Tips For Guys Wearing Women’s Jeans

In a previous writing I discussed my new found interest in blending my wardrobe and wearing some pieces of women’s clothes in public. During my online searches for alternative ways of dressing I found a lot of folks asking if guys can wear women’s clothes. Now who knows what they meant by this. Some were probably interested in venturing out and expanding their self-expression. Others still, were probably trying to make their shame someone else’s problem by policing gender.

For those hoping to branch out and find women’s clothes to wear then yes, you can absolutely put on something cute and flit about town. Since I have some experience in this, I thought I was in a key position to help men out in their quest.

For those who feel the need to police how others may dress; see a therapist.

I must caution that I have resorted to generic terms of men and women, masculine and feminine, for the sake of clarity. However, make no mistake that if these labels don’t fit you, then trust me when I say that I see you.

I’m going to begin talking about pants because I think that is an easy way to introduce a piece of women’s clothing into your wardrobe in a more subtle way than a shirt or a dress would be. Because we often slowly explore things rather than jumping straight in with an entire wardrobe, this seems like a good place to dip in the proverbial painted toe. So let’s start at the top and work our way down by learning a little about women’s pants.

As you will soon find out, I will be referencing the penis and testicles fairly often as that is a chief issue with form and function when crossing clothing styles. So don’t get squeamish on me now.

Where to shop

The only way you are going to know what size works for you is to try some things on. When I started crossdressing I bought things discreetly online. I’m also on a budget so that often means getting things preowned from places like Ebay. The key here is to find sellers who actually do the measuring of their garments. If you buy new from online or even online auction sites, just go to the clothing manufacturer website of the item you are thinking of purchasing and use the size chart to your advantage.

You’ll need to pick up a clothing measuring tape (also used for body measurements) to find out what your actual measurements are. Clothing sizes are wishful thinking at best.

If you are in the store, finding your size is much easier and probably cheaper in the long run. Grab a couple of sizes that you think are approximate and head to a dressing room. 

Waist

In women’s clothes waist size is a series of numbers that has nothing to do with any real world number. I find that I may be anywhere between a size 4 and an 8 depending on which brand and style I have in my hands. It’s infuriating. It would be great if all clothing manufacturers actually used real world measurement as a size. Nothing is true in clothes anymore though and we carry shame about the actual measurements of our waist in part because clothing manufacturers are doing stupid shit like this. 

However, here we are so this means you’ll have to know your actual measurement if ordering online. Do not use the size of your men’s pants because that shit ain’t real either. The men’s jeans I buy list a 28 or 30 waist, but my actual waist measurement is closer to 32 inches.

Stretch fabrics will also measure differently than non stretch fabrics. Within the same brand you may find that a size 6 for instance will fit you in a stretch jean but will require a size 5 in regular jean fabric (or that scenario in reverse).

Some pants, generally non-jean materials, have a size of small, medium, large and so on. The manufacturer’s size chart is a good tool here if you can’t try these pants on in person.

If you’re going to try things on in a store then knowing your measurement isn’t as important as you can just try them on and go from there.

Rise

The rise in a pant is the measurement from the bottom of the crotch to the top of the waist band. There is ultra-low (rare nowadays but popular in the late 90’s), low, mid, high, ultra-high (popular as of this writing and goes by various names).

Low rise works for some guys but others will find it uncomfortable. If you are thin and a low-rise waist doesn’t create a muffin-top kinda scenario for you then you might find this style a good fit. 

An unintentional benefit of these pants is that because they have less distance between the bottom of the crotch and the top of the waistband the zipper is placed lower and takes up a greater area of the front of the pant which makes standing to pee a bit easier. However, the low rise also means it’s a short zipper so it’s still not the easiest feat when it comes time to go fishing for your penis. 

While you’re wearing low-rise pants, bend at the knees and squat to the floor. Where do the pants go? If they start to make you look like a handyman who could use suspenders then go with a pair of pants with a higher rise. You could also look for a low rise style which doesn’t fit snug on your upper thighs which can sometimes contribute to pulling your pants down during such a maneuver. However, I’m not here to yuck your yum, so you do you my dear. 

