Disclaimer: I’m writing about “romantic” relationships, not necessarily sexual ones. Also, I’ve overused parentheses… again.
Ryan’s post inspired me… well, I guess “inspire” isn’t really the word I’m looking for, because I’m definitely taking my post a different direction, but his made me think about my past choices and my thoughts began to focus on one of two things about dating/relationships that have the ability to make me bitter. (So, I guess you can call this post "Bitter, part 3" ...which means we need just 20 more installments to beat R. Kelly's record.) What is it about my romantic life that makes it different from the romantic life of my heterosexual counterparts?
This isn’t a post about probability and statistics of me finding a relationship. The world is too nuanced for any of those simple models to apply to my equally nuanced life. But, there is one thing that I’ve noticed and think a lot of LGBTQ individuals have experienced, possibly (probably?) more than heterosexual individuals have.
It’s something I like to call the Just Because relationship.
You know, when you date someone Just Because he/she has the same sexual orientation as you do.
Now, again, I’m not saying heterosexuals don’t do this too. Most of the relationships I saw people in middle school and the early part of high school partake in were Just Because relationships. He asks Her out and She says “yes” because, well, “why not? She’s never dated anyone before.” But, I haven’t really seen my heterosexual friends do that a lot, lately. Maturity and responsibility kicked in (omg, finally), and suddenly, I usually see them building meaningful relationships: She finds out He’s really into the same music as she is. And then He finds out that She’s actually an avid Dr. Who fan and would LOVE to watch B movies with him for the laughs. And then they move from friends to “something more” and it’s endearing, and magical, and romantic.
While I’m not saying this doesn’t happen in LGBTQ relationships, (and this is where Ryan’s post comes in) I see that the process is much different, more cautious and experimental, and at times less “magical” in a romantic way. It sort of has to be that way, unfortunately.
What often comes first isn’t the building of the relationship, it’s the “Is he or she gay or not?” And after that’s found out, sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves, and a little impatient. “FINALLY, I’VE FOUND ANOTHER GAY! FINALLY, I CAN DATE SOMEONE! NO MORE FOREVER ALONE FOR ME!” I’ve done that before, multiple times; like, Her identification as a queer woman is all that matters. Well, it’s not—and it’s discouraging and wearing. How tiresome it is to yet again break up with someone because you realize your similar sexual orientation is actually ALL you have in common, despite your hopes for more. It gets you down, makes you pessimistic, or (dare I say) bitter.
And what of the online dating method many LGBTQ individuals have to utilize to increase our choices and avoid having that whole Ask-someone-who’s-not-queer-out-only-to-get-turned-down-and-feel-awkward-about-it-forever situation. Again, the process is different, something we have to LEARN, not something that just happens. And I think there are so many facets to online dating that (since I could make a completely different post about it) I won’t elaborate on. But, my point is, online dating could be the biggest/most popular way to get into Just Because relationships merely because of how the “search” process is set up.
I’m not proud to say that I’ve been in multiple Just Because relationships, but I have, with men and women alike. And I realized what I was doing, and I stopped for a while… two or three years, to be semi-exact. And I figured it was odd to, at my age, not be in any sort of relationship for that long (insert lolz about me not realizing how CLEARLY “indifferent” I was and how ignorant a thought like that is in general, because there’s nothing wrong with not dating for long, extended, periods of time). But after the coming and going of strong feelings for a female classmate/acquaintance over the summer of 2010, and a few months of getting accustomed to life here at Duke/being out of the closet, guess what I did? Jumped right into a Just Because (I liked his beard/good hair and I wanted to try dating again because I was in college and clearly that made EVERYTHING different) relationship. (Oh, and if you wanted to see, this is me being ashamed of that decision) Like all Just Because relationships, it was brief and dissatisfying.
So, it isn’t simply the “statistics” that Ryan (and I guess, Kory) spoke about. I think it also comes down to the process/method, your level of comfort, and your patience. There are bumps along the way, and our pathway to happiness and successful relationships is more experimental and uncertain than that of our heterosexual counterparts, but that doesn’t mean it should get us down and we should just feel around blindly, scrambling for whatever we can find that fits. There’s (almost) nothing more “bittering” than dating someone you didn’t really have feelings for or connect with in the first place.