*Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is at times a long and exhausting process. It took me many years to completely accept myself, and try to venture into the dating world. Over time, I have ended up collecting stories and lessons learned from my dating life, which I will now be sharing every month for roughly the next year. All names will be changed to protect the privacy of everyone mentioned, as they deserve anonymity and respect- no matter how bad the stories may have ended. Instead of telling these stories in chronological order, I will be telling them by order of importance of their moral.*
Long before I thought of Queer Dating Stories, another writer with curly hair had decided to write about relationships. Her name was Carrie Bradshaw, who would write honestly about her experiences along with those of her closest friends. The main man in Carrie’s life who seemed to always keep coming around was Mr. Big. I like to sometimes think of myself as a lesbian version of Carrie, and I, of course, have my own Mr. Big. Well, Ms. Big. Or, in this case, Mx. Big, seeing as they’re nonbinary. All queer women have a Big, the Big Love, the Big Romance, the one who you hope maybe one day you’ll make it Big with. Because, as the original incarnations as shown by HBO, it sometimes takes a little time to make it Big. For those of you who haven’t met your Big yet, don’t worry, they’ll show up- and they’ll constantly blow your mind.
Mx. Big was thin, quite tall, had the biggest (and most beautiful) brown eyes I’d ever seen, gorgeous brown hair that always seemed to perfectly fit their personality, and had the biggest heart of anyone I’d ever met. Their presence may have been the biggest thing about them. When they walked into a room, the entire ambiance would change for the better. They told me once they’d been told by multiple people that they’d been considered by those people “the one that got away.” If you’d ever met Big, you’d have no trouble believing this.
I met Big at a time I hadn’t wanted to find anyone. I had just been through the worst heartbreak of my life and had grown quite cynical to anything other than casual flings. I had already engaged in such detached flings like many do when they’ve finally given up on the concept of falling in love. I matched with Big on Tinder and had spoken to them casually along with a few other girls. I hadn’t grown any kind of attachment to any of them for a while, seeing myself as simply detached. It was almost unreal to me until the idea came for Big and me to video-chat. Video-chatting Big for the first time convinced me of something I’ve long suspected about dating apps… it’s nothing compared to actually seeing a person’s face and hearing their voice. Even though they’d just gotten home from working a fast-food shift and had greasy hair, all I could think about was how big their beautiful smile was when they spoke to me. I don’t think my stomach ever recovered from those butterflies. We talked for hours, and I found out we had a lot in common, including having been with people who’d wronged us. Things were so easy with Big.
My first date with Big was at their house, where they were temporarily living with their parents as they looked for an apartment in the city. Everything about Big’s life was welcoming, their home, their dog, their loving parents, their friends, and especially them. I tried to tell myself that I didn’t want to be with anyone, but we were barely one episode into a Netflix series before Big kissed me for the first time. By the end of the date, Big had somehow broken my resolve, and I deleted Tinder and stopped talking to the other girls. While at the time I was criticized for rushing even that quickly, I couldn’t help it. It was unexplainable, things just felt right with Big in a way that hadn’t ever happened before. Besides, I thought to myself, if things don’t work out I could just start over again.
We spent the next few weeks spending time together and getting to know each other, and with every passing day, it felt like I’d known Big for years. Every time they called me “Gorgeous”, I found my heart forgetting what it was ever like to be hurt. It sounds insane, and nobody hesitated to tell us that. Big’s closest friends, Big’s mother, even Big themself had warned me that in the past they had a habit of falling quickly and falling hard. They warned me if I didn’t want the real thing, I should get out quickly and not hurt Big as previous girlfriends had. Oddly enough, I found myself wanting the real thing, and I wanted it with Big. So I reassured them all and respected every boundary given. I didn’t care if we were official right away, because I knew we had all the time in the world.
After a month, I wanted to show my affection by asking for the permission of everyone important to them for their blessing to make Big officially mine so I could surprise them a month later by asking them at a formal function to “go steady” for lack of a better phrase. While I did get everyone’s blessing, on literally the same day I started asking for everyone’s blessing, Big beat me to the punch and asked me to be officially theirs long before I ever got a chance to do any of the romantic things I had planned. That may have been the first moment I knew exactly how much I’d grow to love Big. Unlike anyone everyone before them, they made it clear I was their first choice. When I filled Big in on what I’d been planning, Big looked like they might cry, telling me nobody had ever cared about them that much before.
I can’t remember if I ever told them, but I wasn’t sure if anyone ever cared about me as they did either.
Big was always a bit of a romantic, which made it easy to be romantic back. I’d give them flowers, they’d send me long paragraph messages proclaiming their feelings for me. We would have deep, honest conversations about ourselves and our lives. I brought them to meet my Grandma, and they took me to their sister’s play. They got their own apartment and instantly gave me space for my own toothbrush and some drawers for my things. Big did the one thing I never thought possible: Made space for me in their life.
