dating

Self-consciousness to self-acceptance: January 2020 Carnival of Aces submission

It’s been far too long since I last participated in the Carnival of Aces (you can find my previous submissions all here, though!). The fact that my life has just been in a very happy, sustainable place has meant I’ve stopped doing as much deep introspection on my ace-ness, I guess. I already talked about how the same thing has happened to my drive to talk about my gender as well…

Anyway, I have something today on this month’s topic, so let’s do it!

This month the theme is “Conscious and Unconscious Difference“, which raises the question for me: how has becoming conscious of your ace identity changed your life/choices/etc?

For me, this has been pretty straight-forward: understanding myself as demisexual has allowed me to stop feeling like I was doing something “wrong” because I so rarely felt a spark when I tried dating people. I used to push myself too hard to try to force connections that just weren’t there for me, and that wasn’t fair to me or the people I was seeing.

There were other factors exacerbating the issue at the time that I maybe won’t go into today, but basically I would look around at other people in my life happily casually dating and wonder why it didn’t work for me. It was very freeing to decide that ‘it doesn’t work for me because that’s not how it works for me’ was a good enough reason in and of itself!

I’m the same person I was before making that realization but now I don’t try to fit myself into relationships/dating models that aren’t right for me. It’s all good.

Questions from the search terms: “What to put in a dating bio as someone non-binary?”

It’s time for another question from the search terms! Today I bring you:

What to put in a dating bio as someone non-binary?

Online dating as a non-binary person is definitely a tricky one, and there’s a few different choices you have to make around it. There’s also no wrong answers, so it really depends on your particular preferences and comfort levels, but here are the things you’re going to want to consider:

Most (actually all, as far as I know?) online dating sites and apps require you to sort yourself into one binary gender

Unfortunate, but true. Even options like OKCupid, which has a wide variety of gender identity options beyond man and woman, only lets its users filter for either men or women (or both!), and so they ultimately make non-binary people decide whether we want to be shown to people looking for men or for women (and both is not an option on this end of things…).

So, what’s a non-binary person to do?

I think there’s two main things to consider here:

  1. What are you most comfortable with? If you must be lumped into one binary gender, is there one you feel more ok with being lumped into? For instance, if you are distinctly transmasculine or a demiboy, you might be more comfortable being grouped in with men (or not! Again, there’s no wrong answers here. It’s about what makes you feel least weird or icky, really.)But maybe both options feel equally uncomfortable/comfortable (or maybe it depends on the day? In that case, definitely choose a site that will allow you to change your gender as needed! But I digress…) If both options feel essentially the same to you, you’ll want to ask yourself:
  2. Which option will cause you to be seen by the best potential matches? Online dating is a numbers game, and people get matched up algorithmically. In general, being up-front and honest is the best way to find people who are actually interested in people like you, but stuck between two inaccurate choices, it’s reasonable to pick the one that’ll yield the best results for you. So consider whether someone who is looking for men or for women will be more likely to click through to your profile based on the summary/profile picture when browsing. Or, consider whether the people most likely to click through in each case are more likely to be the kinds of people you *want* clicking on your profile – maybe you know that you tend to get more interest from people who are into women, but you’re more interested in connections from people who will dig you for more manly qualities? Then put yourself in with men and let the chips fall where they may!

OK, but how do I let people know that I’m non-binary?

Some sites do actually let you set your gender as non-binary (or as more specific identities under the non-binary umbrella), and that can be helpful, but you should also be aware that most people browsing the site will gloss over that part of your profile, and may (somewhat reasonably) assume that you ar the gender they clicked on as “searching for”, given that that’s what they asked for.

Unfortunately there’s no way to make sure the people messaging you notice that you’re non-binary, or prevent yourself from getting misgendered. A lot of people take a scattershot approach to online dating and will just fire off the same opening message to anyone the algorithm sends their way without even looking at their profile. More and more dating apps are setting up barriers to this method, requiring mutual ‘likes’ before messages can be sent, but still the scattershot-rangers just go around liking everyone and sending out their form messages as soon as they get a notification of a mutual like.

But, if you’re like me, you can choose to see this as a bit of an advantage. As a non-binary person it will be even easier for you to immediately identify the people who didn’t even give your profile a cursory glance, and avoid wasting your time on them!

