The Down-Low on My Dates
When I told my girlfriend I would be going on dates with other people for my Sociology of Sexuality class she wasn’t very happy, to say the least. I explained the purpose—I needed to secure and solidify my A. Plus, why not lighten up the mood around finals? I went on two dates with my fellow classmates, one with Mark and the other with Dominique, both of whom were excellent dating choices. Mark and I went out first, we went out for a traditional first date—A Saturday night dinner and a movie. We saw The Best Man Holiday, let me just say it is advertised to be very comical; SPOILER ALERT: It’s quite tragic and emotional. After the movie we went out to eat at BD’s Mongolian Grill. I was hesitant to go there because the last time I was a patron I was with my girlfriend, where we were blatantly discriminated against. It was so bad we had to speak with the manager who then took over waiting on us, but this time it was different.
Mark and I were the last ones to leave the restaurant, the staff waited around impatiently for us to leave. We had already been out for three-and-half hours at this point and yet the conversation still flowed easily. Our discussions ranged from stupid teenage blunders, to Sexuality class gossip, and the anxiety of looming graduation. This was the first date I had been on with a man in a little over three years. It felt foreign to me, but Mark eased any tension I had with his wit. He had an incredible sense of humor that reminded me of Jason Segal. While I didn’t get any butterflies or any of that other mushy-gushy stuff heterosexual dates are made of (at least for most straight girls), I can say if I were into guys I’d go for a guy like Mark. He was easygoing, intelligent, humorous, and honest, OK and easy on the eyes too. I have no doubt, that if or when, he decides to commit and settle down that any girl would be lucky to have him.
My date with Dominique was like a complete 180 from my first date. We went out on a school night and decided to go to Fayette Mall. We didn’t spend our time together shopping; instead, we had actual date activities. I took her to Yankee Candle and we each picked candles at random from the shelves and would hold the scent up to the other’s nose. The idea was not to guess the exact title, but to rename the candle based on the scent. My favorite was when I made her smell Turkey Stuffing (yes, they actually make a candle in that scent), she renamed it “Kitty Litter”.
We proceeded to go get our favorite junk foods and sat on a couch (don’t worry, there was enough room between us for the Holy Spirit!) Even once we had finished, we continued to sit there and chat. Our conversation was rapid-fire, constantly jumping from subject to the next. Since Christmas is just around the corner I suggested that we play Secret Santa for each other. It turned out to be not so secretive; the moment we passed the massage booth we knew that was what we were getting each other. A soothing and relaxing 15-minute message, it was heavenly. Finally, I took her home and walked her back up to her apartment. Before I left she ran inside for a moment and told me to wait. She came back with a gigantic fluffy unicorn—that’s when I knew, she was the best straight girl with whom I’d ever have a date.
A Dose Of Middle School
I haven’t asked anyone on a date in a very long time, in fact, I’m not sure I ever really have. I was raised very religiously which meant that I should wait until the boy asked me out. I lucked into my first relationship with a girl. I even lucked into the girls with whom I rebounded. When this assignment was presented I knew whom I wanted to go with and I didn’t just want to wait around hoping for them to ask me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in coming out and busting out of the traditional expected gender roles it’s this: you can’t wait around for what you want to happen in life, instead you have to work to make it happen. So, that’s exactly what I did.
Obviously as a girl who likes girls it was much easier to ask out Dominique. I wasn’t nervous to ask her out, so I pitched my offer to her one morning before class. I told her that as an experienced lesbian she could trust that I knew how to show a lady a good time, but that if she didn’t want to go with me there would be no hard feelings. She instantly accepted and we exchanged contact info. As it got closer to the day of the date I didn’t experience any anxiety or nervousness. I didn’t even feel the need to primp and prep for the date—I felt beautiful in my own skin without the works. The date went off without a hitch. I entered the date as an acquaintance, but by the end of it we had struck up a friendship.
Now as for asking a boy out that was a different story entirely. I was incredibly nervous; my anxiety was at a ridiculously high level, even though I felt sure he would agree to the date. This was new to me and new things take a bit of adjustment. I friend-requested Mark on Facebook to ask him for his number. I called him up and he agreed to the date. Thankfully there were only two days between the proposal and the date itself because my anxiety continued to stay at an elevated level. At the beginning of the date I was terrified it would be filled with awkward silences and that I would come off slightly “masculine” as my gender performance is a bit different than the traditional female. By the time the film started I was much more at ease, conversation was very natural with Mark. When I left him I was glad that I had participated in The Great Dating Experiment because it allowed me to experience a date that I may not, and probably won’t, ever experience again.
It’s like comparing Quarterbacks and Unicorns
Trying to compare my date with Mark and Dominique is probably similar to the struggle that John Gray felt when he decided to write his book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I think finding similarities in two dates with different sexes would be a challenge for anyone who is predominantly heterosexual or homosexual. There is a level of comfort in dating whichever gender you date on a regular basis. The biggest similarity between my dates was the effortlessness of the communication between my date and myself. I’m not sure that would have been the case had this been an actual first-date with people I knew little to nothing about. I went on dates with people who had become what I like to call “class friends”—the people with whom you speak to during class, but not outside of class.
There were vast differences in the dates. The first date felt stiff and structured, a traditional heterosexual dating activity. The other was far more creative. Even though on both of the dates we (as a temporary couple) went dutch, it felt more egalitarian with Dominique. Simply because of the fact it was similar to the way in which many lesbians typically split costs on dates. Rather than going dutch, one girl would buy one part of the date and while her partner would buy the other. Mark and I went the traditional dutch route, whereas Dominique and I bought each other a 15-minute massage. Even though we paid approximately the same amount it felt more date like because of the fact that we were paying for the other instead of paying for ourselves.
There was also a difference in the formality and effort involved in these dates. For my same-sex date there was an equality that made it feel like I didn’t need to present myself in an overtly feminine way to appeal to my date. It seemed that we were both comfortable in our own skin. The opposite was true for my heterosexual date. I felt that I needed to present a more polished and feminine version of myself in order to be considered an ideal companion and to feel equal to the status of a man. Eating was another area in which formality came into play. With a guy I felt the need to make sure I had perfect bites so I wouldn’t end up slurping a noodle or getting sauce on my face. With a girl I didn’t feel that tension when we snacked, it didn’t feel like a performance.
I really enjoyed doing this project. While it was costly it was also a very valuable experience. I believe this project should be incorporated into next semester curriculum but offered far before the last three weeks of the term. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both of my dates company, however, it solidified my interest in women even further. It’s a comfort thing, I’m sure people who identify as heterosexual probably felt much more comfortable on their dates with the opposite sex. Sexuality is really all about comfort—which sex do you feel most contented? Sexuality is less about the body parts and physical attractiveness of a person, it’s more about the ability you have to be vulnerable and make a lasting emotional connection with them. Love knows no gender.