Dating is difficult for anyone. Let alone being stuck in what felt like a 10 year-long pandemic and coming out as non-binary on the other end with less people skills and a whole lot of sexual tension.
I’d like to preface this by saying that each individual has their own relationship with their identity and how they place themselves in the world – in particular, the dating world.
Throughout my years, I’ve definitely dabbled in various forms of dating, from cute dinner dates, to picnics, to cruising, and the odd Grindr hook-up. However, each scenario requires different levels of etiquette and communication, with the former being essential. I’ve always presented femme, whether I wanted to or not. The gods from above gifted me with limp wrists, a frail frame and mannerisms that belong in an episode of Glee (before it went downhill). With this, comes a certain way men treat you. They assume you are one thing (bottom) and not another (top), which, nine times out of ten, can be difficult to prove otherwise.
If I look at my dating history, I see an array of people. Some I’ve loved, lost and missed, while others make me glad to pack up my things and jump in a taxi or run for the last train and get as far away as possible. I’ve noticed one commonality though: men, both straight and gay, seem to fetishize my existence, especially my long brown locks. Men want to touch them, wash them, brush and style them. Don’t get me wrong, this can be cute. But, it’s absolutely given me a Carrie Bradshaw complex; “I couldn’t help but wonder… am I more than my hair?”
At 24, I had a whirlwind romance in Tuscany. He was the textbook ‘romantic comedy’ leading man. Successful, smart, older, handsome and extremely sensual. We developed a wee relationship where I would hop on the back of his vespa and see the sights, to then be led back to his apartment to immerse ourselves in gorgeous consensual sex. One thing became apparent quite quickly and that was that he enjoyed some parts of me but wanted to eliminate others. My kilts and femme sense of style were being forced back into the closet, and I was gifted more ‘traditional’ men’s attire and told, “you’d look better if you dressed more masculine”. Now listen, I’m no psychologist. But perhaps this a way for him to tackle his internalised homophobia/transphobia by sleeping with a person who was the closest thing to a ‘female’ while in public, he felt it necessary to masc me up in order to ensure that others wouldn’t assume his sexuality. I quickly ended that particular affair after he expressed that he wanted me to move in and quit my job so that he could come home to dinner already prepared and me waiting to inquire about his day while being in awe of all his success.
That’s just one example.
Another was on a Grindr hook-up where a man took off my clothes and proceeded to suggest that I must eat too much McDonalds. Such poor form, darl! Lesson one: never comment on anyone else’s body and/or eating habits. Let it be known that this was the occasion where I raced for the last train, realising that this was a bed in which I didn’t want to wake up in.
As I now navigate this dating world as a confident non-binary person, I find myself being asked the question “can you explain what ‘non-binary’ is?” all too often. My answer is usually, “Google it” – in the politest way possible. Although this way of identifying may be new for some, it’s important to set boundaries no matter who you are. It’s not my responsibility to educate others unless they’d like to be.
Say it with me: “We deserve respect, adoration and love”.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to find this – I discuss it with my hetero girlfriends and queer siblings on a weekly basis. How can we demand the respect we deserve while simultaneously enjoying fruitful sexy time? I myself still have a lot to learn, and perhaps therapy will help me navigate this in a healthier way. When we reach our 20s and early 30s, we’re all slipping through each other’s arms trying to do the most we can to ensure that all parties involved are enjoying themselves. So I beg (legit, I beg), that we’re able to have adult conversations with clear communication around what we need.
For my future loves, here is a list on how I’d like to enter a sexual space:
1. Give me time. I can only speak for myself, but previous experiences I’ve gone through have left trauma. I’ll open up once I feel it’s safe to do so. We can’t expect people to divulge everything immediately, no matter how intoxicating or romantic the situation may be.
2. Do your research on those who identify outside of the binary and bring your findings to the table instead of requesting this information for free. Some may still be figuring out how they identify, so it’s imperative that we know that you understand the difficulties we still face on a day-to-day basis.
3. (For both parties), communicate your wants and desires, whether it’s a one-night stand, or alternatively, a gorgeous long-term situation.
4. Don’t! Ever! Tell! Us! How! We! Should! Present! Ourselves! More often than not, we’ve tackled our inner demons in order to come out the other end wearing – in my case – a lovely skirt or a beautifully concealed face.
5. Be kind. This final step should go without saying.
At the end of the day, I love love. I’m a Libra sun, Virgo moon and Capricorn rising which essentially means that I’m an emotional cutie who works hard. And right now, I need to continue doing the work on myself as opposed to doing it for someone else, and the right person will appreciate that. I just need to find them!
I’m excited to enter a less restricted society and enjoy the people around me, build relationships, have sex, and meet a person in a real-life bar instead of on an app (how retro!) Who knows what’s to come, but I’m excited to welcome this next phase of my sexual life with open arms, whilst in a gorgeous kilt.
Stay safe, lovers.