Archives for category: online dating

It’s easy to generalize, and stereotype people. We all do it, intentionally or otherwise. It doesn’t mean that these stereotypes are true of all people in that group, and I know this, having been stereotyped many times because of being a trans woman.
I think it’s important to state this, as inevitably, when I’m writing about personal experience, as I do, the people I interact with, will, on occasion, do shit that is classically stereotypical.
Let’s take men, for instance, because well, this is what this piece is going to be about…..

I find men attractive. Not all men, because there’s loads of them, and I am but one woman, but none the less, I am interested in them, in a sexual way.
It appears that they also are interested in me. Up to a point.
I know, I hear you, what is this point you speak off? Well friends, I think you know don’t you?
Men, in general, can’t deal with me being Transgender. They can deal with me being hot, and judging from the messages I get before they find out I’m trans, they deal with that just fine, thankyou very much.
But as soon as I disclose that I’m trans, everything changes.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Why not just keep it to yourself, don’t tell them yeah?”

Here’s some reasons why that’s not an option for me…

  • I’m proud of who I am, and that I’m trans. Why should I hide that? I may be the reason people can’t deal, but ultimately the issue is with them, not me.
  • Sex. If it got to the point where there’s nakedness going on, we’d need to have a talk anyhow.
  • If we meet, and they realize I’m trans, then I don’t know what would happen. I have to ultimately put my personal safety first. Aside from anything else, it would be humiliating, even if they just walked out on the date.

So yeah, not an option.

Once a man finds out I’m trans, all bets are off. If I’m lucky they’ll just block me immediately. That’s the good option. The worse options include verbal abuse, objectifying language, and expectations that I’m up for anything, because y’know, all trans women are kinky nymphomaniacs right?

And then there’s another response. It nearly always starts with the phrase “I don’t have a problem with Trans women…” ,which if you type into Google translate* comes back as “I’m a ‘nice’ guy, I don’t have ‘problems’ with trans women, as long as you don’t actually want to sleep with me, or meet up, that is, although if asked I will now be adding you to my list of minority groups I’m okay with, just so everyone knows I’m a ‘cool’ guy, yeah?”

These guys, they, if anything are the worst. My latest interaction with a ‘nice’ guy involved him telling me that “I don’t have a problem with people like you, but I’d only be sleeping with you out of curiosity, so you’d only get hurt.”
Thanks friend, thanks for protecting my feelings so well. You’re a real gent, no mistake.
This was the same man, that previous to this, was waxing lyrical about how gorgeous I was, and that he didn’t even have to think about whether to message me or not. Bet you’re thinking now eh?

So, what’s a girl to do? I find myself thinking this a lot. I could just not date men, and stick to women, which is fine, but I do identify as bisexual, so why should I have to curb my identity to fit with society?

As I mentioned at the start, to a degree, the men I’ve interacted with so far have been stereotypes and extremes, I know not all men are like this, because well, I know some that aren’t. I do think that they are a minority though, and that many, many men can’t get their heads round what it means to be attracted to Trans women.

That though friends, is a post for another time….

*It doesn’t translate it as this, I’m being facetious to make a point, it’s like my super-power.

I think I’m fairly competent at this writing biz, I can string together sentences that are reasonable, occasionally funny, some might say even thoughtful.

So why is it that when it comes to my own personal dating life, I’m a total and utter fuckwit?

When I get a message from someone I should be able to be funny, charming and clever, but somehow all this goes right out the window and I just seem kind of a bit awkward and dare I say it, inexperienced.
Thing is, I’m actually good at this when it comes to my friends and their love lives. On occasion, I’m so good that it sometimes gets a bit Cyrano De Bergerac (or Roxanne, that Steve Martin/Daryl Hannah film if you want a more ‘modern’ interpretation).
I have a friend, and she gets a lot of messages from people on Tinder. I can not count the number of times I’ve received texts from her with a screenshot of a conversation where she’s reached a dead end and needs something to say.
She messages me for help with this because, when it comes to other people, I am on fire with sort of thing.

Need to say thanks, with a dash of wit, to a compliment about your hair? Send it my way.
(That’s really lovely of you to notice, it comes complete with my head)

Want to meet up but don’t know how to suggest it? BOOM
(We seem to be getting on as well as two random strangers talking on an Internet dating site can. Want to see if we could replicate, or maybe even surpass this, in real life?)

