Sunday, September 27, 2009

time to get my feet wet

Yesterday I had a really late breakfast and a very long talk with a good friend of mine. She's the kind of friend that kicks my ass when it needs kicking. She asks the tough questions and demands answers...and if we get sidetracked she asks the question again. Everyone needs a person like that in their life, especially when that person is beautiful, witty, and makes kick-ass coffee. And, always has a supply of good chocolate on hand for good measure.

It's been a year since my ex and I split up. A year of growing, moving, opening up to myself and the world around me. It's been fantastic and painful. And I've come a very long way...some of you have been with me since the beginning, and some of you are amazing friends that I have met in the last six months....but somewhere along the way, I've left something out...forgotten it, ignored it, tried really hard to pretend it doesn't exist. I'm good at that - avoiding things that might be painful. I've taken a few risks in the last year, but it's not enough.

It's one thing to come out into the sunlight and declare myself a lesbian. I can blog, post things on facebook, join fantastic and supportive groups- all of which have been invaluable in my quest for selfhood.

It's another thing to date. Really go out with a real woman.

"I'm not ready!!!" my ego screams at me...."Just give me a few more months, or even a year to get used to things...."

I can make every excuse in the book. But really, I'm terrified. And it's not about being a lesbian and not really being sure about what to do, and it's not worry about being open. It's always been this way. I choose the safe route. When I dated men (and I didn't date many, so I have limited experience to draw from here), I waited for them to make the first move. Because I didn't want to take the risk of getting hurt.

It's a whole new world. I'm a whole new person.

So when my friend asks me (because she knows a thing or two about people I've been attracted to, may still be attracted to, and goodness knows I have no place to hide anymore) why I don't tell those people that I find them attractive, I've stopped making the same old excuses. Generally, I would say "I can't do that," which we all know is a lousy excuse. A cop-out. It's what scared people say... and I worry:

-that my inexperience will show
-that I somehow won't measure up
-that the surgery-created loose skin will be a turnoff
-that I might make another crucial life mistake

Whatever. I'm very good at excuses.

And then when another friend e-mails me and tells me that this or that person on my Facebook is hot, and have I ever thought about dating them (presuming they are single and somewhat local) I respond politely and never give it another thought...and if I think about it, I think about all the reasons why I can't.

You get the picture, right?

So I can't sit back anymore and wait for the world to show up at my doorstep. It ain't gonna happen.There are no lesbians beating down my door, except for my friends who are demanding to know when I'm going to get over myself and just get out there.

I have to start somewhere...and the only place I can think of at the moment is the Internet. I've made these half-assed attempts to post profiles and such - I call them half-assed because they are really just apologetic little meanderings that send the following roundabout message "I'm supposed to be dating now, and I really don't want to do this, so here's my pathetic attempt to find someone and won't you please just tell me how wonderful I am so that I don't have to do anything?"

I am a kick-ass writer. I should be able to post an intriguing profile...but for those of you who are reading, and have tried the glorious internet, I have a few questions. Just a few, I promise.

Which sites would you recommend, and why? And which would you avoid? I'm clueless here.

What kind of things draw you to someone's profile? What turns you off?

And if you were me, would you admit to your inexperience up front, or would you wait until you've established some kind of contact with someone? I'm torn - I don't want to lie, but I don't want to scare anyone away.

Help!

23 comments:

Earth Muffin said...

I totally know where you're coming from with being afraid. I was always like that when it came to dating, always waiting for them to come to me, too afraid to make the first move because I couldn't stand the though of rejection. I really, really feel for you there.

I really can't answer your questions either, because I have no experience with internet-dating. I can say that I have a cousin who met the love of her life on eHarmony and a friend who met a whole slew of creeps on Match.com. I don't even know if those sites cater to the gay crowd, but I thought I'd put that out there for you to chew on a bit. I will say that I'm not so sure you should let your lack of experience be one of the first things a potential dating prospect learns about you. There is so much more to you than that and anyone would be lucky to have the opportunity to get to know you.

Camlin said...

Thanks EM - eharmony was legally required to have some kind of counterpart, but I have no idea what it is called...

There are crazy people everywhere, I think. The challenge is figuring out who they are.

Ang said...

Well you know I am in the same boat. I am excited to see some answers. I want to put myself out there too, but just like you I am afraid. I say we can't be afraid and we have to start some where.

