On the Role of Lesbian Girl [space] Friends

There's a phrase I've heard over and over in the lesbian community, that seems to be the underlying reason for everything we do: "We're lesbians. It's complicated." Whether it be moving in together, sleeping with our exes, or the rampant gossip among our circles of friends, we lesbians seem to be rife with drama. There are times when I embrace this as merely a side-effect of massive amounts of estrogen, but lately I've been thinking that sometimes the drama overpowers common sense and reason.

Here's the thing that I think we forget: NOT EVERY WOMAN IS A POTENTIAL DATE. Read that line again.

As women, we are relational creatures, and need friends in our lives. Unfortunately, both our best friends and our most passionate lovers look very much the same. Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, who find friends and lovers in opposite genders, we must decipher from body language and chemistry and feelings and attraction whether a woman we meet could be a partner or a pal.

I believe that many lesbian women fall into the trap of allowing the first option to be the default. They see everyone woman as a possibility, and if it doesn't work, well, then we could be friends. This is faulty logic. It can lead to damaged friendships (or potential friendships) and heartache when we try to have relationships that we've failed to evaluate. If they had waited a little longer, gone out a few more times, they would have realized that it wasn't going to work. But now someone's broken someone's heart, it will be awkward for a while when everyone hangs out. Purely hypothetical situation, of course.

I propose an alternative. I believe that the best model is to view every woman we meet as a potential friend. This way, we will take the time to get to know her and evaluate how she best fits in our lives. Also, we wouldn't have to deal with petty jealousies - we could have friendships with women we meet, even if they have girlfriends! I also think that it will open more people to friendships, because there wouldn't be that awkward she likes me, but I don't like her... does she think this is a date or are we just friends? Granted, that's also due to lack of communication in the lesbian dating process. But that's an article for another time.

The best result of this approach is that the relationship which due flourish will be that much stronger because they originated as friendships. I heard a quote a long time ago that I've used often but never properly attributed (because I don't know who originally said it), but it's become one of my favorites: "Love is friendship on fire." The best foundation for a lasting relationship is friendship. Passion waxes and wanes, but the stability of the trust, respect, and love of a friendship will keep us strong through the hard times.

It can be hard to change our mentalities, especially when we're single. I would encourage each of us, though, to pay attention to our reactions when we meet new women. Do you scope them out and immediately rate them as a potential partner? I know I do sometimes. If you're like me, let's start thinking more about the friendships that we can develop with other lesbian women. As we develop a network of friends who truly care about us and love us, we will have a built-in support group that can help us through any storm life (and drama!) may bring us.


chickflick said...

Amen, sister. I'm glad you wrote this article.

Kelly said...

this is one of the best posts I've read in a while. Well done!

Becky C. said...

This is one of the most intelligent things I have read in a long time. I would only expand it to a general theory of relationships rather than a special theory of lesbianism.

Everyone regardless of gender or orientation--would be best to follow the path described here. Hormonal instincts and societal mores with never make it universal--but that is what intelligent humans should try to do.


Lesberita said...

Well Professor, once again, you've hit the nail right on the head. In fact, I couldn't have said it better myself, you should give a course on how lesbians should go about friendship. It can be called "Not Every Lesbian You Meet Is A Potential Girlfriend 101"

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Ah, words of wisdom were never better spoken! You're right - it can be confusing because the package is similar, but we DO need to learn how to be friends with other women - straight women included! And, on the other hand, to have a wide variety of people in our lives, for support but also for a wide perspective that will add to our lives.

There is a book I found enlightening on this issue. It's called, "It is a date, or just coffee?" Very funny (I believe the author is a comedienne?) but also brings this important relational issue into focus.

Personally, I tend to think of it as a dependency issue, but that's another story, too.

On the other hand, I tend to think of every woman I meet as straight, and therefore won't be interested in me. It makes for long dry spells between dates.

But, I do like your suggestion of looking at other women, just as we do all other people - can we be good friends? And, you're right, I think. If we are meant to be more then there can't be a better foundation than friendship! I think a lot of it is about letting things happen naturally.