My friend Julie in Baltimore decided to dip her toes in the OKC waters, which inspired the two of us to go at this together. Much like workout buddies, we are there to remind each other to hold our heads high and not to give up — and to share some of the insanity that runs rampant on the Internet. We also thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the Los Angeles and Baltimore dating scenes.
Because some of this material is too good not to share, we’ve decided to share it with you in the form of weekly highlights. You’ll get them until either one of us finds love (don’t hold your breath) or gives up (more likely).
I love Facebook. I love it as a one-stop-shop for catching up on all that might interest me on the internet and all that might interest me in my friends’ lives. I know, I know, the young people are moving away from it, but I’m fine with being old and monetizied by Zuckerberg.
This came across my feed the other day and caught my fancy.
For those of you with actual lives who don’t follow social media as closely as some of us, this piece was cobbled together from the #bisexualfacts twitter tsunami that was caused when Vanity Fair columnist Richard Lawson questioned the self-identifications of Maria Bello and Tom Daley when they came out as bisexual back in December. (You can read all about that here.)
The whole hubbub piqued my interest because I identify as bisexual, although I didn’t always. Like most folks, I grew up with the assumption that I was straight because, well, why wouldn’t I? From an early age, I was attracted (platonically) to both girls and boys, but I had no framework that made me think this was anything other than normal. Then, in college, things changed. My friends and I often joke that if our alma mater sold t-shirts that said “I was straight when I came to _____,” they’d double their endowment in a year.
We were encouraged to question everything including, and perhaps particularly, our sexual preferences. Now, whether such an environment makes you open to same-sex relationships, or whether folks with those preferences self-selected to attend a college known for its acceptance of all things outside the mainstream, is an open question. But let’s just say that, from my freshman hall of about thirty women, at least half came to self-identify as something other than straight by senior year.
For me, the realization came about when I fell for a girl on my hall. And I fell hard. There was no denying what it was, even if I hadn’t been encouraged to think outside the heteronormative box. But I was still attracted to guys, although none to the extent that I was to this girl. But the fact that I still liked guys gave me pause. Was this a one-off? Should I label myself based on my feelings for a single woman? What the fuck was going on? What the fuck was I?
Over the next two years, she and I became close friends. I was pretty devastated when she decided to go abroad junior year. I racked up a decent-sized international long distance phone bill and wrote letters profusely (yeah, I’m old enough that email was just starting to be a thing). Meanwhile, two things happened:
1) another close friend whom I really respected for her honesty and common sense came out to me as gay and…
2) well, that stupid old saw about absence making the heart grow fonder is true, and I decided I was totally in love with my friend across the ocean. I knew she didn’t feel the same way — she was straight and had found a boyfriend abroad — but unrequited love is that much more romantic, huh?
So I decided to come out senior year, and I decided to come out as gay. Why? I was so obsessed with this girl that I couldn’t imagine I’d ever be happy with a man. I’d never felt that way about any guy, so I had to be gay, right? I made an effort to date women, which was an epic comedy of errors.
Girl #1: not as broken-up with her ex as folks thought (and we didn’t click).
Girl #2: Friend: “She’s either totally in love with you, or she’s 4 years old!” Yeah, the latter.
Girl #3: Not really over her ex-boyfriend.
Meanwhile my crush decided to come out herself, as bi. Um, really? And proceeded to wax on to me about other women she was attracted to. Oh boy. Did she not know how I felt? Was she blind or just sadistic?
That question was answered (kinda) when we were at a party the end of our senior year. I was straight-edge in college, so parties were somewhat awkward to begin with. This one got more so when a gay male friend of mine tried to get me to kiss him. Um, no. Then my crush loudly announced, “Oh, I bet she’d kiss me, though!”
And that was it. A binary switch inside me went from “on” to “off” in a second. No more crush feelings. No more “in love.” Gone in a second. That was dirty pool, and cruel, and unnecessary. We remained friends for a while, but all other feelings had instantly vanished that night. And resentment built. And then one day, she questioned my relationship with another woman, something I’m sure did out of concern for me getting hurt again, like she had hurt me. But I took it as overstepping the bounds of our friendship. I was protective of my new relationship and angry that she questioned it.
So I blew up in an email that played on every one of her insecurities and fears. What she said to me at that party, she said while drunk. And while in vino veritas holds, it was somewhat excusable for that reason. What I said, I said while cold sober and there was no excuse for it. It’s one of the things I most regret in this life, because I knew better and was better than that. But I was still so hurt. She forgave me, I forgave her, and we became friends once more. We’ll see if that holds after she reads this. I truly hope it does.
