I've been going on dates more lately then... well, maybe than I ever have in my life. It's not that I haven't been with people, or have people that I'm seeing. I just haven't done many date dates before. Like proper dates. My style is more hooking up with my friends or whomever makes the best hand turkey at Thanksgiving. So while I have gone a few dates before, dating as a bisexual woman is pretty much new territory for me. And I'm surprised at how it makes me feel, and perhaps more surprised at the different things I worry about or feel with dates with men compared to dates with women.
Obviously in either case I'm a big advocate of just being yourself and not trying to hard. To be honest, I could probably use trying a little harder (dry shampoo and deodorant is not always the same as showering, says my flatmate). But I'm a person and normal nerves run through my mind when I'm getting ready to meeting any new person, of course. They're just not exactly the same worries. Now a lot of this is just me projecting and obviously every person is different and a lot of fears come from generalizations, but here's what runs through my head.
These are the differences between first dates with a man and first dates with a woman (hint: I'm bad at both of them):
1. What You Wear
So I am probably the worst type of person in that I am very, very lazy when it comes to getting ready for a date, but then get anxious about how little effort I put in and if I look OK. It's tougher with girls because I worry they will have a better sense if I've tried too hard or not at all. Whereas with a guy I know I can get away with leggings and a tank top covered in apple sauce as long as I'm showing a little boob. (I did it one time and it totally worked.)
2. How Much Makeup I'm Wearing
Again, I'm lazy, so my makeup consists invariable of eyeliner and mascara, that's it. If I'm feeling super fancy I might put on red lipstick, but would never do that for a date. I have this thing where I never want to look out very different out than I look in the morning, because what if someone saw me in the morning and was like "OH DEAR GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE!?".
With men, I get insecure and wonder if I should be wearing foundation or concealer or something. The reason is that I know most girls wear more makeup than I do, but guys think it's natural and don't realize, so my actually non-foundationed face is going to look really bad in comparison. With a woman, well I know there's a good chance she'll realize my eyeliner looks like it's been done by a drunk, Pollock-inspired toddler. So I may spend an extra second or two on connecting the line to my actual eyelid.
3. My Body Image
There's also a different kind of pressure on how you look with someone the same gender. With a man, I may worry whether or not he's out of my league, but I'm sort of aware that everyone's preferences are different. But with a woman, I feel like there's a very clear "Is she prettier than me? Is she skinnier?". It feels like a more direct comparison. And I'm not saying skinnier is better by any means, I'm saying these are my anxieties, because not everyone is super confident and OK with their body. I wish I were, and it's something I probably worry too much about, but hey we've all got our own baggage.
4. What We Talk About
Maybe because I do standup, maybe because of gender dynamics, maybe it's just me, but I definitely go into performance modes on dates. And I think with men, it's a bit expected that I have to prove myself. There's a bit of an "Now impress me." attitude in some (not all!) men. I can relax a lot more with a girl. They make more of an effort to put us both at ease, and it just feels like a more equal playing field. I also never have to worry about saying I sometimes write about feminism and getting a sneer (although it's a quick way to weed out jerks). Being a comedian and writing about sex seems to be either a massive turn off or turn on, but that's definitely more down to the person than the gender.
5. Being Sober
Hi, my name is Lea and I'm an alcoholic. I've been sober for over two years, which, living in the UK, is about as much of a big deal on dates as if I showed up with an actual unicorn horn on my head and claimed to eat only the souls of young children. Drinking is such a big part of the culture here that, especially with men, there's a fear of looking boring, joyless, lame, prudish, and basically any other 7-on-the-PH-scale-of-life term you can think of. Sober dating is hard. So far the women have made much less of a big thing of it and, although that may just have to do with the people I've met rather than gender, it eases my anxieties about the whole thing.
6. Getting The Bill
Glory glory hallelujah! The best thing about being on a date with a woman, besides boobs, is no horrible bill awkwardness. A guy is probably going to try to "insist" he picks up the check (why does he think that's his call?!) or make some patronizing comment when I get the drinks ("Oh, you're getting a round? That's... wow!"). I'm a grown women who makes money and can read how much things cost, there is no reason for me to pay for myself. And other women get that. Sometimes people feel weird about splitting the bill because I don't drink, but it's never as much as a circus when I tell a girl I'm fine paying half anyway.
7. The First Move
I'm less experienced sexually with women than with men, which also makes me less confident. Even though heteronormativity says that a man would make the first move, and that is often the case, if I'm feeling frisky I have no problem going for it. But a lack of sexual confidence with women means that I'm a little less bold. I think I also assume women are more generally friendly and warm, which, even if that's not true, makes me less sure I'm picking up the right signals. Sometimes I'm sure, of course, but I err more on the side of caution.
The good news is, maybe they're just a bit more socially aware or considerate, but I've never had a woman make a move I wasn't interested in... and that's definitely happened with guys. And I've definitely high-fived them and backed away slowly. #awkwardisthenewsexy
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