MakingSpace said...

OMG I got so excited when I saw your thread title! Congrats on the next step!

Don't go eharmony, it's evangelical Christian. Fuck 'em.

I have a friend who likes match.com.

I can't believe you don't have women beating down your cyber-door, and even your IRL door, already. I'm wondering about that - if you just sort of took a deep breath and stepped back, would you notice someone already THERE in front of your eyes maybe?

All the best and have fun, have fun, have fun!

Camlin said...

Well, Ang, maybe in a few weeks we can exchange success stories. Or horror stories :)

MakingSpace - it's possible. I am so clueless about these things. And you know, I've missed at least one opportunity because of my lack of courage - or at least I think I did. Whether or not I can redeem that chance, only time will tell.

MakingSpace said...

Awwwwww - I bet there's nothing to redeem, and only relief ahead of you as you discover how many lovely women have just been waiting for a chance to get to know you better.

I was actually thinking about this though - I think there's something sort of daunting about taking this step where you live, because your country actually supports marriage equality, and your relationship(s) can and will have societal/legal value. It's beautiful - someday I want to just GO to your part of the world and BREATHE - but I would imagine it also makes you sort of stop and take stock.

I have a hunch though, that enjoyment, relief, and lots of loveliness await. Woot!

Camlin said...

I hope you're right!

eileen pennington said...

it's kinda a thorny issue...stating whether you're new or not.

the only thing i would recommend is NOT saying "i'm new to this and just wondering what it's like."

even me as a newbie avoided those. lol

g'luck hon

MakingSpace said...

Eileen! ROFL Taking notes...

See, I tend to take umbrage at the "I'm new" stuff. I'm in my forties, for heaven's sake. Does twenty years of adult life experience count for NOTHING? Harumph. LOL

But, the fact is, I am a newbie when it comes to women as something other than friends... so yeah, sigh...

Camlin the Trailblazer will report back with Notes For Success for the rest of us. Woot!

Avril Fleur said...

I met my hubby on Quest Personals, but I'm not even sure if it exists anymore or has turned into a pay site. I think the dating site du jour is PlentyofFish.com or LavaLife, according to my single friends.

It's been quite a number of years since I've been in the dating game. I don't really have any horror stories. Most of the guys I dated were nice, just not for me. I think most of these sites have it where you can specify what you're looking for (ie: male or female etc.) But I'd be surprised if there aren't some gay/lesbian specific sites.

Dating is scary, but I'd much rather have loved and lost, and at least say I took a risk and tried, then lived my life in fear, never actually living at all. I have a friend who is extremely attractive and would be a great catch for any guy, but she won't date because she is so fearful of getting hurt again. I think the last guy she dated was almost 10 years ago. No matter how attractive she is or how much she's got going for her, I feel much more sympathy for her than my friends who try and try, even if it never seems to work out.

Good luck! I'm sure it will all work out for the best. You've got some good karma coming your way for sure!

Maria said...

I have no experience with online dating and to be honest, have never, in my entire life, asked anyone out. I always let them come to me.

But, if I were you, I would be totally honest right from the start. That way, you eliminate a big anxiety right from the start by not having to figure out how to break it to the other person that you lost a lot of weight and have excess skin or that you are totally new at this and scared. And what do you have to lose? This way, you will meet someone who knows it all right from the start and likes you just fine anyway. And isn't that what you really want in the first place?

Good luck!

aneke said...

Hi Camlin.. I totally relate to this post. I don't have any lesbians beating down my door either *sob*
Would love to make some lesbian friends that are actually in the same country, lol, but I don't know where to start! That's what years of being in the closet will do to you..
Let us know how it goes!

reeflightning said...

i met quite a few women through match ... they were all citizens of the good old usa. i think perhaps my original fascination with american women might have had something to do with the fact that they were safely tucked away across the pond!
leaving my fifty six year old self able to flirt away with confidence. we corresponded by email and when i finally mentioned that i was new to the lesbian world,they were wonderful ... i could ask them anything!
i met the divine ms sugar through match, she was wonderful, kind, gentle, intuitive and hot as hell! herself introduced me to lady love and a world of unbelievable pleasure.
you go girl, don't let fear or shyness hold you back. women as lovers are a vastly superior species ...

trinity2 said...

