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  1. Learned about the concept, "Living Apart Together," (LAT), when I was surfing the 'net for "couples living apart happily," as I love my apartment and my town, Beacon, but miss having a woman (I am a cisgender Lesbian) to love and care about, because my community (Dutchess County, NY) is very TLGB-phobic.  My additional reasons are that I am a loud snorer, and have some other habits that I am too embarrassed to talk about.  
    Interestingly, "Living Apart Together," (LAT) came up.  Most of the information about it came from England, Australia, and Germany, with a little about it from the U.S.  This is probably because the U.S. is a relatively sexually conservative country.
    How it came about was in England, during their census (like ours, every ten years), they noticed starting in the year 2000, but dramatically increasing in 2010, a lot of handwritten comments on people's census forms, explaining they were somewhere between being single and living together.  The British government hired three universities to better explain this new social trend.  
    Most of these couples were monogamous, and had various reasons for being in LATs.  
    Also, without knowing it, I realized that I was in a LAT!  Was very much in love and went with a transwoman for ten years, until her friends started getting married (at that time, Holy Unions), and she wanted to get married, too.  Was very happy to marry her, but my reasons for not marrying was I knew Straight and Gay disabled people lost their disability benefits due to marriage, fear of bankrupting my beloved (she wanted to marry me anyways), because she would then be responsible for my medical bills and medications (at that time, insurance did not cover Gay partners), she lived ten miles off the bus line (she was ok dropping me off at the nearest bus stop on the way to work), and, as a butch, I was not comfortable with a fem supporting me.  Of course, TODAY, I would have had an "underground marriage," (very common even today for people on disability), and would have kept my public housing apartment, using it for storage and as a mail depot, while living with her, just visiting my apartment once a week to clean, check my phone messages and pick up the mail.  
    The advantages may be:
    Be able to avoid getting "underfoot" with one anotherGreat for those who travel long distances for workBe able to keep the relationship "fresh" and "special"Be able to connect regularly by e-mail, telephone, texting, Skype and snail mailBe able to be more romantic by sending packages and gifts​The disadvantages may be:
    In a crisis, may not be able to get together as quickly as you may want toBoth of you must NOT have trust issuesWon't be able to share quality time together on a day to day basisMay not be the best way to raise children​Realized that my relationship was a LAT, even before they had a name for it.  Also, I realized had we moved in together, our relationship would have very likely been short lived.
    Today, I am open to a LAT, either as a prelude to a living together arrangement or as a permanent arrangement.  Would try a living together arrangement on a trial basis, and, if there are problems caused by living habits, return to the LAT arrangement.
    Here are some links about LATs:
    http://www.losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/05/10/experts-married-couples-finding-bliss-apart/
    http://www.articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-02-14/features/ct-live-0214-amy-20110214_1_couples-happy-valentine-s-day-private-space
    http://www.livingaparttogetherlat.com
    https://www.facebook.com/LivingApartTogetherLAT
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doXVCB1KAno
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4-q1h93Csk
    ​https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ul9YoL7z58
    Would like to hear from others who have been in a LAT and/or living together arrangement and what you think about each!
     