If the pants stay mostly in place and require very little repositioning when you stand up then this could be a good rise height for you. Even with little movement, I still prefer to wear a belt with low rise pants just to help keep things in place. It keeps the pants snug on my butt, which makes me look better and also gives me a way to accessorize by adding a masculine or feminine flare.

Mid rise is probably where most guys will be comfortable. Pants with this level of rise sit where most people (aside from your 90 year old uncle Harold) wear their pants. A mid rise pant will move around less when bending over as well. I’m guessing that a belt here is still most people’s friend, but you’ll know more about that when you try them on.

High rise pants are a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t have the body type to make these look good. Even if I did, my main concern would be function. Women’s high rise pants often still retain a  small zipper but it is positioned even higher than most other style pants. That means that your deliciously naughty bits sit below the zipper behind a piece of fabric generally bisected with a seam. So if the seam pushes too far up you can end up with a moose knuckle look. Now I am a fan of seeing curves in this type of scenario but it may not be your thing so just keep that in mind.

The other concern is that a higher zipper placement means nothing is lined up to pee whilst standing. You’re going to have to drop trow in order to make that happen. Welcome to a woman’s world.

The other issue with high waisted pants is that they are made for wider hips and a narrower waist. Flaunt it if you got it, but most guys are not built like this so I could see how the fit could miss the mark on multiple fronts.

Leg/Fit Style

Flexibility can be an issue for a number of the styles we are talking about here. Try a pair on, raise your legs, squat down, and just get a sense of how much flexibility you will have. I love how some jeans look but have passed on getting them due to a lack of functionality.

Skinny/Jeggings

Skinny jeans are those which generally hug your legs from start to finish. These also include jeggings which are extremely stretchy jeans that fit like leggings. Be careful with jeggings because a tight fitting ankle is often easy to slide on, but difficult to get back off when dealing with larger feet and ankles. I do not recommend a low rise in this style as crouching will always pull the pants down.

Additionally, while jeggings can be made of extremely stretchable fabric they are often too tight to allow complete free range of motion when raising your legs or bending down. I am extremely thin but even I find these uncomfortable. The flexible fabrics also double to serve the wearer with a mission impossible; positioning your genitalia in any way that could be considered aesthetically pleasing. So while these might be fun around the house (something I still don’t find to be true) they lose utility whilst going about your day.

Bootcut and Flare

These are pants which get larger towards the leg openings. Men’s pants have boot cut options so that style is not a foreign concept for most guys. Flare pants generally have a larger leg opening still and will definitely denote to others that you are wearing women’s pants. It’s a stylistic choice for both of these and some are more subtle than others. Generally these pants fit tighter on the upper leg and relax more as they go down, but each brand is different.

Wide Leg

Similar to boot cut and flare but more relaxed through the thigh and often have a flare at the bottom. Width can vary from slightly wide to extremely wide based on style preference.

Straight

Pretty simple. Just as with guys pants these are a straight shaped leg from start to finish. If you want a feminine look but still retain just a hint of that mysterious and wonderful androgyny then try these as they are also slightly relaxed.

Mom jeans

Yup, here we are. These are jeans that generally have a high waist but a more relaxed fit through the thighs and legs. Some taper toward the leg openings and others are more of a straight leg. It is a broad category and each manufacturer has their own variation on this loosely defined style.

Boyfriend jeans

Like mom jeans, this one is hard to nail down, but these generally hover around a mid-rise waist and have a more relaxed fit somewhere between straight and wide leg. However, like mom jeans, designers are mixing and matching to such an extent that it is hard to tell what you’ll end up with in terms of rise and leg style.

Leg length

Finally something we can talk about that is simple. These run the gamut of petite/short, extra/short, petite, short, regular, long, tall, x-long, and so on and so forth. The best way to find this out is to measure your inseam and use fitting charts online or try them on in the store. Interestingly, leg length is usually accurate so the inseam listed on your guy pants should transfer over to the size chart for women’s. While we are deathly afraid to know our waist size apparently we have no such qualms about the length of our appendages, well . . . most appendages.