Hey! Since I have been job hunting I have been immersed in the personal marketing mode - job hunting, wife hunting - same thing - promoting yourself. Do not admit being new at this. Write something new and fresh that no one else has. Review other profiles, get ideas, do some research before you put together your own profile. You're a great writer so you certainly can kick some @ss in this area. Do not divulge too much information initially. You want to hold just enough back to intrigue the person enough to want to meet you in person because that's what the goal is - to meet face to face. Also, put up a recent photo - a lot of people won't even search profiles that have no pictures. If you decide not to post a pic then say that you will be happy to email photos later upon request. Try to keep your profile at a good length. What always turned me off when reading profiles were the long winded ones - that told me that the person liked to talk too much about themselves. Put in things that people may read that you have in common - favorite books, movies, hobbies - but, instead of saying something general put in titles and even recipes or places you've recently been.
I have used Match dot com but have heard Chemistry is good, too. Good luck and I hope all this information helps.

FemmeFairyGodmother said...

God, I could write a novel about this. I was w/ my ex 8 years, apart nearly 3. Have dated randomly but am sort of starting to think I might want a relationship. The thing is: I live in a small city in SW Mi. There are about 6 lesbians here. I haven't gotten on any dating sites but we'll see. For the record, I've been out for 22 years & I'm *still* nervous about. I don't think your relative inexperience is going to be a dealbreaker, but you might want to be cautious of the appearance that you're "bicurious" :) Good luck!

Stace said...

I'm late on reading this, but I just wanted to throw an atta girl your way. Atta girl! (which is our hillbilly slang for "good for you" or "I'm proud of you.)

Unfortunately, I have no advice. Oh, except for one thing -- after you've exchanged e-mails with someone for a while and feel like you might want to meet her, opt for phone calls first.

When Hedon and I first got on the internet years and years ago, the first thing we wanted to do was to find lesbian couples in our area who we might become friends with, what with us being completely isolated in our small community. We were especially looking for couples with kids, so our daughter could spend time with other children who had two moms.

Let me tell you, some couples we met were funny and interesting in e-mail, but in person? Not so much. In fact, I wondered if a few of them had gotten other people to write their e-mails for them.

So that's my lone piece of advice -- chat on the phone before meeting in person. And I second the advice of FemmeFairyGodmother above about avoiding appearing to be bicurious. I know from some single friends that this sets off warning bells.

Good luck. We're rooting for ya!

MakingSpace said...

Errr, if I might interject - and I do this strictly on my own behalf, Camlin can take excellent care of herself of course. But I have a little trouble conceiving on what planet women who have been married to men, have children with them, have a total support system and life with them, would then leave all of that and start a new life to be BI-CURIOUS. If such women exist, then I apologize for my cynicism. But in my years of kicking around the cyber-closet and meeting other women like me, the basic truth has been that women who truly want to be with other women feel terrified to change their lives. Those of us easing our way out, in all respects, are doing so because we are specifically NOT bi-curious. We may be bisexual and need to find out how to live that out; or we may be lesbian and courageous/terrified/sorry/grateful. But the common denominator is that we're mostly curious, hugely curious, about how on earth to make a life that honors our truth.

If we were all fourteen, I'd understand the "don't act bi-curious" comments. But many of us are in our forties or later. We're making huge changes in our lives, some of us still in this day and age putting our legal rights to raise our beloved children at risk, in order to come out.

So there is a lot, A LOT, of curiosity. But mostly we're sayin' if you can't hang with the intensity of our changes and our lives, move on. We've got kids. We've got male ex-husbands. We've got decades of het sex to get over. And we are very curious about whether love exists out there for us. Especially when we're not sure we've ever really felt it.

Fourteen is bi-curious. Forty-one is a tidal wave going through your life. If that sends up a red flag, do stay away. But if you want a ride on the river with a woman who has decades of life experience and who is eager to share that, for the first time, with the kind of person she can really connect with, then put on your life jacket and jump in the boat.
fu
Bi-curious? Not on your life. Ready to live out loud? Absofuckinglutely. Bring. It. On.

MakingSpace said...

Sorry for the odd little typo just toward the end there, I don't know how to edit! LOL

Camlin said...

