There are few things crueler in this world than thinking you’re dating someone when you’re not. I usually have a pretty good sense about these things but this time, I was not immune to the delusions of a poor girl in unrequited love. I met Vanessa* on Tinder. She was a rare breed: a high femme f*ckgirl. All the accessories and beauty of a femme, but all the dangerous charm and games of a f*ckboy.
We were up to 2 months of regularly seeing each other — in that deep, deep sex haze. You know the one: where the sex is so good it starts making you insane and ignoring red flags. Every time I’d get the nerve to ask the infamous “what are we?” question, she’d take me to a loud bar, or wear sexy AF lingerie, or gag and blindfold me. It was like she had radar for when I wanted to talk, and she’d make it delightfully impossible.
After many failed attempts to ask her what we were, and being so terrified the answer wouldn’t be what I wanted, I stopped trying to discuss and hoped for the best. I called her my girlfriend to all my friends, which I know was completely delusional, but the SEX had me so f*cked up. Then something far more powerful that kinky sex and orgasms could ever be: I realized I was in love with her. We had just ordered post-sex Seamless when we got into a totally frivolous conversation about food.
“We’re both princesses about food now,” she said, “but I used to have the lowest standards, ever. When I first moved to New York and was broke working at Urban Outfitters, I used to eat Subway everyday. The veggie patties that are essentially yoga mats. I sat by myself in Subway everyday,” she joked.
Seems like an insignificant statement right? Wrong. My brain works in weird, oddly specific ways (I blame my Master’s degree in poetry). Imagining her eating a yoga mat Subway sandwich by herself as a 20-year old NYU Political Science student made my heart feel like it was going to explode. I don’t know why, but it just did. I had so many feelings for her that picturing her doing something as simple as eating chemically processed deli meats was enough to set me off into feel-land. It was that precise moment that I realized I was in love with her, that I was in way over my head.
Valentines Day was fast approaching.
I completely indulged my delusion. Or maybe I thought I could manipulate her into wanting to be my girlfriend (I never said I was perfect, I’m f*cked up too). I got her a collection of Kat Von D liquid lipsticks (ugh, I love dating fellow femmes, they’re so easy to shop for!) and a Warsan Shire book of poetry. She was obsessed with Beyonce’s Lemonade, so I figured she’d like Shire’s poetry. I was always remembering little details about her. She, on the other hand, didn’t call or text me the day I had to put my 16 year old dog down.
Valentine’s Day was on a weekday, and we never discussed it or made plans. I was okay with this since I was in graduate school and didn’t get out of class on Long Island until 9 pm. I figured she’d at least text me Happy Valentines Day. Wrong. I ignored it, just like I ignored when she couldn’t come to my best friend’s wedding because she “had a thing.”
That weekend, I showed up to her apartment with the gifts. After I presented them to her, she was like, that’s so sweet, and promptly put them on her dresser, and pushed me onto her bed.
Then we had mind-blowing sex, as usual, and I took an Uber all the way from Crown Heights to Long Island, because I felt weird staying the night. It was so, so obvious that we weren’t dating, but I had sustained my illusion for so long that I didn’t know what to do. Being with her hurt because I knew she didn’t feel the same way, but the thought of breaking up with her seemed crazy because of all the incredible sex we were having, and because of my whole weird I-realized-I-loved-her-because-of-a-sandwich thing.
Once you realize that someone is never going to feel the same way about you that you feel for them, it permeates everything you do. Every time I walked into her apartment and saw the book still thrown in the same place, or when she uploaded the lipsticks to Instagram with no mention of me, or when her friends met me and had no recognition in their eyes, I was regularly reminded that I was hurting, hurting, hurting.
After Valentine’s Day, the sex didn’t even seem so hot anymore: it just made me sad. I stuck around months after like the masochist I am, but in those final months of our pseudo-relationship, I always carried the truth with me: we were just f*ck buddies.
Lesbians, listen the f*ck up: I don’t care if your queer politics tell you that Valentine’s Day is a ridiculous capitalistic heteronormative joke of a holiday. It still exists and is a holiday where your partner, or even just the person regularly going inside you, should show you a little extra love and care whether that be with an experience, lavish gifts, kind words, or all three.
Valentine’s Day is, in a small but significant way, an indicator of your relationship. It’s how you hook your leather jacket-clad Shane look-alike into committing to you. It’s how you can tell if that girl you met at Cubbyhole is just passing the time with you or thinks you’re wifey material. And it’s how I knew my relationship was nonexistent. Pay attention to the signs, bitches, because if you want better, you deserve better.