Dating while Non-binary

Griffon doesn’t know about the genderqueer thing. I’m still not really confident enough to discuss it. I keep thinking that maybe I’m wrong. Or appropriating the title. Or maybe it’s just a phase or an idea that I’ve twisted around. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, just in case. These ideas are on my mind, but every time I quiet my insecurities down and actually think about my experiences and self-image, I know that I would be lying to  say that I’ve ever fully identified as female. Maybe I will someday. Just like how someday I might stop being attracted to women or develop a sex drive or decide that I want to create tiny humans in my torso. It doesn’t seem likely, but I can’t deny that it’s possible. And that possibility shadows any potential conversation.

Plus, Griffon is a heterosexual man. I don’t think he’d stop being attracted to me if I told him that I’m non-binary, but I can’t really predict what it would mean for our relationship. Obviously he’s not captivated by traditional gender expression, since I cut my hair short and wear men’s clothing and forego make-up (except on special occasions). From my perspective, not much would change, I’d stay the same person with the same habits and hobbies, except I’d be able to wear my binder sometimes. From his perspective, I have no idea. Honestly, I don’t even feel like I have a comprehensive understanding of gender. I don’t feel particularly tethered to any gender, there’s no gender that I find particularly attractive, all the nonsense about gender roles and expectations has always seemed pointless to me. I’m not trying to seem particularly “enlightened,” in fact, I feel the opposite. Knowledge that comes easily to so many people seems totally beyond my grasp.  As such, I feel completely unqualified to guess what telling my heterosexual male partner that “I’m not *really* a “woman” per se, at least, not all the time,” will mean to him.

Relationship-wise, I don’t like feeling as though I’m hiding things from my partners, and I know they don’t like having things hid from them. Functionally, I want to be able to wear my binder without feeling like I have to change out of it to be around him, lest I  accidentally blindside him into a conversation that neither of us is prepared for.

Things I Don’t Understand

Things I’ve been thinking about lately that I just don’t get. I’m going to talk candidly about menstruating in here, possibly also gender dysphoria (they’re very interwoven subjects for me), so trigger warning if anything in that arena is difficult for you.

1. Straight white males complaining about “tokenism” in the media. Not tokenism of Straight White Males, mind you, tokenism of minority and underrepresented groups. No no, Straight White Males, tokenism isn’t a problem that you get to whine about re: how it affects your Very Special Feelings. See, this is our complaint. Us being the minority and underrepresented groups. The reason why tokenism is a Bad Thing is not that it means a black guy got cast on your favorite crime drama, it is a Bad Thing that the lone black guy (or gay guy or disbled guy, or even sometimes a non- white/straight/ablebodied lady) is remarkable. See, if media handled an inclusive cast, these things would not need to be pointed out. The problem isn’t you having to feel mildly uncomfortable that your video games include options and characters not crafted special to your liking, the problem is that, by throwing in no more than an occasional nod to the world outside your Straight White Male bubble, people who produce media are pandering clumsily to a wider audience. People don’t like being pandered to. It’s condescending.

2. When people suggest baths as a treatment for menstrual cramps. I mean, I know I bleed much more heavily than a lot of people, but generally uteruses cramp up on the first day of the period, right? When bleeding is at its heaviest? The last thing I want to do is seem judgmental of women’s bodies, believe me. I like to think of myself as fairly forward thinking when it comes to menstruation, it’s just a bodily function, etc. I’m even vocal about the suffering caused by my own cycle, but honesty time: I have a great, great deal of respect for women’s bodies, but I still occasionally rediscover that I’m walking  around in one. I spend most of my time feeling distinctly agender, but since I can’t remove any of my biological parts (unfortunately) they remain here for me to suddenly remember, usually via bathroom mirror. I’m still coming to terms with menstruation and my body, so the idea of sitting in a bathtub while bleeding heavily sounds pretty awful. I always have to assume that anyone suggesting baths has a very light flow, in spite of cramping, because I can not actually handle the idea of soaking in my own menstrual blood.

