5 Reasons Why I’m a Proud U-haul Lesbian

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Written by Zamara Perri

She and I have been friends since she was 19 and I was 21. We met at work while in college. She is a brash, funny, liberal and a no-holds barred kinda straight woman so naturally we became really close friends. Over the years, we drifted apart, but I always knew I could call her when I needed to talk and she would do the same. So, when I told her I was moving, she asked me: “Where are you moving to?”

I managed to avoid answering her for the next 10 minutes. Finally, she interrupted my rambling and said, “You’re moving in with your girlfriend. Aren’t you?”

Damn it, I’m 35 years old, why was I having such a hard time admitting the truth to my friend? The truth is that six months after our first date, I moved in with my girlfriend.

So I mumbled, “Um, yes.”

“You are such a U-haul lesbian,” my friend said.

Ouch. No, she didn’t just call me the dreaded “u”-word lesbian. That kind of stung.

At first I was so excited about us moving in together. This was an opportunity for celebration! But, after getting lukewarm reactions, I stopped telling everyone that we had moved in together. My honey just turned 45 and most of her friends have also given her the side eye. Even the mutual friend who introduced us threw major shade when we announced that we were moving in together.

And I realized that I had residual shame from the two other times I moved in with girlfriends and it didn’t work out. Those experiences left me vowing never to move in with another girlfriend again. I have to admit, that I started to have doubts. Was it too soon? Would this be like the time before when I dated my first live-in lover for 2.5 years before we moved in and not long after we had a fiery, devastating crash? Or the second time where I dated another lover for 11 months before I moved in and then moved out only a few months later? These ghosts of failed relationships haunted me for a few weeks. But I still moved in with my love this weekend.

Why I Moved In

beyond_uhaul_lesbian_themed_tee_shirts-r5c97c28cb5644c84bd99689d28e27061_f0yux_1024Why did I move in? Because I’m a proud U-haul lesbian or better yet, I’m an optimist. But make no mistake—love, sunshine and butterflies alone could not make me make such a monumental decision as to move in with someone. I have other reasons, too:

  1. Just because a relationship doesn’t work the first, second or third time, doesn’t mean you give up. As a child, did you give up learning to walk after the third time you fell down? Of course not. You learn from your mistakes and keep moving. Some relationships work and others just don’t. Some live-in situations don’t work out, while others do!
  1. I stopped internalizing other people’s fears. I realize that the same country that brought us Disney’s version of fairytales and the Hallmark Channel’s cheesy romantic movies has a problem with people who fall in love quickly in real life. Americans just don’t believe that commitments made after a short period of time can be long lasting. And there is this myth that lesbians are famous for moving in together too quickly. (For the record straight people do it too.) I have to admit that I’m one of those people who worried when my friend told me that after dating her girlfriend for three months they were moving in together. I was also shocked when a woman told me that she dated her girlfriend for two weeks before she moved in.

Was it a good idea for those couples to move in together so soon? I honestly don’t know and it’s none of my business. What I did notice was that they didn’t seem to have the same fears that I did. Why was I so worried or afraid? I was afraid of making a mistake or worried about what people would think. But I finally came to accept that I really don’t have time for other people’s fears. I’ve had a couple of really horrible heartbreaks and those have taught me how to recognize when someone truly special comes into my life. I refuse to let other people’s fears control my pursuit of happiness.

 

 

Click here for reasons 3-5 🙂

Our First Valentine’s Day Together

Two-birds-Happy-Valentines-dayWritten by Z. Amara Perri

“Honey, do you care about Valentine’s Day at all?” It was January 22 when I sent my new girlfriend this text. We had just celebrated our four-month anniversary and still had so much to learn about each other. What we already knew was that we were not big on man-made holidays. (See my post on our Christmas non-celebration).

I wasn’t exactly surprised when she responded with this text: “Yes, I like it. I just don’t like dealing with crowded restaurants, theaters and the like. I’m actually looking forward to celebrating it with you.”

My honey and I are in many ways the same and in other ways exact opposites. She is a Pisces and is romantic and sentimental. Me? I’m a Libra and I’ve told her from day one that I’m not romantic and mushy. I’m practical and enjoy simplicity. I’m a get-things-done kind of woman. I’m just not fussy. I’ve always dated romantic women, but even so my last two Valentine’s Day experiences were painful.

I didn’t expect to be celebrating this Valentine’s Day with anyone. Dating my sweet Pisces has been such a beautiful, unexpected surprise. So, with Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to think and plan ahead. I knew I didn’t need a holiday to show her that I love her, but I wanted to do something.

