Being friends with the women I’m attracted to is not a duty; it’s a privilege. I don’t hold them responsible for their own non-attraction to me, or privately begrudge them dates with others.
When I first began coming out as queer, I noticed that a lot of the straight dudes in my life started treating me differently. This was especially true with guys I didn’t know very well: When the talk turned, as it inevitably did in college, to relationship drama and sex shenanigans, the boys in the group would regard me as some sort of formerly straight informant. One of my sort-of friends once memorably referred to me as a “double agent,” which I would have probably liked better if he’d been trying to recruit me for his laser tag team. But I digress.
“This girl won’t text me back,” these boys would say to me. “What’s the deal with that?”
“Um,” I’d say. “I’m…unsure.”
“C’mon,” they’d say. “You know how crazy girls can be, right?” Translation: You are a woman, so you understand all women — but you date women, so you don’t mind talking shit about them with dudes, right?
Even today, this still happens to me a lot with straight guys. Who you’re attracted to doesn’t determine your gender, obviously, but there’s this weird sense among many people of being simultaneously “just one of the guys” (i.e., someone who bangs women) and “a lady with lady-insight” (i.e., someone who bangs men). And dudes tend to try to exploit this position for their own knowledge. Nobody gives dating tips like a monogamy-phobic bisexual, apparently.
Needless to say, this is bullshit. Aside from the fact that everyone interacts with each other differently, any lady-dating tips I’d come up with would probably be somewhat questionably effective for dudes. For example, the other night I got a little drunk with my male upstairs neighbor and listed, upon his request, the (genuine) compliments I tend to give women. These include:
-Strong brow game
-Bold lip choice
-That her [insert accessory] is on trend
-Forearms that could kill a man
I, for one, would certainly be pleasantly surprised at the least if a dude came at me in a bar with nice things to say about my tweezing regimen (or lack thereof).
Sometimes, though, being arbitrarily made an authority on relationships can be kind of a good thing, in that I do sort of feel like a double-agent. Only, rather than disclosing the secrets of what women are supposedly looking for, I’ve gained some perspective about the myths straight guys tell themselves and each other.
The most pervasive of these is the “friend-zone.” I know we’ve talked a lot about the FZ lately, especially given the dialogue around the concept of women “owing” men sex as some kind of reward for the chore of getting to know us as people. But as someone who still hears a lot of whining from dudes she knows and likes about how it’s not “fair” of women to “lead men on” in this way, I think it’s worth reiterating: Treating your friendships like they are merely inconvenient hurdles between you and orgasm is no way to treat friendships at all.
Again, I know: This isn’t news to most of you guys. It is, however, a useful rhetorical tool in situations when people claim that guys and girls can’t really be friends (because one will always want to bang the other) or, paradoxically, that women will never want to date a man she only sees as a friend. (Don’t ask me why these two statements are frequently used interchangeably, but they are.) The subtext of these arguments, of course, is that if it came to choosing between being friends with someone you’re attracted to and dating them, most people would opt for the latter.
The thing is, though, that I am attracted to a lot of people. Dudes, ladies, those who don’t identify as either, those who identify as both — basically, if you’ve got a toothy smile and forearms that could kill a man, I probably want to sit in your lap and put my face on your face. In fact, I happen to think all my friends are babes. And yet, I still manage to be friends with them without dissolving into an Alex Mack-style pit of clit-sweat and rage-juice.
I’ve thought about this a lot since moving to Chicago, where I’ve met a whole bunch of women whom I’m already desperately fond of. They are also super fine, which inevitably meant that Drunk Me “casually” asked if they were into girls shortly after making their acquaintance. Alas, though the majority of them are not, the specter of my initial attraction to them does not hang over our heads as we watch “Broad City” together.
Being friends with these women is not a duty; it’s a privilege. I don’t hold them responsible for their own non-attraction to me, or privately begrudge them dates with others. The same goes for the rest of the hotties I know. And, frankly, I would rather lie on the floor with them listening to Beyoncé than persuade someone I didn’t like half as much to stick their tongue in my mouth. For that matter, even if some of them did want to date me, I’m not sure I’d be interested in going that route. I really like what I have going right now, and the idea of throwing that over to get to second base just isn’t all that appealing.
As far as I’m concerned, this mythical “friend-zone of doom” where burgeoning romances go to die does not exist in Bisexual Village. In fact, it doesn’t exist anywhere at all. If anything, it’s more like a friend-ball-pit, where you get to have a rad time with hot people without worrying about your waxing situation or whether your rhythm is off lately.
So when dudes do endeavor to get me to empathize with their “friend-zone” woes — or when anyone reduces their relationships to the Stranger Or Bone binary — I try to use my experiences with being attracted to most people to counter them. If platonic relationships between people whose sexuality preferences overlap couldn’t exist, after all, I would be living in a cave with a broom named Sweeper Gabriel and probably writing a memoir or something.
Sometimes, this argument is more convincing than others. Societal conditioning goes a long way, after all, and the idea of women “owing” men sex is a deeply ingrained one for some people. But hey, what’s the use of being a “double agent” if you’re not in it for the long con?