The last time I had a dating profile (before I broke up with OKC for good this time, after the insultingly condescending way they tried to phase out usernames (yes, I realize they walked back the policy almost immediately, and you literally can just use any username as your ‘name’, but it was a nail in the coffin for on top of my other ongoing complaints), but I digress again…) I was very upfront about both being non-binary, and that I had no patience with being misgendered.

I’m not on dating sites to do gender 101 with random strangers who just want to get into my pants. I do that work here (and I actually used to link to this blog from my profile, so if anyone was actually genuinley interested in my thoughts on gender, they were right at their fingertips!). I don’t have the exact wording anymore, but if I was writing my “I’m non-binary” disclaimer today, it would be:

In case you missed it at the top of my profile (who reads those anyway?), I am a non-binary person. My pronuons are they/them/their. I don’t date straight people (#sorrynotsorry). I also have a zero tolerance policy on being misgendered by potential dates (that kind of intimacy requires a higher standard than just a rando on the street!), so consider yourself warned!

I try to find a balance between being setting a very clear boundary, while maintaining a conversational/pleasant tone. It’s… hard, and there are people who will automatically read anything you have to say about being non-binary as confrontational or as you being difficult, but if you’re like me, you will also see this as an advantage – these folks will either show themselves the door, or show you their asses immediately, avoiding wasting too much of your time!

Just be direct and honest. You don’t need to write an essay on your genderfeels (though you can if you want! Some people are into that!), and you can gauge your own level of aggressiveness in setting any boundaries you have around being misgendered (or whether you want to date straight people! I know some non-binary people do!), but if it’s important to you that people know youre non-binary before you go on a date with them, just put it out there.

And good luck!

An open letter to OKCupid about the proposed “Real Name” policy

I just heard about this new OKC policy shortly before this post popped into my feed. OKCupid is planning to replace usernames with people’s first names (presumably to be more like Tinder?) There’s a whole pile of reasons why this is a shitty idea, and the Bearded Genderqueer makes the point very clearly here.

The Bearded Genderqueer

Here is a copy of what I wrote in the OKCupid feedback form in response to their proposed policy change that would require real first names instead of custom usernames by the end of 2017.

Dear OKC team,
I’ve been a user since 2004, I met my spouse here, and I’ve had many relationships ranging from casual to long term that started on your site. I love a lot about your site and I am usually a fan of your changes, especially those to reduce unwanted and harassing messages. I’m not the type to complain every time someone releases a new feature, even if I’m not a fan.

However, I sincerely hope that by “real name policy” you don’t mean to police that like Facebook has done to the detriment and harm of transgender people. For many people, the name that everyone knows them by is not the name on…

View original post 351 more words

Question from the search terms: “if i love a nonbinary am i straight?”

Another question from my recent searhc terms:

if i love a nonbinary am i straight?

Mostly my answer to this question is: I don’t know, *are* you straight? Because you’re the only real authority on that!

But that’s not helpful at all, I know. So let me throw some more thoughts at you about this.

I am personally of the belief that people who are attracted to non-binary people in more than a passing way should consider finding a label for hteir sexuality that doesn’t imply they are attracted to only one gender. That is, I am dubious about people who identify as straight, or lesbian, or  otherwise exclusively hetero- or homo-sexual/romantic while also dating, fucking and/or being in love with non-binary people. I think that in doing so, these people are implicitly invalidating their date-mate/fuckbuddy/loved one’s gender identity by rounding it into whichever binary gender they are usually attracted to. I’ve written about this idea more fully before, in fact.

I also understand that this is a complicated thing, and that the real problem with these labels is that the ways in which we currently classify sexual orientations simply can’t reasonably account for non-binary people. Because, realistically, all non-binary people are constantly being perceived as one binary gender or the other, and literally all people who consider themselves exclusively straight or exclusively gay may very well have been attracted to any number of non-binary people without even realizing it, and of course it’s ridiculous (or at least entirely unproductive) to conclude that therefore no one is really straight.

So, person who asked this question, I don’t have a clear answer for you here, other than that you should go with your gut on this – it is possible that regardless of your feelings for this non-binary person, that ‘straight’ really is the best description for the way you experience your sexuality. But if identifying as straight while being in love with a non-binary person seems wrong to you, you can go with your gut on that, too – and there’s plenty of other identities that might feel more comfortable to you, maybe you’re heteroflexible, maybe you’re bi, or maybe you’re most comfortable with queer.

I hope this helps!

