Life After Straight... Yes, I'm a Lesbian & I Really Did Love That Man

Updated: Jul 26, 2020

Hetlag - Coming Out


When I was coming out, I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

I’d recently gone through a devastating breakup with a man and I’d never dated women or outwardly shown any romantic interest in them until that point. Disregard that over the years, multiple people asked me if I thought I might be gay. My response was always some variation of…

  “Me?? Naahh…I don't think so anyway...” 

Okay, I knew I wasn’t straight… but how did I reconcile the amount of pain I was in at the hands of my sociopathic, serial cheating ex-boyfriend, with being gay? I thought…

If I’m gay… how could I be so shattered by him? 

I was afraid it would delegitimize the pain I was in. 

“Oh, you’re gay? Then you probably shouldn’t be so upset by all of this.” 

I was afraid coming out so soon after my breakup would cause people to think I was having some kind of post-breakup meltdown. 

“She’s not gay, she’s just in crisis.” 

Several people asked if I was sure. 

“But… If you've never been with a woman... how do you know?” 

I don't know... did you question your heterosexuality before ever actually having been with someone of the opposite sex? Or, one of my favorite responses… 

“You know, if you’re dating women you’re going to have to… you know,"

 ::Subtle nod toward my vagina::

  Umm… yes… very aware of that, thank you. Also, quite looking forward to it.

  But the nay-sayers voicing their doubts, was getting in my head. I began doubting myself. I decided the thing that made the most sense, would be coming out as bisexual.

  Yeah! That makes more sense. That way no one will be confused about how I could’ve been in love with a man… or downplay my healing process. Yes… bisexuality will be much easier for everyone else to digest.

  Because you know… that’s what our sexuality is about… everyone else’s comfort.

  Coming out as bisexual became the catalyst to some very interesting conversations. One friend of mine was very confused by the whole thing.

  “So… you’re saying you’d have sex with women. But, you wouldn’t like… be in a relationship with another women, right?” 

“No… I’d have sex with a woman… and be in a committed relationship with her.” 

…crickets…

Really?

  “Absolutely.”

“Because, I’d totally have sex with a woman, but I’d never be in a relationship with one. I thought that’s what bisexual meant.”

…crickets…

“I always defined sex and no relationship as being mostly heterosexual with a hobby of fucking women. I thought bisexual meant you’d be in a relationship with either a man or woman.” 

Thus began many conversations about all the different ways someone can be bisexual. I found it fascinating and also incredibly frustrating at first. It made me feel like anytime I was interested in a woman who identified as being bisexual, I had to ask where on the scale she fell. I had much to learn.

As it turns out, there was just one “minor” detail I was choosing to ignore. This was confirmed almost immediately upon my trek into the exciting, albeit slightly terrifying world of dating women. 

As I began my non-heterosexual journey, I knew pretty quickly I wasn’t bisexual. Nope. Definitely not bisexual. If the proverbial closet is real, it felt like the door to mine opened up to the brightest, sunniest, happiest place on Earth. 

WHAT IS THIS LIFE?!

  I was flooded with all the feelings I’d never truly had while dating men. It’s like how we, as humans, only use 10% of our brains. We don’t know what life could be like, if we we able to access the other 90%. We have very little idea what we’re missing, because we’ve never experienced it any other way. Are we still living full lives? Well… sure, because we don’t know anything else. (Now, before all my science loving lezzy’s go into a nerded-out frenzy… I know this 10% theory is a misunderstood myth… but i’m going to need you to overlook that for the sake of my story).

Being in love was like that for me. It was like I was only able to tap into a fraction of my ability to love. I only ever knew that small percentage. I felt like there must be more, but I had no idea how to access it, until I started dating women. Suddenly that larger untapped percentage, blew wide open. Everything was enhanced. I was feeling things with an intensity I’d never truly felt before.

  Is THIS what all the hype is about?! Omg! Why didn’t someone tell me?! 

During the 29 years I spent leading a “heterosexual” life… I thought I was doing a pretty decent job. I thought my relationship shortcomings could be explained by my needing to do more work on myself. I thought with more personal evolution, my relationships with men would get better and better. I also thought with more practice and attention, I’d eventually enjoy sex with men. When my friends would talk about their orgasms and go on and on about their hetero sex lives… I always stayed quiet. I just couldn’t relate. It wasn’t that I hated sex with men. I mean… I did mostly enjoy the parts that weren’t penis in vagina related (hello reason number five hundred seventy seven I should’ve known I was a lesbian).

I used quotations around “heterosexual” up there, because there was always a part of me that questioned my sexuality. My first girl crush can be traced back to middle school. I met her through mutual friends. Despite the fact that we went to rival schools, and played on rivaling basketball teams, we quickly became the best of friends. We talked on the phone for hours more days that not. Whenever we got the chance to hang out, I always got nervous and had a stomach full of butterflies. I adored her. Until one dreaded day, when we were on one of our usual hours long phone calls, when she told me she thought I cared about her more than she cared about me.