At first I thought about planning an extravagant, chocolate-themed meal for my honey and a few close friends. Because she is so community-oriented, she supported the idea while gently reminding me that we needed to take some time to celebrate us. I soon let go of the idea of the community brunch and settled for a quiet day for just us two.

On the Tuesday night after we both got home from a long day at work, she surprised me and took me out to dinner at a restaurant we’ve been talking about going to since Christmas. It wasn’t a fancy restaurant. We didn’t dress up. We didn’t exchange gifts. Since it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, the restaurant wasn’t crowded and we were seated in a booth by the window.

We enjoyed a simple meal, topped it off with cheesecake, chatted, giggled, played footsies and gazed into each other’s eyes. Love was definitely in the air! It was the best Valentine’s date I’ve had in a long time!

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I still wanted to do something special for her on the actual Valentine’s Day this Saturday. So keeping in mind that money is tight right now and we are not fussy people, I decided to keep things simple. She loves my cooking and so I thought I could continue with the same chocolate theme, but then I remembered that she does not really like chocolate. So I had to rethink the meals to match the things she loved. I sent her an evite and below is the menu that I have planned with all her favorite foods:

I sent her this evite for our breakfast in bed :)

I sent her this evite for our breakfast in bed 🙂

~Our Valentine’s Day Menu~

Breakfast in Bed

Pink pancakes

Eggs over easy

Grape juice

Lunch

Heart-shaped cheese ravioli with pink sauce & mushrooms

A green salad with red onions

A Mini-apple pie

A glass or two of San Antonio sweet red wine

Dinner

@The Treehouse with friends 🙂

Any couples celebrating their first Valentine’s Day together? Please tell us what your plans are in the comments below.

From Cuddle Buddy to Girlfriend: A How-To Guide

black-lesbian-couple1 Written by Z. Amara Perri

Being a cuddle buddy has its perks. I think I had one a couple years ago, but someone caught feelings. Someone always catches feelings in situations like that. I said I think I had one because I don’t remember looking for one or even going through the process of applying for one.

For those who are not clear on the definition, a cuddle buddy or a friend with benefits (FWB) or a fuck buddy is an attractive friend you spend nights with, without the hassles or perks of a relationship. Most of the time there is no-strings attached sex. That’s why it’s critical that people are attracted to their cuddle buddies. Generally, people go hunting for cuddle buddies right before it gets cold. If you live anywhere in the Northeast, Midwest, Canada or the North Pole, having a warm body next to you during winter is damn near required by state law.

Cuddle buddies can also be useful during the warmer months when you’re getting over an ex or just don’t feel ready for another relationship. Some people may look down on the cuddle buddy arrangement, but I don’t. Hell, two consenting adults should be free to decide how they want to engage in their private lives. It’s none of my business (sips tea).

What I love about the cuddle buddy arrangement is that the people involved generally have better communication than those couples who are actually in relationships. They generally talk and lay the ground rules about what is expected from the relationship right up front (such as don’t just show up at my place in the daylight), which cuts down on confusion and hurt feelings. The cuddle buddy is not expected to be possessive if the other has other women in her life. The cuddle buddy is not expected to meet family or friends, go on dates or pretend she doesn’t find other women attractive. Anyway, sometimes cuddle buddy arrangements can actually morph into an emotional relationship. Like I said people catch feelings. It happens. Especially with lesbians, we can be so damn emotional. The best part is when those feelings are mutual. When that happens, these tips can ease the transition:

  1. Admit that your feelings have changed. It might be scary, but talk to your cuddle buddy about your changing feelings. If you don’t, it’ll just make things awkward when you get jealous about who, besides you, she’s spending time with.
  2. Don’t just spring the news on her while you’re in bed. Take her out to a coffee shop or to a park—someplace neutral. Nothing’s worse than having this conversation at either of your homes. It’ll be harder to get away if the feelings are not mutual.
  3. Be very selective about timing. It can be difficult to find someone you are sexually compatible with and actually like as a person, so be strategic about rocking the boat. If you are immensely enjoying the benefits that your cuddle buddy comes with and there are still two more months of winter, don’t rock the boat. Tell her about your desire for an upgrade in the spring.
  4. If she admits to wanting to be more than sex buddies, then yay! But take things slowly! Talk to her about what being more than a cuddle buddy means. This might not mean you’re headed for a trip down the aisle. Discuss your expectations openly.
  5. Come out of the closet. The great thing about cuddle buddies is that they can be kept to one corner of your life. There was no need to integrate her into other areas of your life. But now that you’re officially dating, it’s time to introduce her to your friends and family as the woman you’re dating.
  6. Stop dating/sleeping with other women. Obviously. Unless you’re both into open or poly relationships.
  7. Spend time together in real life. When you were just cuddle buddies, you probably only saw each other under the cover of night or only when it was convenient. Now that you’re dating, you need to include her in your real life. If you only saw each other on weekends because you were busy at work, invite her over on hump day so you two can relax and watch TV together. If you’ve got schoolwork or a business you’re running, invite her to join you at the library so you can work side by side. If you’re used to inviting her over after the kids are in bed, ask her to join you at the playground or at a school activity so they can slowly get to know her.
  8. If she doesn’t want to be more than sex buddies, she’s a terrible human being! (Just kidding!) You should end the cuddle buddy arrangement immediately (Not kidding!). Your feelings will only grow and you’ll only get upset to know that she still wants to have sex with you, but doesn’t want to put a ring on it. Body pillows and a vibrator may not be great substitutes for your cuddle buddy, but they definitely help ease the pain.