However, like all relationships, there were good and bad times. While we would spend as much time together as we could, enjoying romantic movies, formal functions, and dances at night in the kitchen, we weren’t always perfect. It rarely ever happened, but we would sometimes have issues. Big would accidentally say something that hurt my feelings, and would then feel horrible when they saw it upset me. I’d let them know it was okay, and I wouldn’t ever leave over a small dispute, and forgive them. Apparently, people leaving when upset was something they’d dealt with before. I would be unintentionally pushy or say something wrong, and Big would make sure to point out what I said or did was wrong and we’d talk to work it out. I tend to sometimes come across or act a certain way when it’s not my intention.
Even the best of relationships have these moments. We also both had personal lives and homes to try to keep in balance, and personal issues we were working through. However, no matter how much love there may have been, balance was a key we forgot to keep an eye on. Big got a promotion at work and their friends grew to feel neglected, I helped create some events for school and stopped attending certain social events I previously enjoyed. Big would feel struggles keeping a balance in life, and I would feel like I was constantly running everywhere like a chicken with its head cut off. We were tired. Not of each other, not of the love, but of not knowing what to do next.
Maybe I knew that but was too scared to really talk about it. I had convinced myself that as long as we got to the Summer, we would be okay. After all, I loved Big a lot. Even on the rare occasion one of us did or said something stupid, it was always easy to forgive and move past. I loved Big enough that I was willing to keep fighting and deal with whatever I had to in the meantime. Even if I had anxiety attacks and occasional exhausted episodes. Big knew this. So, they broke it off. At the time, it felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. Later, Big would tell me it was rather heartwrenching for them too. They really felt like there was no other option, and couldn’t handle being in a relationship on top of everything else they were responsible for.
We tried being friends, and quickly found out a hard lesson: Just like you can’t force a romantic connection if there isn’t one, you can’t force a platonic connection if there isn’t one. We didn’t have platonic feelings, and therefore often ended up more in pain rather than relieved.
Then, we stopped talking to spare both of us. I returned to Tinder out of boredom, and accidentally found Big’s new profile. Even though I knew it was hypocritical, I was angry. I convinced myself I needed to be done, and just get my things and get out before being hurt all over again. Big had confided in me before about having been through a phase where they were quite a ladies’ person, and right then I felt like just another girl. I had convinced myself Big didn’t care about me any more than anyone before they had, that clearly it was just a fantasy, and I needed to move on. I quickly texted them to let them know I’d be collecting my things the next day.
Then, I went to Big’s apartment the weekend before Mother’s Day to collect my things. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, trying to keep a guard up with Big. I didn’t like it, and I could tell they didn’t either. To my surprise, once I’d collected my things, they asked to take me to lunch. I let them. Big asked if I’d be going to my Mother’s grave this year. When I answered I’d had no ability to, Big instantly googled where the cemetery was and didn’t hesitate to request a Lyft to take us both there. They wanted me to see Mom and didn’t want me to be alone. That’s just who Big was, and the anger somehow left in one breath as I instantly remembered why I fell for them in the first place. Their big heart.
Big helped me find my mother’s grave, held me, and I told them what she was like when she was alive. Then, Big looked at her grave and thanked my mother for giving birth to me. I tried to not cry, never imagining anyone being genuinely grateful that I came into the world. I felt horrible for ever thinking Big didn’t care about me. I knew then I wasn’t just some other girl, and they made me feel special. I asked Big’s permission to kiss them, and they let me, reciprocating with gusto. Big and I then fell back into old habits, even though we weren’t together, and didn’t even care.
We tried to be somewhere between friends and lovers, since life without each other was so hard, which quickly lead to complications. We started fighting, really fighting, until we finally had the fight. By the end, we were practically about to start screaming at one another and stopped talking. Really, really stopped. They told me that we were completely done, and I was in complete agreement. I’d never been so blindingly angry at Big, and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. As anyone who’s ever been in this position knows… the anger never lasts as long as you think, and when the anger is gone, all that’s left is the rest. I then would go on to make some mistakes, thinking it could somehow make me feel better when it didn’t. Big would tell me later they went down a similar path and had about as much success as I had. That’s the thing about love- it’s as frustrating as it is wonderful. I finally grew to realize I needed to stop dating and focus on myself. I saw in hindsight we were a little too codependent with each other, and I had more things to focus on. I started to work on myself, and enjoy Ethical Society, reading, writing, family, friends, and loving myself.
