I didn’t get seriously interested in dating until relatively late in the game; I was approaching 25 before I made any serious moves toward finding a partner, and even then, it was a lot of window shopping and not a whole lot of dinner dates. Coming of age in the age of the Internet – along with pretty serious social anxiety – meant I spent a lot of evenings browsing OKCupid and mostly concocting fantasies in my head about the people whose profiles I liked.
There were a few people I talked to: a piano teacher named Keith who also had social anxiety (seems like a good match, except neither of us could make the move to ask the other out, officially), a cute 19 year old choral singer (who had just graduated from the high school I had just started teaching at – awkward), an amateur filmmaker named Sean who was a nice guy and whom I actually met up with once (and had made about half a dozen dates with prior that he kept missing; he was genuinely a nice guy, but I’m a big enough flake for the both of us, and he was even pushing my patience).
There was definitely a thrill to meeting people online; I had recently graduated college, and while I was never especially social, I was positively floundering without a built in social network, and was completely and totally at a loss as to where to meet people. Being able to learn about interesting people from the comfort of my own home was refreshing, and in a weird way recalled the novelty of my early days online, logging on to the internet to a full mailbox and messages from interesting strangers.
And a lot of it was like that; I definitely don’t want to paint a totally negative picture of online dating – I met me husband of soon-to-be-seven years (this July) on OKC, as did more than one happily married couple in our social circle.
But merely existing on an online dating site as a bisexual woman can be hell. It’s bisexu-hell, guys.
I’d often log on to mailboxes full of messages asking for threesomes, or from straight girls wanting to experiment, or just emails whose contents implied the assumption that I was DTF basically wherever, whenever. And this happened approximately, uhm… all the friggin’ time.
And look, there is nothing wrong with any of that. There is nothing objectively wrong with threesomes, or experimentation, or random hook-ups if everyone is safe, on the same page, and a consenting adult. But it was that last box that never quite got ticked off – there was nothing in my profile to suggest I was up for any of those things. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. I had specifically checked off “Friends” “Penpals” and “Long-term Dating” under my “Looking For”preferences, and stated repeatedly in writing that I was looking to get to know someone interesting.
And none of these people ever referenced anything from my profile – indicating that they had read it in anyway – except my sexuality.
“Hey, my wife and I are looking for a bi girl to join us for some fun…”
“Hey, I’ve always thought I was a straight woman, but lately I’ve been wanting to experiment, and I saw that you were local and bi….”
“Hey gorgeous, you’re bi, huh? That’s hot, lol. Need some company tonight?”
From my female friends, I’ve heard this isn’t a wholly unique thing, even for straight women, though the volume seems to increase exponentially for my fellow bi brethren.
What makes it worse is, in turning these people down, a surprising number of them show a startling degree of entitlement – I’ve been called frigid, a bitch, and more than one insult has been flung my way about my looks or my weight (let that sink in; men who five minutes ago were trying to get in my pants then turn around and insult my attractiveness. The road from “fuck me” to “fuck you” turns pretty sharply).
My sexuality is not a green light for your assumptions. It is not a promise to sleep with you, or your girlfriend, or both. It is not a suggestion that you come over tonight, because surely I must be looking for sex, right here, right now – right? Ugh.
I can only feel relieved that I was on OKC both before they added additional gender options and during the period when I was labeling myself “cis but it’s complicated,” because I already learned on another social site that saying you’re genderqueer is basically offering to teach Gender Diversity 101 (except, damn it, I’m just here to hang out, and trust me, I am so not qualified for that role).
Have you ever used a dating site? What were your experiences, and do you think they were influenced my your gender or sexuality?