Dear Patrick: How can you tell if someone is really a lesbian or not? I am dating a woman who speaks very passionately about lesbian politics, celebrities, music, history, feminism, etc. But when the sun does down, she always has an excuse to scamper home without taking her jeans off. We have kissed each other a few times, which was hot, but I'm an adult and I want more than a make-out session. She says she loves me, and unfortunately I have gotten very attached to her. But I think I was misguided by my loneliness. She says she just needs more time to get used to being with somebody new. So am I an asshole who is putting too much pressure on a shy girl, or am I being jerked around by a pretender?
No matter how liberal the larger society imagines it has become, lesbians can still be treated with incredible ignorance, harshness, and brutality. So it's kinda hard to understand why anybody would want to fake being a dyke and risk the wrath of homophobes. Given the lower incomes that most women make, there's little financial motivation for a con artist to run a game on an amazon.
I have encountered women who really want to be lesbians, but (to their frustration) don't have a strong sexual response to another woman's body. This may happen because they have encountered inspiring literature about lesbians, taken some women's studies classes, or been exposed to a form of feminism that implies lesbianism is the ultimate form of female revolution and autonomy. Granted, it is pretty cool to see the amazing things that lesbians have achieved. It is a dynamic community with a lot of debate, social change, activism, and art. Not to mention a lot of steamy sex.
Lesbianism can also seem attractive to women who have had bad experiences with men, or women who simply feel very little sexual heat between themselves and potential male lovers. Unfortunately, unless there is an equal and opposite draw toward the female form and lesbian sex, looking for intimacy and passion with another woman is rarely going to be a good solution for a heterosexual or asexual woman.
Does your new girl fit into these categories? HellifIknow. Because there are equally plausible explanations for her apparent reluctance to strip down and get hot and wet with you, explanations that do not involve her mistakenly presenting herself as a dyke. Lesbian propaganda preaches that because one woman knows what another woman enjoys in bed, woman-to-woman sex is automatically easy and hot. Unfortunately, this isn't always true.
It may be that she has experienced abuse or some other trauma, and she is afraid going too far too fast will trigger a flashback or make her arousal evaporate. Abuse survivors can feel a great deal of performance anxiety and need a lot of space togradually feel safe enough for an erotic encounter. Thanks to a culture that denies the reality of violence against women, she may have encountered lovers who were less than supportive. If she has any kind of sexual issue (like difficulty having orgasms or a low libido), that would also tend to make her reluctant to rush into bed, no matter how much she wants you. And, as you point out, being shy is a reality for many of us.
Once upon a time, it was a terrible taboo for any lesbian to have sex with a woman who had never tried lesbian sex before. Bringing somebody out, as it was then labeled, was thought to be irresponsible and wrong. There is still a bit of judgment toward women who reach a certain age without already having their introductory experiences with other women. If she is new to gay sex, she might be reluctant to share that with you, especially if you have made sarcastic comments about women who are new to the community. You might want to do a little inventory of your past behavior. See if you have thoughtlessly voiced any other judgments that might have struck her too close to home.
Pick a time when both of you will be in a good mood, and you don't have to rush to be someplace else in an hour. Tell her how much you want her and ask her, gently and softly, what is going on. Let her know that if you have made any comments that made her feel unsafe with you, you are sorry, and you want to have an open conversation. Ask her to be honest with you, and promise that you will not lose your temper, no matter what she tells you. (Try to keep that promise, please, because even if it turns out that the two of you can't be lovers, you don't want to send her on to the next relationship in even worse shape, do you?)
The only person who can really tell you want is going on is Herself. I hope she will open up and share, and that her obstacle is easy to fix. Perhaps she needs allergy-proof covers on the pillows, or she is afraid she has bad breath. Be kind to her, and you will maximize your chances of getting things moving in a more arousing and satisfying direction. I send you blessings of candor and free-flowing moisture.