The women falling in love with women later in life.

Three years ago, I left my boyfriend to be with another woman.

We'd been trialling an open relationship at the time, and, having dabbled with women in my twenties, I was curious to dip my toe into the water again.

Shortly after setting up my Tinder profile, I matched with Samantha, a 33-year-old fly-in-fly-out miner with no pictures, but an intriguing bio that compelled me to swipe right.

After a couple of hours of exchanging messages, I asked her to send me a selfie.

Though I'd had what hinted at crushes on women before and thought I'd been in love with men, the feelings her photo awoke in me were unlike anything I'd experienced.

So much so that, within days, I ended my relationship with my boyfriend and started dating Samantha.

Our love affair was ultimately short-lived, but it brought to light something I hadn't even realised was lying dormant in me: I'm gay

Today, I'm living my best lesbian life with my long-term girlfriend with whom I share an apartment, however, had I never met Samantha, it's very likely I'd still be in a hetero relationship. That's not the binary coming out story we're used to hearing, but it's an increasingly common phenomenon.

Watch: Madison Missina on lesbian sex versus hetero sex. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

While examples of women openly dating and marrying women were rare in media just a decade ago, in the last couple of years, several female celebrities have surprised fans by revealing they're in queer relationships after previously exclusively partnering with men.

In early 2023, comedian Rebel Wilson announced she was engaged to entrepreneur Ramona Agruma, posting to Instagram "I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess."

A few months later, Selling Sunset's Chrishell Stause tied the knot with non-binary Australian singer G Flip, who she began dating shortly after her highly publicised split from costar and boss, Jason Oppenheim. In an interview with Vogue about the Halloween event she met G Flip at, Stause famously said, "I definitely still thought I was straight at that party!"

And more recently, Aussie actor and singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte told Stellar magazine she'd found love with another woman in the wake of her divorce from husband, Cameron McGlinchey; "I am in a beautiful relationship with a woman who makes my heart smile," Bassingthwaighte confessed.


"While it may be hard for some people to fathom living for decades thinking you're straight when you're actually queer, there are a variety of systemic factors that work together to create this reality," explains queer creator and self-identified 'late-bloomer lesbian'," Shohreh Davoodi.

Like a lot of late-bloomer lesbians (women who come out as gay later in life, usually in their thirties, forties and beyond), the forced slowdown of the pandemic was the tipping point for Davoodi's own queer awakening.

"After quarantine started, I read Glennon Doyle's Untamed, and it hit me that I was a lesbian," says Davoodi, who divorced her husband and came out to friends and family in 2021 before meeting her now-fiancée, Jessie Roynon.

Released shortly after the start of the pandemic, Untamed chronicles the writer's journey from a decade-long marriage to a man that left her feeling "caged" to a vibrant, loving relationship with another woman. And it continues to be a revelation for women yearning to explore life on their own terms.

Though Doyle doesn't explicitly unpack the construct of compulsory heterosexuality – colloquially referred to as "comphet" – which is the prevalent cultural assumption women are sexually attracted to men, she implores readers to "burn" societal pressures and expectations around womanhood and marriage "to the ground" to discover themselves.

And this is at the heart of what appears to be a new "trend" of women leaving their husbands and boyfriends to pursue same-sex romances.


In reality, sexuality isn't a choice, and treating it as such is dangerous, as it suggests LGBTQ people can control who they're attracted to or how they experience their gender.

What's really driving the uptick in women abandoning their formerly "straight" identities is a societal shift away from the stigma previously surrounding queerness. Millennials and Gen Zs are the first two generations who haven't had to face the criminalisation of our sexual identities.

We're also the first generation to be raised with ubiquitous access to information, making it possible to examine and challenge social norms.

Though the term "compulsory heterosexuality" first appeared in a 1980 feminist essay, it didn't make its way into mainstream dialogue until the pandemic, when queer TikTok users came across an anonymous Tumblr post titled, 'Am I a Lesbian?', written by a young woman explaining how 'comphet' had misled her into thinking she was straight.

The online document quickly trended on TikTok and has since been credited with helping thousands of women uncover their queerness. Though it's not written by an academic or expert, its discernment between "a desire to be attractive to men", which is described as something impressed upon women by hetero-normative culture, and "a physical attraction to men" has had the most heralded "The Lesbian Master Doc".

In the wake of my whirlwind lesbian romance with Samantha, I found myself trawling the internet for answers as to how I'd managed to believe I was straight for so long, and eventually landing on the Master Doc, where I realised I’d spent decades confusing my desire to be wanted by men with sexual attraction.


Listen to HER with Sophie Cachia where Sophie and Allira get candid about sex, open up about what dating looks like after marriage, and why lesbians move so fast. Post continues after audio.

But for some women who've recently come to the conclusion they're queer, men aren't entirely off the menu. However, while these women still find themselves attracted to men, many are opting out of dating them. Our increased economic and social mobility means we aren't constrained by the same financial and social imperatives to find a husband as previous generations.

"Women are increasingly selective… They prefer men who are emotionally available, who are good communicators, and who share their values," writes psychologist Gregory Matos in 'What's Behind the Rise of Lonely, Single Men.'

"The problem for men is that emotional connection is the lifeblood of healthy, long-term love and it requires all the skills that families still are not consistently teaching young boys," Matos adds.

And these skills tend to be where women excel. Put simply, the old joke, "Treat your girlfriend right or a lesbian will" holds water.


Add to that the fact women in heterosexual marriages overwhelmingly do more emotional and domestic labour than their peers (a Pew Research Centre study found this to be true even when they work outside the home and out-earn their husbands, while a report published in the Journal Of Lesbian Studies shows gay women divide household labour equally), as well as the gendered orgasm gap (this study confirms lesbians give women far more orgasms than straight men), and there are fewer incentives than ever for women to partner with men, regardless of sexuality.

In the last three years, I've experienced richer, more profound emotional and sexual connections in my relationships and enjoyed truly equitable partnerships that have affirmed without a shadow of a doubt, that I am a lesbian.

Of course, not every woman who leaves her boyfriend for another woman is a lesbian – it's worth noting none of the high-profile women who've recently announced they're in queer relationships have labelled themselves – but all women who break away from the life expected of them in favour of, as Doyle calls it, "living in integrity", discover something greater than any romance could deliver: themselves.

Follow Nadia Bokody on Instagram and YouTube for more.

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Feature Image: Instagram.