Friday, March 14, 2008
There’s a saying, I don’t know if you know it, which goes roughly as follows:
What do gay men take on their second date? What second date?
What do lesbians take on their second date? All their furniture because they’re moving in.
So far, so clichéd. But what about:
What do bisexuals take on their second date? Their friends, because after all what’s the difference between friends and lovers?
I read that, or something like it, on a wall at a bi conference once and it’s stuck in my mind. For many people, particularly – but not only - in the politicised bi community, the friends/lovers blurriness is something to celebrate. You ought to be friends with your lovers, right? And people who have been your lovers, who have shared that kind of particular closeness ought to stay your friends. The relationship ought to be able to change and encompass being sexual or not.
Then again, you can be so close to your friends that you find the attraction growing into a sexual one.
Sounds lovely. Now doubt some people, some of the time, can manage this (and I’m not even going to go into jealousy, emotional trauma, and so on in this post!)
But for myself, I have always found the friends/lovers thing very hard to manage. My normal pattern, for instance, is to have a group of friends rather than one particularly close one. However, when I have had a female “best friend” as I have had a couple of times in my life, the sexual tension has always been hard to navigate. To start with, they have always been heterosexual. Then again, I have sometimes felt confused about what sexual attraction means in that context. With someone I hardly know, if I feel a desire to be with them a lot of the time, I’d put that down to attraction. But if you are already close, what does that mean?
I remember a woman I interviewed once – and I think it is women, much more than men, who are confused by the borders of sex and friendship – who said that she felt her sexual feelings towards women kept her distant from other women as she was worried about how they’d react to her bisexuality and made her fearful of rejection. So much for all women being bi! I understand what she means, too, as I have felt it myself. When other (straight) women have said things in my presence like: it’s so relaxing being with women because you don’t have to worry about sex, I do feel like quietly screaming. No dear, not for me it isn’t.
Straight people, most of the time, don’t have to think about this. This is something lesbians – and to a lesser extent gay men - have to face as well. So how do we all manage it?