When I was dating men (and I use the term “dating” loosely; very rarely were there ever any actual “dates”), it always felt slightly predatory to me. I always felt like I was on the prowl, trying to find “the right one” who would finally make me feel the way I thought I was supposed to feel.
I’d meet a guy, size him up, and the entire time I would be with him, in the back of my mind I would be debating his relationship potential.
I remember I used to feel slightly panicky as soon as I was single; like I just had to get back out there and find someone new to replace the one I’d left in the dust. I was a bit of a serial monogamist, jumping from one long-term (or at least serious) relationship straight into the next, with very little alone time in between.
You see, I was always the one to walk away from a relationship, as far back as I can remember. I’ve come to understand recently through my therapy group that I had some abandonment issues. I believe my coping mechanism was to leave them before they could leave me. I’m still not entirely sure why I felt this way, but I’m sure it has something to do with my abusive past.
I had very unhealthy habits when it came to men and relationships. I would make myself fit whatever mold “he” wanted (whoever “he” was at the time), because I so desperately didn’t want to be alone. I believe that because I didn’t like myself very much, I thought that I should just take anyone who came along and be grateful; as though I didn’t deserve true happiness, or a healthy relationship.
I often thought that my self-esteem issues were the root cause of the failures in my relationships with men; I frequently seemed to choose people I was incompatible with, thinking that things would somehow change over time.
It’s a shame that it took my marriage ending to force me to search deeper within myself. I had to find out why I could never seem to be, or stay, happy in a relationship. Thanks to my wonderful therapy group and after much prayer, I finally had one single question pop into my head: “What if you’re gay? Not just bisexual, but fully, totally, completely gay?”
In that instant, it seemed like everything clicked into place and made perfect sense to me. No wonder I couldn’t be happy with a man! I was forcing myself to be with men, when what I really wanted was to be with a woman! (For those of you who may be interested in reading about my struggles coming out, you can find my article on Persephone Magazine dealing with this issue.)
And do you know what? Since giving myself permission to be who I am and coming out of the closet, I’ve come to realize that I’m actually looking forward to spending some time alone and getting to know myself on a more intimate level.
Being a newly-out lesbian means that my whole world feels completely different, and I have no idea how, or who, to talk to about how I’m feeling and what I’m going through! So I thought it might be a good idea to try putting up a profile on a popular internet dating site, just so I could meet some other like-minded ladies.
This was how I came to have my first date in years on a Friday night a couple of weeks ago.
I mean, I thought it was a date. We spent nearly 3 hours in a coffee shop, just talking about anything and everything. There were no lulls in the conversation, no awkward pauses, it felt like we’d known each other forever and everything just seemed to fall into place.
We joked around and told funny stories about silly things we’d done in our younger years. We talked about our jobs, our families, our friends, our hobbies.
But the thing is, it didn’t feel like a date. It felt like getting together with an old friend to catch up. Don’t get me wrong; I was very attracted to her, both in body and mind. But that wasn’t the first thing on my mind while we were together.
We’ve traded a few text messages since then, even met for coffee once more last week and enjoyed each other’s company. It felt comfortable and reassuring, like there was no pressure to be anything other than myself.
I liked this girl; I enjoyed her company, I liked listening to her stories, seeing her smile, and feeling totally comfortable around her. However, she is only interested in making new friends, which is completely the opposite of what she listed on her dating profile. I suppose that’s why it didn’t “feel like a date”, because to her, it wasn’t a date.
But do you know what? That’s actually okay with me. I don’t feel like she has any ulterior motives for hanging out with me; she just genuinely likes my company, as I like hers. That’s a really great feeling, to know someone genuinely likes spending time with me, and isn’t just trying to get me into bed!
I have to say, though, that this whole new world of women has me thoroughly confused and perplexed. I’ve realized I have no idea what the protocols of dating a woman are; no idea how to read women; no idea what to do! It feels like I’m getting mixed signals from a few of the ladies I’ve talked to from the dating site; their profiles say one thing, but their messages (or lack thereof) say something else.
So if I do hang out with someone, how do I know if it’s a date? I don’t want to be all creepy and say, “Hey, just so I know, is this a date?” (though funny enough, I did actually ask someone this and felt like a total jerk for doing so… but how else can I know?)
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it might be best to just read the signals, don’t over-analyze things, and play it cool. As much as I would like to eventually find someone special, I’m still happy in the meantime going on “dates” and making new friends.
What do you think — how do you know if a date is actually a date?! What signals do you look for? Or just tell me about your experiences dating as a lesbian — I’ll meet you in the comments!
Written by Sara Hanna