dating

'For years I dated men and felt nothing. Then in lockdown, I added girls to my dating app preferences.'

When I was 10, I had a hopeless crush on a boy in my class. Every girl in my class was in love with this boy. He was perfect in every way. Far too popular to look at me, though.

When I was 12, I googled ‘lesbian porn’ (on the home wifi, sorry dad). I was just curious. But I wasn’t gay.

When I was 14, I was in love with a boy who’d never even spoken to me. I’d imagined kissing him, having sex with him, you name it. When that crush materialised into a ‘very serious’ Year Nine relationship on school camp, I suddenly wanted nothing less than to kiss him. 

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I think my excuse was something like ‘I don’t know how’. This didn’t stop him trying. I didn’t like being attached to him. After three weeks, I broke up with him. I felt nothing. I still liked boys, though.

When I was 17, on a family holiday, I saw a girl with long blonde hair on the beach. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She was German, from what I could hear of her accent. 

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I wasn’t gay, though.

When I was 18, I had my first kiss. Some random boy in a nightclub, whose friend filmed the whole thing on Snapchat. I was too drunk to care, but sober enough to know I felt nothing. I still liked boys, though.

When I was 19, I was dancing with a boy at a uni party. I was excited, not because I wanted it, but because I felt like I was finally doing something I was supposed to enjoy. 

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He invited me back to his college. I wanted nothing less. What was wrong with me? I still liked boys, though. I just hadn’t found the right one.   

When I was 21, I went on quite a few dates. I had lots of interesting conversations, but nothing more than that. I ghosted a few people and got ghosted by as many. I didn’t feel very much at all.

When I was almost 22, Melbourne went into its first lockdown. A few weeks in, I gave in to my boredom and downloaded TikTok. This might seem inconsequential. It wasn’t.

Within a few hours, my For You Page was feeding me queer and wlw (woman-loving-woman) content. I was an ally! Hooray! I wasn’t gay, though.  

A few weeks go by. I see a lot of beautiful women on my TikTok feed making incredible queer content. 

Maybe I’m bi, I started thinking. Maybe this app is onto something. I nervously switch my preferences on my dating apps to ‘men & women’. Just to see... Purely a temporary change. I’ll switch it back soon. It felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to. I definitely wasn’t gay.

I matched with a girl. She was very pretty, and I told her so.

We moved to Instagram. I was nervous. I was stuck inside my house, so my anxiety about the situation was intensified. Had she replied? How long is the reply? Did I forget to respond? We chatted for a while. It fizzled out. I don’t think I’m gay.

I kept swiping. I only swiped right on girls. Just a coincidence though, I thought. It’s just that none of these guys are my type.

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A year into COVID restrictions, I matched with another girl. We met up, and we clicked straight away. This is so easy, I thought. Why does it feel kind of wrong? I’m not gay.

She kissed me, and I enjoyed it. Ok, so I’m definitely bi. We hung out a few more times, but I wasn't really feeling it. Was it because I was pretending to like girls?

I got sick of seeing men on my dating apps so I switched my preferences to ‘women only’. 

Then, I turn 23. I meet a girl. She comes over to my house at 9pm during lockdown number six. She’s 25, older than me. She’s gay, and sure of it. 

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We talk for hours. She kisses me. She stays over. When she has to go to work in the morning, I don’t want her to let go of me. She’s all I can think about. I think I might be gay.

‘When am I seeing you next?’ she asks me. And so it goes, for a month. I am overwhelmed, in a good way, I thought.

It’s a secret. I only tell a few people. Am I ashamed? Maybe. I work up the courage to tell my sister and my dad. It goes well. Why wouldn’t it? They’re happy for me. So why do I feel dirty?

Then, replies slow down. We meet up less often. I am constantly anxious. I feel like a burden. She only broke up with her girlfriend of a year a few weeks before she met me, she says. She didn’t process it, she says. She’s overwhelmed, she says. “That’s ok” I say. “We’ll take it slow”. I am a distraction.

She’s supposed to come over. She cancels. “I don’t think I can do this right now” she says. My world falls apart in that moment. Surely figuring out who I am isn’t supposed to hurt this much.

I’m angry. I’m devastated. It wasn’t even a real relationship, why am I so dramatic? Everything feels empty. She posts an Instagram story with her ex-girlfriend. I feel betrayed. And stupid. Why was I so stupid? F**k her.

Weeks go by. Slowly, I start to heal. It’s not linear, though. I go in circles. I get dizzy.

Months go by, I eventually start to feel good again. I’ve escaped.

I start posting about my life and sexuality on social media. It feels good. I let go of any shame I was carrying. I feel more myself than I have ever felt. I give absolutely no f**ks.

I meet a girl. It’s a slow burn this time, and it feels right. We take our time. It’s an even playing field, not like before.

We are honest with each other, I feel secure.

I have no guilt. I don’t feel dirty, like I’m pretending or keeping a secret.

I feel appreciated.

I feel like myself.

I feel loved.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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