  Queue all the devastation. My worst fear was actualized right before my eyes. Our friendship was never the same after that. She couldn’t have known how much that conversation would impact the next decade and a half of my life. But after that, the prospect of being anything but straight, terrified me. I was convinced all my female friends would disown me if they thought I was even a little gay. So… hetero life it was.

As it turns out, she’s gay too. She gave voice to my fears because she was trying to protect her own fragile pubescent soul. Aah yes, the power of projection. While we aren’t bosom buddies who hang out or talk all the time, we are still friends, and she will always hold a special place in my heart.

Sometime during freshman year of high school, when all my friends seemed to be losing their virginity faster than I could finish my daily pack of chewy Sweet Tarts, I decided to proclaim I wasn’t going to have sex until I was married. I was still trying to be Christian back then, so it was an easy out. Aside from one on-again-off-again guy I dated toward the end of high school, I didn’t date.

  PHEW! Dodged that bullet. 

I didn’t have my first serious boyfriend until I was 21. We seemed very perfect for one another on paper. And, lucky me! He was “saving himself for marriage,” too. Long story short, we didn’t have sex until a little after the 1 year mark. It was awful. I mean… truly awful. I don’t think it could’ve been more painful for me. And unfortunately, my next couple partners weren’t much better. 

I thought I was defective.

Eventually, my foray with men led me to the man who would crack me wide open and shatter me into a million tiny pieces. 

When we met, he was charming, charismatic, and looked at me like I was the most magical person he’d ever met. If ever there was such a thing as courtship, it was what I experienced with him. He worked diligently to sweep me off my feet. It was all flowers, home cooked meals, hand-in-hand walks around the city, and exciting date nights. He spoiled me and I was a goner. And as far as the sex went… it was about as enjoyable as sex with a man had ever been (which isn’t saying a whole lot). But again, I was convinced this would get better with time. 

Then, He U-hauled me.

We moved in together just shy of 3 months after we met. It was his idea. Everything was still great for a while after that. But little by little things started changing. Doubts crept into my mind about him. I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. And, he was masterful at using his own spirituality and belief system to make me believe if there was a problem, it was something I needed to fix within myself. I had no sense to recognize the gaslighting and manipulation that had begun taking place.

But between these moments of doubt, there was enough good to keep me in the relationship. People loved him, and never hesitated to tell me how lucky I was to have him. What kind of bullshit is that? I’d like to take a moment to insist if ever you’re going to tell someone how lucky they are for their partner, you better be telling BOTH people they’re lucky to have found one another.

We spent a lot of time talking, laughing, and being silly together. We loved traveling and took some great vacations. I loved the rhythm of our life. We were best friends. And even now, I know I couldn’t have loved him any more than I did. I thought we were going to get married. He took me ring shopping and bought the engagement ring. We had similar dreams. We were making plans.

When our relationship ended rather abruptly, I found out not long after that he’d been cheating on me the entire time we were together. The lies were stacked so high, and went back so far, I couldn’t sort out the real from the fake. There wasn’t a single memory left untarnished by his deceit.

  As it turned out, he was a sociopath. He acknowledged this about himself and laughed about it. 

Had I been paying attention, or willing to see what was in front of me, I wouldn't have been able to ignore the flashing marquee worthy red flags. I’d convinced myself if we’d just make it through this tough part, we’d be fine. Never mind the fact that I’d told my best friend only a matter of months earlier, I’d likely start dating women if he and I ever broke up.

I'd been living in many shades of denial.

I came out about 2 months post-breakup. Even coming out as bisexual felt liberating. At least I felt like I could finally date women openly. And, that’s precisely what I did. A few months later, I knew for sure I was a lesbian.

So… how could I have truly loved him? The way we love anyone. I made a connection with him I couldn’t discount. It was incredibly rare that I was able to make such deep connections with men, but it happened. And while sexually I was never satisfied, emotionally (I thought) I was. My ex was emotionally abusive, but I didn’t realize it until the end. So… as it turns out, I wasn’t being taken care of emotionally or physically. But that wasn’t in my awareness until much later.

The fact that I didn't realize I was a lesbian until the age of 29, doesn’t make everything I experienced leading up to that time irrelevant.

Will I ever be in another relationship with a man? I’d have to say the likelihood of that happening is as close to zero as it possibly could be without actually being zero. And, the only reason I leave even the slightest decimal of a chance, is because I am a lover of humans, and sexuality is fluid. And maybe, somewhere in the world, there is some unicorn of a person whose magnetism and chemistry could make me go down that road again. But, I have many, many doubts about that.

I love to love women. I love everything about them. The connection I’ve had with women is unparalleled. My other 90% has awoken and I’ll never go back to sleep. I know now what it feels like to fall deeply, full-bodied, soul-deep in love. And the magic of that mental, emotional and physical connection is… in a word… explosive. It is a kind of alignment I had no idea could truly exist.

So yeah… I’m a lesbian that used to be in love with a man. That part of my life doesn’t delegitimize me as a lesbian. And, while loving them taught me many things, and helped me grow into the woman I am today… it was women, who taught me what it truly means and feels like, to be in love.

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