The 14 Things I Learned About Love & Relationships in 2014

Love and relationships sometimes come with difficult lessons. Image: Essence.com

Love and relationships sometimes come with difficult lessons. Image: Essence.com

Written by Z. Amara Perri 

As we wave goodbye to 2014, I can’t help but be excited about ringing in 2015. This year was honestly an emotional roller coaster for me. I reluctantly left a relationship where we were both unhappy. We both saw the end coming for a long time but because we loved each other tried hard to hold on. I knew it was over when we had another fucked up Valentine’s Day. Two weeks later, I packed my stuff and moved. I can honestly say that I’m much happier now than I was on January 1, 2014. Leaving was a major learning experience for me! Here are some of the things I learned about love and relationships this year:

1. It’s okay to let go of a relationship that is just not working. There’s nothing wrong with moving on. Leaving was inconvenient in many ways and at first, I felt guilty for not trying harder. I felt like we let down our friends and family who wanted us to stay together. But had we not found the courage to move on, we would probably still be struggling through a frequently hostile and unhappy union. It’s okay to be happy alone than unhappy together.

2. Sometimes you CAN’T be friends with your ex. When the wounds of a break up are still fresh, trying to build a friendship can be painful. It can also prevent you from truly moving on.

3. Sometimes you CAN be friends with your ex. One of the most supportive friends I had as I went through a break up was an ex-girlfriend. We hadn’t dated in years and she was also going through a break up at the same time I was. We exchanged dating stories, cried on each other’s shoulders and listened patiently to stories of how much we missed the other woman.

4. Unless you love yourself first, you’re never going to be happy in a relationship. Unfortunately, I spent many years seeking love from others instead of working on loving myself. And when my girlfriends failed to meet my expectations, I would be so unhappy. I’m still learning, but I now get how important self-love is to loving another person period.

5. Casual sex will not heal your broken heart. And for me it was not even worth it.

6. It’s okay to date a lot. I learned a lot about myself by spending time getting to know a variety of women this year.

7. It’s okay to take a break from dating. My new sweetie was single for two years before we met. Time alone can truly clarify who you are and how you want to show up in a relationship.

A Recap of My First Holiday Dinner With My New Bae and My Family

Written by Z. Amara Perri 

Image courtesy of Atlanta Black Star.

Image courtesy of Atlanta Black Star.

She was not the first woman I ever brought home to meet my family. But after three months of dating, I’m thinking my new bae will probably be the last. So I thought this was the perfect time to bring her to my family’s Christmas dinner. I am one of those people who live in what some would call a “glass closet.” That means I don’t go around making grand pronouncements about whom I’m dating, especially to my very conservative, religious, Jamaican family. However, if they don’t know that I’m gay, then they are probably in deep denial.

There are certain people in my family I’ve actually sat down and had the “I’m gay” conversation with, like my mother. Others I have a pleasant but not intimate relationship with so my personal life or even their personal lives don’t come up in conversation. I present as femme so people never think to ask me any questions about my sexuality. My bae on the other hand, who wears her hair short and has swag for days, will always get the side eye. She doesn’t like to be labeled as anything, but can’t really hide her tomboi side even if she tried.

Even before the family dinner, I wondered how to approach the idea of how she should dress for the first meeting. I thought about encouraging her to look a little more femme, but decided to leave it up to her. She ended up wearing a baby blue sweater and some tight jeans, which I thought she looked adorable in. She has such a great ass, which I thought looked great in those jeans and would help her look more feminine. Then she put on her man shoes. Sigh. And to make things worse, I ended up not having time to stop by my apartment and select the white sweater I had in mind. So I ended up wearing a pink sweater and she a blue sweater. If that wasn’t a subtle message, then I don’t know what was. She freaked out about the coordinating colors of our sweaters and I just laughed my ass off. I thought it was so funny that I didn’t even mention that she could just change into a different color sweater. I simply hurried us out the door as we were running late as it was.

