With all due respect to Ryan Crawford and his wonderful column, I’d humbly like to submit my version of a Love & Lust in Queer Seattle: The Case for the PRIDEful Lesbian.
Another Pride over. How’d you do? No, I don’t mean whether you made it to work on Monday or not.
I’ve always been *that* gal who can offer relationship advice among friends and coworkers, even to my family at times. Been fairly good at it, until it came to my own relationships.
This was the first Pride that I wasn’t committed to someone, nor completely out on the meat market. I’m somewhere in between, and in the lesbian community, that’s pretty much unheard of. Especially when you’re not in your 20s anymore.
When you’re with someone and you’re “official,” as a woman with another woman, you go to all of the typical events. Bush Gardens becomes your home base; you make plans as to who’s the DD or where you’ll stay close to CapHill. You might do the Dyke March or hit up Hot Flash. Or, if you’re low-key, you have plans with friends for a beach party, BBQ, or boat ride, and celebrate in a more solemn, reflective way. Either way, you’ve got a guaranteed Pride Date, and you can feel safe knowing that you’ll end up in the same bed together, no matter what.
When you’re a single lady, you have to re-evaluate where you are in life, be sure you know what you’re ready for, and have a few lines at the top of your head for every eventuality, like, “You’re hot, but I don’t want to end up in bed with someone right now.” Or, “I really like you, and I’d like to spend more time with you, but I can’t do a relationship at the moment. Maybe coffee sometime?” Or the “let’s just make out for the night.” The ubiquitous, “It’s not you, it’s me” rears its ugly head, so you have to come up with something less cliche. And if you *do* want to end up in bed with someone, you formulate a plan of picking up the hottest (or first) girl you see; will it be the one you dance with, or are you expecting the ladies to come to you when you hold up the wall, looking sexy? You have to plan not only for your safety outside of the ‘Rose, but be sure that you’re with friends you can trust either to back you up, be wing-girls, or at least not hit on the gal you have your eye on. You have to spend time putting out the right vibe while having fun. Because let’s face it: some women are magnets, some women are predatory, and others just want to have fun with/without ending up in bed. Some people are manipulative, others are plain flirts, others will never tell you that they’re committed to someone even though they’ve bought you five drinks, and still others are only out for sex and will make out with anyone out of desperation. You try your hardest not to be on the incestuous side of the community. All of this, try to enjoy yourself, and still not be an immature asshole. Because now that you’re in you’re 30s or older, 20-something drama should be behind you. You’re over it.
We’ve seen many of these personalities out and about over the course of the year, but Pride is when ALL of the lesbians come out of the woodwork. Old friends who haven’t spoken in years suddenly pick up where they left off. Coupled mommies meet up with their single friends and vice versa. Someone you knew from your less stellar days shows up and they’re recently single. The one you had a chance with before you met your ex is suddenly married. Hell, you don’t even know if the friends you arrived with will still be your friends next year due to one relationship or another.
Folks, navigating being “non-20-something” is hard. It’s hard on anyone, and it’s especially hard on women who want women.
Pride does something to people. Every Pride, to everyone. Something about seeing SO many people you know all in one location, or else seeing ALL THE OPTIONS available to you (all-you-can-eat buffet, anyone?), ever so slightly changes your outlook. It changes how you perceive people, be it friends or lovers. Someone you thought you understood may have a completely different side to them once they see all the candy they’re taking/not taking. Someone you absolutely have no clue about suddenly does a little thing to make you want her more. And let’s face it, no one can compete with that hottie in the corner. Your experiences have taught you something different than what others have lived.
And then you’re left reconsidering who you are and what you want again, because apparently you didn’t do enough of it before Pride Weekend began.
When you’re in your 30s or beyond, you don’t want to make the same mistakes you made in your 20s. You don’t want to perpetuate relationship cycles, and you’re certainly trying your hardest to understand yourself entirely—flaws, quirks, qualities, strengths, weaknesses, etc. You have to adjust to the parts of yourself that won’t change for anyone. You have to find a balance between what you’re dead-set on, and what you’d like to newly experience or try. Problem is, you feel oftentimes that you can’t try too hard or too many things, because there’s this impending feeling of “time is running out.” (Not to mention that many in the Tweener generation lived through the recession, so according to the Baby Boomers, we’re financially farther “behind” in life, which sucks for relationships and psyches.)
So it seems like no matter how individual women can be, no matter how much each stereotype gets defied, there are only a handful of women you can be with (the below-mentioned are extreme examples):
- The perpetually single party girl, who hasn’t learned one iota about life, because she thinks she’ll be 23 forever. This is the girl who might be a fun friend to hang out with, but she’s really hard to care about because she never knows what she wants and never knows when she’s hurting you. Typically one to avoid sex with like THE PLAGUE, since her behavior is obviously toxic. Disclaimer: hard to resist at times.