Brief thought: dating and ‘types’

In general, when you look at the group of people I have seriously dated (and/or been seriously into but maybe never dated), there’s really no discernible physical ‘type’ of people I am into. My dating history has been exclusively white (and my being-into-people history is primarily, though not exclusively, white as well); a function of racism and white supremacy that I am complicit in enough that my social circles have consistently been pretty overwhelmingly white. But that’s about the only through-line I can identify.

And this makes a lot of sense, given that I am demisexual – although I develop an attraction to people’s features once I am close to them, their looks aren’t the initial draw and whatever qualities do initially draw me to people aren’t correlated with physical appearance, so that’s pretty much that.

I have noticed, though, that in a minor way I do have a sort of type; it’s just that it has shifted in various ways throughout my life. The pattern is clear though: when I am partnered I experience a sort-of attraction to other people who look like my partner(s) in various ways.

I say sort-of, because it’s really a very shallow attraction – scratch the surface and you’ll find me just as uncertain about my desire to be intimate with these people as I am about any other random person. But there is a veneer of something that appears, nevertheless.

I don’t actually have any serious thoughts about this, right now. It’s mostly just an interesting observation (er, I hope it’s interesting, anyway?)

I’d definitely be interested to hear from other demi/grey-ace/otherwise ace spectrum people who sometimes experience sexual or romantic attraction though! Is this an experience I share with other people?

If you’re into me, then you’re not straight: Orientations and attractions to non-binary people

Non-binary people are a weird position in the dating world (ok, I mean, we’re in a pretty weird position all the time to be honest. But anyway, today I’m talking about the dating world). This is true in a bunch of ways, and I’ve written about some of them before, but today I’m looking at the ways in which people talk about sexual and romantic orientation is often non-binary exclusionary.

So, for instance, as an enby person who is pretty regularly perceived as a woman, straight-identified dudes are sometimes attracted to me. They usually don’t magically stop being attracted to me when they find out I’m non-binary, either (much as I might love for it to work that way).

To me, it seems pretty clear that these people are not actually straight then, since they are attracted to people of more than one gender, and not just the other binary gender. Attraction to more than one gender falls pretty clearly under the umbrella of bisexuality (which includes plenty of identities that aren’t strictly bisexual).

the_bisexual_umbrella_by_drynwhyl-d4gq9ji

Simultaneously, though, these folks are also technically still heterosexual, because they’re only attracted to genders different from their own. Such is the difference between straightness and heterosexuality, I guess. All we learn from this is that you can be bi without being same-gender attracted, which means bi and hetero aren’t (again, technically) mutually exclusive identities. Cool?

I’m actually not terribly fussed about the idea of straight, gay and/or lesbian people occasionally being attracted to enbies, without questioning their identities around that. Plenty of monosexuals people have one or two exceptions in their lives, I guess? And if you’re not really acting on them, then whatever.

I’ve dated people, though, who have continued to identify as straight even while dating me. And I have… complicated feelings about this. On the one hand, by and large I am actually talking about people who were/are in hetero ‘primary’ relationships who absolutely benefit from straight(-passing) privilege. And I both empathize with and actually appreciate it when folks in this sort of situation feel iffy about identifying as anything other than straight, because they don’t want to appropriate LGBTQ struggles. This is a pretty good instinct, to be honest.

But you don’t actually have to have faced struggles, or even be out, to be LGBTQ. And the thing is, people who date non-binary people and still identify as straight (or gay, or lesbian), even if they are doing so based on a well-meaning, privilege-acknowledging instinct? They’re contributing to non-binary erasure. If you are into me, and still identify as straight, you’re basically saying that my gender isn’t real, or at least isn’t important enough to acknowledge; you’re saying that it doesn’t ‘count’ in the context of your orientation. I am the unstated footnote, the silent asterisk to your identity.

And that’s a shitty fucking position to be in.

So, to all the straight- (or otherwise hetero-*)identifying men and women who are dating, or have dated, or are open to dating non-binary people, I am issuing you a challenge.

Let go of that straight identity for a while. Accept that you are not just attracted to the gender that your identity implies, and really sit with the implications of that. Think about what it would feel like to think see yourself as fitting under the broad LGBTQ umbrella. You can dip into the shallow end of the pool and just admit that you’re heteroflexible. Or you can go whole hog and embrace the idea that you are, after all, kinda bisexual, or even outright queer. I don’t know what works for you.

