimate connection can quickly lead to “U-Hauling” for many lesbian couples, but not all. Some experts may say “U-Hauling” is unhealthy; however, I (as a relationship therapist) believe that healthy “U-Hauling” is possible.
Here are a few tips to help you create a healthy “U-Haul” relationship:
1.Slow Down: Women (of all sexual orientations) have a strong innate desire to merge their lives quickly with their partner. Moving in together merges not only the household items, but it also merges living styles. Slow down and take your time integrating the other areas of life. Start off with the living situation, and gradually join in the other items, such as clothing, friends, finances, etc.
2.Don’t Lose Yourself: Since women merge lives quickly, it is common to merge mannerisms, such as talking alike, dressing alike, thinking alike, etc. No matter how comfortable and good this may feel, don’t lose yourself. Make sure to carve out “you time.” Don’t lose yourself or your independence.
3.Avoid the “All in” or “All out” Relationship: U-Hauling is known for its fast paced relationship and quick commitments. The “all in” approach to a relationship may feel like an “over dose” and can cause the opposite reaction of wanting “all out.” Avoid the “all in” behaviors and make sure that you and your partner have time for yourselves and for the relationship. Find ways to have a balance.
4.Communicate!!! I am an avid believer of communication and I focus my entire therapy practice on communication. The foundation of a healthy and successful relationship is communication. Express your needs, fears, desires, and pains to your partner in a constructive way. Find ways to hear and understand your partner, as well. If you struggle in this area, learn how to communicate successfully by getting the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, or seek professional help.
5.Give and Take: Find healthy ways to give and take. If you are a natural caregiver and you give often, it may be a challenge to accept help or nurturing from your partner. Try to find a way to continue to give, while accepting your partner’s giving. If you are on the opposite side and care giving is difficult, try to remember that your partner has needs as well. Equal parts of give and take can help create a safe bond and keep your relationship strong.
Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC#47653) with a private practice in Mission Valley of San Diego.