I’m telling you, I am your woman when it comes to dating sidekicks. I’ve got your back when words fail you.
And yet, somehow, all this vanishes when it gets personal. Maybe subconsciously I’m sabotaging myself, because I don’t think I deserve a happy relationship, maybe when it gets too personal to me, I can’t take the pressure because it’s so loaded with potential success, or disaster.

Or maybe I’m looking at it wrong, maybe the reason I’m alright at writing, funny, romantic things for my friends is because the pressure is off, as it’s not for me, it’s for them and the altruistic part of me is less with the worry, more with the do nice things.
Who really knows, it’s most likely some of both, but, given the choice, I think I prefer altruistic brain over self-loathing brain.

I’ve been using various dating sites for a while now, and experienced the many aspects of this new frontier.
Often however these aspects are kind of bad, and it’s led me to thinking, what could be done to make things better for Trans people, when it comes to online dating.
From my own experiences, I’ve come up with six things people can do that might just make the experience a better one for everyone.

1. Read people’s profiles if you find them attractive and want to message them.
(Actually this goes for everyone, Trans or otherwise). Not every Trans person wants to be visible, but some do, and if they do it’ll be in their profiles. I make a point of putting it there, and honestly it blows my mind how few people bother to read my profile and then freak out when I have to double check they know.

2. Don’t assume that everything you think you know about Trans people is right.
 Here’s the thing, the stuff you read in Newspapers about Trans people is quite often not true. I know, sounds far fetched right? After all the media are renowned for their honest and non sensationalist reporting amiright?

There’s a narrative that all Trans people are messed up, deviant, sexually repressed freakshows. If someone where to say that about everyone with blue eyes you’d know it was bullshit right? So why believe it about us? In the immortal words of Biff Tannen, “Think McFly Think!”

3.When you find out someone is Trans, Don’t be a dick.
 Examples of being a dick include

  • blocking me without a word
  • insulting me
  • sharing my profile among your friends like it’s a godamn circus show
  • saying it’s cool and then not ever messaging again
  • using the wrong pronouns
  • basically showing absolutely no respect for another human being.

4. Don’t agree to meet and then not show up, or ever get in touch again. 
This one kinda goes for everyone if I’m honest.

5.Don’t sleep with a Trans person just because you were curious/wanted to tick it off some sex bucket list, unless it’s consensual.
There’s two ways to approach this.

Way one is sleep with me, and then the next morning let me know it was only to see what it was like. This way is BAD. It makes me feel like shit, and makes you look like a shallow jerk.

Way two is to message me, say you’ve never been with a Trans person and don’t know what to expect, but that you find me attractive and you’d like to sleep with me.

It’s okay to be curious, sleeping with new people is always going to involve an element of exploration, and this is very much okay. The Key things here are consent and full disclosure. If I choose to sleep with you, I know what I’m getting myself into, and you’re being honest with me. Everybody Wins.

6. Open your mind a little. 
I’m not asking you to exclusively date trans people, I’m asking you to stop, and think about this one simple thing. I find this person attractive.  You’re messaging me because you’ve looked at my face, you’ve (hopefully) read some stuff about me, and you’ve thought I’d like to get to know this person. Just because someone happens to be trans and you find them attractive it doesn’t make you weird, it doesn’t make you gay, straight or anything you don’t want to be. It just makes you one person who finds another person attractive enough to want to get to know a little better.

That is all. (Unless you can think of anything else, in which case, that is nearly all)….

So, I’ve been using online dating services. You know the ones, Tinder, Okcupid, those guys, and their friends.

Thing is, I’ve not been having a huge amount of success, and I think it’s me, or at least a major aspect of me, that’s putting people off.

Now, I’m not unattractive (and I realise that by writing that I’m immediately putting myself in the firing line regarding said attractiveness), I’m pretty funny (again with the firing line) and I’m a good person with an only slightly dubious moral compass. All good things, yes? So what could it be that isn’t what everyone is looking for, what terrible thing could be so off-putting?

Well, thing is, I’m also Trans.

