It might be sold as a "steamy" way to have some fun, but this tacky move on dating apps needs to stop happening.
I'm talking to a woman I just matched with on Tinder.
Things are going well. Her responses are prompt and cheerful, and she seems eager to meet. Then she says something that throws me.
"I showed my husband your pics and he thinks you're very sexy."
Confounded, I shoot back a text to clarify the situation.
"Are you on here to meet friends, or date?" I write.
"For a steamy adventure. And we can't wait to meet you," she pings back, punctuating her message with a smiling devil emoji.
Somehow, I've just stumbled onto a bad '80s porn set, complete with tacky sexual innuendo and a sleazy third party showing up uninvited.
As I'll later discover, this is a concerningly common phenomenon in queer female dating spaces, referred to as "unicorn hunting".
Unicorn hunters are essentially heterosexual couples who creepily stalk apps like Tinder and Bumble, soliciting women for their next threesome. They refer to these women as "unicorns" because, quite frankly, a queer woman who's up for providing unpaid sex work for a bored straight couple is about as mythical as it gets.
It probably won't shock you to learn it's not particularly easy meeting potential suitors as a 30-something gay woman. Attractive, single lesbians in my age group are like level-headed people at a Boxing Day sale.
What makes things far more challenging for women like me, is just how many men invade our dating apps.
If you're a woman who's ever set your Bumble preferences to "women only", chances are high you've been confronted by a profile with a terribly porny bio, like: "Looking for an open-minded girl to play with us."
Typically, the first profile image is swipe-bait: an attractive woman, perhaps dressed seductively, smiling into the camera. The second image usually includes a man. Sometimes it's just a standard couple photo of the two of them; others, it's a pic that looks like it'd be at home on the pages of RedTube – with lots of exposed skin and an oversupply of posed groping.
There's no denying the majority of these profiles are created and managed by men. Not because women aren't into threesomes (admittedly, they're not my jam, though I have plenty of female friends who've dabbled in them) but because they betray an embarrassing lack of understanding about female sexuality.
While exclusively male hook-up app Grindr has become a behemoth thanks to the ease with which it provides men access to no-strings-attached (and often no texting preamble) sex, there's an obvious reason no female equivalent exists.
Research has overwhelmingly shown that for men, arousal occurs reactively. In other words, if a guy sees someone he finds attractive – particularly if that person naked – he's usually good to go. For women however, the desire to have sex is something that happens contextually.
This means it's not enough to simply look at an attractive person – we need to be stimulated with our minds, too. That could look like a romantic date, a flirty texting exchange, or even just feeling comfortable and at ease in a particular situation.
It also requires feeling seen and heard. And few things make a woman feel less visible or significant than being asked to sub in as a sex toy for a sexually frustrated couple.
This is of course not to even touch upon how wildly insulting "unicorn hunter" profiles are to sex workers. Soliciting unpaid sexual services (because, let's face it – that's what unicorn hunting is) invalidates the very real labour sex workers perform, while simultaneously treating women as disposable objects.
The fact these types of profiles exist in queer female dating spaces only adds to their troublesome nature. Besides undermining LGBTQ identities, unicorn hunting feeds into the gross, archaic stereotype gay and bisexual women aren't legitimate – that we essentially exist as a kind of cheeky sexual performance for men.
I say all of this not to judge men who want to sexually experiment in their relationships. I'm a huge proponent of keeping the spark alive by trying new things in the bedroom, and the last person to kink-shame (so long as it's safe, sane, and consensual – you do you, boo).
But, for the love of Oprah, guys; get off lesbian Tinder. It's already tough enough for us gay girls out there without having your exposed pecs pop up in our feeds completely uninvited.