Two Sense: Why Are My Lesbian Friends Mad That I Don't Want to Be Monogamous?


Everyone I know assumes that lesbians are hot for monogamy, but all I want to do is play around. I’m in my early 30s and nowhere near ready to settle down. I get so much grief from my circle of lesbian friends about this, or when I meet a new woman and she asks my “relationship history.” At this age, I feel I deserve the same right to casual sex that gay men—and for that matter, straight single women—do, but my circle of women isn’t buying it. Don’t’ get me wrong, there are always ladies ready to hook up late at night, but it is not acceptable to openly talk about it, never mind celebrate it like the guys do. I spent the first 20 years of my life pretending to be straight, and now I feel I have to pretend to be monogamous. Help.

He Said: There's the old joke that lesbians show up on a first date driving a U-Haul. And of course there is some truth to the stereotype. Biologically, women tend to be more oriented to finding a mate than a series of f-buddies. However, biology is not destiny, and a lot of modern women are eager to hook up before setting down (or, even better, to spice things up while they are settled). There is very little risk and lots of reward: Women who have sex with women are the group least likely to contract HIV and other STDs.

This is a simple case of peer pressure. As much as the gay community has distanced itself from the schoolmarms who arbitrarily attempt to control the behavior of others, we sometimes adhere to our own version of anti-sex social stigma. (Gay men sometimes do the opposite of your friends, raising eyebrows when a male friend turns down sexual opportunities, as if there is something wrong with monogamy.) There are two ways of changing the repressive attitude you are encountering, and they work well in tandem. Reach out to a more sexually progressive set of friends to supplement your own, and firmly inform your own circle that for the time being, you are more interested in promiscuity, although you have not foreclosed the idea of monogamy—or some mixture therein—later on in life. After all, one state of affairs often leads quite naturally to the other.

She Said: You have a point. When I look around at my dozen or so lesbian friends, I do tend to see more monogamy and a more discreet attitude about hooking up. They definitely don’t spend as much time as the boys do geo-locating potential f-buddies with various heat-seeking apps. Oh, biology.

But I also find it hard to believe that your friends’ opinions are as steadfast, or even as serious, as you make them seem. Isn’t there one single girl in the bunch who could be your wing-woman? Or a previously adventurous friend you could enlist to side with you on the pleasures of youthful romping? Lighten up a little. So what if you’re the only one hooking up? Play the “slut mascot” with grace and humor. Let your friends frown or lecture you all they want. Laugh it off, go hook up again, and report back. It’s good practice for your 40s anyway—when, I assure you, you will stop worrying about what anyone thinks of you.

If this laissez-faire approach causes genuine friction, then scale down your expectations. Our friends silently judge us all the time. They just usually are polite enough to keep it to themselves. When we do notice their disapproval, or the ways in which we’re not “on the same page,” each party tends to adjust their behavior a little. If you get too much grief about your sex life, do what humans have done since the dawn of civilization, whether straight, gay, male, female, married, or single: Keep it private. Eventually, you’ll want to find a few new friends who share your values, but there’s no need to toss anyone out, or attempt to change them.

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