“Babe!” My ex-girlfriend Tory* screeched, as she dramatically bound through the doors of our apartment.
“What?” I yelped, startled. I was peacefully guzzling back a glass of wine on the couch, furiously typing up some basic “relationship” article I had already written 5,000 times and knew was total bullshit—but hey, we all need to make a living, don’t we now, babes?
Tory threw her hands up in the air and started wildly flapping them around, clearly deeply triggered by something. “You’re wearing my leggings. You can’t wear my leggings. Come on!” Her eyes flickered like the Vanilla scented candles lit on our kitchen table.
“What? That’s what you’re moaning about? The fact that I’m wearing your leggings? You don’t even wear leggings! Like ever! They’ve been sitting in your closet with the tags on them for six goddamn months! Come on!” I wailed back at her.
I mean they were, for the record, very expensive leggings, but they weren’t even Tory’s style. They were ultra shiny liquid leggings, completely sheer in the middle of the thighs. They were way too flashy for buttoned up Tory. I was the flashy dresser in this relationship, not her.
Tory’s sharp seafoam eyes cut through my soft hazel eyes.
She sighed. She was a balloon slowly deflating into the sad concrete on the side of the road. “It’s not about the leggings, babe.”
“Ugh. Then. What. Is. It. About?” I spat, bracing myself for my daily dose of lesbian melodrama.
What were the leggings going to be a metaphor for this time? An ex who always wore leggings? Did the leggings cling to my body like a codependent lover from the past? Or were they just a metaphor for my general lack of respect for other people’s belongings? I wondered as I twisted a lock of freshly bleached hair around my finger.
“We just. Can’t. Share. Leggings.” Her voice carefully annunciated each word like a high school drama teacher leading her students in a vocal warm-up.
“But I fit into your leggings and you don’t wear them.” I grabbed my wine glass and threw back the soothing velvety-ness of sauvignon blanc into the back of my throat.
“We can’t share leggings because once you start sharing leggings you stop having sex. Trust me.” She stared at the floor, her eyes fixating on a dirty purple sock I had thrown into the corner.
Once you start wearing leggings you stop having sex? Hmm.
As her words penetrated the stuffy apartment air, the room seemed to shift into a sharper focus. Tory was right. Sharing clothing is something that best friends and sisters do. I like to wear my best friend Ruba’s chic little coats and she likes to wear my silky rompers and we’ve never fucking slept together. In fact, the thought of Ruba in any sort of sexual context is enough to make me spit out a $4.00 sip ofthe $11.00 cold pressed juice I’m drinking as I type this article.
Shit. I had to admit defeat on this one.
“You’re so right,” I sheepishly whispered, understanding the magnitude of it all. I too had been down this road before. And once you start sharing leggings you start peeing with the door open. It’s the dangerous gateway drug to a sexless relationship.
“I’m glad you understand,” she whispered back. “Now take off my leggings.” I slowly peeled her silky leggings off my shivering body.
Then we had sex. Fantastic sex. Mind blowing sex. The kind of sex only two women who are wildly infatuated with each other can have.
After we had sex I found myself staring into the cracks in the ceiling, my body still buzzing from the blissful oxytocin rush of an orgasm, thinking about how many times I’d really screwed up a romantic relationship by becoming “besties” with my girlfriend.
I’ve always struggled with boundaries. I’m on texting terms with my therapist. I wear my girlfriend’s leggings. I realized it’s because of shit like this, that I wasn’t getting the results I so desired in this life. I silently vowed to never let myself slip into the best friend role with a lover, ever again. I would also start trying to stop texting my shrink, too.
But you know, I have awful self-control. It’s oh so easy for me to slip back into old habits, which is why I’m constantly drawing up strict rules for myself. I spiral into dark, bottomless rabbit holes without structure.
So the next day, I created a master list of rules, that would ensure I kept the spark alive in my relationships. If I had a breakup, it would be because we weren’t compatible. It would be because the girl was a selfish asshole or hated “Seinfeld” or didn’t want children or something else deal-breaking—not because we became best friends.
So here are my very strict rules that I promise you, will ensure you keep the romance alive in your relationship:
Never discuss your bathroom habits
I know this is très vulgar, but so many couples I know (including myself) have made this deadly mistake. Lesbians tend to cohabitate at a lightning speed. Within a couple of months, we’re either living with our girlfriends or spending every single night together.
And unfortunately going to the bathroom in a close vicinity to your partner is a necessary evil when you’re spending so much time together. It’s just something that’s going to happen unless you’re a lesbian Barbie doll made of plastic with no digestive system.
Personally, I have the weakest stomach this side of the Hudson River. My entire life I’ve been plagued by stomach problems. And due to my knee-jerk tendency to overshare, even really gross things no one wants to hear about, I can’t help but gab about how sick I am from last night’s “broccoli pizza” to anyone who will listen.
But when it comes to dating, I keep these loose lips sealed tight. Because I’ve learned (the hard way) that the moment you start moaning about your stomach issues to your girlfriend, a Lesbian Angel loses her wings.
This is when you drift away from girlfriend territory and enter sister territory. (And PSA: You aren’t supposed to date your sister. Let alone hook up with her.)
