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My accidental dates (with dudes!)- When Hetero-normative Situations Get Ugly

It would be naive and grossly inaccurate to deny that, because the majority of the human population adheres to a heterosexual lifestyle, that one is generally assumed straight until he or she verifies otherwise.

I was well aware of this fact long before I even came out.  But it was until this year that I started to consider how this  truth might effect me.

I have had several encounters that can only be defined as “accidental dates” with straight men.

For the sake of privacy, I will refer these gentlemen by their initials.

Guy #1- The Chivalrous Guy

Chivalrous Guy was fellow classmate in a Creative Writing class.  Half way through the quarter, he and I began to sit next to each other in class and snicker at the pretentious comments other students made.  One day he asks if I want to exchange our short story assignments over coffee.  He did not even mention the assignment during the coffee date.  That really did not bother me though, he was intelligent and interesting and to me, it was the beginning of a potentially great friendship.

CG and I went on three “dinner dates” after that.  After class he would ask if I wanted to try a nearby restaurant. Not thinking anything romantic, behind it the first two dinners, I would happily accept. Since he always paid for dinner thought (insisting his mother always taught him to pay for women) I joked to him about putting out, but he just scoffed and very seriously said “Don’t be so presumptuous.”  So naturally I figured that these were in fact friend dates.  That was of course until the third dinner “date.”

By this date it was clear that he had designed the date for me: for dinner, he had picked the Chicago Diner, knowing that I was vegan, and afterwards we went bowling because he knew I could not legally drink with him. What also should have been the red flag was when he kept flirting with me at the bowling alley, tickling me and picking me up and swinging me around.

At then end of the evening, CG tried to kiss me but I “gracefully” pulled away.  What added insult to injury was that I left my cell phone in his car, so he came right back to my apartment to give it to me.

Neither of us mentioned it that following Monday in class.  Fortunately that was the last class of the quarter, but it was still awkward.  After the class had ended, I walked him to his car.  When we finally reached his car, we exchanged a very uncomfortable goodbye.  Usually we hugged when we said good bye to one another, but instead he looked and me and gave a salute. (Awkward)

Guy #2- Picky Eater

I met PE through a mutual friend.  One day I ran into him and we began talking.  I finally excused myself, saying I had to attend class, but then he asked me for my number.

The next evening, I answered a phone call in my sleep.  It was PE, but he never even said who it was at the beginning of the call.  Fortunately, seeing as I was still sleeping, I just went along with the phone call as if I knew with whom I was speaking.  I woke up an hour later and realized that I had agreed to go with PE to dinner…in my sleep.

We met up on a Saturday evening.  Dinner lasted for an hour, with general, background story discussions.

The second “date” was impromptu.  PE called me to ask if I was free at all that particular day.  I told him I only had 30 minutes for lunch, figuring that he would consider this insufficient.  However, he said we should get together for lunch.

That weekend, he asked me if I had ever tried the Chicago Diner.   Since he had not been to the Diner, I figured it would be nice to go with him.  I ate and nodded while he talked.  I had completed my meal after first half-hour, but after 3 hours of talking, he manage to only take to bites of his meal.  It wasn’t that we decided to leave the restaurant, but rather, the restaurant was closing.

(NOTE:  Three hours of consecutive chit-chat is too much for me.  I need  a lot of alone time in between conversations)

He offered to walk me home, but, as I began to grow suspicious, I compromised: “Why don’t I just walk you to your train stop on the way home, and I’ll walk the rest of the way myself.” (as if a mile long walk around Chicago in January would not be uncomfortable enough)

Once we finally arrived to the train stop, I hugged him goodbye.  As I pulled away from the hug, I see his lips puckered dramatically, reaching up to me.  It took seconds for me to realize: Holy crap, he’s trying to kiss me…and with his eyes open!

As I pulled away, I saw his puckered face drop quickly into a sulk.   I felt horrible, and all I could think to say was “I’ll see you Tuesday.” Why Tuesday, you idiot? I thought to myself.  I guess I was just so uncomfortable that I would have said anything.

He messaged me the following morning, apologizing for trying to kiss me, explaining that he thought I was giving him clues.  I felt that I had to set things straight. (Pun intended)
I am really sorry if I gave you signals. And I didn’t know that you had those feelings for me. And I am so sorry if you were embarrassed or confused or pissed at me. You are a great guy, very sweet and funny, and I know that everyone says this, but honestly it’s not you- it’s me.

Which brings me to my next point: I’m gay. I would have mentioned it earlier, but I thought you saw me as just a friend.

We are still actually good friends.

Guy #3- The Poet

Poet and I met in a poetry class.  We sat next to each other, quietly mocking the comments other students made about the pieces we read.  Eventually we exchanged numbers and we made plans to hang out one afternoon before class.

We covered a lot of topics on that first “date”: music movies, literature, sports, theatre family. We talked about writing- ours and others. I thought he would be turned off by how abrasive and sarcastic I tend to but he handle it well while maintaining a cuteness and sweetness.  It’s guys like him- smart, fun, gorgeous, kind guys who can tolerate ( I was in rare form in regards to my honesty and openness) that used to make me wish I was straight.

After my first “date” with Poet, I felt as the thought of fates were abusing me as he was, dare a say, a perfect guy – he was brilliant, really sweet, charming, and ruggedly handsome – like a sensitive poetic lumberjack.  We definitely had a deeper connection than what I got from four dates with CG or the three quasi dates with PE.

The following weekend, he asked me to go with him to the Art Institute.  We had a really pleasant time.

