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Probably because I’m a sex writer, I think a lot about how we talk about desire, love and identity in the digital space. And I know I’m not alone – by now, there’s a general consensus that we don’t really talk honestly about our experiences or wants online anymore. Maybe it’s forced algospeak or the overuse of emojis, but genuine human connection online has been worsening by the day.

As a result, we only seem to be able to talk about love, sex and relationships online in ways that are extremely orthodox and which, as a result, strip away the complexity and contradictions which make our own experiences so unique to us.

Perhaps one of the biggest casualties from this era of “seggs talk” has to be Tumblr. Throughout the 2010s, it was a space which allowed sex, culture and social media content to co-exist – one of the last corners of the internet where sexual content wasn’t cordoned off and treated like something nasty and infectious. You could work out what you liked in a low-pressure, semi-anonymous environment and without feeling as if you were doing something wrong. As of 2018, when the platform banned sex content and introduced new moderation guidelines, we lost that resource.

Breaking down the straight/queer binary

The decline of Tumblr, ironically, coincided with the period when I needed it most – a time when my thoughts about myself and how I relate to the world changed drastically. Tired of the daily imposition of gendered pronouns – and with my online community for support quickly dwindling – my shaky hands typed out the words ‘pronouns: they/them’ beneath my work email signature.

Curious about how to follow more meandering routes of how I can form relationships, I picked up my first copy of The Ethical Slut. And, of course, I downloaded Feeld for the first time – a dating app which felt capacious enough for the experimentation I needed, and provided the community I very much craved.

Over years of browsing, pings and dates (with singles and couples alike) Feeld has proven itself as a space for the kind of exploration and candour that seems so absent from other places online. It’s a digital space where I can roam, without the weight of preconceptions, to move along new avenues and come into contact with people I never would have otherwise. Through the hours I’ve logged on the app, I’ve been able to learn more about identity, often via personal bios with a considered understanding of each individual’s unique desires – rather than the playing it safe platitudes we see on social media.

For me, it’s been life-changing. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I was always looking for a label that I could rally behind, something which could iron out the wrinkles in my identity – and the need to present a consistent, easy to comprehend idea of myself online and on dating apps didn’t help. I’d brush off occasional attraction to straight men and instead focussed on the women and queer people who I found within LGBTQIA+ venues and dyke-centred community spaces.

I felt like the corners of my identity were unruly, a betrayal of who I really was. But Feeld showed me that attraction isn’t always clear cut or easy to define – it’s allowed to be ambiguous. By being present on the app, I was able to witness the sincere use of terms like “heteroflexible” and, in my case, “homoflexible” and to finally speak in unfiltered ways to people who bordered on the extremities of the Kinsey Scale. Slowly, I found a way to unite the edges of who I am, with the whole.

I was able to test the waters, no longer filtering my gender preference and instead exploring the whole pool of users and opening up opportunities to speak to them, even if it went nowhere further than a few nights of heartfelt life story exchanges. Unsure of how I might feel meeting straight men for a date one-on-one, I met up with female and male couples and then two bi men in a long-term relationship. Nervously batting my eyelashes over a couple of pints, I was able to slowly come to the realisation that chemistry is chemistry – regardless of gender.

While it sounds remedial, this was a key change in attitude. Rejecting the absolutism which can be rife in the dyke community, I was able to appreciate that my attraction to people of any gender doesn’t make me a failed queer. My previous fears that my community would reject me if I pursued a more expansive dating roster was nothing but internalised biphobia.

I’m proof that even the most experimental among us, the ones who pride themselves on being open-minded, can carry shame around our sexual identity. And Feeld was an important part of shrugging off mine. Through the diverse group of people I was able to flirt with, people I would never feel confident enough to approach IRL, it allowed me to work through the concerns that I was “too queer” for men and no longer “queer enough” for dyke-centred identities.

Finally, I was able to embrace the fact that my identity is fluid and no one definitive thing – and I could only do that within an environment where the binary between straight and queer had been broken down, and where those worlds had been brought together.

Beyond the binary, and you

And, apparently, I’m not the only one to feel this way. The binary is being broken down more each day as people embrace a state of fluidity and transformation. I’m excited to see that change is everywhere – like the 62% of Feeld members who evolve their sexuality, interests, and desires within their first year on the app.

Similar to me, the app has provided users with the chance to expand their dating horizons and rewrite the scripts on love, sex and gender. From my perspective, these personal revelations are likely a result of the affirming app culture: it’s a rare space where you can have your desires seen and validated without ever being told you are too much or too little of anything.

A message from Feeld: Based on feedback from our valued Members, we recently launched major updates to the Feeld app. These updates encompassed every aspect of the product, including design and technology, in order to better support our growing community.

We’re so grateful to the Feeld community for their patience as we worked to resolve issues that impacted our Members’ experience. We’re excited to provide a host of improved features to help meet our Members’ needs, and know that Feeld will continue listening and learning as we grow with and for our community.

Tap here to download Feeld, where desire is truly fluid.