Plenty More Fish in the Paddling Pool

As if dating isn’t hard enough when you’re cisgender and non-disabled.

A lot of the time people don’t like to think about disabled people dating and having sex. It doesn’t bother me, but it does make me jealous.

To unpack that, lately I’ve been reading a lot about various autistic people throughout history and currently as part of a great book on us autistic people (Don’t worry, I’ll review it soon, folks!) and it strikes me how many are married. Maybe it should give me hope but right now being young and single it just makes me jealous, and maybe despair a little. I don’t really know how to follow in their footsteps.

Added to that, the majority I’m reading about are men. Autistic behaviours tend to be less tolerated in women, unless the men are autistic too – And that’s not even my problem because I’m neither a man nor a woman!

equality-2110560_1280I tell you, if you need more proof non-binary people are really neither male nor female, explain to me why not a single hetero- or homosexual person of either binary gender has ever found me attractive. Only a few bisexual people I’ve met ever have. That’s too odd a phenomenon to me in the context of things.

Anyway, I’m not complaining about that since I wasn’t interested in the majority of those hetero- and homosexual people, but it still leaves me with some dilemmas when it comes to dating.

I need to know the person I’m with would want me regardless of genitals to know they really do like me as the gender I am, not instead of seeing me as the one that traditionally aligns with what’s in my pants.

And I need someone who’s okay with everything dating an autistic person entails, all my difficulties and differences. Dating another autistic person would be helpful – Autistic people do tend to assortively mate, meaning you’re more attracted to other autistic people – but then we’d both have the same difficulties! Double the problems!

On top of these fundamental issues is when you disclose statuses like this.

If you’re upfront about them, a lot of people are going to deny you before you even get a first chance because they can’t look past the labels and see the person. And at the other end of that, you risk being fetishised – It happens to trans and disabled people. I wouldn’t suggest looking it up.

But on the other hand, if you reveal further down the line you have to hide aspects of yourself with someone at first and that’s never good. When it comes to things such as what pronouns someone should use for you or autistic hand-flapping, it’s plain uncomfortable to repress those just to make a good impression. Although it gives them a chance to look past the label, as anyone with such a label knows it’s an important part of you; it shouldn’t be something to hide, not if you’re looking for someone who truly loves you.

Also, it just doesn’t mesh with me personally; I’m the kind of person who loves being upfront about every aspect of my life without shame. I don’t like hiding things or suppressing myself in any way. I can understand why other people might be nervous to share such things but it’s against the grain of my specific personality.

book-1945499_1920Luckily there are a few dating sites for people like me, for those who fall outside the norm in some way that’s often along neurodivergent or queer lines. There’s one called *friends (Said ‘Starfriends’) and another called Thurst that I’d recommend looking into. Outside of those, you can try diving into the dangerous pool of something like OKCupid or else you have to get lucky, such as live in New York so you can use MeshBetter. If you’re looking for good dating sites/apps for non-binary people, you will seriously struggle.

One of the main issues is safety, for the reasons outlined above. That’s where *friends and Thurst work well. On *friends, for example, you enter everything about yourself in as little labels, like gender and such, and then what labels you’re looking for in a partner and also what you want from them – Sexual, romantic or platonic relationship, polyamorous/monogamous and so on – so you can use it as much to make friends as to date – And everything about you on your profile is hidden until you choose to let individual people you’re interested in view it. It seems an odd system, but compared to putting up photos of yourself and letting people swipe you based on your looks and then direct message you pictures of their, ahem, dongles it’s incredibly respectful and safe. (Thurst is similar-looking but it’s in relaunch as I write this so I can’t give you a run-down yet.)

*friends seems like a great site, but why haven’t I tried actually using it yet?

A lot of me very much wants a relationship right now, even just more friends, but some part of me is afraid of the change. Or not afraid. Maybe just lazy.

Having to orient a whole new person into my life, one who I know will become the centre of absolutely everything for me and distract me from focusing on anything else if I’m in love with them, feels like a lot of work and danger. I know it’ll shake up my whole life, and even if it’s in a good way I’m still not sure I want or am ready for that right now.

When I was heading into my mental breakdown, one of the things I was desperate for at the time was a relationship. There was a part of me that wanted to find someone perfect and have them fix all the problems in my life by allowing me to completely subsume myself in them. But that’s incredibly unhealthy, and just plain won’t work.

I was happy being single while I was rebuilding myself, but from the fact I’m even thinking enough about dating to be writing this piece I think that time is passing now. I’m still not sure if I’m strong and secure enough in myself as an individual yet to start dating; that whole thing about loving yourself I’ve always taken to be more about being secure and independent since my breakdown. It’s not ‘love’ necessarily, but you need to be strong enough to not lean too much on them, for your own sake and theirs.

Friends are a great help when you’re going through those sorts of intense struggles – Even if I didn’t really have many until I was mostly out of my woods – and I’m certain a good relationship would be just the same. But it’s much riskier starting one in that state. And that’s not even counting the danger of that relationship falling apart while you’re in that already weakened state.

There’s a bit of that too, the fear of trying and starting and then it all falling to bits. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a relationship end so long as you’re happy with what you’ve gotten out of it – There’s a very interesting article on the way our society shames us into feeling break-ups are bad when they could simply be viewed more positively – Relationships ending doesn’t scare me per se, but I have a rule that I want to stay friends with anyone I break up with so that I don’t feel any resentment or regret about them. I don’t want to break up out of negative feelings but instead a mutual and positive agreement.

I know, and have learnt the hard way, having rules for life is a bad idea but I guess it’s more of a goal. I want to come out of relationships feeling I gained from them and was happy for the time we had, instead of feeling that it was a waste of time I could have spent better or on someone else.

skeletal-601213_1920Right now I’m not even certain what kind of person or relationship I’m looking for. Maybe it’s good to be open to someone of any gender and situation – Heck, I don’t need to make my tiny pool even smaller than it is – but at the same time it’s hard going into such a messy world not knowing what you’re actually looking for.

One other dangling concern that couldn’t fit in anywhere is that relationships started over the internet mean you could be so far apart and man, travel/moving house sounds sucky and is just plain hard for me – Unless you’ve got a house for me to move into ; ) I’ll bring my plants.

Anyway, I guess all this is its own dating profile in a way. It might only be on this little site of mine but hey, here you go: I’m single, and likely to be for a considerable near future.

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