It has been a big year for me. I switched jobs; I moved to another city; and finally removed myself from a lengthy and unhealthy relationship. I’ve always known that as one door closes, another one opens. And after going through that grueling breakup, I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams. Meeting “The One” — corny, yes, but bear with me — has been so rewarding and enlightening, especially given the stark contrast between him and my ex. The biggest difference: “The One” is a man, and my ex is a woman.
I met “Her” at work.
One day, I noticed a very sharp, polished woman in a men’s suit who kept appearing in my line of sight. She told me later that it was no accident—she had been eyeing me for a while. Was there something about me that said, “I am open to a lesbian relationship?” I didn’t think so. I will admit, I had a few drunken kisses with girls in my younger years, but had never even entertained the idea of actually being with a woman. Maybe her “gaydar” was clairvoyant; maybe she was just attracted to me and thought she’d give it a try. Either way, we ended up at a birthday party for a mutual co-worker, and there it began.
She asked me if she could drive me home the next day after work. It was obviously more than just a nice gesture—we lived about 45 minutes away from each other. I agreed, nervously, thinking, What is going on here? What am I doing? How am I attracted to this woman? She was warm and sweet, and that helped slow my racing thoughts, but I was still afraid of this uncharted territory.
Still, work had especially sucked that day and I had cramps too. She picked up on my mood and was compassionate. “I love your style,” she said. “Would a little shopping trip cheer you up?”
Well, yes retail therapy always works, so I obliged. She made a quick phone call, and before I knew it, I was in a fancy Brazilian boutique being doted on by a lovely gentleman who had chosen a bevy of gorgeous dresses for me to try on. Wow, right? Talk about a first date! I chose one dress, being extremely price-conscious—I was nearly broke. She stepped in and told the salesman: “We’ll take this, this, this and definitely this. Ring it up. Here’s my Amex.”
Thus began the relationship, as well as the trend of her spending insane amounts of money on me. She opened a savings account in my name (on date number two), moved me closer to her, furnished an entire apartment for me and showered me with gifts galore. Looking back, I recognized red flags everywhere, but I accepted them.
I had only been with men before “Her,” and she knew that. The word around the office was that she had a history of pursuing straight women and “flipping” them, and I guess I was her next challenge. I think she knew what she was getting into, and so did I. Looking back, we had an unspoken contract from the very beginning.
In a very (very) short period of time, her friends and family embraced me. It was pretty over-the-top, too. She was—get this—17 years older than me, so I think they were just happy that she had found someone. It was more than just being brought into a new family and circle of friends; I felt like I was part of a new lifestyle, and I welcomed it with open arms.
My relationships prior to “Her” were pretty terrible. From my first boyfriend at 16, to the boyfriend I moved in with, they were all pretty much disasters. (Yes, I do realize who the constant is in these relationships, but read on.) I was no stranger to cheating, abuse, manipulation, lying and overall dissatisfaction and unhappiness. I was never able to fully trust men. And I definitely picked the wrong men, because they all simply could not be trusted.
I felt like I could trust “Her” from the beginning. I felt like we had a friendship, and though our relationship was more than platonic, I felt like she wouldn’t break “girl-code” and lie to me. I never felt the impending threat of cheating like I always had in my relationships with men. Now please don’t take me wrong—I know there are womanizing lesbians out there too, but I felt she wasn’t one of them. I more than trusted her; I felt like she was incapable of hurting me in the way that men had in my life. This anxiety-free, comfortable life was appealing to me, and I plunged into it.
It was around month 10 of our relationship that I could no longer ignore the red flags. She had a very strict (read: weird) diet that she persistently urged me to commit to. I did. She preferred a certain style of dress in “her women” that I adhered to, especially since she was paying for all the clothes. She was very secretive about her personal life and her past, and she told me very early on to never question her, just to trust her. She needed to—had to—control me, and money was the tool she used. She convinced me to quit my decent-paying job to go back to school with the promise that she would take care of me financially. Thankfully, she wasn’t lying because she (okay, I) created a situation in which I was completely and totally dependent on her just to survive. I had no source of income outside of her. I was completely isolated from my old life. I began to think of some of my girlfriends who had “sold-out” and married rich, unattractive or just plain awful men just to live the life of luxury. That was me now.
