I always appreciate story. I write in my website bio that I believe there is infinite power in story. In story we see ourselves in others and we learn to see others in ourselves. It’s the place where empathy lives.
I thought it would be helpful to include a story of myself in this dating section. I wanted to tell a story from my personal dating life so that we can see a bit of ourselves in it, and so that you can take it on see parts of me inside you.
Below is a journal entry I made a few months back. It’s about one of the first times I got past date two and the dates began to posture themselves differently, to something more long term —but how I didn’t catch up.
“I’ve recently gone on a bunch of dates with the first person who I would say amounts to any level of seriousness. And what I mean by that is simply spending lots of time together, making out, cuddling, holding hands in public, laying in parks for hours while paying attention to the way the sunlight dances through the trees.
The boy is kind. He is amazing. He is loving and caring and articulate and intelligent and compassionate and giving and motivated and a good person. I’ve told him all of those things. He listens to me and I can tell he knows me and sees me —like really sees me.
But I just don’t feel electricity towards him. I do not long for him. I am not lit up inside.
I was talking this out with [my best friend] Hannah last night and she brought up an important part of my history and how this might be affecting my now.
I’m not used to liking someone who shows affection back. I’ve only ever liked boys who have hid their affection. I’ve only ever fallen for boys who, I at least assume, to be gay, but closeted. Boys who I catch eyeing me across the room, but quickly look away. Boys who I notice go completely out of their way to do anything and everything for me. Boys who pretend not to care but still keep showing up. For boys who, when they talk about their past loves, make me question if they are changing pronouns like I used to.
I’m used to searching through the forest, digging and digging, just to look for a glimmer of sunlight coming through. I’m not used to standing in the sun.
It’s like I’ve trained myself to be attracted to rejection, or at least to unavailability. Which makes sense when I was closeted. Like someone who also isn’t out yet and you don’t have to worry about much. Nothing is going anywhere. And even now that I’m out, it’s still scary to step forward into a relationship. All relationships are vulnerabile things. To be seen by another is scary.
But also queer relationships come with so much baggage. It’s the friends and family that will drop away because being gay is okay, but being in a gay relationship is crossing the line. It’s churches that will do absolutely the same thing. It’s holding hands and kissing and showing affection in public and always being noticed, being watched, being fetishized. It’s doing those things and being beaten and killed. It’s being more visibly out at work and facing repercussions for that. It’s the legal discriminations. For those who choose to do so, it’s the added difficulties in starting families.
So here I am. Someone standing there, staring at me, holding me, loving me —and I can’t love him back. It’s like my body doesn’t know what to do.
Maybe I don’t like him because I don’t like him.
Maybe those other boys never really liked me. Maybe they never had affection to show back and I was just making it all up.
Still this is where I’m at. Standing in the sun. Holding up an umbrella. Wondering if this is my sun and wondering it’s worth finally stepping out of the shade.”