I know, plot twist.

How do I know it’s to do with me being transgender though? Lets run though the things I’ve discovered to back my theory up shall we…..

I get way more interest when I don’t mention the Trans thing.

When it comes to making a profile on a dating site, we’re all faced with a decision as to how much information to give. In my case, the major question is shall I put that I’m a trans woman?

In the photos I have of myself it’s hard to tell. In fact, from personal experience, most people don’t realise at all. I’m blessed with a photogenic face, and an androgynous figure, so unless I let you know, chances are you won’t realise. (and once again, ready your metaphorical guns for the firing line I seem so fond of putting myself in front of)

When I don’t mention that I’m trans, I get a fair amount of interest. It’s all hey, how you doing, you’re hot, sit on my face, (no, really. Some people have like no boundaries) you know, the standard really.

However, when I put that I’m trans in my profile things really change. People still look, but that’s it. To make sure it’s not anything else, I’ve even used the same writing, the only difference being that I mention that I’m trans in one.

When I do mention the trans thing people can’t deal.

So what happens when I mention that I’m trans after we’ve been chatting for a while? Normally two things. Firstly people always say that it’s not a problem, or that they don’t care about it, because hey, it’s only gender right?

Secondly, they then never message me again.

There could be a few things going on here.

Firstly, maybe people feel tricked, or deceived. Generally people don’t like to feel this, so maybe they’re all “fuck you, don’t need this shit”. However I take issue with this, in that everyone has something they don’t tell immediately, because it could be seen as a negative. If we all ran once we discovered that people are complicated then there would be a lot less of us than there are now.

The other thing that happens is that people think about it. I know right? Unbelievable!

By think about it, what I mean is they think about what it means, and what they think they know about trans people, and what the people around them think they know about trans people.

I’ve been in a few relationships with Cis people, and when they told their friends they were dating a Trans person the response was pretty much the same.

“Trans people have a lot of mental health issues ( or as one person put it, Trans people are fucked up), do you really want to take that on?”

“But if you go out with a Trans person what does that make you?”

“Are you really a lesbian then if you’re dating a trans woman?”

“What are you going to tell your family?”

and of course the old classic, “So how do you fuck/what bits does she have?”

As you can see from these responses, there’s not much in the way of positive there. As you can also imagine, its sort of hard to stay upbeat about dating in the wake of all this negativity.

So, Whats a girl to do? At some point I have to mention it, because a relationship built on a lie is never going to work, and also, more importantly, I’ll be damned if I’m going to hide who I am for the sake of a relationship.

On the other side though, until I do mention that I’m trans things often seem to be going pretty well. Is it possible for a trans woman to find someone who isn’t bothered by it? More importantly is it possible for this trans woman to achieve that?

 I know it’s a battle, and it’s a battle where the odds are stacked against me, because I think that if the majority of people were honest with themselves, they’d have to think about whether they’d date a trans person or not.

So really, I don’t know, can I have a relationship? Am I too complex for other people? Are other people just not complex enough for me?

All I do know is that when things are against you, and it looks unlikely that you’ll get what you’d like, a victory is all the more sweeter for it.

I may of mentioned that I use dating websites. You know, just in passing, but anyhow, there’s something that happens like a lot on these sites, and that’s the “Hi” message.

I’m sitting there, doing my stuff ( y’know, stuff yeah? it’s great, and me? i’m doing it ) and my phone will doing a little ding and I see there’s a message from someone on OkCupid lets say, mainly because it’s always OkCupid this happens on.

I’m all ‘oooohhhh, a message, this is exciting!’ and then i open it and the message is “hi”.

That’s it. Just “Hi”. Sometimes, if the sender wants to add more emotional depth, they’ll stick an exclamation mark on the end as well, but it’s mainly just “Hi” .

I need to tell you, that message, it’s just not doing it for me. I admire the succinctness of it, sure, and as an opening, it’s a great start, but really, I need more. Like at least a paragraph, that would be nice.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not looking for a life history, but something to suggest you’ve read my profile, or I don’t know, actually can communicate using more than one syllable would be ace. Seriously.