Bae’s mom called just before we left the house, and bae told her mom she was nervous about meeting my family. For days I had been telling her that my family would love her, but it took these precious words from her own mother to calm her a bit: “How could they not love you? You are the chosen one.”

Is it Too Soon to Get Her a Gift & Other Christmas Conundrums

Figuring out Christmas gifts can be especially stressful when in a new relationship. Image courtesy of thegriot.com

Figuring out Christmas gifts can be especially stressful when in a new relationship. Image courtesy of thegriot.com

For some gay people Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year. For those us coming out for the first time or bringing our partners to meet our very conservative families for the first time, the holidays are the very definition of torture. Seriously. I really don’t think the holidays were created to celebrate Jesus, Kwanzaa or the Winter Solstice. I think they were created just to make everyone in your family exceedingly uncomfortable and to sell stuff.

These two ideas have been on my mind this holiday season. My sweetie and I have a similar approach to Christmas and holidays of all kinds. We are really low maintenance and don’t really need a holiday to get each other gifts. We had a very brief conversation about Christmas gifts, it went like this:

Me: Do you want to exchange Christmas gifts?

She: No.

Me: Okay. I got you a gift. It’s not a Christmas gift so I won’t give it to you on Christmas. You don’t have to get me one in return.

She: Okay.

In previous relationships, the gift conversation has always been a bit of a stressor for me. For some people the way you show love is by buying a big, flashy gift on certain occasions. My sweetie and I are just not really into gifts. We don’t expect them from other people and tend to buy gifts when the mood strikes, not when the calendar dictates. It helps that it doesn’t take much to please us—we mostly get excited about attention and affection. And that’s pretty much all we need from each other.

The first gift I ever got from her was on our first date, which just so happen to be on my birthday. It was a collection of really nice hair products—very thoughtful and needed for a natural girl like myself. Three months later, we continue to pay attention to each other and surprise each other with nice little gifts. When she mentioned that her favorite flowers were orchids, I surprised her with a plant. When I complained about my skin breaking out, she surprised me with some nice skin care products. When she mentioned that she loved candy canes, I surprised her with a box. When I mentioned needing a new air filter in my car, she offered to take care of it for me. These little things all add up to why I adore her so much.

What I Won’t Do for Like

One of my favorite songs is “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell. I’ve always found the lyrics inspiring and at the same time horrifying. On one hand, who wouldn’t be inspired by the lyrics of the song?

What you won’t do

Do for love

You tried everything

But you don’t give up

In my world

Only you make me do for love what I would not do

On the other hand, clearly the relationship isn’t working out for the woman Bobby is singing about yet she keeps trying. I’m a romantic at heart. I believe in love. If I didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist. I tried really hard to make things work in my past relationships when it was clear that sheer willpower alone isn’t enough to make love work. Especially when it is one sided. And honestly sometimes the other person tried and I was too self-centered to see that. In the end, I let go of those relationships because it was ultimately more damaging to remain in unhealthy relationships than to simply let go.

I’m now at a point in my life where I’m trying to be a lot more discerning about the women I let into my space and the kind of woman I am in relationships. When I’m dating someone, I love to be as supportive, understanding and giving as possible. Some people may call that having borderline save-a-ho complex. But I sometimes need to draw the line between being TOO giving and just letting that person find their own way. Especially in the beginning when you are still trying to figure out if the person is worthy of your heart.

Today I’ve decided to draw the line. While there are definitely some things I will do for love there are other things I simply will not do for someone whom I merely like. This distinction is important because I believe not every person you date deserves unfettered access to your time, attention or resources. Today I realized that one of the things I definitely will not do for like OR love is compromise my dreams.

Are You Giving Her the Milk for Free?

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Written by Z. Amara Perri

I just came across a post from a woman who decided to dump her boyfriend of five years. Why? Because after five years, he still hadn’t proposed. She felt dumb that he got all of his cookies AND milk for free. She didn’t say what else was wrong with the relationship, but I immediately thought how different things are in the LGBT community. Before a majority of people started understanding that #loveislove, we had to make up our own rules. For starters because we are often in same-gender relationships, we don’t wait for the one with the penis to ask for our hand in marriage.

Anyway up until very recently, marriage was strictly the domain of heterosexuals and so the getting-the-milk-for-free concept was somewhat alien. Why? Because most queers don’t adhere to the heterosexist pressures to reserve sex for marriage, and frankly we didn’t have the same societal pressures to marry each other. Of course legal same-sex marriage didn’t suddenly cause queer people to realize they wanted some sort of commitment after all. For decades many of us in the LGBT community patched together our own marriage-like ceremonies, partnerships and contracts without government oversight. While not having access to legal marriage inspired some to fight for marriage equality, it gave others (like me) a convenient excuse not to make such a public, binding contract as legal marriage.

