One of the myths about same-sex relationships is that they are more superficial and less valid than heterosexual partnerships. Families who have not accepted the relationship may be secretly or even openly pleased that it has come to an end. 'For me it was like the divorce you couldn't talk about,' said Alison. 'Although my parents knew that Beth and I were lovers, she had never been invited to any of our family functions. About the only comment my mother made after we split up was, "Maybe now you'll come to your senses and meet a nice man and settle down." I couldn't help comparing it to my brother's separation from his wife. Mum was practically doing backward somersaults to get them back together again. I was such a mess that I could hardly get through the day at work, but I couldn't tell anyone why I was so upset. You see, they didn't know anything about my private life. I made up some excuse about a death in the family.'
The lack of legal status for same-sex relationships can make it that much harder too. Even if an ex-partner's children have been living with the couple there can be no formal arrangements for access and this can amplify the loss. There are also limited financial rights in terms of property settlements or superannuation entitlements.
After a separation there comes an inevitable period of grieving and adjustment. Sexual reactions range from celibacy to a desperate search for a new partner, but there is certain to be a lot of soul-searching that leads to a new understanding of yourself.



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