About a year into my lesbian relationship, I found myself engaging in flirty conversations with men—old friends, ex-flings—different types of people—all with penises. Was it sexual desire? Perhaps. “She” and I had stopped being intimate after the first several months. (Hi, red flag!) Yes, we rarely had sex and when it did happen, it was very … one-sided. She didn’t want to be touched: “Your pleasure is my pleasure,” she said. And I was fine with that, the spoiled “pillow-queen” that I was. (I learned that term after the relationship ended. It’s a girl that just lays back and lets her girlfriend please her.) Either way, we became two pajama-clad, asexual, hot messes that just watched movies together and attended family gatherings.
Around the year mark, I felt antsy. But I was accustomed to all the cash and I knew no relationship was perfect, so I made the sacrifice. We didn’t have sex, she controlled the s**t out of me, but she wasn’t cheating on me or lying to my face. I even turned a blind eye to her completely inappropriate relationships with her exes. “We’re all women. We can still be friends after we break up,” she explained. True, but would you lend your ex thousands of dollars and then tell her “don’t worry about paying me back”? It made me uncomfortable, and rightfully so. Still, she provided a level of stability I’d never had before.
So here I am, living the full-blown lesbian life, with my lesbian partner, and our non-sexual lesbian relationship. I knew then that I couldn’t be with her forever. She begged me to promise that we would be, but she clearly had her doubts, too. She would “jokingly” say, “You don’t really want me. You still want to be with a man. Don’t you?” I told her no. I had convinced myself that I was a real lesbian. How else could I be in a real relationship with a woman? Though I thought about them, I was never really around straight men anymore. She (and I) made sure of that.
This is where I really f**ked up.
I resented her for not being who I wanted, yet was too selfish to let her go. And we both paid the price.
Those last two years especially were torturous. I lived around the corner from her and we only saw each other in the car on the way to work, in passing at work, and then again in the car before she dropped me off at my apartment, and of course at those family functions I was obligated to attend. I was miserable. More than miserable—I was depressed. I was lonely.
The obvious question: Why didn’t I just break up with her? The reasons I was able to accept and stay in a relationship like this are plentiful, but better suited for talk therapy. Finances aside, I felt like giving up my relationship with her would be giving up on being the “lesbian” I had been for three years. I had “come out” to my family and friends, and they accepted and loved me unconditionally. How could I go to them now and say, “Never mind, just kidding”? I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t who I thought I was. And I didn’t want to admit that I was beginning to think about what it would be like to have a husband and a family again.
My breaking point came not long before the three year mark. We were having another regular crying and screaming match sitting in her truck in front of my apartment, but this time when I said goodbye and slammed the door, I knew I meant it. I didn’t even remember the person I was before her, and I hated that. I used to be confident, put-together and happy, and I was now none of those things. I was finally done.
It took a while, but she finally realized that I was not going to do the back-and-forth, break-up-to-make-up thing. She eventually stopped stalking me and trying to make me feel sorry for her.
Enter, “The One.” I hit the love lottery and moved on. As much as I thought I could — and would — date another woman, meeting him proved me 100 percent completely wrong. He’s definitely one-in-a-million, but coming to an understanding of the issues with my past relationships with men has further solidified that I did want a man—a real man—in my life.
I know I’m not the only woman who has stayed in an unhealthy relationship for all the wrong reasons. I’m positive that I’m not the only woman who has sacrificed her happiness for someone or something else—the money, the house, the kids, etc. And I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only woman who has fallen into a lesbian relationship because she had been hurt so badly by men.
I’m only now learning to forgive myself for the hurt I caused “Her” and myself. It is a process, to say the least. I know that we are both far better off now, and hopefully she gets it too. I am finally, truly and undeniably, happy and in love. And that’s what I really wanted all along.