3. How dudes expect to be taken seriously as allies to feminism when they react to women saying that they don’t think cismen can technically be “feminists” by throwning tantrums. As in, when women don’t like cismen using the title. I mean dude, did you actually stop to think about why some women might have opinions about who can be considered a “feminist” vs. an “ally”, or did you just begin your very grownup pouting session the moment someone suggested that you might not be welcome in their club? Guys get so hung up on this. My personal opinions of the definition of “feminist” aside, at the very least, this makes me wicked uncomfortable reading the guy’s stuff/being around him. If you can’t handle a woman saying “I don’t think men can use the title of feminist” then I really don’t want to see what you do when a woman mentions privilege or the patriarchy. Worse, I don’t see you bowing out gracefully when I ask for a safe space to discuss queer experience, or a woman in your life wants to go to the Women Only Night of Feminism Club. Let it be noted that I’m not saying men can’t disagree with women about how cismen can self-define, but shouting I AM OFFENDED I AM TOO A FEMINIST kind of makes you look like Derailment Dave. And no one likes that guy.

4. No one in my life has noticed my stutter. I have a stutter. It used to be way more pronounced and embarrassing, but even then, somehow, no one noticed it. It still comes out sometimes, mostly when I’m upset or anxious. It’s not even small, I’ll compulsively repeat entire words, phrases, sentences. No one has ever mentioned it, and if I bring it up, they seem honestly bewildered. It’s bizarre.

Binder Photos

I took these when the thing got here weeks ago, but I haven’t been feeling up to much. Yeah, even posting words on the internet is too much for me to handle some days. A lot of days, recently. But that’s depressing, so lets get to the photos. I don’t usually post pictures of myself on the ‘net (you’ll notice my strategic iPad placement), so this isn’t supremely comfortable, but I’m excited about this binder. Here goes.

This is what I look like in female-oriented undergarments:

I know, this is the ugliest of bras.

And then in the binder:

This would be a Boobs ‘n Butt pose if you could see my boobs.

As you can see, I managed to wear my ugliest underwear combination on this day. I actually did go out and buy myself some cute boyshorts and panties, I just had to do that AFTER I took pictures I planned to post to the internet. Of course.

And finally:

Girl Mode

Boy Mode

I realize this juxtaposition would be more effective if I wore the same outfit with and without the binder, but I wanted to get pictures of the whole altered “look”. Maybe I’ll do a real comparison post sometime.

…and now there are pictures of me in my underwear online. YAY~

Awkward

Me: “So did you and <name> ever actually date?”
Friend1: “No, we were friends with benefits for a while, but that ended poorly.”
Friend2: “Yeah, friends with benefits is never a good idea. It never works out.”
Me and Griffon: *standing very quietly and not making eye contact*
Griffon: *Subject-changing question?*

I’d just like to point out that Friend2 has never been in a FwB arrangement ever, and Friend1 was in his for quite a long time before it fizzled out. I’m not really sure what they consider a successful FwB relationship that more than a year of No Strings Attached casual sex fails to meet their qualifications.

Seriously, is it “FwB rarely leads to marriage”? Because no shit.

Relationship post

So I’m sort of dating people? Like, multiple people? I’ve tried looking through a couple of polyamory blogs for help with seeing the future and avoiding unnecessary drama, but they kind of skew towards really heavily sexual relationships. Which is great! I mean, I don’t want to sound like a massive downer about sexblogs, it’s just that blogs about what to expect when it comes to having sex with multiple people don’t help a whole ton when you’re on the asexual spectrum. So I’m pretty much going in blind.

Disclaimer: I’ve already talked to all the real-life people involved about everything I’m about to write and gotten their permission to write about it on the internet. Nobody needs to worry about advising me to tell my partners about my emotions, they already know. Believe me.

I’m not sure how to tell this story, so I’m doing it in parts in no particular order (chronological, I guess?).

