Sleeping with the Enemy: On Women Dating Women While Still Viewing Them as Competition

a pink measuring tape on a wavy patterned white cloth background
Image by gina pina / CC BY

“Keep your top on,” she said.

“Sure,” I said, dropping my arms to my sides and then quickly wrapping them around her waist. And as we kissed, I moved my hands up her torso, feeling her body through her shirt. Her chest had its own topography. Subtle places where she came in. Went out.

We certainly had different shapes. But I loved hers as much as my own. Even more so, really. Some would call her flat chested, but that would be wrong. She had plenty of curves and dimensions. Hers were just less readily apparent to a casual observer. But that was the thing, you see: The way I observed her was anything but casual.

I would have known her body with my eyes closed.

“You can take my shirt off,” she said. I smiled, started to slide her shirt off, undid the back of her bra. I half-gasped as it fell away from her, revealing her bare chest. God, she was beautiful.

“But please,” she said. “Keep your top on.”

She Kept Comparing Our Bodies

Her aversion to my breasts was disappointing. But it didn’t come as a surprise, really.

I’d seen her wincing when I’d undressed in front of her, the way that friends often do. Quickly, casually.

And once we’d become something more than friends, I couldn’t help but note the way she pointedly avoided my breasts. They weren’t destinations but obstacles, a large barrier between her and feeling secure about her own.

It didn’t matter how many times I told her I loved her small breasts. How much attention I lavished upon them, her.

She thought she was deficient. Incomplete somehow. There was no getting around it.

Real-Life Comparison Isn’t Quite Like the Skinemax Fantasy

I cringed for years whenever I’d hear jokes told by others (usually men) about girls comparing breast sizes at slumber parties. A kind of soft-hued lipstick lesbian Skinemax fantasy. Something for boys to jack off to. Sensual and soft.

Because I couldn’t see that kind of comparison as so lighthearted. There was an undercurrent of comparison and competition in nearly every early sexual encounter I had with other girls. Looking back, I think it’s how we all convinced ourselves that what we were doing was okay.

We had an understanding that what we were doing to one another didn’t “count,” really. We weren’t gay — or even bi. It was just practice for boys. What we were doing was transitory, something we experimented with on our way to “real sex,” straight sex. On the way to the men who would end up being our providers, the father of our children. This was just a phase.

But it didn’t end up being that way for me. I was mystified when I started kissing boys and found it really no better or more magical than kissing girls, something I had been doing for years.

Unless you were really excited about having children (which I wasn’t), there didn’t seem to be much of a compelling reason that being physical with boys was any better. And in fact, I found I preferred women.  So I went back to focusing on what had before seemed like it was “practice for boys.” Only now it counted. It counted a lot.

And it was precisely when I realized that I loved women that I stopped viewing them as competition. I wasn’t heterosexual, after all. My same sex adventures weren’t practice or a show for boys. Other women were prospects. Women weren’t obstacles; women were the goal.

When I went to bed with them, I became absorbed in the love I felt — and the desire — and I stopped doing things like comparing our thighs. Our hips. Our breasts.

Don’t get me wrong. I still had the standard societally reinforced neuroses about body image. But those thoughts would vanish when I was in bed with a beautiful woman. I’d become too focused on her to worry about my own body.

But sadly, many of my lovers never got to that place.

Sleeping with the Enemy

“It’s been really interesting dating other women,” she says.

My friend is what I sometimes call a baby bi. She’s long experienced attraction to other women but for whatever reason never took the leap. Until recently.

“What I wasn’t expecting,” she says, “is how much it’s making me really examine how I’ve related to other women. My whole life. The weird competition.”

I nod. “It’s a trip, isn’t it?”

She nods. “It really is.” She pauses, before adding, “In some ways, it feels really strange to date other women. Literally like sleeping with the enemy.”

I laugh.

“But I suppose dating women might help me get past those issues. Stop looking at other women as the enemy and more like allies. I hope so anyway.”

I smile. I hope so, too, I think. But before I have a chance to gather my thoughts and really explain my feelings on the matter, she starts telling me a funny story about an acquaintance, and we never get back to it.


Books by Page Turner:

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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