I’ve had an open marriage for a year and a half now. Katie was the first woman on a dating app to ask me out. She was a medical researcher who was direct, funny and wrote “haha” when I made jokes. I was so smitten that I didn’t even care I’d have to drive to the Westside to meet her.
I always thought that I wasn’t bi “enough” to identify that way, but on the apps, I was having what I’ve been told is a typical bisexual experience. Dating men was like trying to find hay in a needle stack, but dating women reminded me of a meteor shower in Palm Springs I stayed up to watch years ago. I saw a handful of evasive, shy shooting stars out of the corner of my eye, and by the time I glanced in the right direction, they were already gone.
My first date with a woman was with Gretchen, a tall artist from a showbiz family. It turned out to be her first date with a woman too, but our chat over ice cream in Larchmont Village not only had no spark, it was such a chemistry void that I went home feeling like I’d forgotten what it’s like to be attracted to anybody at all.
My one-night stand with a 25-year-old executive was a ton of fun, but the frequency with which she used the word “vibes” as its own one-word sentence really highlighted our generation gap. We mutually ghosted each other. Nevertheless, my interest in shes persisted. On TikTok, a creator I like, who’s known for her lesbian thirst traps, began remarking on how many of her followers were women in “straight” marriages. Was I having so much trouble dating women because I was just a run-of-the-mill straight interloping fraud, and the real queer community could tell?
I grew up boy-crazy in sleepy, sterile Orange County. I’d thought vaguely since high school that I wanted to have a relationship with a woman someday, but I had my hands full (or, more accurately, completely empty) pursuing far more plentiful, visible straight guys. I moved to L.A. for college and fooled around once with a woman, fueled by the cheapest of light beers. The experience didn’t light my fire. My first boyfriend, a beautiful golden retriever man and the love of my life, became my husband, and the rest was hetero-passing history until we decided to experiment with nonmonogamy and explore our bi-curiosity.
As for Katie, she invited me to a bar that she mentioned was right next to her place in Santa Monica, a detail that made me spend extra time deciding what underwear to put on. She had a beautiful grin that wasn’t in her pictures, had curves like a Renaissance painting, and was easy to talk to.
On a warm Thursday night, I could smell the ocean from our table outside as she told me about being polyamorous in New York before moving to L.A. for work. She also was married to a man but exclusively dating women. She was much more successful at it than I was. I didn’t detect any flirtiness from her, especially when she yawned and mentioned an early doctor’s appointment the next morning. Then again, she casually mentioned I was “gorgeous.”
I’d heard jokes before about how newbies to same-sex dating can have a tough time feeling out a friend hang or a friendly date. I can’t stand ambiguity. I worried that asking bluntly for her feelings would kill my chances if she was just making up her mind about me. We were both surprised to hear it was last call at 9:45 p.m., and I thought it would clarify things to ask if she wanted to take a walk to the beach or get some sleep.
Her answer didn’t clarify things. She said the beach was kind of far, but we could start walking there and see if we made it. On our walk, we chatted about her fascinating job and our other partners. I overshared about my family (nice one, me!), and it felt as if we quickly arrived at the cement fence above Pacific Coast Highway.
Listening to the waves, I thought it seemed like the kind of spot you’d go if you wanted your date to make a move. As we talked, I took a half-step in her direction, but she took an equal half-step away. We were lingering, but her body was turned to the ocean. I’m not a night owl and finally just had to know what she was thinking.
“Well, we should probably get you to bed,” I said. “And I want to kiss you but I don’t know if you want that.” Without missing a beat, she threw her arms open and welcomed me toward her.
She kissed me very slowly and intensely, with decisive hands gently commanding my head. Here was the fire! All the ambiguity and “maybe this is a friend hang” and “maybe I’m just a bi-curious pretender” easily melted away as we made out. The drive to Santa Monica suddenly seemed like the smallest inconvenience, and on the walk back to my car, I was giddy and light.
In retrospect, maybe my urge to keep trying all this time was the only sign I needed that my bisexuality was real. I hope I keep seeing Katie, but in any case, I feel as if I got to experience looking at a shooting star for the first time.
The author is one half of a comedy screenwriting team with Lia Woodward. She lives in West Hollywood with her husband, Tim Herrold. She’s on TikTok @newtononmonogamy and Instagram @leahfolta.
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