Cautions

So here are the extra little things you should know about women’s jeans. 

The tighter the fit through the hips then the less room you will have for your genitalia. I buy pants that fit fairly snug through the hip area. While walking I do not notice anything but I am used to being cradled by brief underwear anyhow. If you wear boxers, yawn . . . sorry I drifted off there for a moment, then this will be a much different transition for you. 

Sitting down is another thing altogether. Things get a bit tight but I honestly enjoy the feeling. It’s a reminder of what I’m wearing and I’m not uncomfortable, rather I’m just getting used to a different fit. I don’t notice it much anymore but I still wouldn’t want to wear them for a 12 hour cross country drive. For most situations they work just fine. Your results will vary and there is no way to know until you give it a go.

I alluded to this but allow me to say outright that your underwear selection matters … a lot. Those boxers I mentioned before are not going to work. In fact, just throw those out all together, you’re not doing anyone any favors. In boxers you are hanging free which means that the seam in women’s pants are pretty much going to position everything to one side or another which isn’t going to look good at all. Something that holds your bits in a pouch is going to be much better as everything will stay a bit more centered. All briefs are not created equal. I have found that the tighter a pair of underwear holds me in place then the better off I am wearing them with my women’s jeans. Still, there is no ideal positioning unless you’re going to tuck entirely. Something is going to favor one side or another. For me I just try to minimize it as much as possible but then embrace whatever I can’t hide.

If you are doing a low-rise jean then some underwear may creep above the waist band. This could be a style that might work for you if your undies are fashionable and less so if your waist band says Fruit of the Loom. Luckily, briefs also come in different rises so if this is a continued problem I’d try a lower cut.

A tighter pants fit also gives a better look at your butt. The drawback here is that the lines your underwear creates can be problematic. Jock-strap underwear may create a dented line where your butt meets your legs as can some briefs. Plus if your goal is to show off your butt (and I have long thought that it should be) then, in my opinion, a thong is the way to go. The pants will be able to cradle each butt cheek without the added resistance of a full panel of fabric from conventional underwear getting in the way. This will allow your posterior to have as much definition as possible.

The other drawback is pants that make your butt look awesome are also just as form fitting in the front which leaves no room or flattering way to position a penis and however many testicles you have. It’s an unfortunate reality, but here we are nonetheless.

Women do benefit here by having seamless underwear. Unfortunately, those will not work well if you have a penis as the lack of seams just allows everything to fall out. 

If you’re going to go the full crossdressing route or are transitioning then there are what they call gaffs to help hold everything in a more concealed position, but I do not have experience with these so I cannot comment further. There is also a company called FIT4U Solutions that claims to have compression underwear without the need for tape or gaff. Again though, I have no experience with these.

The most functionally infuriating thing is pocket space. Women have been rightly complaining about this for years. This is something that you need to check out when you’re trying on pants. Some styles have so little pocket space you’ll wonder why they are even there (some pockets aren’t there). I have a small minimalist wallet the size of a debit card and I can barely fit that into my back pocket. My keys, also minimalist, occupy an entire front pocket. My phone, which is a smaller model (notice a pattern here), sticks out of the other front pocket. Admittedly, I like my phone showing on the front because it is what I’m used to seeing when women wear those pants. Therefore, it makes me feel more feminine. In reality, it’s simply a result of poor design. If I was doing anything with a lot of movement I wouldn’t feel that my phone was safe, but it’s fine for just strutting around.

Color

The last consideration is color. Conventional wisdom says that if you’re looking to conceal some of your masculine lines then dark colors will help accomplish that. I think that’s true but you also have to like how you look in them and so if you find a pair of jeans that you really like and they are in red, white, or whatever then I say just go for it. Wear what makes you feel good luv.

