Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ticking the Boxes

I reactivated my OKCupid account recently -- this time around I'm on as a woman looking for a woman.

As a straight girl on the dating site a few years back, I'd seen every kind of creepy to every kind of awesome and typically speaking, it's a woman's game, receiving over 150 messages a week from men. But my taste in men is particular; roughly 3 out of every 100 were attractive to me. I went out on dates with a few handfuls of men and formed an attachment to exactly three which remains to this day. But Internet dating wasn't really for me at the time, so I stepped off.

My current profile states I'm not into polyamory, not typically into casual sex, not looking to fuck your girl to spice up your bedroom antics, or for a hetero fantasy. Please, no men, no couples.

For the most part, I am a mostly-heterosexual-sometimes-queer-macho-femme-monogamous-woman.

It takes courage to check a box. And it takes courage to run up to those boxes and kick them so hard they go flailing through the air.

A wise woman once said courage starts by simply showing up.

Got that? All you have to do is show up. Show yourself. Show your true self.

No fake smile, no stiff upper lip, no brave face, no keep calm and carry on, no put-on voice, no puffed-out chest, no shirt, no shoes if you don't got 'em. Wear lipstick if you want, but please not for amour.

This particular dating site's browsing feature works like this: you scroll through a banner of people and in order to move to the next one you either have to give them an X or a Star. If you want to know more, click on their profile but they'll see that you did. If two people have mutually "starred" each other, the system lets us know it's a match, thus a message at this point is really the only savvy way to open the gate to fuck-town.

My lesbian friend warns me in Non-Straight Ville -- population me and thousands of gay, queer, trans, demi's, heteroflexible, homoflexible, pansexual, sapiosexual or questioning people --  things are a lot different than Boy-Meets-Girl World, so she gives me some tips:

Don’t say anything too forward about how they look, it’s creepy.
Keep your messages short. 
Don’t treat it like a candy-store. 
Read their profile, see if you're actually compatible - women care about that stuff. 
The ones you lust for because they look like Beiber (yeah, I’m that girl) are usually fucking cray-cray.

My friend is optimistic for my success:
"You’ll do so well with the lesbians." she says
"I hope I do as well as I do with the men." I retort.

My friend envies me slightly for being into men too-- she finds women terribly difficult to date and wishes she could enjoy the proverbial banana and the tree attached. She believes men are easier and more simple to relate to.

My account has been active for over a week and all I can hear are crickets. Still, so far I can say there are more than 3 out of every 100 who pique my interest. I like these odds.

The silence and stillness is deafening. One woman looks at my profile four times in 3 days. Another looks at my profile twice in the last 4 hours. I click on hers. She clicks on mine. I click on hers. She clicks on mine. Still silence.

My friend warns me my profile has some heavy strikes against me -- I've got kids, which is cool with most guys who just want to bang, but women, well, they're a little more sensitive to the implications of that situation. 

The biggest turn-off is that I bluntly state I am severely allergic to cats and I just cannot be around cats. She suggests I retract my motherhood status and keep mum about not being cat-cool.  I refuse.

"Most single women have cats. A lot of lesbians have cats." she reminds me.

Noted. I begin to crack a joke about pussy but stop myself - the branch is far too low-hanging. 

It's been over a week and I'm stuck in quiet-ville without a single message. I cannot help but judge that the influence of social gender roles has a lot to do with this. Simply put; men are told to GO FOR IT. Women, gay or straight are raised to be hold back....better to be safe than sorry.

Well, I say, taking my hands out of my pants, someone’s got to do it and it may as well as be me. I’m not here for window shopping, isn't reaching out kind of the point of this whole thing?

I start firing messages off to all the fine women who make me happy I'm not staring at a man's profile:

You’re cute. I like your hair. What part of England are you from?
Your dog looks like an accountant I once hired.
You sound so honest. Hey, I'm interested in feminist film too.
Your cat is named Lloyd?! That's my son's name! :)

In a two-week span I send 15-20 messages.
None of them reply. Zero. Most of them block me. 


I meet my friend Rudiger for drinks and spill the beans about my shitty timeshare in Rejection City.
"What are you saying to these women?? You fucking creep." he exclaims.

I show him the messages on my phone to prove I've been nothing short of a gentleman. He cocks his head to one said “Aw, you’re sweet. These girls don’t know what they’re missing.

He's convinced he knows women who won't reject me and offers to go to the lesbian bar and be my gay sidekick. 
"Really? You’d do that for me?" I say.
He nods and jokes that he's hoping it will result in me, him and some woman having a threesome.
"You know sex with me is on the table. Like literally on the table." he says, "No, seriously, lift your napkin, my dick is on the table.” 