1. Griffon: I dated this dude for about three and a half years and we broke up a few months ago. It was nobody’s fault, I just sort of realized that I had needs that weren’t being fulfilled by the relationship for reasons that neither of us were capable of fixing. Basically I didn’t think I could marry him and be happy. It’s difficult for me, because that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to end a relationship. Without getting into too much social conditioning and psychology stuff, let’s just say that it’s taken me until this point in my life to learn that wanting to break up is a perfectly valid and acceptable reason to break up. I keep having to remind myself that it’s okay to have certain things you really NEED relationships to ultimately do for you. I have always planned on finding a partner and marrying them because I wanted to spend my life with them, and if it doesn’t seem like the committed monogamous relationship I’m in can give me that experience, then it is not the relationship I want. Which makes it all sound so easy.

2. Slyph: I met a girl through the internet a while ago. We have most of the same interests and she likes me a lot and I like her back. She lives really fucking far away and we’re both poor and can’t afford to travel. I haven’t been in a lot of relationships, but all of them have been mostly long-distance. I hate doing that. It’s incredibly painful and difficult for everyone involved and it puts so much strain on the relationship. Also I haven’t been dating anyone and I’m a very physically affectionate person, so this is sad for me.

3.I asked Griffon if he was okay with an Open Relationship/Friends Who Also Make Out situation, which he said he was open to the idea of trying. I talked to Slyph about it and she is super cool and understanding about it. I don’t really know how to explain. We aren’t dating, technically, because we live really far apart and pretty much communicate entirely over Skype, but I really like her and I don’t really want to get seriously involved with anyone else if there’s even the slightest chance that this might happen someday. Maybe this will change, maybe it won’t. I am not a fortune-teller.

4. Pulling no punches here: I’m still in love with Griffon. I never felt any need to stop being in love with him, I guess. No one did anything wrong or intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. We get along really well, stayed friends, and kept hanging out, and he’s a really fantastic boyfriend (seriously), we just aren’t a great match romantically in the long-term. It’s kind of hard to get “I don’t love you anymore” out of that mix. This is probably the stupidest part of this entire thing. This is the part that makes me ask myself how I don’t see what a bad idea this is.

Pros/Cons

Of the situations, not the people, calm down, I am not that petty. Or stupid, Slyph reads this blog. Hi bb!

I feel more inclined to get into the negatives, but that’s more because I want to explain was I was not expecting and the challenges than talk about what I already knew was going to happen. I don’t want it come off as if the negatives are far weightier than the positives, they just take more explaining. I mean seriously, I get all the talk/text/phone conversations I want with people I love! And also backrubs. How can you not love this?

Pros re: Slyph –

We have the same interests for the same reasons, we share similar worldviews, we can have discussions about opposing views without arguing, she makes me laugh, and did I mention pretty? Seriously, she seems like the kind of person I could really fall for. She called me on my birthday to sing to me. It seems like such a silly sentimental thing to get hung up on, but if it’s an indicator of how much silly sentimental stuff would be involved with dating her, then it is a very good sign indeed. I can tell her anything, she loves to hear about my life and my thoughts, I can send her stories without worrying (much) about how stupid they are, she fangirls over things with me and gets excited about my accomplishments, she’s open and supportive and wants me to be happy, and I am honestly excited to tell her about things, even inane details about my day. If it’s interesting to me, it’s interesting to her, if it’s important to me, it’s important to her. Even if it’s only interesting because I’m interested in it, or important because it’s affecting me. This is a big deal! Hopefully I convey some percentage of all this back at her. I think I must, because she keeps liking me.

Okay I sort of went into personal pros instead of situational pros.

