The Real L Woes: “New Year, New Prospects”

Everyone loves a good failed relationship story. Whether it be for amusement or the comfort of knowing your own life isn’t nearly as bad as someone else’s, hearing about the trials and tribulations of other’s failed attempts at romance offers the warm and fuzzy feeling that you’re not the only one who can’t get it together.

This very idea is why it’s been repeatedly suggested that I, Erika Star, blog about my life, because I can fail with the best of them.

Now I haven’t been out for very long but I’ve wasted no time tripping through the lesbian relationship gauntlet. I’ve landed myself in Sex & Love Addiction Anonymous, not so anonymously, moved across country solely to live in what I had been told was the lesbian mecca of the United States and become one of OkCupid’s hottest (says them), all in five short years. I’ve been employed by lesbian bars and LGBT newspapers, bartended chix-mixes and flicked the velvet. I’ve carved quite a little gay niche for myself and have learned all lady loving lady lessons the hard way. Off the top of my head, some things learned include doing a smidge more research on quitting your job and moving before making a ridiculous decision based on your vagina.

Also, when choosing a sponsor, especially in SLAA, go ahead and avoid the one you have a crush on.

Sure, these experiences have come with heartbreak, U-Haul rentals and processing but the stories that I’ve collected are worth their price and, unbeknownst to the people I’ve dated, I have a lot of feelings to share.

So without further ado, the first installment of The Real L Woes. Now I write Portland Scene to regale you with the happy haps here in the land o’ lez, but aside from the bumpin’ social scene, you can’t fathom a more sexually fluid, commitment phobic, nearly genderless population of folks if you tried. This city is beyond putting The L Word’s chart to shame as Portland is in another planetary system of interwoven incestuous-ness, which has albeit ruined dating, as it is impossible to meet anyone who I haven’t heard of, seen around or dated an ex of. There’s a queer something every day of the week, sometimes three, and the local Trader Joe locations serve as amazing pick up spots for the ladies. Come to think of it, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to meet a girl who isn’t queer. Luckily, that fact has a 99.9% accuracy rate in Portland.

Even with a population that is queerer than a seven dollar bill, our social sphere gets smaller by the millisecond and I continue to come up short in the dating department. I’m aware that I’m not perfect and any girl I’ve come close to dating can tell you that I am deathly allergic to processing. Still, I do put myself out there harder than most folks I know and most of the issues I’ve faced are just highly magnified, mega lesbian influenced versions of what any other, notoriously single person faces: Intimacy issues, fear of the c word and, well, polyamory. Well, that and as stereotypes will tell you, most ladies either want to get married after the second date or date not only you, but any number of your other friends as well. Taken or playing the field. No middle grounds here, folks.

So let me tell you about a recent chain of lady hunting events that I have stumbled through in our new year. Keep in mind, this is one of many more failed attempts at dating that I have experienced this week. So there I was, a few days after the New Year with no resolutions made, a sick dog and an obscene amount of left over champagne. Pretty sure we all see where this is going as the obvious solution to this malaise was to re-sign up for every ladies favorite past time, OkCupid. Half a bottle into the bubbly and I was up and running with a passable profile and stalkers a’rolling in. After finishing off the bottle, a few days later mind you, I started rage-messaging anyone who’s profile didn’t say poly, gender neutral or lead off with their astrological sign. I pursued a number of email exchanges, textual message and so on, whittling them down to some seemingly viable options. Then, of course, the big leap to meeting in person.

Here’s where it went wrong faster than you can say HOMG-PDX, these girls already had girlfriends or, you know, were playing the field. See also: notorious players. So many deal breakers, so little time. The term primary girlfriend is possibly one of my least favorite terms second only to “tertiary girlfriend,” so when I realize that not only do my new potential dates already have levels of girlfriends, but the primary is also sleeping with my good friend. My friend’s secondary to be more precise. Did you follow me there? Did you need a minute to draw up the iconic chart? Either way, the fact remains that the large commitment phobic elephant in my dating room is the overwhelming number of dates I’ve ended up on where it was assumed that I subscribed to a polyamorous lifestyle.

Now before you start writing a dissertation on The Ethical Slut, let me tell you that I do believe polyamory to work for some people, even though my one shining, successful, poly friend couple has recently fallen apart and I have seen friends struggle with sudden unreciprocated feelings of monogamy and jealous partners. Sure, polyamory requires much different skills, attitudes and strengths than those found in more “traditional” dating and long-term relationship models. I also realize that many of these end in separation of divorce, and that relationships are highly varied and individualized according to those participating. Pretty much, the moral of the story is that they are all difficult.

What I will say, in my opinion, is that it takes a lot of strength to show commitment, and vulnerability to another person. I know, those two words just made my clench a little. I think the queer/lesbian community, and I only cite the one I’m most familiar with, takes a lot of liberties with polyamory. First and foremost, and with very little research, I have to assume that communication and consent are keys. I mean, duh. So ending up on dates where even before I knock back my first shot of liquid courage, I am blind-sighted with ‘Oh, well I have a girlfriend’ is clearly breaking the first rule of Poly Club. Also, and especially, unfortunately, Portland folks tend to use the label as an excuse to either A. sleep around, B. avoid commitment like the plague, or C. sleep around.

I still hope for the oldies and goodies; coming home to the same lady, not juggling a schedule unless it has to do with my DVR and facing lesbian death bed with that special someone. In the meantime, I am completely comfortable being called old-fashioned, old-timey and, my favorite, traditional. Who knows, maybe polyamory is really the wave of the apocalyptic future and here I am bucking a trend. I wouldn’t be surprised; I was also the last one to give up my discman.