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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Secrets to Lasting Lesbian Love > Dr. Helen Fisher Interview (Part 2)

Barb ElginBarb Elgin's Secrets to Lasting Lesbian Love
by Barb Elgin

In this column, Barb Elgin, a licensed therapist and love coach with almost 25 years experience on the 'front lines', helping singles and couples like yourself, navigates what she calls the 'journey of love'. 

Elgin is also a lesbian woman.  And, if you couldn't tell already, she's extremely passionate about the topics of love, dating and relationship health. 

"I look at my work as a calling, my legacy (perhaps the child I never had?) and, it's just that important."

Elgin's vision for this column is to help you improve your relationship knowledge and skills so you can experience greater satisfaction in your love life, whether you are gay or straight.  This column will break new ground in mainstream media and Internet for lesbians and those who live, love or work with them


Healthy Self Esteem and Lasting Lesbian Love
An Interview with Dr. Helen Fisher - Part 2


Click here to read part 1

As I reflect on my last article in this new column, where I introduced you to my interview with Dr. Helen Fisher, I want to remind you that what you choose to believe and who you listen to and learn from impacts the quality of your life and your love life.  I know, sounds pretty obvious, right?  Except that it's not always as easy as it looks to steer clear of 'toxic junk', let go of old hurts and resentments and build and maintain healthy self esteem, when you are a lesbian in today's world

For example...

  • Perhaps you have parents who 'tolerate' you and your partner rather than treat you in ways that show they see you as equal to your straight sibling and their spouse.  For example, does your family send you and your partner an anniversary card each year?  Do they even know your anniversary date?

  • Perhaps you work for a company that pays lip service to 'celebrating diversity', but the issue of sexual orientation is conveniently and obviously ignored.

  • Perhaps you heard many negative comments about gays growing up or, during adolescence you were beat up or teased for 'looking gay'.

  • Perhaps you grew up in a family where males had superiority over the females or you were parented to be 'seen and not heard'.

Especially when it comes to your love life, where you are your most vulnerable, you will be well served in paying attention to experts like Dr. Helen Fisher.  Dr. Fisher commands a high level of credible knowledge about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) issues and she also is very willing to share that information, and her interpretation of credible research, on the public stage. 

We have to thank intelligent allies like Dr. Fisher, who are doing their part in making the world a better place for GLBT's.  When Helen shares what she knows about who we are, that truth is edifying rather than destructive to our sense of self and self esteem.  And, it becomes that much harder for those who ignore us, treat us unequally or spread lies, to continue to do so without looking foolish or feeling guilty.

GLBT singles and couples have faced centuries of negativity, ranging from total denial of our existence to hate crimes.  The good news is that this is rapidly changing, in most of the world, particularly in recent years.  Anti-gay laws, beliefs and organizations are falling away as society becomes enlightened in it's understanding of GLBT's, helped along by people such as Dr. Fisher and as more people understand values such as social justice and equality.

As I mentioned in my last article, the way GLBT's have been represented in the public sphere, particularly in the media, hasn't always been kind.  And, these inaccurate representations aren't benign in their effect.  Who knows, for example, how many straights continue to hold stereotypical beliefs about GLBT's and who knows how many GLBT's have committed suicide as a result of seeing and hearing, over and over, in the media, that being GLBT is 'not okay'?  We'll never know.

Fortunately, today we have groups such as GLADD – The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - whose mission it is to...

"Amplify the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.”

Don't you agree it's time that real stories of happy and lasting lesbian love relationships 'comes out' of the closet! 

And, the more the better.  Yes, progress has been made on the front of GLBT acceptance, but when it comes to gays and lesbians having a love life, and, even better, a SEX life, many become uncomfortable again, right?  I believe this lack of positive, visible role models is part of the reason many lesbians who desire a lasting love relationship with another woman struggle to create that vision. 

I see plenty preoccupation online regarding lesbian sex.  And, I also see the other extreme – the lesbian bed death image.  Where are the balanced images of healthy, loving lesbian couples where the focus is love, devotion and healthy sexual relating?

