Lesbianing With AE! Today’s Question is About Breaking Bad Dating Cycles as a Femme

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Dear Lindsey,

I am what many would describe as a “lipstick lesbian” with long flowing hair and yes, lipstick, painted nails and makeup. People do tell me I’m attractive even though I’m already in my mid-thirties. My clothing and style tends to be slightly androgynous as opposed to super girly but this is contrasted with my super straight-looking makeup. The problem I’m experiencing is that the girls I find myself sexually attracted to are mostly bisexual because a lot of self-identified lesbians have more boyish looks and that’s just not my preferred flavour of hotness (although I totally appreciate others may find this sexy). I often find that bicurious straight girls or bi girls are into my look and launch at me in straight clubs (which I sometimes visit with friends and feel more comfortable in) because they haven’t had the opportunity to do so before or just haven’t met a lady they liked. Some have told me they never considered it before meeting me.

Despite valuing success and intelligence in a partner, I am a very visual person and looks are very important to me – for instance I am a fattist and would never date a fat person (not talking about a little healthy voluptuousness in a normal BMI range).

When I do go to clubs or use apps, the girls I find attractive tend not to be lesbian or if they are attractive are either not attracted to femmes or are so weather beaten by their previous relationships that they are not available for dating or relationships.

Naturally it’s not always possible to tell whether someone wants to get to know you or even potentially date you, but most of the self-professed bi girls I’ve met may have been sexually attracted to me but still prefer to date a man. One woman that I was briefly seeing and spent quite a bit of time getting to know EVENTUALLY told me that she loves being around me and that I turn her on incredibly but that she needs a man “to finish off the job”, which of course made me feel used and simply objectified. Many of these girls are caught in the moment (as I am too sometimes) and do not disclose their confusion or primary preference for men, which is seriously making me doubt that any bi girl would actually want anything from me other than sexual titillation or experimentation. I know there are bi girls that say they can date either gender, but I have personally NEVER come across this. Even when I have taken the time to get to know some bi girls, they will often after some time change their minds and decide to go back to men or start requesting things like a side boyfriend/male sexual partner despite previously having said they won’t want or do that. In terms of my experience with lesbian lovers, I got a few rave reviews so I don’t think it’s that I’m terrible at sex. I have even allowed one girl a side boyfriend but stopped seeing her because the lack of sexual reciprocation was frustrating and made me feel unwanted. She never wanted me to go down on her engage in any activity that is considered lesbian exclusive. I have no problem with bisexual girls who are honest about their polyamorous sexual intentions, but, for the sake of my sanity I would really like to get away from threesomeville or being the “starter” before the “main course”. I would not mind dating a bi girl who will be emotionally, sexually and romantically attracted to me in a fully reciprocal way, for all of me. I previously only dated older women but have recently also been more open-minded about meeting younger women.

I don’t seek bicurious or bi girls out, they tend to hit on me, in clubs, through friends, on apps, all over, as if I have a sticker on my forehead that says “hit me up”. Lesbians almost never hit me up, even in gay clubs, and when they do they are usually not attractive to me. I avoid Tindering girls who say they are bisexual, state that I am lesbian in dating profiles and try to clarify as soon as possible in the chatting phase whether they have ever dated a woman or want to date a woman – but this does not always yield an honest response or they are not certain.

I would really love to meet a femme lesbian but I have never met one, except for one foreigner who I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell to date, as she lives on a different continent. The sexual and emotional connection with her was intense and very healing, as for a brief moment I felt hope that one day I may again experience reciprocal love and sex, but since then I have experienced nothing but rejection and it’s starting to take its toll. At the same time I don’t want to completely stop meeting people just because I’ve met some rotten apples.

I live in a smallish international city so theoretically there should be some dating options for me. I am socially fairly active and I do also sometimes frequent lesbian events to make social connections. My experience with these events were not particularly positive as I felt sexually harassed and constantly questioned about whether I’m actually a lesbian.

Other than wanting a significant other to share my life with, I’m happy with my life and who I am. Lately I’ve felt dejected but don’t want to compromise on what I want by (1) gaying up my appearance to look more gay, (2) going for self-identified lesbians whose looks I don’t find appealing, or (3) dating men who may actually be interested in dating me but whom I don’t see myself falling in love with.

Any advice on how to break the bicurious/bi femme vicious cycle?

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-Lipstick Lesbian

Hey LL,

Have you thought about moving?

From what you’ve written, it sounds like there aren’t a lot of women in your city who you’d consider dating — either because they’re too fat, they’re too androgynous, or they’re bi-but-mostly-straight (or they’re bi but you’re afraid to go there right now).

If your city has a dominant lesbian dynamic and you don’t fit into it, it’s going to be really difficult for you to find romance. Your strict preferences around the women you’re attracted to, and disinclination to alter these preferences to find romance, do you no favors here.

