The most common question we get at Black Lesbian Love Lab is, “how can I find a healthy relationship” or “how can I improve my relationship?”
Because I’m a black woman who loves black women, I’m gonna keep it real with you: get professional help.
I think everyone can benefit from therapy, but most black queer women (studs, femmes, no labels), carry an extra layer of pain that our institutions, family, friends and even loved ones often ignore.
Black lesbians are dealing with a lot: racism, microaggressions at work or school, social stigmas, carrying the economic burden for our families, generational poverty, relationship pressures, religious stressors, homophobia and heteronormative pressures. When you take all of these factors and multiply them by two women, it’s easy to become frustrated.
Our relationships sometimes don’t work, because some of us don’t understand ourselves, much less what it takes to have a successful relationship. Sometimes we don’t even understand the purpose of relationships. (Hint, it’s not for entertainment purposes or to stop you from feeling lonely). Sometimes we can’t even spot when we are participating in or allowing harmful behaviors.
We are human beings. We have vulnerabilities, struggles and deep, raw pain that go back for generations. It’s time we handle these issues and we need safe spaces to heal.
Here are ten reasons you MUST get therapy even if your partner doesn’t want to go:
1 You deserve undivided, compassionate and caring attention.
I love the community of women who give great advice on the blog and social media, but we cannot give you the full attention you deserve.
2 It’ll help you gain clarity about yourself.
A good therapist will help you navigate some of your most painful issues with care. She has been trained to know how far to push you and when to pull back. She’ll guide you through whatever emotional minefield you may be struggling with, so you can better understand yourself.
3 She is legally bound to keep your secrets.
There are some things that we can’t tell our friends and definitely can’t express to our partners. A therapist will listen without judging, and if she judges, you most likely don’t have to run into her at church or the family cookout.
4 Your friends can’t help you, and it’s unfair to expect them to.
Your friends love you. So most often they’ll tell you what you want to hear, not what is most helpful. Also, for real, give your friends a break. Good friends listen and give you support, but sometimes they get tired of you complaining about the same thing for hours on end.
5 Some of us have real, un-diagnosed mental health issues.
Behaviors that you may think is healthy is probably not. You could be suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. and those are not issues that you or your partner can handle alone. A skilled therapist can recognize those problems and help you find the right resources.
6 You get to practice individual skills.
One of the most difficult issues I had with my partner was expressing to her how I truly felt about things. I worried that she would leave me if I told her how I feel about things. The last therapist I went to, taught me some very specific skills that helped me learn to better communicate with my partner. We role played, and she challenged my fears. A good therapist can help you improve specific skills.
7 Self-improvement is your responsibility and a gift to yourself.
There comes the point where you need to recognize that you have done the best you can by yourself and it’s not working. You owe yourself, not just your partner, a better you. Nobody can do it alone. Investing in your emotional and mental health can pay off for years to come. Peace of mind is truly priceless.
8 It doesn’t have to be expensive.
There are several therapists that charge on a sliding scale. If you’re nervous about going to a therapist, try using other avenues for help. You can try coaching, group therapy, online therapy, weekend retreats, etc.
9 It doesn’t have to be forever.
I’ve had several therapists over the years. Whenever I started a therapist relationship, I was very clear about the outcome I was looking for. I’ve been to therapists to help me work through break ups, job transitions, coming out and communication in relationships. For most of them, I made it clear up front what I was looking for and for how long.
10 If your partner decides to go with you, you’ll get a fresh, unbiased perspective.
The therapist will help you both see both sides of the story and teach you how to listen to each other.
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Featured image: Models: IG @Shesryan and @bellisima81 Photo credit: IG @andrewfennell