So where do we begin?  Thankfully, balancing the images has already begun.  We're seeing celebrities like Ellen and Portia DeGeneres together in public, behaving obviously as a romantic couple, just like any straight celebrity couple.  It begins when Ellen talks about Portia on her show just like Jay Leno talks about his wife and Portia takes Ellen's last name (Although I think a hyphenated name, where Portia didn't give up her maiden name – DeRossi – would have been more equitable.  And, why didn't Ellen take Portia's last name?).  LOL........

We need to see more gay male celebrities, like Ricky Martin, showing himself in public with his partner.  Yes, Ricky seems very comfortable being seen as a parent, but what about his partner?  I haven't read his memoirs, does he talk about his partner in the book?  And, kudos to Elton John and his husband David Furnish.  They've broken through both the boundaries of love and parenting in the public eye.  Perhaps the lack of 'out' gay celebrity couples is a sign it's still more difficult for gay men to be out as a couple today.

One of the most surprising moments of my interview with Dr. Helen Fisher occurred when I asked her if there was any difference between gay and straight romantic love.  Surprisingly, Helen remained very adamant that, when it comes to falling in love, gays and straights are alike!

On the other hand, Dr. Fisher was very clear that when it comes to why one person becomes gay and another does not, while she hasn't studied the issue directly she knows of many in the field who've done multiple cultural and animal studies showing...

  • There is no correlation between gayness and having an absent father, a controlling mother, poverty, sexual or physical abuse, childhood experiences or any other cultural circumstance(s).

  • A strong possibility that sexual orientation is determined long before someone is born.  She reminded me that there have been many animal studies (often done using rats because their brains are, other than the cortex, so similar to human brains) showing there is a 'chemical washing' of certain parts of the developing brain by the hormones testosterone and estrogen in the fetus that seems to be pivotal in determining sexual orientation.  Helen notes that repeated studies have shown, for example, that if you inject an infant female rat with testosterone she will take on gay behavior patterns.  

Lesbians Face Most of the Same Challenges Everyone Does in Love, But We Also Face Some Unique Challenges

When it comes to creating lasting lesbian love in your life, you will encounter most or all of the challenges all singles and couples face.  In addition, you also deal with physical, financial, emotional and social pressures still existing in our world that can keep you from lasting lesbian love, but only if you allow it!

I'll be saying much more about how to avoid these pressures in future articles.  Might I begin by suggesting that the quality of your social support network is vital to your success in creating lasting lesbian love.  For example, it's important to remember to address, ignore or minimize contact with those who don't support you for finding, growing and enjoying a happy and healthy love life with the woman of your dreams.  And, that could also include those who are GLBT but whose values are different and in conflict with yours.

Whether an 'important' someone in your life is either...

  • Refusing to speak up in your (and/or your partner's) defense.
  • Treating you or your relationship unequally.
  • Actively spreading untrue myths and research that lacks credibility and the support of mainstream professional associations.
  • In some way coming between you and the relationship you are creating.

He or she is probably toxic to your self esteem and happiness.  You need to begin getting this clear about who you choose as your most important social supports.  It's just that critical!

Stay tuned for my future articles, where I'll say more about organizations that are giving gays and lesbians the opportunity to become more visible as couples, love and the lesbian brain and how you can build your self esteem in ways that supports you in finding the love of your life if you are single OR help you build lasting lesbian love, if you are already in love or in a relationship!

Thank you for reading.  I hope if you've found today's article intriguing, you'll forward it on to those who want or need to see it!

For 25 years now, Barb Elgin, MSW, LCSW, Certified Singles Coach, has been discovering the secrets to lasting lesbian love.  Now she wants to share them with you!  Dating and relationship coaching is available with Barb live and 'on demand' every Wednesday evening from 7-10p ET at 352-347-3577/toll free 866-396-2272.  To learn more about Barb – and her email is

Disclaimer: The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.


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