I want you, particularly, to consider the idea that maybe your discomfort with identifying as anything other than straight might be because you are a victim of bi+ erasure. And I want to let you know that the messaging you’ve received about what is means to be bisexual, or to be queer, are wrong. I want you to know that you do belong under that umbrella; we have room for you here.

And I also want you to ensure you understand that your straight identity invalidates and erases the many other beautiful people of beautiful genders to whom you may be attracted. So, in this weird ourobouros kind of a way, by identifying as non-LGBTQ, you are failing as an LGBTQ ally. Or, less paradoxically, (especially since some of the straight people I’m talking to right now are trans, and already LGBTQ) by not identifying as LGBQ, you are failing pretty terribly as a non-binary ally.

I actually feel weird about asking you to do any of this; I’m not the kind of person who questions how other people identify, and I don’t really think it’s my business. Wherever you land is up to you, obviously. But I also think these are things you need to consider all of these things before you make that call.

And, I guess what I’m really saying is:

Image is of a spherical light brown cat with a devil tail, with taxt "Join usssss we're adorable"


*I’m letting non-binary-attracted gay and lesbian-identifying folks off the hook for now, because of reasons?

Comment-related CW: comments contain references to naked bodies, and draw connections between bio-sex and sexual orientations. I think the ppints made are legit enough to stand, but for sex-repulsed and bodily dysphoric readers, please tread carefully here <3

Dating while feminist

Relevant to some of y’all’s interests!

For those that enjoy my various and sundry social justice-y thoughts on dating, and especially online dating, check out datingwhilefeminist, which is written by past (and hopefully future) Valprehension guest blogger Spice.

You can also follow her general awesomeness on the Twitter @thepurplecoffee

How does your gender factor in to your future plans? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 18

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: How does your gender factor in to your future plans?

Gender always factors in my future plans at least to the extent of whether or not I plan to be out about my gender in x, y, or z context, and if so, when. Speaking of which, I am now 2/3 of the way through my probation at my current job, so maybe as soon as a couple of months from now? I am also considering waiting until next year’s Trans Day of Visibility, but that may just be a procrastination tactic on my part. We’ll see?

But yeah. I mean, I feel like I might be harping on this a bit and all (though maybe I am harping more in my head than in writing, so it may bear repeating here after all), but the place where my gender looms largest for me in terms of future plans is around this whole thing where I am really hoping to find someone who wants to raise kids with me.

The thing is that while I am open to a totally platonic arrangement in this regard (and can even see some advantages to such a thing), I also now that most people aren’t. Most people are actually pretty attached to getting their romantic (and sexual) and family-making needs/desires met in one package.

Which means I am thinking a lot about how my gender impacts my current and future date-ability. And it kinda sucks. Trawling OkCupid for people who are open about wanting kids is some depressing shit. I usually keep my searches open to those who set their settings both to “wants kids” and “might want kids”, but the honest truth is that all of the patience I may ever have had for people who might maybe want to have kids at some magical future ‘someday’ got used up a long fucking time ago. When people are in their freaking thirties and still dicking around on “I don’t know. Maybe?” on a question like that, I just fucking can’t. (And I mean, look, I don’t actually mean to criticize you if this describes you. You get to not now what you want, or you get to be unsure about whether it is possible for you fit kids into your life, or whatever else. Just, we would not be compatible right now, because you would make me crazy, is all.)

And then there’s the fact that even the folks who say they want kids are very often straight. I am sure I have no shot with straight women. I do with straight men, but the idea of dating straight dudes gives me pre-emptive dysphoria at this point, to be honest. The risk of being made to feel invisible, incomprehensible, and/or just generally like shit is too high.

And of course, even if I did want to to risk all of that, I know that plenty of folks wouldn’t want to date me anyway because of my gender. or they would want to, but maybe they would make me a secret or misgender me behind my back because they didn’t want to be out about having a trans partner or whatever? I mean, I know a lot of this is useless anxiety-brain speculation, but also these are real things that people do, and I am not even remotely capable of handling that kind of bullshit right now.

In my worst moments, I have honest-to-goodness considered a sort of detransition. If I just say I’m a woman, than my prospects would open up. I could be less difficult, and require less work from potential partners. I could date people who don’t care about social justice, I guess.

Except of course I don’t want any of that. Of course I don’t want to date someone who would not date me if I was honest about who I am. And of fucking course I don’t want to raise kids with someone who doesn’t understand social justice issues.

