There's a phrase I've heard over and over in the lesbian community, that seems to be the underlying reason for everything we do: "We're lesbians. It's complicated." Whether it be moving in together, sleeping with our exes, or the rampant gossip among our circles of friends, we lesbians seem to be rife with drama. There are times when I embrace this as merely a side-effect of massive amounts of estrogen, but lately I've been thinking that sometimes the drama overpowers common sense and reason.
Here's the thing that I think we forget: NOT EVERY WOMAN IS A POTENTIAL DATE. Read that line again.
As women, we are relational creatures, and need friends in our lives. Unfortunately, both our best friends and our most passionate lovers look very much the same. Unlike our heterosexual counterparts, who find friends and lovers in opposite genders, we must decipher from body language and chemistry and feelings and attraction whether a woman we meet could be a partner or a pal.
I believe that many lesbian women fall into the trap of allowing the first option to be the default. They see everyone woman as a possibility, and if it doesn't work, well, then we could be friends. This is faulty logic. It can lead to damaged friendships (or potential friendships) and heartache when we try to have relationships that we've failed to evaluate. If they had waited a little longer, gone out a few more times, they would have realized that it wasn't going to work. But now someone's broken someone's heart, it will be awkward for a while when everyone hangs out. Purely hypothetical situation, of course.
I propose an alternative. I believe that the best model is to view every woman we meet as a potential friend. This way, we will take the time to get to know her and evaluate how she best fits in our lives. Also, we wouldn't have to deal with petty jealousies - we could have friendships with women we meet, even if they have girlfriends! I also think that it will open more people to friendships, because there wouldn't be that awkward she likes me, but I don't like her... does she think this is a date or are we just friends? Granted, that's also due to lack of communication in the lesbian dating process. But that's an article for another time.
The best result of this approach is that the relationship which due flourish will be that much stronger because they originated as friendships. I heard a quote a long time ago that I've used often but never properly attributed (because I don't know who originally said it), but it's become one of my favorites: "Love is friendship on fire." The best foundation for a lasting relationship is friendship. Passion waxes and wanes, but the stability of the trust, respect, and love of a friendship will keep us strong through the hard times.
It can be hard to change our mentalities, especially when we're single. I would encourage each of us, though, to pay attention to our reactions when we meet new women. Do you scope them out and immediately rate them as a potential partner? I know I do sometimes. If you're like me, let's start thinking more about the friendships that we can develop with other lesbian women. As we develop a network of friends who truly care about us and love us, we will have a built-in support group that can help us through any storm life (and drama!) may bring us.