- Conversely, the chick who’s trying so hard to learn about herself and her life goals that she’s actually kind of crazy. She can’t see much past the bridge of her nose, no matter how worldly or spiritual her mindset. And that makes it hard to let her know you’re a person with needs, too.
- The “I don’t want a relationship right now/I’m not in a place in life to be serious or committed” woman. Nothing inherently wrong with that whatsoever, but don’t say it and then get super clingy the first chance you get just because someone gave you attention. Amirite?
- The rebounder. This one will, every single time, break your heart. Every time you think it’s real, it’s not going to last. This one wants to think she’s “the marrying kind,” but can’t keep a relationship longer than six months. And of course, it’s never her fault there was a breakup.
- Some women can’t handle being with bisexual women, and that’s ok. As long as you’re upfront about it. Unfortunately, there’s always a larger risk when we try. And we know that Bi doesn’t always mean Poly, but the same sentiment holds for Poly too. Those relationships take a SHIT TON more communication and understanding (not to mention health testing). When it’s done well, it’s happy. Otherwise, it’s heartache. When you’re in your 30s, this is either a situation you’ve already tried and can do, or else it’s completely new and you have to be mentally ready for it. For many people it’s harder to be openminded when you have a lifetime of experiences behind you.
- The woman with kids. This is one of the major “time is running out” factors. You can date a woman with kids, but need to be prepared for how serious you two will get. Because breakups are ugly enough as it is without sending children to therapy for years too. Decide, now, what your stance is on kids—having them, wanting them, your own reproductive health, and all of the issues that come with single motherhood. Do you want your own family with another currently child-free person? Or are you willing to be a step-parent and a potentially mixed family? More importantly, how would your relationship with said milf affect her children, if at all? Your brain is rattled with “booty call” or “get serious or nothing.”
- The woman who wants ONLY kids. This can be difficult for child-free women who have spent years railing against anyone who’s told them that their biological clock is ticking, they can easily find the right man to get them pregnant, there’s something wrong with them for not wanting “a family,” and OH DEAR GOD HONEY *WHEN* WILL I GET MY GRANDBABIES?? Child-free women have made the choice not to have offspring come from their bodies, but may or may not want to adopt or have a family. Again, much patience and understanding is needed, especially if you want to date the woman who wants kids, but don’t have much to offer her. You don’t want to feel like a waste of her time, and you’re also not sure if your vision of the future will even happen. Anyone can dream, but sometimes you want to take the chance on a better or different life. Either way, don’t apologize for who you are or what you want. Beware, though, of the woman who’s more in love with the idea of kids, and she just wants a live-in nanny with guaranteed sex.
[I’m sure there are a couple of types I’m missing. Let me know in the comments!]
If you’re lucky enough to meet someone in the same life-place as you, and shares similar aspirations, by all means go for it. If you’re perfectly content to stay single and have nothing but one-nighters for a long time, props to you!
I suppose I’m not really trying to prove a point here. The only thing I can say with any sort of certainty is that COMMUNICATION IS KEY. I know it sounds simplistic and cliche, but I’ve seen too many people’s relationships fall to shit over idiotic misunderstandings. That being said, please be safe out there. When someone is toxic, stay the fuck away! Didn’t the more feminist-aligned media just spend the past few years reminding us not to apologize for what we want, to stop being sorry for so much of who we are, and tell us that it’s ok to evolve ourselves?
No matter what situation you’re in, cut the passive-aggressive shit. Be honest and sincere with who you are, and let the other gal know too. Every relationship has parts you don’t like. Nothing is ideal. Nothing will live up to your vision. You might never be as hot as that chick over there, and you might never fully trust yourself at Pride. You might have weaknesses and roving eyes or hands. You might be a total introvert and never get anyone because you hate the community or the bar scene. Maybe you try to do some of both, and for once you just don’t want to feel guilty for your actions. Just try to balance your brain with your heart. If your heart’s not in it, your brain will only suffer anguish and hyperanalyzing. If you think too much, you’ll miss out on some beautiful feelings (and amazing sex).
There’s absolutely no reason to hate yourself or how you’re navigating new situations. You’re trying. You’re evolving. You’re re-learning how to trust. And that’s ok. But for fuck’s sake, just talk about it. To a friend, a lover, a counselor, or anyone you feel close to. If you’re not sure what’s happening in your relationship, fucking say something to her. And listen to the other person’s words. Don’t try to assume you know them or what they’re thinking. Understand that everyone is flawed. It’s just a matter of loving the flaws and the perks (no, not talking about nips). If she’s worth it, care enough to communicate.
We’re all on the same road trip, ladies. Just at different pit stops.
Zip up and move forward.