The fact that you had something intense and real and it was with a foreigner tells me everything. The scene where you are is not you, and sometimes that’s just not workable because it requires you to make compromises that you are unwilling or unable to make.

The fact that you had something intense and real and it was with a foreigner tells me everything. The scene where you are is not you, and sometimes that’s just not workable because it requires you to make compromises that you are unwilling or unable to make.

I was in your shoes once. I used to live in San Francisco, which was super butch-femme, FTM-femme, etc. I am not femme and not into femmes, and as an androgynous queer seeking same on OKCupid, at the lesbian bars, and so on, it was impossible to find women that I was attracted to who would consider going out with me, because everyone I was attracted to wanted curvy Betty types with makeup and skirts and fishnets and lady bras and all kinds of other things that I am allergic to and not going to wear ( except for maybe that one time I put on a dress and marched in the Castro because we lost an important civil rights battle and I was pissed as hell.)

Most of the time, what would happen was, I’d go out with someone a couple times, and then it would burn out, because we weren’t really attracted to one another, we were settling for the closest approximation to dateable we could find. And it was fun, in the way it’s nice to be with someone who validates the fact that you’re a lesbian rather than a celibate nun, but there is only so much fun that pretending can be.

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So, move if you can. Test-drive a new city by taking a vacation there. For what it’s worth, all the cities I’ve ever lived in are teeming with actual honest to god femme lesbians; I swear to you, they are out there. Go visit for Pride or, at the least, check out the women’s events and go, and see if you’re greeted with less suspicion than when you go to the all-girl parties where you live now. When you find a place that seems like a good fit, shake up your life to go there and open yourself up to love.

If you can’t move, take a break from trying to make it work with bisexuals. It sounds like you are burnt out after some bad experiences with shallow bi girls leaving you for guys, and that you don’t have the level of trust you would need to have to make it work with a bi partner. Get distance between yourself and the bi femmes who’ve wounded you, to open back up to the sort of bisexual woman who might want a real relationship with you.

When you can think of dating a bi woman without harking back to the litany of terrible bi femmes who’ve refused to go down on you, ditched you for guys, etc., give bi another try because, hey, unless you move, your dating pool is limited and you’ve limited it further with parameters, as we’ve discussed.

When you can think of dating a bi woman without harking back to the litany of terrible bi femmes who’ve refused to go down on you, ditched you for guys, etc., give bi another try because, hey, unless you move, your dating pool is limited and you’ve limited it further with parameters, as we’ve discussed.

Younger women might be more accepting of your feminine presentation and lesbian identity than those thirties and older lesbians you’ve been dating until now.

I’m sorry for the difficulty you’ve experienced in finding women to date, and that the lesbian community has been gatekeeping when you show up to events. I bet this plays a role in why you’re not asked out when you go to lesbian spaces now. You’re not reading as gay, which means you have to come out all the time if you want people to know you’re a lesbian.

But … that’s probably not going to change. Some members of the lesbian community, maybe to soothe their insecurities, maybe because they’re worried about thrill-seeking straight tourists in dykeland, like to police the boundaries of the few lesbian spaces we have left. Since you don’t look how they think you should look, you tend to get called out when you go there.

Some members of the lesbian community, maybe to soothe their insecurities, maybe because they’re worried about thrill-seeking straight tourists in dykeland, like to police the boundaries of the few lesbian spaces we have left.

That’s not the kind of gay space I want to be in either, and you’ll have to decide if you want to keep going there. Perhaps there are other majority queer spaces where you might meet available women that you’ve ruled out so far for an arbitrary reason. Or perhaps you might show up at the club with toned-down makeup and your androgynous outfits, or with a gay gal pal to run interference, and see if you get a different reception.

Maybe it’ll still be terrible but you’ll meet one cool person, and that person could open your world up in an unexpected way. I bet there are other lesbian communities near you that you haven’t discovered, and where there’s more room for femme-loving-femmes to take up space. Maybe they don’t go to the bars, but they meet to knit or read or have extravagant house parties and that’s why you haven’t connected yet.

I bet there are other lesbian communities near you that you haven’t discovered, and where there’s more room for femme-loving-femmes to take up space. Maybe they don’t go to the bars, but they meet to knit or read or have extravagant house parties and that’s why you haven’t connected yet.

The way to those secret places might be through making more strategic connections in the lesbians spaces where you feel unwelcome, or you might be able to find these places on your own, if you make it a priority to get out there. If you want change bad enough, you’ll find a motivation to get out of your own way and open yourself up for growth.

You seem closed down, even though you say you have an otherwise happy life. Open yourself back up by altering your world or by altering your perspective. And take breaks from the elements of lesbian life that are grinding you down.

Got a question for Lindsey? Email us at memoree@afterellen.com with “Q for Lindsey” in the subject line!

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