Cons: She lives in fucking Narnia. I don’t think I can do another long-distance relationship. At least not long-term. I can’t see a path in which we live anywhere near each other for years, and again, we are both broke as hell. Visiting might be an annual occurrence, and that’s a terrible and barely viable basis for a relationship, especially one that’s just starting out. Also, I don’t know what dating her would actually be like. I don’t know what, if anything, positive or negative, I’m projecting onto her and not legitimately observing. We just don’t get enough time. I don’t know how she deals with relationship things. I don’t know how she’d handle me sobbing on her about godknowswhat at 3 am. And this is a legitimate concern when it comes to dating me. I have some social anxiety and I tend to bottle things up and then have horrible breakdowns about what pretty much amounts to nothing. Or generally something that could have been resolved with a non-crying conversation at a reasonable hour. I have emotions. And it’s selfish and childish to heap responsibility for hand-holding me through them onto my partner, but that’s one of my flaws. I feel like I’m a total nightmare of a girlfriend. For what it’s worth, my sources say I am wrong about that.

Pros re: Griffon –

I believe I already stated that he is a fantastic boyfriend. What with the aforementioned backrubs. I like him a lot, and I enjoy spending time with him. What I’m really enjoying about this relationship is that I can let go of all the relationship anxiety I built up over the course of dating him. The vast majority of the time, I can focus on the here and now. I like him, he likes me, I’m happy and being around him makes me feel good. I really enjoy that I can have that without freaking out about where this is going and what do I want and this particular second isn’t exactly perfect, what am I doing with my life? It turns out that those are fairly common parts of being socially anxious and depressed, so even if that doesn’t make me feel better per se, at least I feel like less of an overemotional freak. Relaxing and enjoying what I have right now is exactly what I want, and when I can do that, I’m so blissfully happy that it feels like I must be getting away with something somehow.

Cons: If I may be so bold as to dispense some advice, readers, don’t start casually dating someone you once planned to marry. It’s really not the greatest idea. :\ Like I said, I love Griffon. We have an established boundary that I’m not allowed to tell him that. Not in those exact words, but that’s the effect. For some reason, that boundary makes all the issues I have with this arrangement much, much worse. It’s a perfectly fine boundary, and I don’t want to make him uncomfortable, so I have to deal. It’s just that, and this is a difficult thing to be honest about: being in a relationship with someone where you get to have everything you used to have except for the part where you got to plan for the future and say you’d be together forever… it really, really fucking hurts. It really hit me when we had the Can I Say Love To You conversation. I never saw myself as someone who could deal with Friends With Benefits/Poly for pretty much this exact reason. Also I get really stupidly awkwardly jealous but that’s a post for another time. I don’t like thinking about the end of relationships. I don’t think anyone does, but it’s difficult for me to even be with somebody if I don’t know if we have a future and knowing we don’t is heartbreaking. I really wish I could approach this relationship with the kind of appreciation poly people seem to have. That idea of “you could be seeing other people but instead you choose to be with me.” It’s a beautiful sentiment, but I’m not sure I can adapt to that. When we hit the bottom line, we’re talking No Strings Attached, and as much as I’d like to be that girl, I love my strings. I love talking about the future. Not having that hurts, and that’s the entirety of it. Well, there’s also the uncomfortable fact that he still feels like he could be happy spending his life with me. Which is amazing in itself, but painful because that means I could have him if I chose to, and I’m still not choosing to, even though part of me wants it so so bad. Maybe I’ll try to coherently explain why we don’t work as a couple another time. Right now all I’m saying is that I know the future does not include us being together, and that fact is painful.

To end on a lighter note: Cons of the whole relationship – I have nothing to call these people. For Slyph, “friend” isn’t descriptive enough, “crush” sounds unrequited, “girlfriend” implies more than what is actually going on… Conversely, calling Griffon my boyfriend implies more than what’s going on. I’m rather partial to “ladyfriend” but there’s no male equivalent. “Gentleman caller”? I am in an open relationship that is both sexless and I’m technically dating no one. What is my life.

ETA: WordPress suggests I add the tag “unnecessary drama” to this post. I’m not sure I like your tone, website.