The whole bi-curious thing: I kind of equate that with people who are posting that they are looking for some kind of threesome, usually involving a boyfriend or husband, themselves and another woman. Perhaps I'm wrong - but the personals on Craigslist (which I happened to read one day for no reason whatsoever) were full of ads that mentioned the "present" this girl or that girl wanted to give their boyfriend/husband/lover, or whatever. No thanks.

So, if I see the words bi-curious in an ad, I don't give it another thought. I'm not bi, and I'm not curious. It's the way I live my life. And I think that people who write/read/respond to ads might be a bit hesitant to respond to someone who's "new at this" because it implies that there is perhaps not as much commitment to a same-sex relationship as they're looking for. There are a lot all the people out there who are looking for something casual...which is not my cup of tea.

That's why, my inclination is to avoid that phrase altogether, be upfront (I almost wrote straight, but thought better of it :) when I communicate with people, and generally be myself.

From my perusals, I notice that there are a lot of people in the same boat - they are divorced, they have kids, and since I've met so many people who have similar stories to mine, I think that the right person will be understanding and thoughtful about my lack of experience. At least I hope so. my bigger question was about whether or not to put it in the ad itself...

I don't think that bi-curious women are really out to start a new life - perhaps that's their way of exploring their sexuality...but I've moved beyond that, and I don't want to leave that impression with anyone.

FFG - there have to be more than six lesbians in your neck of the woods. I've been there, remember (then again, most of the women I met were from somewhere else)...and Canada, complete with full rights and benefits for same-sex couples, is just a short drive north!

Trinity - maybe I should get you to write my ad. And then I'll write your resume! I'm really good at selling other people, myself, not so much.

I've noticed that a lot of people are recommending Match. I will check it out!

MakingSpace said...

Ah. I see I missed a backstory here. LOL And clearly my habit of not reading Craigslist personal ads is one to KEEP. Yipes!

I've never made a personal ad, but I wouldn't describe any woman with the amount of life experience you have as inexperienced or new. Just my two cents.

Camlin said...

Well, that's certainly true. I might be a new lesbian, but I've already had my fair share of relationships.

Camlin said...

One week gone, and this is my report: sites viewed - one. Profiles written - zero. Clearly, I need my ass kicked again. (Actually, what I need is some time to think, and that's been in short supply over the last 48 hours - it will happen, because I'm going to make it happen ;)

Thanks for the input and comments everyone!

an ambrosia life said...

I came out late in life at 37 years old, five
and a half years ago after a 15 year marriage to a man.

I have had three long term relationships, and very few dates in between. I have met all three wonderful womyn on line. Some would call me a rebounder or serial dater, and my one piece of advice to annyone beginning this dating game is to not put a lot of weight into or be affected by the boxes people will try to put you in. Butch, femme, lipstick lesbian, the lure is one of the hardest things to resist. Some people insist on them, they seem to be further down the experience road. They have had a lot more time in the drivers seat, checked out the scenery and know their preffered route. I confess I gave into the presure and put myself in a box, that confused and got me lost along the way.

My first lover I met on a yahoo chat line...while I was looking for support in secret. She was an amazing person and probably my one true love. Unfortunately our relationship didn't make it due to timing and the presures of a long distance relationship.(too much for a new lesbians who finds her self for the first time in the perverbial candyshop)

My second relationship I met at www.gaycanada.com. When I made the decision to make the move to a big city I wanted to establish some friendships in the gay comunity. She quickly became my best friend and eventually I fell in love. I miss by BFF, nuff said.

My last relationship I met on www.mate1.com (I think it has a new name now)A wonderful devoted womyn with an enormous emount of patience for a lesbian with a broken heart.

I have seen tons of profiles that say no drama please...I usually skip over those they make me suspicious. Some people have a way of manifesting their own drama. I have met a few loons. I hear all the time there are a lot of weirdos out there. I spot them pretty quickly, it's not hard. If someone is trying to sell themself too hard or move too fast, rather than taking there time to get to know you just click delete. ha! It's too soon for hurt feelings.

Be real when you describe you in your profile. If we hit it off and the connection grows, experience or not really becomes unimportant. Every womyn I have been with was a different sexual experience and came with completely different instructions. Remember what some might read as inexperience another might read as eager with a huge capacity for exploration*

Sounds like we could create our own online community late-in-life-lesbians....anyone want to chat off line I am lakelaur@yahoo.ca, maybe we could make it happen.(the comunity, seriously...that was not a pick-up line ha!)