I don’t care if you’re having uh, serious digestive disruptions. No one suffers from humiliating stomach issues like yours truly. And like I said, I’m not even remotely ashamed of it. But when it comes to my girlfriend, I channel my inner Connecticut housewife and pretend as if the problem simply doesn’t exist.
It’s part of keeping the mystique alive and well. Sexuality exists in what’s mysterious. Being sexy is all about fantasy and illusion.
And you know how fantasies die? By thinking of that sexy creature in front of you, sitting on the toilet reading the Sunday Times.
Don’t tag along every time she goes to hang out with her friends
In my early 20s, I dated this girl, we’ll call, uh, Shay.* Shay and I were like excitable, young little kittens when we first met. We were mesmerized by one another.
She was very cool and had more friends in the city than I did. They were all super badass little baby lesbians who flew around LA on skateboards and had cool, short haircuts. I was fresh off the boat from preppy Connecticut. Girls like this simply didn’t exist in New England. I had stars in my eyes for these West Coast girls.
I started to accompany Shay every single time she hung out with her friends. Eventually, we metamorphosed into “that couple.” The couple that spends so much time together, their identities begin to blur. They start to look alike. Sound alike. Think alike.
It got to a point where I didn’t even have my own life anymore. Her friends became my friends and our lives were intertwined like headphone wires recklessly tossed into the bottom of a messy purse. Pretty soon, we were both suffocated by our relationship. We had no space; no room to breathe.
The worst part? We became wildly codependent on each other. That’s what happens when you do everything together. You become needy and addicted to each other.
And you know what’s unattractive? Codependency, baby. It’s a real clit killer. The whole “I don’t want you but I need you” is a surefire way to shoot your partner’s libido down dead.
So let her go out with her friends alone. Let her talk about her bathroom habits and other embarrassing things you don’t need to hear but she needs to share, with her friends. Not with you.
But hey, you know what is super sexy? Independence. Which leads me seamlessly into my next point:
Give yourselves a chance to miss each other
There is nothing sexier than a woman who has the confidence to do things by herself. It’s not just the confidence that’s sexy, it’s the will and desire to be autonomous that’s sexy.
I’m the most attracted to the girl I’m dating when she needs to focus on her work and ignore little ole’ me for awhile. I’m wet while she’s clamoring away on the keyboard absorbed by something that has absolutely nothing to do with me. It makes me enraged, in a good way. Like I just WANT HER TO WANT ME.
Or when I have to go away to the West Coast for work, and I feel that painful ache of missing her. When I wake up in the morning and roll over for a cuddle, only to find she isn’t there.
Give someone the precious gift of missing you, honey.
Because when we are blessed with some time away from our partners, suddenly we remember why we love them so much. Space gives us perspective. We remember how good they smell when we aren’t breathing them in.
Keep having sex all the time
“Sex is something you have to work at DARLING,” my mother lectured me when I was a teenager.
“But that sounds so depressing! I don’t want to have to work at the sex!” I squealed. I was in the throes of my first lesbian teen romance and the sex was so deeply intoxicating, so effortless, I couldn’t imagine it ever being something I had to work at or schedule in like, my cousin recently confessed she did with her boyfriend.
“I make sure your father and I have sex at least four to five times per week. And we’ve been married over 20 years!” she purred, taking a sip of her tea like a prim British queen discussing sex with her teenage daughter.
“TMI!” I screamed, putting my black chipped nail polished hands over my ears, pretending to be horrified, even though I was secretly impressed.
I knew she was right. What’s the difference between friends and lovers, babe? S-E-X. That’s right, ladies! And if you want to keep the spark alive in your relationship need to have mind-blowing, hair-pulling, insatiable sex all of the time.
Now look, I get it: It can be hard to maintain a steamy sex life. Life is hard. Some day’s work is so draining we come home sexless shells of ourselves.
The best sex advice I ever got was from Dr. Emily Morse, of the amazing “Sex With Emily” podcast. She compared having sex to going to the gym. Sometimes we feel lazy and tired and just not in the mood to workout. But do we ever regret it afterward? No. We’re so glad we pushed ourselves to sweat the demons out. We’re on a high afterward.
Same with sex! The most difficult part can be those moments right before when you feel unattractive and exhausted and ready to collapse into bed. But once you get down and dirty, you feel amazing. Sex connects you to your partner in a way words can not.
It keeps the visceral, animalistic, feeling of love alive.
Never stop dating
The number rule in keep the romance alive? Never stop dating, babes. I’m all for the occasional night in, spooning on the couch, watching Rachel Maddow on repeat—but it can’t be every night. There is a sweet thrill to going to out an intimate dinner with your partner. Or the theater (live theater not movies). Putting on your best lesbian blazer and faux leather pants and going for a sexy night out on the town breathes new life into an old relationship.
Dating means you’re making an effort—and effort is a mega turn on. When you’re two couch potatoes forever in your sweats rotting into the sofa, the magic of romance dies.
So call up that little bistro on the corner. The cozy spot with the flickering candles and nice wine and heaping bowls of mouth-watering pasta. Buy some fucking flowers for her. Wing your eyeliner. Shine your Dr. Martins boots, for crying out loud.
And take your lady OUT for a romantic night. You’ll feel like you’re nervous, infatuated new lovers all over again.
Just don’t get too drunk and accidentally blow the candle out. Once that little flame is out, it’s OUT honey.