There you have it. I hope I have covered everything you wanted (pun partially intended). Folks with penises can absolutely wear women’s jeans. In fact, my opinion is that these bodies look all the more dreamy in femme fashion. I also vote for letting your bulge show, but given that I really need to work on controlling my drooling in public, I’ll leave that choice up to your preference and comfort level which is all that really matters anyway.

Go out, have fun with it, and let your femme flag flutter like a summer dress in the breeze.

Jettison

By Jeremy

(I wrote this article as a submission for a book which was an anthology about trauma in the punk rock community. Should it ever get published I will mention it here.)

Have you ever wished someone dead? I have. Not from spite mind you. That’s a temporary knee-jerk emotional reaction. The wish of which I speak comes from something deeper. It stems from a need of what feels like survival and a sense that you won’t be allowed to heal without the separation of six feet of dirt between you and someone else. It is derived out of helplessness rather than malice.

Two years prior to developing my morbid desire, I was blossoming full speed ahead…assuming, for a moment, that flowers can achieve speed. I was living in a new state with a new job and for the first time in my life I was openly queer. Not that any of these things feature in this story mind you. I’m just saying that it was one of the best times of my life. 

Then I started dating someone and things plummeted downward as I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship. Nowadays, I prefer to avoid talking about the abuse I experienced. It’s not that it triggers me. It’s just that my need to have others know my trauma is becoming increasingly unnecessary for me.

Nonetheless, here is a brief description of my experience with a few examples so you can better understand the type of behavior I endured and the steps in my recovery. My hope is that this will help people if they have been through this, or if they haven’t, to help them support someone who has.

The person I dated used control and emotional abuse as the cutting edge of their blade. I was kept from my friends and given the third degree if someone messaged me. My social media had to be replete with mentions of her and yet, I was absent from hers. The writings for my blog were often examined to pass her censor. Eventually, she tried to turn my friends against me. There was also the continual attempt to control me with money which she actually said entitled her to special treatment in return. She was fond of taking gifts back each time we broke up.

Our breakups, of which there were many, generally happened as the result of an emotional tantrum when things didn’t go her way. This was all my fault because as she stated “I just made her so mad sometimes.” When we were apart she would use any means she could to reunite us. Usually this consisted of letting me know there was a ticking clock, by taunting me with who she was dating or having sex with next. 

A surprising number of times she was able to get herself admitted to a hospital in order to bring me back to her side. For example, her explanation of one hospital admittance was that someone had slipped a date-rape drug into her drink, she couldn’t tell me the guy’s name and said that the police went to his house, but forgot to handcuff him so he got away. I guess he disappeared from existence after that. Sometimes she would use the truth to bring me back. Once she admitted that she broke me and put me through hell. She said that if I went through that without leaving then she could finally trust me. You know…as if I was the problem.

She was very good at claiming to be the victim of the very treatment she was administering as part of her gaslighting strategy. For instance, one morning I said I didn’t want to have sex and wanted to wait until later in the day. This upset her, as it always did, and when she didn’t relent I went ahead and had sex for the “good” of the relationship. Afterwards, she would say that she only had sex because I wanted to. This was a common tactic of hers. It didn’t make any sense, but it didn’t have to. She got the behavior she wanted and was able to cast herself as the victim. It was a win-win scenario for her, meaning it was a double loss for me.

Whenever I would stand up for myself she would tell me I was mean. I didn’t know if this was true or not. At this point, my reality had been supplanted by hers. The distortions were palpable and I just couldn’t trust my thoughts anymore.

During our penultimate breakup she used the opportunity to tear asunder anything that I had left. She had me removed from the staff of a pro-women’s cycling team, something which was near and dear to my heart. I was also pushed out of where I lived as she began dating/having sex with my roommate. At her behest, most of our “mutual friends” walked away overnight.

Searching for support, I created a social media post about what I had endured. In response, I heard that she issued her own post to insinuate that I perpetrated some type of sexual impropriety upon her. She deleted it soon thereafter, but perhaps I should have been happy to finally make it onto her Facebook page for a couple of hours.