One night, upon the advice of a friend, I decide to figure out whether Poet thought we were dating.  Unfortunately, my approached was with the maturity of a sixth grade school girl, asking him through a series of text messages, a form of communication deficient in human dignity.
Poet: Hey do you want to get coffee before class tomorrow?
ME: Sure, hey can I ask you something?
Poet: Um sure
ME: You don’t like me do you? Like “like like” me?
Poet: I’m not sure yet.  I’m still getting to know you.  You seem really cool though.
ME: Oh, ok.  Well at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I should tell you I’m gay.
Poet: Oh, ok.   So what time are we meeting for coffee?
What makes Poet a separate case is that I am not even certain he qualifies as an Accidental.  He may never have had a crush on me at all.
Thankfully our friendship did not change.  He would still invite me to take walks, join him for tea, peer edit his work.

Guy #4- The Random Guy

One day I was walking to the grocery store, when a triumvirate of 30 year old males stopped and one of them told me “I don’t know about these two other guys, but I’m single.”  He introduced himself and then asked if I was single.  Stupidly, I said that I was single, obviously not expecting the man to get down on one knee there on the sidewalk, asking me to marry him.  He was obviously joking but it was still uncomfortable.

I gave him my old e-mail (the one I never use) so he would not bug me for my cellphone number.  I figured I would never see him again.  But then five minutes later, I saw him running towards me from three blocks away.  He followed me to the grocery store even after we had went in different directions.   To this day, I am certain he was crazy or just clinically delusional.

He explained that he followed me because he was new to the city and he was looking for a girlfriend.  After that, I felt I had to tell him.  Even thought I was exactly direct with him, I was still surprised how difficult it was to explain.

“Well,” I began.  “I feel like I should tell you that I just got out of a relationship… with my girlfriend.”

He just continued to stare at me blankly with a goofy smile.  “Your girlfriend?” he echoed.  The smile got slightly wider and he nodded.  “Your girlfriend.”

“So… your kind of… barking up the wrong tree.”

“Well why didn’t you say anything before?”

As familiar as this question is, I still responded to this question abruptly. “Well, I didn’t think you would actually follow me to the store.  I mean it’s not the very first thing I tell people.”

He nodded calmly.  “I feel you.” He then handed back my e-mail address and ran away.

Now I am fairly confident that this man was an unusual guy, but the most interesting of a common situation.

Conclusion

Is this a common question lesbians face?  For me it has been a reoccurring concern: should I keep it to myself until it comes off, or am I leading guys on if I don’t tell them?

Maybe it’s not worth me trying to keep my personal life to myself.

But just because my sexuality is not that of the mainstream, why must I wear my sexuality on my sleeve?  Is it fair to say that I am a tease just because they assumed that I was straight?  Or maybe I have to revise the way I act around guys.  Maybe I need to be considerate of their heterosexuality?

There is a massive element of irony in that all these “dates” occurred while I was out.   Whenever I wind up on these accidental dates, I think to myself Where were all these guys when I was a little closet case in Catholic school? But I guess that this is yet another demonstration of the difference between coming out and being out.  I find myself having to come out to people a lot more than I expected I would because it seems as though I have to come out to them individually.

I often forget that despite my sexuality, straight guys find themselves attracted to girls of any orientation, just as certain girls fall for gay men.  And, for whatever reason, guys pursue me.  Since I never mention it until it is relevant to the conversation, guys just assume that I am straight.  Now I could go off on a rant about the intolerance and ignorance of the hetero-normative society in which we live, but I would rather focus on the “dating” conflict for lesbians.

Is it dangerous to assume that they are interested in me?  Should I assume that male friends have the same conception of our friendship as I do?

After sharing these anecdotes with my friends – male, female, straight and gay –  I have accumulate some general hints that a guy is attracted to you.

  • If he takes you to dinner.  Apparently this is the most intimate of meals and usually, since its at the end of the day, most people have plenty of time to get to know one another at dinner.
  • If he pays.
  • If he wants to share something (i.e. a dessert).
  • If he asks you or you talk about family and childhoods.  These are thought to be highly intimate discussion topics.  They indicate a desire to get close to someone.
  • They laugh at your jokes, whether they are funny or stupid.  Sometimes, when a guy likes a girl, he might laugh at every little joke.
  • He tells you about his dating history.  Not only is this indicating intense trust, but he is also trying to get you to spill yours, so he knows what to expect.

My strongest advice would be that, if in fact you find yourself in these same or similar situations, out yourself as soon as possible.  Straight guys are more sensitive than they appear.

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About Casey

Casey is a creative writing student at DePaul university. She enjoys reading, writing, and taking long walks around the city of Chicago.

Discussion

3 Responses to “My accidental dates (with dudes!)- When Hetero-normative Situations Get Ugly”

  1. I love reading your dating stories, Casey. LOL.

    I’ve had a few accidental dates myself, and you know what I think it is? We’re femmes and so our identities are largely invisible to everyone.

    Posted by JT | July 5, 2011, 4:25 pm
  2. Thanks JT!
    And yes I think you may be on to something, my friend.

    Posted by Casey | July 10, 2011, 9:37 am
  3. Don’t even get me started on my accidental dates with chicks. And
    I am one. A straight one.

    There’s nothing quite as special as the moment when you realize that what you thought was “a night out with a cool new friend” ends in “a confrontation with an angry lesbian who thinks nobody’s that friendly (and I mean run-of-the-mill, non-touchy feely friendly) without an agenda.”

    Aaaah, memories.

    Posted by nicole | April 17, 2012, 11:44 pm

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