How To Date Without Boundaries, According To Author Madeleine Gray

how we're dating now
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What has your dating life been like?

'I’m bisexual. My first partner was a classic scenario: the first lesbian you meet you fall into a relationship with. We were together for five years. It was really good and it taught me a lot. After that I had my… Promiscuous is probably a derogatory term, but I reclaim it. It was years of dating many people, both men and women.'

This ‘messy, unboundaried’ dating is something you write about.

'My dating life has followed the trajectory of dating apps. The way they’re structured means it’s so much easier to hurt a lot of people on minor levels all the time. There’s no accountability. There are two sides to it: it opens up incredible possibilities to have really diverse experiences, but it can also be really alienating and sad.'


In what way?

'It’s the accretion of situationships that have no clear boundaries, so when they don’t work out you don’t know if that’s actually OK. Were you ever owed anything more than that? The main feeling that I experienced was a profound sense of grief, but of an amorphous kind, because you don’t know where to direct any of the sadness since it’s no one’s individual fault. I was in a desultory state and completely gave up on finding a life partner… And then, out of the blue, I met this woman and it was just immediately clear that we didn’t want to ever be apart from each other.'

What’s your current romantic set-up?

'I actually got engaged two weeks ago. I met my partner Bertie when I interviewed her at her book launch – and now here we are almost two years later, very much in love.\

Was marriage something you wanted?

'In Australia, where we live, same-sex marriage only became legal in 2017. I’d never thought it was for me and, in many ways, it’s such an outdated patriarchal construct. But the idea of having a ceremony to mark love is actually really beautiful.'

Green Dot is about a bisexual woman who dates a man – why did you want to centre that story?

'First, there’s not very much bisexual female representation in fiction. And when there is, their sexuality is referred to, but the story never goes into what it means to be a bisexual woman who is in a relationship that appears to be straight. I’ve experienced it, and it’s really strange.'

What is that experience like?

'Being queer is very much part of my identity. When I would date men, people would assume I was straight, and that felt like a betrayal. The way the world reacted to me with a man as opposed to a woman on my arm was really disconcerting. I had internalised that it was normal to always be wary when you’re on the street with your partner, because when you’re with a woman you have to deal with that all the time – men whistling at you and asking for a threesome. I wanted to write a character who experienced that dissonance between what you feel like inside and how society treats you. When this huge part of my identity was nulled, at least optically, that was upsetting.'

Do you think that dissonance in part influenced you choosing to be with a woman now?

'Yeah. I’m attracted to both men and women – I still think Pedro Pascal is hot. But my politics align more with being in a same-sex relationship. I know you can be a feminist and be straight, but I have the luxury of choice, and being with another woman feels like more like gliding into understanding each other, as opposed to the friction that I sometimes felt with straight men.'

Has the dating scene changed over the last few years?

'Massively. Homophobia is still a big thing in parts of Australia, but far less so. It used to be a political, nerve-wracking statement to be in a queer, female relationship. In my early twenties, I was a debating coach at a girls school. The students would ask about my boyfriend, and I didn’t tell them I was with a woman. I’d internalised that trope of the ‘lesbian predator’. Now, I will proudly tell everyone about my partner and not worry about what their view will be. And if they do have a reaction that’s negative, I’ll hold them accountable.'

‘Green Dot’ by Madeleine Gray (£18.99, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) is out now.

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