Then at Pridefest, I ran into Big. After not seeing or speaking to them in so long, I was waiting for either them to scorn me or for me to burst into tears. To my pleasant surprise, neither happened. My heart had skipped a beat when I first saw them, but I was finally okay and wished them hello and a happy Pride. They awkwardly wished the same, and I continued with my day. I felt lighter than air, with a newfound reassurance. I still felt the same love I’d always had for Big, but now, I had accepted that as simply a piece of myself to live with rather than cry over. It was freeing. Life isn’t a movie, and I didn’t need a movie-ending. I shouldn’t chase for that.
I also didn’t have to.
Later on that day, Big had messaged me and asked me where I was. I couldn’t imagine what they’d want since as far as I knew, they were done with me. I told them and patiently waited, and saw them clear through the crowd of people walking right towards me looking like they were on a mission, having a small smile and lightly shaking their head. I gave them a welcoming smile and said.
“Hey, what’s up?”
I never got an answer. Big walked up to me, held my face in their hands, and brought our lips together passionately. Big kissed me with such emotion and passion, it was like we’d somehow gone back in time to the magic of our very first kiss. It was the big-romantic-comedy-movie-kiss that everyone always secretly hopes they’ll have someday, and it was everything I ever wanted. I didn’t even have to chase for it. We kissed and kissed until I thought I’d pass out. We’d exchanged some words that I choose to leave private, and agreed to talk later.
We then, later on, that night ended up having an honest conversation about everything, including our relationship, which was decided to not be resumed. For reasons of mine and Big’s privacy, I will only tell a few things about this conversation: We agreed to keep in contact on peaceful terms, even if not constantly, and mutually agreed we still had love for each other- even if we weren’t currently together. We agreed we both still had a long way to go and had to work on ourselves first before thinking about dating, and that if we are truly meant to be, clearly we would make the effort to find each other. In the end, we wanted each other to be happy.
We tried one more time to be peacefully a part of one another’s life, and sooner than later had fallen again into old habits. We would talk every day, occasionally flirt and share old feelings we’d missed, and even met in person once more. While we had a lot of fun that day, we also ended up repeating the pattern we had made. Despite agreeing to still remain friends afterward, Big ghosted me three days later with no explanation. They wouldn’t return my calls or texts, and so I finally gave up.
Things later took a turn for the shocker when I found out through a friend exactly why Big had ghosted me. They decided to start a relationship with a new girl, a grad student they only knew for a couple of months and would be following their new girlfriend to her school in Seattle to be with her. My supposedly afraid-of-commitment lover was going to make quite the serious commitment, and it wasn’t to me. Worst yet, Big hadn’t even respected me enough to tell me, letting me believe it was all my fault. This weirdly also was parallel to Sex and the City, when after Carrie and Mr. Big broke up, Mr. Big got engaged to and married a 25-year-old girl after only knowing her five months. Mr. Big did end up having an affair with Carrie and left his wife later, but I am not that kind of Carrie.
It was at this time, during my scorned rage, that I finally realized my true mistake. Big was definitely my Big alright because even in the show, Mr. Big constantly kept putting Carrie at a distance any time the two would get close due to his own selfishness. My Big was doing the same to me. Unlike the TV series where it took six years for Mr. Big to finally come to terms with his own feelings and end up with Carrie, that sort of ending doesn’t happen in real life. Even Candace Bushnell, the woman Carrie is based on, didn’t end up with the real-life inspiration for Mr. Big. Bushnell also said very clearly that she would have much preferred if Mr. Big and Carrie hadn’t ended up together in the series, because people like Mr. Big don’t ever change. My Big won’t change either. The truth is I, like Carrie Bradshaw before me, kept putting my love for Big over my love for myself, and it would be for that reason we would always fail. I could be furious with Big, cry over them, curse their name, which for a time I very much did- but it wouldn’t ever fix my broken heart.
The reason I’m saying all this is because if there’s anything I’ve learned about love, it’s that sometimes people who are supposed to be together need time to grow into who they need to be so they can be together. I have been watching my long-time friend Anne prepare for her wedding to Mark, a man she’d been broken up with twice with months in between before they finally had grown into the people they needed to be for them to finally get where they are today. Happy, in love, and ready to spend their lives together. However, more often than not, this isn’t the case for most people.
Love, for queer people as well as straight people, is a marathon and not a race. It’s hard for queer people to feel like they’ll ever find that kind of Big love, and end up settling for something less, typically a bad situation. Sometimes their Big becomes the bad situation. I implore these people to not rush, and instead to work on yourself and being happy on your own. You don’t have to find your person yet, they will literally come to you. While we’re all entitled to our Big love, we should always prioritize our self-love. Whenever I do find the person who will be with me the rest of my life, I won’t need them to be the Big to my Carrie. They can just be the person I love, who will love me right back. Should Big ever somehow read this someday, I can sincerely wish them all the luck in the world because Karma doesn’t tend to treat people kindly.