And even if I was willing to make that many compromises, the thing is that every time I think about it, it is clear to me that I can’t. I can’t go back to pretending to be a woman. It would destroy me.

So here I am.

I kind of got away from the original prompt there, maybe, but anyway, yeah, these are the things I think about when I think about my gender and my future.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Rethinking what works

A problem I am having right now: even though I am feeling a very strong urge to be *doing* things to move toward the life I want to be living (specifically with respect to the building-a-family part of that), because I always feel less anxious about things when I am actively taking control of the things I can control, I also just, like, really, really (really) am not into the idea of dating.

Part of this is almost certainly that I just need to be nice to myself; I am still very much in the midst of healing from having my marriage end, and that is taking up a lot of emotional bandwidth, and it will tke time tomove through that.

But I also know that there has never been a time when the prospect of dating actually seemed exciting to me. It is just stressful to think about really, almost all the time.

To clarify: by ‘dating’ here I don’t even really mean ‘pursuing romantic relationships’ in general – actually hanging out with and developing relationships with people I like is great and not stressful. It’s the part where I go on first dates with people that I don’t know how I am going to feel about that I hate.

Ok, I mean, maybe most people hate that? I guess what I mean is more, like, it just straight-up doesn’t work, because that kind of dating doesn’t give me the emotional space I need to connect with people in the first place, somehow?

And I actually read a thing recently that threw thse feelings into relief for me. It’s a comment from this reddit thread:

Dating isn’t for everyone, I think. It definitely wasn’t for me. Friend-to-relationship is the only thing that’s ever worked for me

Which, like, this both does and does not apply to me. I don’t really need to have a developed friendship with someone first, and I don’t even think that’s the ‘best’ thing for me, but I kind of think that *all* of my romantic relationships (even with people I met on OKCupid) have come from a place where on first meeting the person, I wasn’t really looking for something romantic necessarily.

My first two romantic relationships were with people I had known for years. Then there’s my ex-spouse, who I met on OKC, but I wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time (oops). I had another short relationship with someone I’d known for years. I met another person on OKC (again, with a very “well, whatever” attitude going in). And my current boyfriend I met at party for a mutual friend.

…I don’t even really know what I’m saying here. The main point I wanted to make, though:

For whatever reason, reading the above quote suddenly made me give myself permission to reconsider the way I’ve been trying to think about approaching finding new partners. It’s ok for me to say “this approach doesn’t work for me”. That’s ok.

I hate that it takes someone else saying it openly and with self-acceptance for me to also accept that in myself, but it did.

Anyway, I think that for now I will be focusing my energies on doing things that let me expand my social circles and meet new people in non-dating contexts. And I’ll probably be taking even that slowly for now.

And I’m writing it down because I’m more likely to remember it this way.

Dating while genderqueer: I’m torn

There is a thing I see a lot in dating-related online spaces and real life events that makes me uncomfortable. But I can’t decide whether I outright condemn the practice or not.

This concerns non-binary people and the ways in which we navigate the often overtly binarist mechanisms of organized date-finding spaces (for lack of a better term?) Again and again, I see (afab) non-binary people responding to ads from people explicitly seeking female partners or women (depending on how they choose to word it), specifying that they are afab and checking to see whether they count or qualify or whatever. It is possible that amab enby folx do this as well, but I haven’t really seen it so I can’t say.

And this icks me out. On more than one level, really, and the levels actually contradict each other. Because it feels like these people’s thought process may actually be “well, I have a vagina so maybe that’s must be close enough” or something. And that’s sad and fucked up in multiple ways.

On the one hand, I feel your pain, fellow enbies trying to figure out who might want to date you in a binarist world – OKC only tells me whether people are interested in men and/or women, and unless they make a point of mentioning in their profile (rare), there’s no way for me to know how they will respond to an enby like me.

But on the other hand, can we like, just *not* contribute to the idea that if someone says they are into women, that means they are into people with vaginas? Because that is cissexist on so many levels. It is flat out transmisogynistic to equate those concepts.

I know that a lot of the people who say they are into women really do mean they are only into vaginas, and that’s why you want to clarify. But here’s the thing: why the fuck would you want to date someone who is that cissexist? Do you really believe they won’t misgender you? Do you really want to enable someone else’s transmisogyny?

Because you really, really shouldn’t.