My buddy Rudiger is the best and this may be a friendship that will last a lifetime.
He cheers me up by telling me about his own sexual escapades; He tells me about the group sex, the casual sex, the polyamourous sex, the trans-sex, the oral-sex, the shut-up-and-put-out sex, the open sex, the shy sex, the monogamous sex, the meaningful sex, the meaningless sex.

"Why are you looking for a woman anyways? What about that special guy you've been seeing?"
I fall quiet for a minute and secretly hope we've opened the gate to love-talk.

I ask Rudiger how you know when you’re falling in love. He rolls his eyes at me and gives me a look of combined pity and dubiety: 

Well, gee, the great philosophers and poets from the beginning of time have been pondering the question but yeah, I’ll give it a try." He takes his eyes off the game and speaks to me:

"You get butterflies in your stomach, you think about them all the time. You want to know how they’re doing. If they’re okay. You want that connection to be with them, like a thread pulling you two together. You miss them when they're not around. You want to to know more about them. You think about the possibilities together as a couple --"

I interject:

-- "You can't stop feeling this way no matter how you try to talk yourself out of it.
You feel it even if they don’t feel it back. And it feels so good.”

He interjects:

Plus you want to lick their butt.” 

I nod in agreement. But warn him that unlike him, and despite that I am a mostly-heterosexual-sometimes-queer-macho-femme-monogamous-woman. I've got behaviour patterns of a type checkmarked: dismissive-avoidant attachment.

The qualities are these: keeping my life separate and private, feeling love but not telling them, pining after an ex I had an impossible future with, two-timing, pulling away when things are going well, keeping secrets and leaving details foggy (to maintain my feelings of independence), inability to reach out and make plans, fearing commitment means "losing myself", maintaining my self-sufficiency and disregard for mutual support.

There have been a few profound times when I have kicked that attachment-style label and sent it flailing in the air, raising above and showing true vulnerability and courage and it's been worth it -- even if I didn't get the results I was seeking.

Trouble is I always fall back to my check-mark-boxed pattern.

Whether we're operating in the real world or in a virtual one; we all seem to be having a lot of trouble with being vulnerable. 

Vulnerability has a twisted reputation -- what it means is the ability to be comfortable with uncertainty, to take emotional risks, and to expose ourselves emotionally. One doesn't necessary need another's consent or permission to be vulnerable.  Remember, you're doing this for you -- not for them.

Sending a message to a stranger on a dating site is hardly the kind of risk I should be boasting about and checking off the box marked "vulnerability conquered" -- I've got to fess up to the feelings I'm running from right now. Fess up to the feelings this man -- my heterosexual lover -- brings out in me every time we're together.
And when we're apart.


The next day I log on to OKCupid and I see I have finally received my first message.

Hey :) How's it going ? . Ur hair looks soo stylish and pretty :) u must be a hair dresser :) are you ??? ,,, hmm i reallllly apologize for being soo random . I am just wondering if u knew any nice cute manly looking gay or bi guys ??....thank u sooo much for ur help ..and I hope my message wasn't too awkward :S lol... have a wonderful day :) thanksssss

Just great.


Eventually a real message comes in from a real woman. She is blonde, thin, not attractive to me, and quite young. She states simply: I love your eyes.

I want to respond immediately, so she doesn’t fall into lesbian letter-limbo-land like I have so experienced.

I write back with honesty: “Thanks, you’re cute but not my type.”
She actually responds:  “….what’s your type?”

I sit back in my chair and ponder the appropriate response that will cater her ego and mine. I decide to tell the truth -- after all, it’s been choking me up for months. But I decide to keep it on a level of purely aesthetics:

Big brown eyes....beautiful smell.... great laugh….amazing kisser….beautiful body….soothing voice... touchable skin.....warm…...six-foot-two....beard.

I delete the words I’ve typed out and send nothing.
I log off and shut it all down.

All I can think about is him. All I can think about when I think about love, when I think about sparks flying, when I think about naked bodies, when I think about intimacy, when I think about practicing vulnerability -- is him.

I'm wise enough to know this is nature's way of telling me it's time to quiet the mind. 
And so I do. 
As I drift along for a few days, light on thoughts and heavy on feeling, I discover:

Right now I don't want anyone else but him. I don’t want to do anyone but him. Plus, I want to lick his butt.

This kind of love is not a box I can tick, and it's certainly not a hard hit from cupid’s arrow -- it’s fluid, infinite, evolving. I believe Cupid’s arrow is bent, soft as marshmallows and ejaculates glitter upon impact. 

I want him not because he’s of a box marked straight and not because I am a mostly-heterosexual-sometimes-queer-macho-femme-monogamous-woman, but because he's who he is -- and he gets to be him and I get to be me. As two eager stars maybe all we need to do right now to keep this thing going is just keep showing up.

To learn more about what a wise woman has got to say about vulnerability, check this out:

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