When I first came out as bisexual, I was afraid of dating lesbians.
(Yes, I know how that sounds. I wanted to date women, but I didn’t want to date women who only dated women. Hey, I’m not saying my former beliefs were rational.)
Back then, I had some unfounded notions of the lesbian community (of which I had really not been a part).
I thought, because of my experience with the one lesbian I had dated, that any lesbian would fall in love with me, and want nothing more than to cuddle on the couch with our cats, watching rom-coms and crying.
Of course, I know now that those stereotypes were discriminatory, and a product of my own shame and denial.
How do I know it was stereotypical?
Well, I had known or dated a bunch of needy guys, yet never assumed all men were needy.
Also, as soon as I started dating lesbians, I quickly found this was not the case.
Even when it didn’t work out with the ones who were into me, it never ended badly. In fact, they seemed light years ahead of most of the people I’d dated in terms of maturity: we’d end it, shake hands, and stay friends.
But at the beginning, when I finally decided to try dating a woman — I mean, really, dating one — I had my doubts. And I wasn’t the only one.
My friends had doubts.
My family had doubts.
My thoughts chased each other endlessly:
“I can’t be gay,” I reasoned, “because my sister’s dating a woman. That’s just too many queer folk for one family, right?”
and, of course,
“A vagina won’t be enough for me,” went the next one. “Women are great and all, but I just won’t last a lifetime with someone who doesn’t have a penis.”
and who could forget,
“It’s just a phase. My last breakup was just really hard and I just can’t date men for a little while.”
(I thank many of my friends’ parents for this last one.)
Funnily enough, I was so busy having my own stereotypes, I didn’t even think about what lesbians might think about someone like me.
And, turns out, lesbians had beliefs about me, too.
Belief #1. Bisexual women aren’t “pure”
Most of us have heard of the Gold Star Lesbian — the woman who’s never slept with a man.
In my experience, this person doesn’t actually exist (maybe they do. But I haven’t met one. Yet.)
But there’s a certain bravado around dating or sleeping with a very small number of men.
As a bisexual woman who historically leaned hetero, I’m the gold-star antichrist.
I hadn’t only had sex with a man to see whether I liked it or not; I had boldly decided that I did like it, and pursued men almost exclusively for a decade.
Over this same period, my experience with women was limited to drunken make-outs at the bar and “experimenting” with friends in university.
I was as far from “pure” as pure could get.
Belief #2. Bisexual women will leave you for a man
Being dumped for someone else sucks — regardless of the gender of the person they leave you for.
It hurts even more when they leave you for the opposite sex — especially if your friends and family warned you it could happen.
I don’t know how much truth there is in this one, but in my experience, it’s a very prevalent fear.
If you date a woman who previously dated men — well, that’s just setting yourself up for heartbreak. And a lot of lesbians aren’t willing to go there. Or, if they’ve been burned, they might not go there again.
But fears don’t always materialize
The truth is, my fears weren’t based in truth.
They were based in fear.
Fear that my straight friends would judge me.
Fear that my family wouldn’t accept my identity.
Fear that I’d be judged if I did, eventually, go back to dating a man.
Fear that I would lose relationships.
Maybe some of these fears did materialize. Maybe I did lose some Facebook or Instagram friends but didn’t notice because we weren’t all that close. Maybe my straight friends did judge me, just a little.
But you know what? I don’t really care.
Because I’m really, really happy. I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever been in, with a person who I love and cherish everyday.
And you know what? The joy that brings me far outweighs what I would have felt, if I had continued to live my life in fear.
Though, I should say…some stereotypes do materialize.
For us, it was the U-Haul myth: my girlfriend and I moved in at six months.
And you know what? With her, I would have done it sooner.