Letter From the Editor

Editorial: Having Our Say

New Releases

Authors On Tour



Gay/Lesbian/Feminist Bookstores Around the Country

The Mostly Unfabulous Homepage of Ethan Green


 [So You Want to Be a Lesbian? cover]


or Women Who Love Women Too Much

From So You Want to Be a Lesbian?

When Robin Norwood wrote her ground-breaking book, Women Who Love Too Much, she neglected a sizable portion of the market for her words of wisdom: Lesbians who don't know when to quit, who don't know when the line between "lover" and "servant" has been crossed, who can't say "no." The conditions of codependency between women are obviously different from those between members of straight couples: Firstly, there aren't many men to blame it on. This is sisterhood and sisterhood is powerful. Powerful enough to extinguish your ego completely and make you a sniveling pudding in the grip of a masterful woman who knows how to "work" you for everything you've got.

Women are raised as nurturers: Whether or not one subscribes to a biological basis for this, we are taught to be caretakers. In a relationship between two caretakers this can take on a sick, twisted aspect of needing to coddle each other in infantilizing ways.

Women are expected to compensate: The theory of compromise in relationships certainly wasn't suddenly thought up by some really sensitive guy.

Women are taught to try to make people happy: If a woman does everything possible to avoid conflict, what are the chances these conflicts will surface in a constructive way? About the same as the chances of you're being hit in the head by a parachuting Hillary Clinton wearing a gorilla suit, hawking health care.

With all this said, the conditions are ripe for painful, destructive relationships between loving, caring women who would ordinarily be perfectly happy with each other, until we meet that one woman who is looking for someone to solve all her problems, to become her mother and protector and feel everything for her, who turns her world upside down, and convinces her that life is nothing without them.

I Think I'm Addicted to My Girlfriend: The Cosmo Test

How many lesbians go through their lives happy and content in healthy relationships that are mutually satisfying, long term, and allow for the retention of individual identities within the dyad?

It depends on who you talk to. Jesse Helms would probably say none. The National Lesbian & Gay Task Force would probably say hundreds of thousands. Individuals might say "I am the only one I know of." And other individuals might counter "Well, that's not really what I want anyway. I'm more into nonmonogamous sex dates right now." To which the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force would counter, "Yes, but heterosexual people do that, too. See, we really are just like everyone else..." To which Jesse Helms would counter "But normal people don't use twenty-four-inch-long latex dildos to fulfill their twisted, perverted desires." At this point, someone would pipe in "Hey, Jesse, I don't know about you, but twenty-four inches seems like overkill." The conversation would degenerate into a cacophony of differing opinions, some valid, some political, and some wildly misinformed by some idiot's fantasy life.

Your girlfriend is in a snippy mood. A friend calls you to go out. You:

  1. think about it, and decide not to go because The Angels in Chains episode of "Charlie's Angels" is on tonight.
  2. welcome the opportunity to get away from Ms. "I've got a stick up my butt about something and I'm not going to tell you just to annoy you."
  3. decline gracefully, saying "I don't think it's such a hot idea. My girlfriend's in a bad mood."

You have just been offered a job at a social-service agency that both you and your girlfriend applied for. She wasn't even called for an interview. Now knowing this you:

  1. accept the job and try to deal with your girlfriend's feelings.
  2. accept the job and tell her to get over it.
  3. decline the position and try to convince the personnel director that she should really hire your girlfriend.

You have a problem with your mother. Your girlfriend asks you what's wrong. You say:

  1. "Oh, my mom thinks I'm stupid for not going to Ikea to get those bookshelves," which is the truth.
  2. "Nothing," knowing it will blow over and it will work itself out.
  3. "Oh sweetie, nothing is the matter when I'm with you."

Your girlfriend is going on a business trip. You:

  1. kiss her goodbye and wish her good luck.
  2. take her to the airport and watch the plane take off.
  3. finagle a ticket to where she's going, hide out and watch movies in her hotel room all day, and then get depressed when she passes out from exhaustion at night.

Your family thinks maybe you've gone a bit overboard on this togetherness kick. You tell them:

  1. "Hey, we'll grow out of it, we've only been going out for a couple of months."
  2. "Oh, Mom, it's okay. I promise nothing surgical will happen."
  3. "How can you do this? Why can't you support me in this? Just because we work in the same office, share an apartment, volunteer together, and are adopting together, it doesn't mean we don't have lives apart! It's not like we go to the bathroom together or anything! If I was straight, you'd be happy for me!!!"

You've started therapy. The first thing out of your mouth at the beginning of the session is:

  1. "God, I'm so confused."
  2. "God, my life sucks."
  3. "God, my girlfriend is so depressed."

Your friends gather together and ask you to come. They've decided to do an intervention around your girlfriend addiction. You:

  1. thank them profusely and see the light.
  2. thank them profusely and flirt with the date of your first girlfriend from high school.
  3. run screaming from the room, insisting they don't know what they're talking about, finally placing your hands over your ears, singing "I can't hear you, I can't hear you...."

Your girlfriend leaves you, saying she can't take the pressure of being with someone whose entire happiness revolves around her. You:

  1. cry for a little while, count your blessings, call all of your friends to commiserate, and go shopping for a new pair of motorcycle boots to cheer yourself up.
  2. tear up all your pictures of her, burn her letters, and then go out, get drunk, and pick up a film student for comfort.
  3. resolve to get her back, starting right now, calling her mother to ask her what you should do.


  1. Healthy constructive responses. Go get 'em killer.
  2. This sounds more like an inability to commit.
  3. Run, don't walk, to the nearest therapist (and not one for couples, either).

Back to So You Want to Be a Lesbian?

Back to the Stonewall Inn