And then, when I had stopped looking, I found another girl, or she found me, who the hell knows. And it was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. And then I found a boy, or he found me, and that, too, was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. And so I realized, well, fuck, I’m bi.
The point of this rather long trip down memory lane was (hopefully) to illustrate three things:
1) I totally get why those who identify as gay distrust bisexuality. As a lesbian friend put it: “I think for many of us, it only takes one love to leave you for a guy (or just to suspect that the woman you love will inevitably end up with a man in the end, and then see your prediction come true) to make most of us feel perennially distrustful and wary of the bisexual. It’s not logical, of course, or fair, but I think a lot probably feel that way. Most of the women I’ve known who have either identified as bi or have had relationships with women without identifying as strictly lesbian have ended up with men in the end. So I guess there’s a fear that the odds are stacked against you with anyone who goes both ways, and self-preservation instincts say ‘avoid the risk!’”
Been there, done that (crush ended up marrying a guy, natch). Although, to be honest, it wasn’t my crush’s sexuality that made her not love me back. But it’s so much easier to assume that than delve into the messier issues surrounding friendship vs. attraction, isn’t it?
2) I get why bisexuality as a preference is itself suspect. To all the world, if you’re with someone of the same sex, you’re gay, if with someone of the opposite sex, you’re straight. You don’t exist as both at the same time and liminality is a tricky concept to begin with. Hence the Heisenberg joke that rings true. Being bi is like being in two quantum states at once, and who/what you are is only determined when someone views you. It’s a weird, weird way to live, frankly.
3) Maybe the Kinsey Score is constant, but what any person wants is in flux. We have frontal lobes and they can override everything else. Someone who I would’ve done in a second says something beyond the pale? Instantly over her. OKC guys leave me wanting? Onto girls!
And then there’s this coda. I posted the Toast piece to my Facebook page. So, of course, one of my male friends, tongue firmly in cheek wrote: “Looking for more detailed information on the mating habits of their females.”
Is it liminality that makes guys think bi ladies are hot? I fear it’s something baser than that, the thought that we are ravenous omnisexual beings who are so horny that our appetites can’t be contained to one gender only. I don’t think that’s what my friend thinks, but I wonder if that is what is behind the near universe appeal of so-called “lesbian” porn among men. Which primarily guys watch, btw, and which does not star actual lesbians! Here’s what actual lesbians think of it:
So not as amusing as the Toast piece, for sure, but for those of you curious as to what created at least this bi girl, I hope it’s been instructive.
Dates: 1 (well, “dates” is a strong word)
Phone Calls: 1
Messages: Not freakin’ enough (see Dahlia’s post)
BEST OPENING MESSAGE
As a New Yorker, I appreciate that your profile is wonderfully Northern in terms of directness, humor, and clarity. (That’s a compliment, right?)
[Why, yes, yes it is.]
WORST OPENING MESSAGES
your look cute in your profile and your looks got me intrigued. I’m [some dude] and I’d love to know more if you don’t mind. please feel free writing a note,I hope to hear from you and have a lovely day.
[This doesn’t make any sense. My looks? I look like a normal girl, what’s intriguing? And the use of the wrong your/you’re is the kiss of death for me. Also apparently didn’t read that I’m only looking for girls. So probably didn’t read profile AT ALL. Ugh.]
A shame you don’t live closer….
[From a 52 year old woman (outside my clearly stated range) who says she’s looking for people 45-53. I’m 40. So no, no it is not a shame.]
BEST RESPONSE TO “THE MOST PRIVATE THING I’M WILLING TO ADMIT”
I have a nose. Really! It’s incredible. It’s right there, on my face. Who’d have thought?!?
[Dahlia is cringing at this one.]
WORST RESPONSE TO “THE MOST PRIVATE THING I’M WILLING TO ADMIT”
I watch the Hallmark Network sometimes 🙂
[This is from a guy. Even if he looked liked like Michael Freakin’ Fassbender, that reveal would make me go dry. Yeah, I’m a bad person, but REALLY, dude? Some things shouldn’t be shared.]
PROGRESS (OR LACK THEREOF)
I have three dates with three different women this weekend. I will let you know how many steps forward and/or back that takes me next week.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM OKC THIS WEEK
Guys either don’t give up or don’t read profiles, because they keep hitting on me despite the fact that I, like Dahlia, have decided to try the “girls only” tactic for now. I, too, wonder if by labeling myself as “bi” I am keeping away the better girls.
That said, I did message one guy about his profile which was so over-the-top, I thought it had to be satire. It was. He told me portraying himself as the most base, loathsome man on OKC has brought him great success, and that smart, beautiful women contact him all the time. And, yeah, we may be having dinner this week.
This week should prove illuminating, to say the least.