Ugh, dating is weird.
Sharing it with y’all is even weirder, I know. But if Anne Lamott can blog about her year on Match.com then I suppose it’s fair game for any goober running her mouth out here to explore some of the funkier parts of this stage of life. That and I imagine, in my ridiculously idealistic head, that in our kinship we have something to learn from the foibles of our freakier friends and family. (<—me)
In the nine months since the collapse of my marriage I’ve had the opportunity to meet and date some lovely women. Some with whom there simply was no spark but we’ve become fast friends, some who were not quite ready to date after their own relationships had folded in on themselves and some who were, well – just flat cray-cray. If I’ve learned nothing else in this season it is to pay attention to red flags early and often, trust my instincts and slow my roll.
Early on in the dating game, I went out a couple of times with a woman I met via Match.com. She is creative, funny, sweet, tough as nails and cute as a button. Every time we got together we had a great time laughing and talking non-stop about all the things. Well, almost all the things. Over dinner one evening she revealed that she had never been with a woman before, identified herself as “bi-curious” and said she wanted to explore her newly acknowledged and undeniable desire for intimacy with women. We made plans to see each again soon and said goodnight. The next morning she sent me an interesting email explaining that she was…well I’ll let you read a bit of it:
As you know, I am heterosexual and want to expand my life experiences. For the past 4 years I have been in a dedicated heterosexual relationship. I came here in January for my 1 year deployment. He works in [another state] and lives in our [massive] RV. We have agreed that this year apart is my own to independently grow, which I am doing. Emotionally, however, I am committed to him and at the end of January, will be returning to my life with him.
I feel a connection to you and want to … blah blah blah, I want to be a lesbian for a hot minute, you know, test drive someone else’s girly parts but we need to be clear that this is just a dalliance, a fling, a Katy Perry cherry Chapstick thing after which I go back to my hubby and he and I have hot steamy porno sex where I detail a fling or two. You in?
Ok, so I summarized the end of her email just a bit…
First, let me say I was all sorts of flattered that someone would wanna trip the homo-light fantastic with me. Really y’all, I mean I’m sailing along on the choppy seas of mid life with a gaggle of kids zooming in and out on their speed boats so I get it, I’m not exactly the L-Word catch of the day. But after the first blush of ego faded and my soul reached out to slap my tingly bits with a “girl, get yourself together”, I had the wherewithal to reply…
I appreciate the clarification about who you are and what you are looking for before things went any further. You certainly could’ve toyed with my emotions and hurt me if things had evolved between us so I appreciate your honesty.
But let’s be clear, I did not in fact know that you identify as heterosexual since in our conversation you depicted yourself as bi-curious. Since I came out relatively late in life I related to your self-identification from my own experience, which for me meant awakening to and exploring for the first time, feelings that have previously not been understood or acknowledged.
Unfortunately, this “new” information changes things for me. See, it seems that what you are proposing amounts to a rumspringa from your heterosexual life which, after a few months of playing lesbian, you get to go back to a life of heteronormative privilege and live in a world where you are not afraid to hold hands in public with the one you love, have to face potential rejection of friends or family members or navigate discrimination in the workforce, church or the legal system based on your sexuality.
While many folks can and do enjoy sexual relationships with many different partners without emotional entanglement, that is simply not how I am built. I am configured for a committed, monogamous relationship that is grounded in love. That is as essential to who I am as is my comprehension and claiming of my homosexuality. I’ve lost a great deal to be who I am, and gained so much as well. For me, being queer is not a lark, fantasy or some phase I am going through – it is my life. Every day and for evermore I am a lesbian, a woman who is built to desire, fall in love with, love deeply and build a life with another woman who equally desires, loves and is committed to me. I don’t expect that everyone I date will turn out to be that person, but that is ultimately who I am looking for.
…blah blah blah, thanks but no thanks. (also a summary of a long-winded rant)
Good God, why on earth would I share such a personal exchange with y’all? Why would I allow myself to be so exposed out here on the interwebs? I mean really, with a burgeoning, multi-front career, a life shared with easily embarrassed teenagers and a genuine desire to find someone who believes I hung the moon just as much I believe she dotted the sky with stars? It’s damn foolish to be so exposed.
Well, it has nothing to do with just dumping the contents of my diary out in public for giggles and everything to do with exploring the fallacy of a single homosexual (or even heterosexual) lifestyle.
See, there are a few odd notions I’ve heard and seen floating around out there that I hope this little novella dispels. Maybe you’ve heard some of them?
That all the queers are just dying to jump in the sack with and convert the straight folks. Um, no.
That all “heterosexuals” only want to have sex with an opposite gender parter. Seems not.
That all the queers are just looking for an endless stream of sexual encounters with any willing participant. Negative.
That all straight, married folks are monogamous and that all queer relationships are open. Where on earth?
That queers typically do not have loving, committed, covenantal relationships. Nope. Nope. Nope.
That all lesbians bring a U-Haul to the second date and will shack up immediately, even if just temporarily, to not be alone. These are not the droids you are looking for.
That being queer is a choice or a phase. While sexuality is on a continuum and folks may find themselves at different places on that continuum in different stages of their life, being queer is not simply a choice where we wake up one day and said “I think I will have decaf instead this morning.” It is not just what we do with our bodies, it is how our hearts beat and our souls soar. It is not just what we do, it is who we are.
I’ve shared all this with you because I know, down in my gut and beyond reason, that in the sharing we come closer to understanding the complexity of the gift of human sexuality. More than that, I hope we come closer to comprehending the tender and infinitely complex nature of the human heart made by, and in the image of, God.