Retroactive Heartbreaks, Above-Board Romances, and Constant Ultraserious Shouting About Things

by Lindsay Miller


I’m a twenty-five year old woman who is thinking about trying to date women. I’ve always had what I’m realizing were crushes on women, but have never talked about or acted on them.
Do you have suggestions for the most respectful way to go about this, on say, OkCupid? I don’t want to make anyone feel like a test subject or safari ride. For the record, I’m looking to date women and men casually, not try somebody out and ghost, but I totally understand why it would make someone feel uneasy.

As I mention pretty regularly, it’s okay to begin dating somebody without being sure whether you’ll end up with them long-term — it is, in fact, the whole reason we came up with dating in the first place. It’s the way to test out whether your attraction translates into something more sustainable. You don’t need to preface your dating attempts with “Just so you know, I may or may not still want to make out with you ten years from now,” because it goes without saying. So the easy answer to your question about how to approach women you’re interested in, whether online or in person, is “pretty much the same way you’d approach a guy.” Let her know you think she’s cute and would like to get to know her better — that’s really all there is to it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your dating history, queer or straight, before you can play mini golf with her.

If you’re worried that your lack of experience with women may make romantic prospects take you less seriously, again, you don’t have to disclose it right away — but it’s not something to be ashamed of, either. Lots of people become aware of their queer desires later in life (relatively speaking — 25 years old is still pretty young), and that doesn’t make those desires any less real or valid. If someone asks how long you’ve been out, which isn’t an uncommon question on same-sex first dates, feel free to say “I didn’t realize I was into girls until just recently, but I’m really excited to get out there and meet some cool people!” If your date has a problem with that, it’s on her, not on you.

I’m LW#2 from this column, and eventually the stress of my GF’s close relationship with her BFF kind of killed my relationship with my GF. And then the BFF immediately confessed a sudden rekindling of feelings now that GF’s single and they started dating each other within a couple weeks of that.

Technically, it was all above-board: neither were talking shit about me, they didn’t talk about their past history…although they did go on a game-changing vacation to Japan and the BFF pined after my GF for a while a few years ago before I met her.

They swear to me that they had no feelings for each other during our relationship, and I guess I believe them? Queer Chick, is this also just normal for queer lady communities? I have no idea. I feel pretty grossed out and vaguely betrayed, but have no idea if it’s right to feel that way.

I’m not entirely sure what your question is here, aside from “Is it okay that I’m really upset about my relationship ending and my ex-girlfriend immediately starting to date someone else?” to which the answer is “yes, of course.” You ask if this is normal in the queer community, and the answer is that it’s not particularly common, but even if literally every queer breakup ended this way, you would still have the right to be sad about it. In your position I would certainly be suspicious of their insistence that they had no interest in seeing each other naked until immediately after your breakup — more often than not, when best friends hook up, it’s been a long time in the making. Maybe they’re lying to you about when they realized they were into each other; maybe they’re lying to themselves. Or — improbable but not impossible — maybe they’re actually telling the truth, and the friendship that you say killed your relationship didn’t blossom into romance until they were both single.

My question for you is, how much does it matter? Your relationship is over; you’re sad and hurt, and you’re going to be sad and hurt no matter what. There’s no answer your ex or her BFF-turned-lady-love could give you that will erase the ache; only time and maybe fucking some other girls can do that. So try not to worry about it too much. After any breakup that you didn’t want, there’s going to be some question that haunts you, some version of “what if it had been different,” that keeps you awake at night with the lie that if you can finally find the true and right answer, all those jagged broken pieces floating around in your heart will click into place and everything will be okay again. It’s not true. Those pieces will find new ways of fitting together eventually, but it won’t happen right away and it won’t have anything to do with “solving” what went wrong in the relationship that ended.

As much as you can, try to distract yourself from puzzling over your ex or second-guessing your reaction to losing her. You feel upset and betrayed: okay, that’s how you feel. Emotions aren’t right or wrong, and you don’t need my permission to have them. They just exist. Acknowledge them, honor them, and then go do something else.

I’m a queer girl who is attracted to all the genders, but apparently cis straight women are my jam (gah, I know). Anyway.

Recently, I had a friend tell me that she’s very into me, wants to kiss me, loves that we’re so in tune, etc…but she’s straight (except for me). And after messing with my heart, because it definitely seemed initially like she was coming out and apparently I’m still in the “falling-for-straight-girls” part of life, I’m still half in love with her. Thing is, this has happened twice before already, and I did end up dating one of these straight girls, who proceeded to date a guy over me and enjoy all the emotional fulfilment I could give her with none of the commitment. So I know how this story ends, ie: not well for me.

So I know I’m not going to pursue her, and I would feel pretty skeezy if I did (she’s sweet and caring and innocent and completely freaked about being attracted to me, and I don’t want to make her out to be the villain here, because besides the initial misunderstanding about her coming out, she’s been nothing but honest and upfront). Just. Seriously. What the heck am I doing wrong and how do I keep straight girls from having the feels for me? Also how does one stop falling for straight girls who are interested? And how can I help my friend figure out her feelings without alienating her with the whole “I’m not going to date you” conversation?

