Everyone—gay, straight, or otherwise—has heard the old adage: once the honeymoon is over, no one has sex much anymore. After all, we have jobs, kids, and mortgages to worry about—who has time for wild sex at all hours of the day and night? Psychologists write about the “post-honeymoon” phase (the honeymoon is said to last two and a half years on average) and how to cope (and survive) the inevitable decline of passion and desire. The term for the phenomenon in lesbian relationships was coined in the early 1980s and has come to be known as the dreaded “lesbian bed death”—the strange and seemingly ubiquitous occurrence where lesbian couples experience a rapid decline in the frequency of intimate encounters. If we believe some sources, the eventual absence of sex in our intimate relationship is an unavoidable fate and ought to just be accepted as a way of life.
We’re all on board with that, right? After the first two insane years, when we have sex at every opportunity and even in a few inopportune places and times, we’re done? Hell, no!
For the last six years, I’ve edited Best Lesbian Romance, collections of stories encompassing the diverse demography of lesbians falling and being in love: teenagers first experiencing the self-affirming and empowering expression of their sexuality, octogenarians celebrating fifty years of commitment, middle-aged heterosexual women discovering their love for another woman, quick encounters that lead to unexpected long-term devotion, and the awakening of the cynical, the unsuspecting, and the disbelieving to the power of love. In other words, love between women of all shapes, sizes, age, sexual awareness, and proclivities. By the very nature of the theme (romance), many of these stories celebrate the beginning of love and often end before the honeymoon is over. With Love Burns Bright, we wanted to focus on the stories of romance after the honeymoon—to explore and celebrate the many ways long-term couples tend the fires of passion and intimacy. These stories are not as much about discovery as they are about rediscovering the wonder and connection of first love every day, where the familiar becomes the surprising and the comforting becomes the electrifying and where trust and safety make adventure and exploration possible.
Here are our stories of enduring romance, where love, eroticism, passion, and desire don’t end with the lovers riding off into the sunset, but rather begin with the next new dawn and all the dawns that follow, where women with kids, and aging parents, and all the challenges of a shared life find strength, joy, and passion in their most intimate moments. These nineteen stories only touch upon the possibilities that lie in store for lovers, and put to death once and for all the lie that with the end of the honeymoon comes the end of passion and desire. Here are lesbians celebrating love, commitment, and desire for all time.