*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.*
Casual relationships are really strange sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or queer, we all occasionally end up in relationships like this. These aren’t the relationships where you get strung along, or are lied to about the importance of the relationship, it’s one you willingly enter and you both understand what it is. That doesn’t make it any less odd to experience, though. There are even some times when they come into your life and make a way more significant impact than you’d ever expect, even if those impacts aren’t anything like a long-term relationship or sharing ownership of a pet. These people can also occasionally end up becoming a good friend instead, and someone you can bond easily with. I met mine on my first real Tinder Date, and the only other Tinder date I’d been on before I met my next partner, Big.
Meet Tinder Girl, or TG, I call her this in honor of where I met her. I met TG about a month before I met Big on Tinder, and had at the time felt like I may have been wasting my time being on dating apps. I had barely gotten back on my feet after being dumped and had started to get the creeping feelings of loneliness. I had thought perhaps I should try to go on at least one date, to prove to myself I wasn’t a complete emotional cripple.
I was very glad to have found TG, and we spent about a week talking to get to know one another before I asked her on a date. The expectation was to go eat Thai and see a movie, nothing more. However, since I entered this date with the lowest expectations, I had found a weird freedom in being myself and doing things I hadn’t thought I’d ever do. “If I never see this person again, it probably won’t hurt anything, right?” I thought cynically.
For instance, I tried Thai food for the second time in my life, and ended up really liking it. Since TG insisted on paying for dinner, I had insisted on paying for the movie. Despite having seen this particular movie before, I enjoyed cuddling with TG in the theater and found myself forgetting about some of the hardest months in my life. Afterwards, we took a quick trip to the bookstore where we talked about literature and pointed out our favorite authors to one another. For anyone that knows me well, they know how many brownie points someone can earn by taking me to a bookstore.
I kept up the spirit of this freedom later when I invited her after the movie to come to my apartment and she accepted. I was surprised. When I continued to clearly invite her for other things, she continued to happily accept. She ended up staying the night and we stayed up the entire night talking freely about our issues and our pasts. Hours felt like minutes as we continued to talk without sleep, and before we knew it, it was getting close to sunrise.
“Would you like to go get breakfast and find a place to watch the sunrise? I like to take pictures.” TG shared with me. I smiled and agreed, giving her directions to the Moon Tower. I’d been introduced to this spot by a different girl months earlier, and had fallen in love with the view at night time.
TG loved it, too. We then took multiple pictures around the Moon Tower, enjoying the early morning silence. Then, we climbed up the old stairs to the observation view. I hadn’t ever been there at dawn, and no picture will ever capture how breathtaking it was to hold onto the railing and see the sky change right in front of my eyes. TG walked up behind me and hugged me, placing her hands in the jacket I was wearing that morning, and leaned her lips so close to my ear I felt her breath.
“Good morning.” TG whispered before kissing my cheek. I felt a tingle run down my spine as we watched the sky turn into all the colors of the rainbow. It was the first moment of real happiness I’d had in so long, I held back tears of joy. This girl, who I highly doubted would become someone I’d spend my life with, was still able to give me an epic first date. More than that, TG gave me a memory I will treasure forever. She gave me hope.
We then took a drive on the River Road and enjoyed exploring Pere Marquette, taking cute pictures together, and eventually went back to my house to continue spending time together. We ended up having a date that in total lasted twenty-six hours before she finally went home. We spent the next four days texting, and had started planning more dates for the future.
Then, to my shock, she stopped talking to me altogether. I would not have been offended if she didn’t want to see me again, but I was going to be most certainly offended if she didn’t bother to just tell me that. After an entire day of no contact, she sent me a short text saying she didn’t think she could emotionally handle a real relationship, and was going to leave for Colorado for a few months in about a week as it was anyway.
While I was surprised, and I’ll admit confused, I accepted this at face value and went back to Tinder. I had tried the next day to extend an invitation of friendship, which went unanswered for some time.
Ironically, she answered yes to my invitation of friendship on my second official date with Big. Out of respect for my new found romance, one that I was very sure was going to lead more a serious relationship-(It did)-I didn’t respond, and TG went to Colorado.
To my shock, a few months later, about a week after Big and I had went through our no-talking phase post breakup, I got a call from TG.
“Hey! I’m in town for a week before I take another trip to L.A. for a few months. Would you like to see me?” She asked. I felt myself feeling a sense of comradery with her, and seeing as I was a single woman again, I said yes.
I had told myself that it wasn’t a date, since we were old friends. However, that didn’t stop how hard I’d worked to pick out the perfect outfit and do my hair and makeup. TG looked really good, gaining a tan and some muscles since the last time we saw one another. I had to keep reminding myself that this was to catch up with an old friend, and not a date.
We later went to a popular nightclub in Saint Louis to watch a drag show, and spent hours catching up on what had been going on in each other’s lives. I felt myself slip back into that freeing attitude from our first date and started to really enjoy myself. I forgot to check my phone, which led to my then-friend Eric blowing me up, but I didn’t care. It was odd, but it was the first time in so long that I didn’t even think about Big. I thought about how cool the performances by the drag queens and kings were. I thought about how good it felt to be surrounded by pretty neon lights and good music. I thought about how nice it was to spend time with TG again. Eventually, TG and I fell back into old steps, and when TG kissed me I gladly kissed her back.
We briefly discussed it and TG confirmed we were definitely on a second date. We spent the rest of the night dancing, kissing, and she went back to my apartment again. However, we thankfully got some sleep this time. In the morning, we simply relaxed with one another and watched Love Simon together and took a nap. It was so nice! Later on, she decided to take me to the Saint Louis Art Museum and then out to eat. (On the way, my then-friend Eric had tried to ask me on a date with him, but that’s a whole other story.)
We’d discussed what this whole thing meant, and she explained she still didn’t want a real relationship. Having been through what I had with Big, I also wasn’t very keen on the idea of starting that all over again with someone else. Plus, she was leaving in six more days for California! I wasn’t up for a long-distance relationship. We’d agreed then to still be friends, but were allowed to also engage in a casual relationship when we were both single. Oddly enough, this arrangement didn’t bother me even a little bit. I had remembered why I’d been so drawn into TG in the first place. Being with her was such an adventure, and without any serious commitments. It was purely a fun relationship.
We went shopping for her new adventure in L.A., she bought me dinner, and then she dropped me off with promises to keep in touch. To my surprise, she kept her word this time! We still exchange letters and phone calls on a friendly basis, and it somehow doesn’t feel weird. I think it’s because we appreciate one another, but we don’t have any real romantic love for one another. We may have had a casual relationship of sorts, but we’re friends first. I am so much more grateful for TG than I thought I’d be.
I’d later realize that if I never had our first date, I wouldn’t have gone back to Tinder and met Big. If I hadn’t gone on our second date, I would’ve probably spent my time being sad over Big. I’m writing all this because I want to be clear that as long as both people involved know what’s going on, I think casual relationships can be a wonderful thing! It’s a common misconception that queer people aren’t ever serious about commitment. This is untrue, and there is nothing wrong with those who don’t mind engaging in relationships like this! I also believe sometimes people come into our lives, whether they are friends or lovers, and they do so for a reason. Relationships can have different forms and one isn’t more valuable than another if it works. So, TG, if you ever read this, I am not in love with you. I love you as a friend and a person, and am glad when I get to talk to you, because you’re my friend. For everyone else, never be ashamed to have people like TG in your life. As long as clear boundaries are made and respect is upheld, there’s nothing wrong with it.