Here’s the thing: You don’t know how this story ends, because this is a different story. I’m not sure what you mean by “she dated a guy over me” — did your straight ex-girlfriend cheat on you with a dude? Or were you in a non-exclusive situation and she prioritized a male paramour over you? One of those things is clearly Bad News and the other is more like thoughtlessness or poor communication, but either way, I’m not comfortable with the insinuation that all straight-identified/historically straight/bi-curious girls will hurt you in the same way. Assuming that your new crush will also pick a guy over you, because she shares an orientation with the person who did, is a logical misfire — plus, it’s coming across as a bit bi-phobic. The girl who likes you is not the same person as your ex. Deal with the situation in front of you, rather than trying to retroactively prevent your past heartbreaks.

Generally, when I give advice about dealing with crushes on straight women, I’m talking about overcoming an attraction to someone who isn’t into girls. But your umfriend is into girls — specifically, she’s into you. She, of course, has the right to identify however she wants; everyone has occasional desires or even relationships that don’t quite line up with her overall sense of orientation/identity, and while I wish the word “bisexual” were less stigmatized and that girls who have dated boys but find themselves sprung on a girl weren’t so often scared away from claiming it, I also acknowledge that every human has unique experiences and that it’s not my place to define anyone’s sexuality for her.

You say you’d feel bad about pursuing her, even though you’re “half in love,” because she’s “sweet and innocent.” Are sweet and innocent people not allowed to get their Sapphic swerve on? That hardly seems fair to them. And you want to date her, but you’re afraid you’ll hurt her feelings by not dating her, so…like…why not just date her already? Again, she’s not your ex. If you want to date her and she wants to date you and neither of you are otherwise romantically encumbered, what the hell, go for it. It’s true that it will probably end in heartache and tears, but not because she’s never dated a woman before — just because that’s true of most romantic and sexual relationships between human beings. If you’re totally not cool with dating someone who doesn’t identify as queer, that’s a valid boundary (even if it’s one I don’t fully understand), and it’s okay to just tell her that. You’ll need to accept, though, that it might upset her and possibly have lasting repercussions for your friendship. Some people just can’t remain friends with someone for whom they have romantic feelings, and that’s a valid boundary as well.

As for “how do I stop being attracted to women who are attracted to me,” I’m sorry to say I don’t think there’s a cure for your condition. You’ll have to continue addressing it on a case-by-case basis. If you have a mutual attraction to someone, but for whatever reason you don’t think hooking up is a good idea, the best thing to do might be to get some distance until you develop a crush on someone new.

There is a young queer — and when I say young, I mean newly out, not lacking in age — in my social circle who is Very Excited About Being Out and Stuff. Unfortunately, they’re also currently alienating the heck out of all of us with constant language and content policing. We’ve taken to joking that they should carry a giant Trigger Warning sign with them everywhere they go.

They seem to have lost their sense of humor. And this group of friends is totally aware that this happens — but we all went through it ten years ago. How do we support our friend but also get a break from the constant ultraserious shouting about things?

Oh, man, this is such a Thing and we as a queer community do not talk about it nearly enough. Here’s what I think is behind it: When you’re not out, you witness and experience so many homophobic/biphobic/transphobic microaggressions in your day-to-day life, but you often feel restrained from pushing back against it for fear that doing so will reveal something about yourself that you’re not ready to share. As a result, all that outrage and frustration builds up inside you, and when you finally feel safe enough to express your truth, you are BOILING OVER with everything you’ve never been able to say before. The result is what you’re seeing: a very strong reaction — what some might deem an overreaction — to language and jokes that even other LGBTQ people find innocuous. It’s understandable, but Jesus it can also be annoying.

If you’re close enough to your newly-out friend to have this conversation, it might be a good idea to remind them that joking about the oppression they face is one of the crucial ways that marginalized people connect with each other and stay sane; this is not at all the same as privileged people making jokes at marginalized people’s expense. It’s also worth remembering that even within the same group, people’s preferred terminology may differ, and it’s not cool to police the language folks use to describe themselves (I know some people really hate the word “queer,” for instance, but you’ll have to pry that one from my cold dead queer hands). If you’re not comfortable talking to them in a way that could be perceived as lecturing — or if you’ve tried to no avail — you really only have a couple of options: either be super careful with your language around this person for a while, or keep your distance from them until the baby-queer vitriol has settled down somewhat.

What you should not do, however, is keep subjecting this person to language and jokes that you know offend them, even if you think their reaction is unreasonable. They have the right to set boundaries for the terminology they’re exposed to, especially since this might be the first time ever they’ve been able to do so. If those aren’t boundaries you can work with, you may need to spend less time around them for a while.

Lindsay King-Miller is also on Twitter, and you can peruse the AAQC archive here. Do you have a question for her?