The urge to start dating and how to eat an elephant

I know how it is to be on such a high once you’ve accepted your true self that you feel you’re ready to start dating, to start along the path to sharing your most intimate self with someone else … I’ve been there.

But I feel it should be said that a degree of caution and serious reflection should also be considered in this respect.

I can’t tell anyone what they should or should not do in their own life, but our emotions go through the mill with everything that is happening to us and it can take a lot longer to find the right level of equilibrium whereby we are truly “ready” for such a step than we might imagine.

I just read a blog post by a trans woman, J-L, on a blog I had not visited before, which began as follows:

I’m ready to start dating, I’d like to settle down with somebody nice who accepts me for who I am and is willing to stand by me throughout my ‘transition’ …”

The alarm bells immediately starting ringing in my head and having read the whole post I carried on reading back to try to work out the time-line of her experiences and to gauge whether, in my own mind, I felt my fears were unfounded, and I have to say that I didn’t find anything that would stop me worrying about her. Also, having discovered that she has a young daughter, I worry for her too, even though I can see how important a part she is of J-L’s life.

Let me explain my reasons for this.

In the early days after my “Day of Awakening” I spent a lot of my time in Second Life at one of the Transgender Support groups and joining in with the group chat, and I was quite surprised by the number of times I would hear someone say that they that felt they were ready to start dating, either in SL or the Real World, only for the “more experienced” group members to advocate against such a course of action. (One always has to remember that whatever one does in the artificial reality of Second Life there is always a real person behind the avatar one is interacting with).

I, myself, considering myself to be a lesbian at the time, was feeling that I wanted to seek out a woman who would be all those things to me, (accepting, understanding, supportive, caring, loving), and just couldn’t understand why people were being told to rein back on their feelings.

One of the trans girls I had met through the group, L, had a cis-boyfriend out in the Real World. She was on hormones, they lived in different cities but were very happy, totally committed to each other and planning on moving in together, so if they could find love why couldn’t anyone else?

One evening at the group L introduced me to another friend of hers, S, who was to quickly become my bestest trans girlfriend. Our situations were very similar and we were only reminiscing the other evening about that first meeting and how we instantly clicked with each other. I hope we’ll be friends forever, I live long enough to see both of us through our transitions, and maybe even be the oldest bridesmaid at her wedding. 🙂

After a traumatic couple of years S finally separated from her girlfriend in Real Life not so long ago, and it wasn’t too long before she starting thinking of the future and worrying about whether or not she’ll ever find anyone to love her for the woman she is. S is almost 40 and bisexual, but with a HEAVY preference for men. She was talking about possibly registering on some dating site somewhere, if she could find a suitable one, and it was obvious her head was in a mess with the worry that maybe we all have, that of being “alone” for the rest of our lives.

As we’re so close and are each others’ first port of call in a crisis it was heart-wrenching to hear her going over and over this; still going through the aftermath of the break-up but at the same time yearning for some future partner to make her life complete, to give her love, maybe support her through her transition, and to make her feel like a real “woman” in every sense.

She was considering trawling the gay bars in the city close to where she lives, so desperate was she to fill the gap left by the break-up of her relationship.

After several extremely painful nights chatting about it, letting her talk her head off and exploring all her emotions she calmed down and settled into a more realistic understanding of her situation. She said “Ok, so my 40’s are a time for ME”, meaning that she acknowledges how far she still has to travel on her journey, how difficult life is going to be for her with eventually coming out at work, getting on to the treadmill of hormones and the other necessary changes that she’ll need to go through, and just “being” herself.

She is fortunate in that she’s always pushed the boundaries of androgyny in the way she presents herself so subtle changes over a period of time will take care of the transition in that respect, as opposed to someone like myself for whom a change to a more feminine appearance will send shock waves through anyone who meets me out of the blue, but she does realise now that she has more than enough to contend with without adding that additional burden to her life for a while. And in the meantime if someone special did happen to walk into her life unexpectedly? … well that would just be a lovely bonus.

For my own part  the events and changes in my own understanding of myself that led to Danny and I getting together will be the subject of another post, but suffice to say that looking back at those earlier times when I, myself, felt that I was ready to find someone it would have been a great mistake, and in a way I’m fortunate that nothing ever worked out.

Once we accept ourselves for who we really are we start to re-evolve. We’re still the same person, yes, but our understanding of ourselves, our feelings, our needs, they gradually come more into focus as we develop and that’s not something that should be rushed.

It’s true for me, and I’m sure for many others, that the people we are now have a far deeper understanding of ourselves than say two years ago, and to project ourselves as “ready for a relationship” too early is a surefire way to hurt both ourselves and some innocent other party.

Transition is a slow, long term process of continual and subtle evolution on many levels. Many of us long for that certain someone to come into our lives, but we can’t force things to happen when the time isn’t right.

Question: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One mouthful at a time.

Lecture over. Be safe. 🙂

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