The difficulty of dating is one of the oldest and most quintessential jokes of this generation, right up there next to airplane food. We laugh because we all know the punchline: dating sucks. And if a comedian or a friend alike break out the “so one time, this guy…” line, we can safely assume the pair didn’t get married or live a blissful life together. Perhaps the former, but definitely not the latter. Suffice it to say, everyone has trouble with dating. Dating has been one of the most terrifying parts of my own quest for self-discovery, and has led me to realize that it really shouldn’t have to be this way.
Finding out that I was non-binary and trans was terrifying on many levels. Obviously, the first two fears were verbal and physical harassment, but the third was dating. Since I want to start the year off on a lighter note, dating it is. It seems that people’s dating and sex lives are places where difference and diversity are not fully accepted. People are often quick to claim a liberal identity but slow to have any actual partners who differ from the norm.
The problem, in my opinion, lies with the fact that we are happy to allow different identities and abilities to exist, but less comfortable with inviting them into our lives. We would prefer to not have the hard-hitting conversations and, most of all, we would prefer to never have to consider how we might be a part of the system which hurts our partner. Most people choose to avoid feelings of guilt and shame, so it would stand to reason that they would avoid partners who bring up those feelings.
You might have to consider how to incorporate new pronouns into your vocabulary, which could mean questioning all of your assumptions about people and their pronouns. Or you might accidentally invite a date to a non-accessible venue when they need one and would have to think about the inaccessibility of our world. Or perhaps you tell a cruel joke without thinking and have to reevaluate what you find funny. All of these things are hard for us to do in the society that we live in. We are encouraged to allow our systemic practices to exist.
At the end of the day, I simply cannot convince anyone why they should date outside of their comfort zone. Ultimately some people are simply too stubborn to venture outside of conventions and will stay firmly glued to them for all time. But even if you think you are very attached to your own dating rules, you also might end up in that situation anyway. Someone you fall in love with might be different than you expected, or they may find their true selves and leave your own comfort zone, or an event will change their lives irreparably. It is beneficial for all of us if we are open to all of the options because we never know who we will fall in love with, and that can honestly be to our benefit. If life was perfectly clear and planned out, it would take the fun out of living entirely.