Why Can’t We Commit?

Dear Dr. Frankie,

I guess I am asking a question that has probably been asked before. Why are those in the lesbian community such serial monogamist? I might be overly sensitive but it hurts my heart each time I hear of a couple breaking up who have some years under their belt. It makes us seem unstable and driven by lust as my unsupportive family thinks. I myself haven’t been able to make one work and feel ashamed in comparison to my three sisters who all have been with their husbands a long time and have kids. And those that break up don’t even need time to grieve but just hop back into another relationship with someone who they “connect” with on so many “more” levels then their ex.

I feel I will never find anyone who is willing to commit to “’til death do us part”. It is especially discouraging because I have spent the last few years holding out for Ms. Right with the help of a therapist to confidently set boundaries and voice my expectations.

Dear A-shamed,

I really commend you for your strength to stay true to yourself. I too see many women going from one relationship to the next without even taking a moment for themselves. My feeling is that women are nurturers by nature and we seek companionship and love. In the early history of humankind, we fared better in groups than as individuals. Our survival was more likely if we hunted and gathered in tribes than alone. Even though a vast majority of us do not rely on these skills anymore, we are social creatures and still fare better when we share our experiences. And most people simply don’t like being alone for very long.

Although the heterosexual divorce rate is above 50% and climbing rapidly, we do face our own set of unique obstacles in the gay and lesbian community. There is a lack of role models in long term, committed relationships. The void of such role models has trickled down to some of us as self-doubt that we are worthy and capable of having a great relationship. Some of us have internalized the homophobia concerning our inability to marry the person we love. Some of us also contend with having unrealistic expectations of our prospective partners. And to top this list is the societal epidemic of being driven by instant gratification. The inconvenient truth is that there isn’t always someone nicer, sexier, more understanding or richer just around the corner waiting for you with open arms. When our current relationship stops feeling perfect it can be tempting to simply start fantasizing about the next person. It’s much more exciting to crush out on someone than to work on an actual relationship based in reality.

Lastly, women tend to be more emotional than men and when we become intimate we can confuse our feelings of attraction and chemistry for love. This can lead us to make serious, premature decisions about commitment in a relationship. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released when we are attracted to another person. It is released in larger doses when we are physically intimate and especially after an orgasm. Oxytocin makes us want to spend every waking moment with our new woman after we become intimate. We also experience the secretion of serotonin when we are physically intimate. This makes us feel euphoric, and who doesn’t love feeling euphoric? Both of these chemical changes can drive an individual to jump into a relationship prematurely. And on the flip side, the longer one is in a relationship the less they experience the surge of these chemicals. So in my opinion there are emotional as well as physiological reasons that people, and perhaps women in particular, sometimes jump from one relationship to the next. I hope I was able to shed some light onto your wonderful question.

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