One thing I wish I knew about dating girls (though there are several hundred things) is that there are SO MANY KINDS OF THEM: femme, butch, and everything in between. The WLW dating pool is a sea of gorgeous, unique goddesses blooming with personality and possibilities. I was coming off of a 22-year streak of dating several versions of the same douchebag in a Vineyard Vines quarter-zip, so this new selection was more than a breath of fresh air—it was a violent windstorm that knocked me out of my shoes and onto another plane of existence. Unfortunately, that was not enough to shake my rigid acquired rules and expectations about relationships.
In Straight World™, the standards for looks are, well, f*cked. Couples don’t often “match” the same level of attractiveness. Straight women are out here crying hundreds of dollars of makeup off of their faces over guys who got ready for the day by sniffing the crotch of their jeans, shrugging, and putting them on anyway. It’s a sin! The girl is expected to be the “pretty” one. If she’s not, then it’s assumed she is only good at blowjobs, which is a problem unto itself (but if we’re being honest, the “ugliest” woman is still more attractive than any living man).
So, for my whole life, I was the “pretty” one in the relationship. I was the one who liked pink and makeup and glitter and couldn’t name more than three current NFL players. I never felt like the pretty one, because I was told by Papa Patriarchy that I never would be pretty enough, but I had an objective sense of which guys were reserved for the extra hot girls and which were available for me. I worked with what I was offered and even reached for the stars and landed some guys who would regularly style their hair and wore sweatpants only indoors. But no matter what, I was to be the “pretty” one.
I carried this over into my lesbian dating life. With a clean slate, I was able to create a new set of standards for myself. With a 0% match rate with any girls who were remotely feminine, though, I decided to go for the more masculine women that piqued my interest in girls in the first place. Although I would find things in common with them—we would both love pizza, hate Patrón, and have a pussy—the conversation would feel forced in some way.
This is how I felt when I was dating men; it wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the connection I was looking for. I asked appropriate questions, but I zoned out for most of the answer. I laughed along with jokes I saw the humor in, but they weren’t particularly my taste. I enjoyed their company, but I found myself searching for more. It was an attraction with no bond to hold it together. Yet, if I always felt like this, was something wrong with me?
Along with the heteronormative structure that I was following, I felt like if I dated girls who were more masculine, even if they were hotter than me, it’d be like comparing apples and oranges. I’d be pretty in my way and she’d be pretty in her way, and there would be no overlap. It was a loophole to make sure that I didn’t end up having to compete with my girlfriend and ultimately lose my place as the “pretty” one.
As soon as I saw a femme on a dating app, I swiped right past her. There was no bother even trying. I knew I wasn’t pretty enough, or she was looking for someone masculine, or it would just be weird. Femmes look like my friends, and I don’t want to f*ck my friends; ipso facto, I don’t want to fuck femmes. Why waste my time on them when I could be messaging a hot LHB who I have virtually nothing in common with?
After a while, however, I began to feel guilty that I was writing these women off. I would be crushed to know that other girls were passing up on the chance of a lifetime to meet me just because of the way I dressed. I started with girls who were more “neutral,” and that worked out pretty nicely for me. I would meet girls that I had even more connections with. With my confidence boosted, I decided to push the envelope even femmer.
This time, whenever I saw a femme pop up, I scrolled through her pictures and read her bio instead of swiping her immediately into the abyss. In a very strange and alien-like way, I pictured the girl standing in front of me and tried to activate my human feelings to see if I would want to kiss her. That was my scientific way of assessing if I was actually attracted to her or not, and, according to my calculations, I totally was.
Just as an experiment, I swiped on a girl who I thought was “too pretty” for me. She had voluminous fake lashes, beautiful long hair, and I’m pretty sure we were wearing the same dress in one of our pictures. I swiped right AAAAAAAAND nothing. I knew it. Why did I even try?
I kept swiping for a few more minutes, and I finally got a notification. A match! From the pretty girl! And a message! From the pretty girl!
For hours, we messaged back and forth about everything we loved, and it was all the same things. Not only did we have seemingly all of the same moral, cultural, and social beliefs, we also liked the same niche Twitter accounts and shopped at the same stores (turns out it was the same dress).
That first match ended in a ghosting situation, but, then again, so did all of my other matches. Instead of getting discouraged, I carried this newfound excitement into the rest of my dating experiences. A few of my femme matches turned into friends, but most of the matches went no further than a follow on Instagram. Regardless of relationship outcome, each time I met a new femme, I immediately felt like I was finally with the person I wanted to be with (in a lesbian way, not in a creepy way).
Of course, I was disappointed when things didn’t work out, but the constant disappointment of meeting people that I felt disconnected with had vanished. I realized that I was still forcing myself to date people based on imaginary and invalid ideas. Why was I still falling into the same role I hated just with a different gender? This sexual awakening was a new opportunity to challenge all of my beliefs and values, and I was not going to sleep on the chance to change my love life.
As well as improving my love life, once I started allowing myself to appreciate the beauty in femme women. I realized how trivial my own insecurities were. I didn’t look at other women the way I looked at myself; there was no hypercritical lens dramatizing every detail I found displeasing. It was the opposite, actually: I loved everything about them because of their uniqueness. I began to use those eyes that loved femmes to look at the femme they belonged to. The more I loved femmes, the more I loved myself. The more I loved myself, the less I was envious of other women’s beauty. I began to cherish it, not challenge it.
This is not to say people with varying degrees of gender expression can’t date or have nothing in common; it’s just not what I wanted. I wanted the obsessive “we like all of the same things and think all of the same thoughts” connection of a BFF with the “I literally cannot stop touching you” passion of a relationship. I still eye the fuck out of the cute, short-haired, funky-pattern-shirt-wearing lesbians that I see at Cubbyhole. I would let a tough-ass, tall-ass basketball player ruin my life any day of the week. But, when it comes down to what I’m truly up for, femmes are my first choice.
Now, as I pick out décor for the apartment that I am moving into with my hyper-femme other half, there is no need for compromise. We both want rhinestoned mirrors on all of the walls and the same room-specific color coordination. Our mega-closet will be filled with clothes that both of us fit in and both of us like, and we will have double the hair and makeup tools and accessories. We’ll stay up all night in our bed with too many pillows on it and compliment each other like two drunk girls in a bar bathroom. She is everything I could ever hope for in a femme4femme relationship, except for one thing: she still makes me watch fucking sports.