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  2. The other article on Lesbian Connection that hit me between the eyes was about relationships.  
    ""Where are all the 'real' women?"  "I just want someone to be honest and authentic!"  "No one I meet knows how to listen and go deep!""
    "We offer dating and relationship classes for women, and it's amazing how often we hear this kind of thing from the Lesbians we work with.  We have some good news, and some bad news.  First - what you find out there is pretty much always a reflection of what you're bringing.  Now the good news - when you learn to show up with the beautiful, deep, vulnerable, self-responsible "realness" you seek, you can often magically elicit that same level of authenticity from others.  (No, not from everyone.  But from many women - more than enough!)"
    "For example, years ago I went on a first date with a woman who seemed promising.  She was a writer, she was smart, she was funny, and I was attracted to her.  But something wasn't going quite right.  She just kept talking and talking.  Every time I made a comment, or tried to interject something about myself, she'd launch into another story."
    "At first it was okay, because her stories were interesting.  But as this went on, I started to wonder:  Does she always just go on and on like this?  Is she really conceited, or is she just nervous?  Does she just not like me?  What gives?  And as more time passed I thought:  If this is how it's going to be, I don't want to date her.  What's wrong with her?  Doesn't she notice she's hogging all the conversational space?  Why doesn't she know how to listen?  Does she even know I'm here?"
    Then, after a while, a familiar litany started up in my head:  What's wrong with me?  Why do I always end up with women who don't know how to listen?  Maybe I am too picky.  Maybe I'm destined to be alone.  While all these thoughts, fears and frustrations were going through my head, on the outside I was nodding, smiling, being polite, saying "Mmm-hmm," and still trying to get a word in edge-wise about my own life, too."
    "What I was not doing was - being real."
    "I wasn't taking the risk to tell my date what I was really thinking and feeling.  That means I was giving up at the starting gate and not even giving her the chance to go deeper with me.  And I wasn't sharing with her the authenticity that I longed for."
    "How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  And how many times have you broken through it by getting more real yourself?  If your answers are "a lot," and, "none," you're not alone!  Most of us simply don't know how to be that honest, especially with someone we don't know well.  Yet how are we ever going to get to know someone well, if we aren't honest with them?  It's quite a conundrum!"
    "So let's take a look at what I might have said on that date:  "You know, I'm starting to feel really confused and kind of sad because I find you attractive, but it feels like our conversation is just going one way - and I'm really not sure why, or how to change that."
    ""You've got a lot of great stories, but I would really like it if we could switch gears and talk about what's going on between us right now.  I'm finding myself starting to have some familiar thoughts and feelings that are keeping me from really being here with you.""
    ""I was really looking forward to this date, but I feel like something isn't going quite right for me in our conversational flow, and I would love it if we could talk about that together and try to change it.  Would you be up for that?""
    "You'll notice that in each of these statements, I used "I - language" - that is, I'm trying to talk about what I am feeling, rather than make accusations or assume I know what's going on for my date.  When you make I - statements, it's easier for someone to hear you - and it makes it less likely she'll argue or get defensive.  And, most importantly, by talking about what I feel and want, I am being vulnerable and real.  I am offering my date the chance to go deeper with me - if she's able and willing."
    "As I said before, some women won't choose to take you up on that offer.  But some will.  And for most of us, all it really takes is one!"
    "Fast-forward to when I met my partner, M.  I can still remember a few key moments when I took these kinds of risks, and she followed, and we ended up connecting much more deeply, because of it.  Sometimes it was by e-mail (which for some of us is easier).  In fact, that's how I first told her I loved her!  But other times it was in person.  Once, it was when we were in bed and things just weren't working well for me.  Another time, I was having some doubts about whether we should keep seeing each other because I was afraid she felt more for me than I did for her.  And every time I took the risk and told her - in an honest, vulnerable and present-moment way - what was happening inside me, she met me there.  And that's a huge part of why we celebrated our eighth anniversary - and why we keep growing and going deeper together every day!"
    "And it's also a big part of why we started our website (http://www.consciousgirlfriend.com), in order to help Lesbians who are struggling with relationships, learn how to create deep connection.  We offer coaching, retreats and classes, such as "Communicate and Be Heard," and, "Take Charge of Your Relationship Destiny.""
    - R.
    Found this an excellent article, and I would like to make some comments.
    Feel the writer was engaging in what I call "emotional masturbation," also known as "diarrhea of the mouth." Most of the time, this is caused by runaway anxiety, and R. did an excellent job of supporting her date to get a grip on her anxiety, instead of stressing her further by trying to get a word in edgewise.  
    The other comment I have is that R. is a butch, and her partner is a fem, and butches have to be sensitive to how fems perceive a relationship.  Fems, are, by nature, more sensitive than butches, and expect butches to gently lead the relationship.  Forgive me, but it is the butch's job to pleasure the fem in bed, but I applaud this butch for having a conversation about it, instead of breaking the relationship off.
    In my opinion, I find people (not just Lesbians) don't give a relationship a chance to bloom, looking for every excuse to break it off, for fear of intimacy.  
    How do I get past this?  Building friendships, sometimes for months and even years, to build emotional safety for both.  As I am getting older, I realize I have to speed it up a little bit.  With the love of my life, we were friends for two years before we became romantically involved, and we slowly went about it.  Not a big fan of Internet dating websites, as I use touch (in the respectful way) and touch is my major communication tool.  
    Highly recommend Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The Five Languages of Love," even though it was written for Straight people.
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  3. New territories in Karen's thoughts


    By KarenPayne, posted
    Last week I received a friend request on Facebook from a man I don't know. Usually I only allow either people I know or people that are connected to my current friends. Well not sure if this one was a mistake or not as of today.
    It started off immediately, each morning he would message me asking how I was doing and would respond in a way that nothing could be construed in any way that I was interested more than being friends.
    This morning it became apparent he wants to date me. There are several issues here, the first is me (do I need to explain lol) which I fully disclosed this morning about my gender in which I spelled it out. He comes back and says "are you a male" and I responded in more details about having zero male parts. I expected no reply and for about three hours no a peep. At this point I believe this is done but I then get a new message indicating he wants to continue which leads to issue number two. He lives in New York which is on the opposite coast. Now before going farther, this is indeed new territory as I am much more attracted to females than males.
    When I look at a cisgender female I see beauty not just in the physical shell but in their being. When I look at a man something comes out which is primal, void of any conceivable notion of love which I get with cisgender females.
    Even with that my mammalian brain in a warped sense is driven to like men but at the same time feel like a female pray mantis that eats her mate after sex (not I did not say make love). Now that is a statement in and of itself and wonder what a therapist reply to that would be?
    I am starting to think if he progresses with his actions with intent to date I will need to politely tell him I am not interested.
     
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  4. Janet Mock, a writer, speaker and trans activist contributed an article to Huffington Post. She tells the story that I can certainly relate to... that of dating when they don't know you're transgender. I've been in that extremely uncomfortable position more times than I care to recall. Anyway, the article is well written and just awesome. ~ Lori

    "Being trans, I've grown up with the understanding that most women are born girls, yet some are born boys. And most men are born boys, yet some are born girls. And if you're ready for this, some people are born girls or boys and choose to identify outside our society's binary system, making them genderqueer."

    "I have something to tell you," I remember saying."

    "How do I say this? I asked myself."

    "OK, let me just say it: I was born a boy."

    Read the article for Aaron's response: It Happened to Me: I Told My Boyfriend I Was Born a Boy
  5. Found two great free websites with relationship quizzes that will give you insight into yourself and your partner or future partner. They are www.5lovelanguages.com and www.personalityassessor.com/relationshipwants. Took both of them and they were spot-on! They are brief, fun to take and easy to understand. Enjoy!!