She made her emotions my responsibility to manage correctly. If I couldn’t then there was hell to pay. It was exhausting because, whether good or bad, it was all toxic. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown from living like this. Hell, in retrospect, I was probably living in the middle of the breakdown. 

Over the course of approximately two years with her, I had experienced a gradual wearing away of my logic, goodwill, and self-respect. It was a dissolution of self that resulted in me feeling empty. I saw the shape I was supposed to recognize as my body but nothing inside felt like me anymore. Even the outside seemed changed, the shine had left my eyes and I looked worn and defeated. 

I had been gradually put in an increasingly smaller box throughout my time with her. Once we were ultimately separated, the box was gone but I didn’t know if I could bring myself to stand upright and occupy the space I needed.

The question that loomed large was, how do I come to terms with what I’ve been through and become me again?


Like a plane crash that never hits the ground. 1

The first thing that gave me some unexpected healing was a general understanding of just who the person was who abused me.

I had read about narcissists and I knew some of the traits fit her, but I still wasn’t immediately convinced. What markedly altered my thinking was an article I read about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from being in a relationship with a narcissist. Ironically, I figured I could read this without repercussions. After all, that wasn’t me. I didn’t have PTSD and she wasn’t a narcissist.

I was woefully mistaken on all fronts. I quickly realized that the article was essentially a description of how I felt and who I was at that point in time.

I don’t want to go into what a narcissist is exactly, because while it is illuminating, such a description takes me too far from the topic of healing. Suffice it to say that a narcissist is not someone who is merely arrogant. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a deep-seeded, mental condition for which there is no cure or treatment. If you’re interested, I would recommend reading a few good articles written by actual therapists, if for no other reason than to be able to identify and stay clear of folks like this, but I digress.

As I learned more about narcissists, I began to critically question what she told me versus what I had experienced – two things which were nearly always at odds. I went back through the entire relationship and reprocessed what had happened devoid of the narrative she had told about herself. 

Each time I found that her actions consistently painted a shockingly accurate picture of her identity. It turns out she was a person who was controlling, yet emotionally out of control, insecure, unreliable, untrustworthy, cruel, and so on and so forth.

I had been struggling to reconcile a construct with reality. It is no wonder that I didn’t know what was real anymore. I had been lied to from the beginning. She had mirrored my beliefs and ethos in order to attract me. I wanted to believe that fairytale so much that I refused to see the actual words on the page. Gradually, I found my mental dissonance was gone. It all finally made sense. I had been in an abusive relationship with a narcissist.

I want to iterate that I don’t think it is overly important to identify an abuser with a personality disorder to begin the healing process. Narcissist or not, it wouldn’t change what I have learned. The revelations that began my healing process weren’t about a label or a mental diagnosis specifically but from the realization that I was the recipient of toxic behavior generally.

Why someone is an abuser is their problem to figure out in therapy (not that they will genuinely seek help). It is far more important for you to realize that what you experienced constituted abuse and that you didn’t/don’t deserve it.


I don’t want to know you, I don’t think we should talk anymore 2

She wanted to remain friends, but even thinking about seeing her was a trigger. My heart would start racing, the past came rushing back and I would get a warm, flushed feeling that washed over my body. My fight or flight impulse took over and I would descend into a state of panic.

I couldn’t keep going like this. There was no chance of friendship with someone who treated me with such utter contempt. She will always seek to manipulate me. A narcissist isn’t going to change. Therefore, I have to.

I broke off all contact. I didn’t clue her in that I was going to do this or make any other pleas for space. That would have given her the opportunity to go off the emotional deep end and make my healthy decision a problem for me. I had already been through enough of that. Instead, I just checked out.

I accepted that going no contact wouldn’t stop her from violating every boundary for which I had previously asked. It was never meant to. The point of no contact isn’t to guide someone else’s actions, it is to guide my own. It was a way for me to break the cycle of abuse. It worked on all fronts.