Also, and this maybe a huge generalization here, but why is it always men that send the ‘Hi’ messages? Every single one I’ve ever got is from someone male. Every single one. Sometimes it’ll even be the same men. Honestly if I didn’t know better i’d assume they’re just spamming lots and lots of people all at once in the hope of getting lucky just through the law of averages. Which would never happen right?……..

I’ve been on a few dates, with a few people now, and the one thing that I still don’t quite get, is what is meant by “we should do this again”.
I mean on the base level it obviously means, we should do this again, but if we look at it more closely, does it really mean that?

Let’s take a recent example.
I arranged a date with someone, who incidentally got in touch with me, rather than the other way round, and it seemed to go okay. We arrange another date, that also goes okay, and the words “we should do this again” come up at the end of the date. I’m like yeah, we should, lets check diaries and sort something out, go for food, hang out, that sort of thing.
Anyhow, a week goes by, and I get a text. It basically says, “hey you seem nice, but can we just be friends yeah?”
Hmmmmm. Now, I’m not that much of a dick to begrudge someone not being into me ( okay, reading that back I am aware that that last statement does automatically make me sound like a dick, but honestly, I’m not ) but why say “we should do this again” if you don’t mean it?

I mean I guess its awkward to say that to someones face, but there is the fact that we never have to see each other again, as we’re basically strangers, who met online whilst looking for someone to hook up with. There is that.

Ack, I don’t know, this is the trouble with language. It can mean so much, and have so many nuances, and double meanings.

It’s such a strange thing. We speak, and communicate and our mouths, our tongues make these shapes and sound comes out, and our brains buzz and translate and we understand what we hear.
And then our brains buzz some more, and we try and understand that what we hear isn’t always what we understand it to mean.

There’s something I do when I message someone. Its kind of irrational, and has no real purpose, but I do it anyhow.

After writing my message, I press send, and then close the webpage immediately. For some reason I can’t stand being on the website, be it OKC or POF or whatever, once the message is sent. It’s worse if I know the other person is online as well ( I’m looking at you  OKcupid, lets make the awkwardness even more awkward, you dick 😦  ). I image their message box lighting up, and then I imagine them reading the message, and it’s all just too uncomfortable and weird.

In my little head it’s the equivalent of being caught sending messages to people in school and then being made to read them out in front of the class. I know it’s irrational, but if I’m not on the site when they read what I’ve sent it all just seems less well, awkward.

Thing is, in real life I’m way, way less awkward, ( well, mostly, I have my moments, but that’s something for another time maybe ), so I don’t know why the internets makes me feel this way. Maybe it’s just the way it is, maybe online dating, by it’s very nature, is just awkward, maybe my messaging thing is normal, yeah?

*awkward silence*

So, i’m using Okcupid to broaden my dating experiences, and I’ve noticed a few things. Allow me to expand in a list type form…..

1. Writing messages to complete strangers you find attractive is tricky, and awkward.

2. Replies to said messages are quite often few and far between. I can assume this is because of one of these things..

a) I’m not attractive to them

b) they can’t be arsed to reply through laziness/apathy.

c) I write shit messages to complete strangers I find attractive.

3. Rating people with stars is both slightly creepy and objectifying. It’s also strangely addictive.

4.Having to pay to see all the people who have rated you 5 stars is a rip off and tempting at the same time. *shakes fist at ego*

I’ve yet to get a ‘hit’ so to speak, there have been vague messagings back and forth between various people, but nothing promising as of yet, although one person did ask me if London was close to where I live, which would be a positive message if it wasn’t their first message to me, and if wasn’t literally just ‘ how far is London from Brighton.’  Nothing like cutting to the chase…..

So I decided, the other day, to put a profile up on a dating site again. So i’m busy filling in the various easy answer questions, where you click on the drop down menus and pick a choice, updating as I went along, and I get a message saying someone ‘likes’ me.

Erm……. right, you like me, even though the only things you know about me are that I like cooking and that I don’t have any pets. Honestly reader(s) I hadn’t even done the difficult about me bit where I actually have to write stuff.  Liking might be a bit preemptive I think.

I suppose this is the world of online dating, my like-ie might be a perfectly lovely person, but it just seemed a little desperate/creepy to me.

Anyhow, we’re going on a date next week, so that’s nice. ( kidding! obvs )

 

 

Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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