I recently found an old diary and this entry stuck out to me: “All I know is when I think about dating, I like the thought of dating a woman and really can’t be bothered when I think about dating a man.” At the time of writing this, I was ‘straight’, in my 20s and was only dating men. Growing up, I never wanted to get married, I never really wanted to go on dates and really did not understand why people found their partners so irresistible! Sure, I wanted to have kids and I met some guys that would have made amazing partners but that was it. I was not attracted to them. I just put it down to having not found the right guy yet. If I ever went on a date, I had so many reasons why we weren’t compatible, so many reasons…so many excuses.
Finally, in my 30’s, I came out as a lesbian after much soul searching. I aligned my faith with my sexual identity and ventured out into a new dating world. A light was turned on. Suddenly I understood rom-coms. I understood why people wrote gushing love poems, wanted to spend all their time with their partner and fell in love. The world went from black and white to colour and suddenly it all made sense. So I am spending my 30’s, doing what most straight people did in their teenage years and 20s: actually allowing myself to feel attracted to people, getting ‘butterflies’ before a date, feeling excited when a date becomes a second date and having my heart broken.
Starting to date in my 30’s, I realise what I missed as a teenager and in my 20s. Grieving those missed opportunities and missed relationships is important if I want to move on. It’s tough to see straight friends married or confidently dating and you feel like you’re in the baby pool still with armbands. Alongside grieving the years I missed being in a relationship, is the loneliness and frustration at not finding anyone. Many single people, regardless of their sexual identity, can relate to this. Unlike before, I now want to find a partner and I now want to get married. But that doesn’t happen overnight. I need to meet people, I need to give dates an opportunity to see whether they grow or not and I need to learn what I am and what I’m not looking for in a girlfriend.
Despite the grief and heart ache, dating is fun. Meeting new people and the potential for loving and being loved romantically, is exciting. Crucial to me getting my head around this, has been to be part of a Christian LGBT community where I can share my ‘delayed love’ experience. I can ask questions (that at 30ish most people would know the answer to!) or just talk through the mind-blowing amount of emotion that comes with dating people. But also, they share their stories, we all grow and we all feel less alone.