All the letters that she mailed anonymously, taped to my vehicle during the night, or sent digitally went unread and straight into the trash. I didn’t need to read them. I had read her writings before and I knew it would be a mixture of positive and negative; something a narcissist does best. She would say, I hate you, I love you, I’m so happy without you, I miss you, you’re a liar, you were right, I never want to see you again, and oh yeah . . . we should grab a beer sometime.

Nah, I’m good. I’m actually painting my nails that night.

As it turns out, therapists recommend no contact for those who were in relationships with a narcissist. Lucky for me, I instinctively knew that no contact was the only way forward. I couldn’t be subjected to manipulation and abuse while expecting to heal. Well, perhaps that was possible but there’s no way I was going to put myself back there. Since there were no ties that needed to be kept for the good of anyone else (i.e. children or family) I severed any and all contact.

This distance also had to be permanent. Reaching out to her or returning communication is tantamount to giving her permission to treat me the same all over again. I would be implicitly saying that I put her before my mental health and safety.

As an aside, there was one unexpected outcome from this decision. Going no contact was relatively easy. Granted, it wasn’t always so. Just seeing the messages and letters she sent would trigger me and that was difficult; it was an encroachment into the mental space that I was trying to establish. It took over a year for her to stop harassing me. Even so, there wasn’t as much drama as before. Not only had most avenues of harassment been severed during previous breakups, but refusing to engage her on those that remained kept the drama lower than usual.


All I wanted was a Pepsi. 3

Since what I went through was abuse, I knew I had to answer some hard questions about myself. The red flags were numerous and furiously flapping in the wind. So why did I stay? How had I contributed to my predicament? 

I want to exercise caution here. I’m not saying that the abuse I received was my fault. It wasn’t. However, there is no denying that I should have avoided this relationship from the beginning. Yet, I failed to sidestep tragedy. I had to understand why this happened so that I could avoid making this mistake again.

I discovered two reasons. The first was that I was hopeful. When the treatment wasn’t abusive it was agreeable. I had hoped that if we could eliminate her poor behavior that we could have an amazing relationship. I could give her the steady love that she said she had never experienced. I was sure this would calm her and make her see a stable future with me. All she had to do was get past her insecurities.

What I learned from this is that I am not accountable for fixing someone else. No one is. It doesn’t matter if you are a psychologist, a romantic partner, friend, family member, or write self-help books for a living. There is no one who can heal someone else’s trauma. That work falls to the afflicted person. Trained professionals can obviously help, but ultimately the work still has to be done by the actual person seeking counsel. My narcissist wasn’t seeking help. That’s a red flag in its own right. Regardless, the takeaway is that I am not someone else’s savior. In case you need to hear it, neither are you.

Furthermore, a relationship with a narcissist is always going to fail. It’s never going to be healthy. This is because one person is looking for trust and love and the other is looking for a supply of endless attention and control. 

This realization allowed me to release any notion that somehow the relationship didn’t get to be all it could be. It actually became the only thing it could ever be and no amount of hope and stability on my part was ever going to change that.


I’ll save my best for someone else. 2

The second thing I learned about myself was the hardest truth to internalize. I valued my vulnerability and openness so much that I entered into situations where I knew I shouldn’t be. In truth, I was low-hanging fruit for the first manipulative, ego-driven maniac that wandered my way.

Verdicts seem to waver on whether narcissists pick those close to them for their positive qualities or for the ease of which they can be manipulated. I think it’s both. 

Someone who is living authentically is a beacon that others want to be around. This light will attract a narcissist just as it does anyone else. They too want to be around that energy. This energy and attention a person can give a narcissist is dubbed “the supply” and it’s all they crave from others.4

When that energy becomes too much for a narcissist, such as when a person outshines them or won’t be reduced to the capricious whims of the narcissist, they will try and find a weakness in order to reduce the other person. This means a narcissist will seek to destroy the very beauty to which they are attracted. They will then often criticize the victim for no longer being the person they once were. It’s the paradoxical world in which narcissists live and subject others to. If narcissists can’t produce the effect they want then they often dump the partner and move on to the next supply. 

