Thursday, 9 September 2010

The difference between dating men and women

I came up against one of the problems of being bisexual the other night, or at least a problem I have come across before. The unspoken signs of affection, attraction and interest between two girls within a group of friends.

In my group of friends through my last two years of sixth form, we have been three straight men, three straight women, two bisexual women (one being me), one bicurious man, one gay and one lesbian. I have dated one of the straight men, dated the other bi woman, enjoyed a make-out session with the bicurious, and been asked out by the lesbian. Slowly over the last few months, another bisexual woman has become closer and closer to be within the core group, and few nights ago, her place was confirmed at a party for the group.

This girl and I were part of the same friendship group in the last two years in secondary school. During that time, it was obvious she was not straight, but it was a single-sex private school and we didn't talk about such things... For the last two years, we've vaguely kept in touch, and she's been invited to more and more gatherings.

Now, like I said, I've seen her occasionally over the last two years, and she has changed quite a lot (like all of us) but the most prominent thing has been her acceptance of her body, letting us see how attractive it is. I, being bi, have noticed this. So occasionally she's played a part in my fantasies, but I haven't really thought about it.

A few nights ago at a party with friends, later on in the evening, we ended up next to each other on the sofa, and I noticed both she and myself doing all those little, nervous mannerisms that indicate teens in attraction. She made the first bold move, of laying her legs across me when there was little space (something that is common amongst me and my close friends, but not her up to this point) which I read as holding significance. I replied, by laying my arms over her legs, and loosely holding her knee.

I was really not sure how to react. It's very different with straight men, there's a lot less grey, they are either definitely flirting and wanting, or not. Because that's the norm. I meet more men into women than women into women, and I've known I'm into men longer than I've known I'm into women. So I find it harder to read these situations, plus I'm used to being more casual with straight girls, because I know there's no subtext. With women I know are into women, my experiences in those contexts don't help.

At one point she very lightly stroked my arm, so I shuffled my fingers over her knee. This all seems trivial, but at the time, it felt highly charged. I eventually became sure of what I was reading because right near the end, I curled up with my head on her ample chest, and she plaited my hair. I was thinking about it on the way home, and it makes sense, because the hair is a safe bet; still intimate to be a signal, but not as intimidating or suggestive as interaction, say, as taking a hand, where the recipient has to make a quick decision as to whether to respond or withdraw. I had time to sum up what I felt and decide to let her carry on, because I enjoyed it.

So what this made me think about was what I have found to be one of the difficulties of being bi - the fact that one interaction with one gender cannot help as experience to learn from for improving with the other gender. Really the problem comes down to having to have and develop two different ways of interacting, reading others, flirting, and all the things involved in sexual/romantic relations. And that is annoying to realise - double the effort required for a fulfilling love life.

But we have deal with it, and take it as a challenge to succeed even better than our straight/gay friends!

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