From one lesbian to another

From one lesbian to another

I came out as a lesbian aged 15 in 1977 and not only did I have no clue as to how to get to know others like me – there was barely the language for it. So at first I decided that ‘bisexual’ sounded less threatening than lesbian, and used ‘gay for a while, but neither felt comfortable. When I met feminists who were very proud of their subversive sexual identity, I even adopted the reclaimed slur, ‘dyke’, a term meaning butch, manly, rough woman. I soon stopped using it when I realised how ugly an insult it was.

I fell in love with Harriet in 1987, when I was 25 years of age, and we are still happily together, so I have never used online dating. Most of my lesbian friends have though, and lots of them with some success. One woman was in a relationship that broke up after 25 years, and told me she could never imagine having another serious girlfriend. But in her late 50s, she met someone online and has never looked back. I even swallowed my dislike of marriage and went to their wedding party.

Bearing in mind I have never used online dating and I am in a long-term relationship, you may think I am an odd person to be giving you dating advice but please, open your heart to my tips. I am a journalist, so naturally inquisitive (OK, nosy then), and I have been part of local, national and international lesbian communities and friendship groups since my teens. I have listened to the woes of my single friends, and been available to them both in person and on the phone following disastrous dates, as much as I have also been delighted to hear their euphoric gossip after a fabulous encounter.

I have helped friends and colleagues write their profiles for Soulmates, gently dissuading one recently from uploading the photo in which she stood resplendent in full climbing gear, looking like an advertisement for the North Face clothing range, at the top of a mountain in Snowdonia. I reminded my friend that her usual look is red-faced from wine, not fresh mountain air, wearing ridiculous heels and patterned tights as opposed to climbing boots.

Over the years I have doled out some quick tips to various friends who are keen to develop things further than a friendship with someone they have met online. Here they are for you to hopefully find comfort and some help through your very own personal journey!

  1. Be as sure as you can be before telling her how you feel. Is she flirty and tactile as a rule, or does she seem to make an exception for you? Do NOT take anything for granted, because being seemingly overbearing is a massive put-off for most women.
  2. If she invites you to dinner, take a good bottle of wine, not your cat and your toothbrush.
  3. On the other hand, if your instincts are usually right, and you are pretty sure she feels the same as you, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. She may well be sizing up a few others, and may be the impatient type.
  4. If you think this is the night you may get a little more intimate, please don’t wear that hideous high-street perfume that will make her throat seal up and have her reaching for the Ventolin. As she nuzzles up to your neck she would far rather smell soap and lemons than something like a cross between Windowlene and candy floss.
  5. If she offers to make you breakfast the next morning, pay close attention, despite your beating heart. This could become a relationship, so beware if all you get is half a Twix and a cold onion bhaji from days ago. If, however, you get delicious coffee, freshly squeezed watermelon juice, and an omelette you think about as often as you think about her for the next 24 hours – grab the cat, the toothbrush, and get yourself back over there!