The Gayly Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Vol. 17, No. 7, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 1, 1999 Page: 21 of 28
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▼ The GAYLY ▼ April 1, '99 Page 21
by Dr. Jeffrey
The purpose of
the article is to help same gender couples
work through perhaps the most the most
difficult phases of relationships. It is the
phase that includes the following statements:
'The woman of my dreams has turned into
this person I don’t want anymore,” and "1
used to think he was perfect, but I was
wrong." There are several ways to work
through the Adjustment stage, thus allowing
same-gender couples the opportunity to de-
velop a more satisfying long-term relation-
Disillusionment (learning that there are
some disappointing qualities in your partner
and that there are some major differences
between you) is part of the Adjustment stage.
As differences appear, another major compo-
nent of this stage includes wrestling for con-
trol. Whose way are we going to do this?
Who’s taking care of which chores?
Harmony and resolution are possible,
but it often takes a lot work. If both partners
are take responsibility for relationship chal-
lenges and do his or her part to resolve them,
the chances for a satisfying relationship grow'.
After six months or a year into a relationship,
it is predictable that you will change your
opinion of your partner, because many traits
which were overlooked or unknown come
into view. Understanding that most couples
go through this process can help them to get
through uncertainties and fears. M any
couples break up because the “C" word (com-
mitment) comes into play. And instead of
dealing with new fears of abandonment and
insecurities, couples often break up at this
One of the reasons why adjustment is
difficult is that each person has been raised
with unique childhood circumstances and
with a unique set of social identities. Child-
hood circumstances include being raised by
one or two parents (or not being raised by one
set of parents but by foster parents or in a
children’s home), having other family sup
port or live in arrangements, and being the
oldest, middle, youngest, or only child, and
so forth. Social identities include ethnicity,
religion, age, association with groups and
organizations, level of schooling, and so on.
Amount of therapy. 12-step experience. HIV
status, and other situations are often taken
into consideration while developing a same-
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This notion of adjustment is one that is
overlooked for many lesbians, gay men. and
bisexuals. For many lesbigay men and women,
there is a rush to sex and intimacy, and the
opportunity to adjust to one another’s lives
becomes diminished. It is not unusual to
hear stories such as, "We see each other five
to six times per week. We’re wild about each
other. Well ... we’ve only known each other
for four weeks, but s/he’s great." Two weeks
later, they have broken up (those relation-
ships are called “Sparklers").
In both examples, there has been a prob-
lem with desiring intimacy too soon. I have
often witnessed the lack of paying attention
to the needed adjustment period by many
sexual minority individuals. Taking things
more slowly can help to give each person a
more realistic view of one another and the
time it takes to adjust to one another’s lives.
Furthermore, exploration is primarily
what dating is about, and I have seen several
common mistakes. One mistake is to date
unavailable people: people who are married,
out of town, or just out of another relation-
ship. Another common error is to demand to
know what the other person wants, and if the
person doesn’t know if s/he wants a long-
term relationship, it’s not worth it to continue
dating. Ironically, forcing the issue can push
a potential partner away — it looks desperate
and discounts the other person’s wants and
needs. A third mistake is to focus solely on
what the other person wants, neglecting one’s
own preferences. This mistake often stems
from feelings of insecurity, and it is important
to learn to focus on one’s own preferred
characteristics of a partner rather than on
whether you "measure up" to his or her
If both people are willing to let go of
control and let things happen naturally, the
dating relationship may turn into a good
friendship, as they discover that they would
be incompatible as partners. And some-
times, there’s that certain spark that causes
the attraction to be mutual, and each person
wants the relationship to grow, seeing each
other more often, spending more time to-
gether, introducing sex after a while, and
letting a relationship evolve. Although most
couples go through the stages noted above,
once a couple has built a more solid founda-
j tion through dating, they can weather the
disillusionment and adjustment period so
that falling in love is transformed into build-
j mg love.
Jeffrey ('heniin. Ph.D. is an author and
psychotherapist in Carmel. California. He
also provides workshops Jor the LGBl'commu
I nity and is co author oj an upcoming hook on
counseling lesbians and gay men. He may he
reached via this publication or by e-mail:
Dr. J. Frank Russell
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Hawkins, Don. The Gayly Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Vol. 17, No. 7, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 1, 1999, newspaper, April 1, 1999; Oklahoma City, Okla.. (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc825239/m1/21/: accessed January 29, 2020), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.