Sometimes, dating as a queer woman honestly feels like a rigged lottery. Navigating fetishization and the hookup world in an already smaller dating pool is exhausting — it can be so tempting to just settle.
And over time, I’ve realized that sharing the same kinks with someone does not mean the rest of our personalities are going to match up. I’ve had to learn this lesson more times than I can count.
I was in a pretty long relationship that started with hooking up. As we got more comfortable with one another, we began adding to our sex life. We went out to shop for dildos, butt plugs and collars. We talked about safe words, kinks, fantasies, everything. We switched between dom and sub, explored ice and rope. Most nights of the week, we stayed up late into the night sexting or fucking or just talking about what we wanted to try next.
Our communication in the bedroom was electric, but outside of it, we just didn’t know how to talk to each other. But because we were young and didn’t know any other kinky queer women near us, we kind of just … settled. Spending time with one another wasn’t fun or fully loving anymore. We fell into a rut of just watching Netflix, putting off calls and only having “How was your day?” to say.
And that started to seep into the bedroom. We weren’t happy with one another most of the time, so we slowly stopped fucking and sexting. And even when we did, it started feeling more and more like an obligation rather than a genuine expression of love and intimacy.
Eventually, we broke up mutually (Thank God for respectful and kind people!) and went our separate ways. But this was not the only time I experienced this form of disconnect in my life.
At a party, I met a woman and started dancing with her. I don’t remember the next five minutes, but before I knew it, we were making out against the bathroom wall. I asked her back to my place, and we proceeded to have one of the best hookups of my life. The sex was mind-blowing and lasted multiple rounds and countless orgasms. We tied one another up, took turns fucking each other with a strap and tried new positions. My favorite was being sat on her lap while she fingered me — I nearly lost my damn mind, I was writhing so hard.
But we just didn’t mesh otherwise. She was waaaaay too into astrology for me — quote: “Oh, our signs don’t match up, so we’re gonna have problems … but that’s OK. I’ll make it work for you.” Well, that wasn’t all. She also told me (two weeks after we’d met and started fucking) that she was both in love with and addicted to me. Where had all the fun and the no-strings-attached agreement we’d made earlier gone?
I tried to prolong our dating for as long as I could withstand it, rationalizing that she was just joking or that I was overreacting. I’d had such a long dry spell before her that I just wanted to hold someone and fuck and be fucked. I thought to myself, “If our kinks match up so well, why shouldn’t our personalities?” Of course, that didn’t last long. We just didn’t understand each other, and that soon became apparent. I was getting tired of pretending that everything was all right and changing my whole personality to match the person I am in bed.
I’d fallen into the trap of idolizing how well our sexual interests matched in favor of my other needs in any sexual or romantic relationship. Settling becomes tempting when it’s agonizingly difficult to find another queer person not in my friend group — let alone trying to find someone who also matches my kinky side.
Just because I enjoy being dominant doesn’t mean anyone who is a sub will automatically be perfect for me. Vice versa for subs, and switches, and any other sexual identities or positions. I’m not going to be purely dominant or submissive in every aspect of my life; that would just be exhausting and unfair to the multiple layers of my personality. (No shade to those who live in master/mistress-submissive 24/7; it’s not for me, but I respect your hustle.)
Kinks and romantic needs are not one and the same. They definitely overlap, but just because someone fucks you good and in exactly the way you crave, it doesn’t mean that their love language or personality meshes with yours. I know it’s hard to discern between the two — especially because women’s sexual needs often go so ignored that having a partner who cares about you orgasming is like finding lost treasure. But as important as they are, orgasms shouldn’t replace whatever other needs you have.
It might seem impossible to find someone who satisfies all aspects of you. But you just gotta wait. In the meantime, love yourself and give yourself orgasms. Go out and date and have fun. Just be critical of and careful for yourself when it feels like you’re rationalizing away your gut instincts.
Astrid Liu writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected].