The holidays can be a rough time for trans people who are feeling alone and lonely, and if you’re one of those people, you might be making a New Year’s resolution to find romance in 2013. And while no one ever called me the world’s greatest lover (although I’m not aware of excessive complaints), I do have a few things for you to consider if a new relationship is one of your resolutions:
1. A storybook romance is not the end-all and be-all of your life. If you grew up with fairy tales and happily-ever-after endings, you might feel left out, or even like a loser, if you are not happily hitched in one form or another. But remember that the Western cultural model of a two-person, monogamous (and usually heterosexual) relationship is just that – one model.
A society decides what it needs and wants from its citizens, and then it propels them in that direction – through advertising, movies, television, and cultural storytelling. In Western society’s eyes, a romantic relationship between two people ensures a particular societal structure, order, and organization. It helps keep the gears humming and moves things along smoothly.
There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting a traditional romantic and/or sexual relationship. But one-person households are on the rise in the U.S., and being single is no longer considered a “flaw.” So if you’re looking for a relationship because you want a relationship, go get ‘em! But if you’re looking for a relationship because you think you should be in one, think twice about letting your socialization control your social life.
2. There are many types of “successful” relationships. “Till death do us part” has long been the defining force of relationship “success.” The problem with this is that in order to determine whether or not your relationship has been successful, one of you has to die.
A successful relationship is not necessarily one that lasts a lifetime – it is one that worked for the time you were in it, and one that you were able to take something away from, even if that “something” is a hard lesson learned. So if you’re bemoaning the fact that you’ve never had a “successful” relationship, take another look and redefine “success.”
It’s likely that many of your past relationships were successful. And it’s likely that any new ones will be, too – whether they last a lifetime, a few years, a few months, or a weekend. Did you have fun? Was the experience valuable? Voila – success!
3. Friendships are often stronger, and last longer, than romantic relationships. Think about how long you’ve known your best friend. Then think about how long your most recent relationship lasted. If you’re feeling lonely, find a friend. While it’s true that, in most cases, you will likely be giving up the physical and sexual aspects of a romantic relationship, that’s why they invented sex toys – and they last longer and cost less than a high-end dinner and drinks.
Where do you find these friends? In places that interest you. Join an online chat group or a face-to-face social or hobby group that you like – a writing group, a book-discussion group, a skiing group, a religious group. You are likely to make good friends who have similar interests – and it’s just possible that you will meet a romantic partner as well.
4. Don’t settle – no matter how lonely you are. As trans people, we can be rejected just because we’re trans. But that doesn’t mean that we have to settle for the first person who shows an interest – unless we happen to be genuinely interested, too. If you find yourself thinking, “I better jump on this. Who else will want me? Who else will have me?”, then move on – this isn’t the person for you.
You decide what kind of person you want to be with, and then go after that type of person. That doesn’t mean that you will get the person of your dreams – one reason we have fantasies is to make up for the disappointments of real life – but if you hike every day and love the outdoors, you probably don’t want someone who expects you to stay inside and watch movies all day. If you’re a vegetarian who can’t stand the sight or smell of meat, you don’t want Ronald McDonald.
Guess what? You get to be just as picky as anyone else. Then, when you find that special someone, it will have been worth the wait.
5. Don’t rule out other trans people. Although many others don’t agree with me, I have never considered someone who won’t date trans people as transphobic. Now, that person might be transphobic, but not simply by virtue of having certain dating preferences. However, if you’re active in the trans community and you’re ruling out the people who you spend most of your time with, you’re dismissing a lot of potential great mates.
If you don’t want to date other trans people because you prefer a certain body type or history or whatever, that’s your choice. But if you don’t want to date other trans people because you think that they are somehow “lesser” than non-trans people, then you’ve got some inner work to do. Do that, then go out and date whoever you want.
Will you find love in 2013? Who knows? The future’s not ours to see – but it is ours to create. So go out and create the best year possible for yourself. When you are happy with your life as it is, a relationship, if you want one, will be the gravy – not the meat and potatoes (or tofu). And no matter what happens, you will always have you.
Happy New Year!