But now that many of us in the gay community have gotten access to some of the rights and privileges of marriage, I wonder if that has changed the conversation about marriage for some of us. Personally, I never had a desire to get married to any of my previous partners. I mostly told myself it was because I was a child of divorce, I knew no happily married couples, I worried it wouldn’t work out and I honestly didn’t feel ready. I was however, okay with long-term relationships. In fact I replicated marriage by living with and sharing financial responsibilities with two partners. I knew plenty of lesbian couples that did the same thing and so this was normal for me. I didn’t start feeling the pressure to get legally married until gay marriage started becoming legal, and I avoided it successfully. I often told women upfront that marriage would never be on the table. (In essence I was one of those who liked to get the milk and cookies for free-ish.) Today, I realize that the biggest thing that stood between me and marriage was fear. Now I’m definitely open to legally marrying the love of my life whenever she decides to make herself known to me.

Now I’m curious, do same-gender loving women, especially those who are black, place more value on a legal marriage than a long-term relationship? I’d love to know what you think!

As a lesbian do you want her to put a ring on it or are you cool with a long-term commitment? Comment below. 

Dating Diaries: The Importance of Meeting Her Family and Friends Right Away

It can be intimidating meeting your girlfriend's friends.

It can be intimidating meeting your girlfriend’s friends.

When people start dating, they generally don’t get to meet the family right away. After all, the thinking is, you should only introduce your new girlfriend to family and friends if you are in a serious relationship. I agree because I don’t generally feel comfortable meeting friends and family unless I know where things are going for us. I can’t remember how far we were into my last relationship before I met my ex’s friends, but I remember feeling a bit awkward. Why? Because meeting the friends and/or family is a major deal. Even if they are really nice, you know they are judging you. Even if your girlfriend doesn’t put much weight on what her friends think, you know they will counsel her regardless, because they love her and want the best for her.

Exactly one month ago, I met an amazing woman, we’ll just call her S and I’ve already met her family. I have my outgoing moments, so I can generally win people over. Even so I will stress and put off the meeting for as long as possible.

In this particular case with S, I had no control over when I would first meet her family and friends. She belongs to a very close-knit group of friends who are, for all intents and purposes, her family. The night we met, most of her family was already in attendance. I attended the party reluctantly because a close mutual friend invited me.

When S and I locked eyes that night, I didn’t think we’d end up spending any significant time together. About 10 days later, we went on our first date. The first date was okay. We had great conversation and mild attraction. It wasn’t until S asked for a quick meet up between her work and martial arts training, that things started to heat up. She worked and trained very close to my apartment so meeting her in the evenings became our thing.

Why I Caved

One of the things I admire about S is how open and free she is with her feelings. While I’m very private about everything, including who I’m dating, she is not!

Her friends noticed how happy and excited she was about our budding relationship. This meant they wanted to know who she was suddenly spending all this time with. Normally I would try to stall for as long as possible, but something inside me decided to stop being so controlling.

A couple weeks into our dating (at that time we weren’t even calling it dating), I accepted her invitation to watch “Scandal” with her and her friends. Meeting the friends wasn’t as hard as I thought, partly because we already shared a close mutual friend, and partly because we were so engrossed in the show. After the show, we sat in the backyard around the fire pit and chatted. Was it awkward at times? Yes, but it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.

On Saturday she stopped by my house and had a friend in tow who wanted to meet me. I was hot and sweaty after a run and was not looking my best. Fortunately I was in the shower and missed that friend.

8 Love Habits You Should Never Live Without

Written by Z. Amara Perri
I confess. I went on a blind date this week. It was just okay. There was nothing really magical about it for me or for her. Needless to say, a second date will not be in the works. Why? She talked about herself the entire time, and during that time, she revealed several other unattractive character traits. Her rambling monologue, a recipe for boredom even if she had the most exciting life ever, (she didn’t) completely turned me off. I guess the glazed look in my eyes wasn’t a clear enough hint.

Anyway. That got me thinking, it is never too early in our relationships and love careers to form good love habits. So I thought I would share some good, non-negotiable habits to develop in a loving relationship. Click through the following pages for eight love habits that you should never live without:

L WORD MISSISSIPPI: HATE THE SIN

1. Listening. How can you get to know someone if you never take time to listen to her fears, concerns and even joys? Practice active listening by first listening and second asking some questions.