As I mentioned, I valued my openness and vulnerability. I used these traits as a key vehicle for personal growth. That wasn’t the problem as much as the fact that this was all I valued for my development. I had no counterbalance and unknowingly left myself open to harm. It’s all well and good to be empathetic, compassionate, open, and vulnerable. Those are the good things about me that I treasure and I will keep those traits. What I needed was boundaries.

Being vulnerable without creating and enforcing healthy personal boundaries is a form of self-harm. Boundaries are also equally important for self-growth. It is not my responsibility to give unconditionally to those who cannot reciprocate in a respectful and self-aware manner. Setting boundaries when necessary, guides me in a way that feels more centered. I am not a customer service representative for toxic people.

This is why narcissists irrationally explode when someone they are controlling wants to set a boundary. Healthy boundaries are a form of self-care and narcissists know that this choice will automatically exclude them or seek to reign in their behavior in a way they cannot tolerate.

I was forced to pick between healthy boundaries and a relationship for far too long. The only reason that choice was presented to me over and over again was that I kept making the wrong decision. My toxic partner always required concessions to my emotional health. Conversely, me choosing a healthy boundary would have only needed doing once. The relationship would have ended over my choice and I could have gone about my life secure in knowing I had stood up for what was right.

Stated another way, when someone continually refuses to take responsibility and be accountable for their emotions and actions, there are only two ways forward. The first is to simply accept their toxicity and make the burden yours, therefore normalizing the behavior and beginning a pattern of abuse. The other is to call them out, hold them responsible, and in the absence of change, walk the fuck away (preferably in slow motion as the building explodes behind you).


All the chaos is dragging me under. 5

The discoveries I have heretofore discussed came to me fairly readily and I assumed I was on the path to being completely healed. Then something blindsided me.

I found that even two years free of abuse, I was still having some of the same thoughts and behaviors resurface that I did while in the toxic relationship. My brain had essentially been rewired in response to my past.

Allow me to give an example. A couple of years ago I began a relationship with someone which has blossomed. However, I was self-sabotaging the relationship. If you remember, I intimated that my abuser faked her way into being admitted to the hospital on numerous occasions in order to bring me back to her side, literally and figuratively.

When my current partner found themself in the hospital I became triggered and distant. Truth be told, I momentarily ended the relationship. After all, that was the pattern I was accustomed to. My partner’s legitimate hospital stay made me realize that there are going to be unexpected triggers that crop up from time to time. This is to be expected, but what I do with these thoughts and behaviors is vitally more important than the fact that I’m experiencing them.

With the narcissist, talking about difficult topics or feelings was not accepted or allowed. I would suffer some type of punishment from my desire to have a mutually introspective moment. I learned not to bring difficult topics to the forefront. Admittedly, that is the wrong way to handle key mental health moments, but at the time I was in survival mode. I demurred from having my needs met because I was trying to avoid the narcissist’s vengeance and hoping to center myself in that ever elusive moment of calm. 

Contrast this with my current partner who strives to be emotionally aware and present in our relationship. The result of this, as it turns out, is that we can talk about the most difficult topics and they do not seem difficult at all. 

Accordingly, we discussed the fact that illness and hospital stays had come to be traumatic for me. I told my partner that during my harmful relationship I was in a perpetual state of emotional exhaustion from the day to day bullshit I had to endure. On top of that, during breakups when I was still seeking calm, I would have my empathy used against me to be manipulated into the position of caregiver in order to achieve my abuser’s ulterior motives.

This ability to talk with my current partner reinforces what a positive and healthy relationship should look like. I am learning not to act upon my impulses and that in most cases, just talking about them with my partner is enough to cancel out my fears. Because of this, an illness or hospital stay no longer triggers me. I am now able to be present when I am needed.

For the first time since that traumatic relationship (and in some ways for the first time ever), I realize that love is calm, not nervous fear of losing someone. Love isn’t about shouting, or storming out of the room, or employing the silent treatment. Love isn’t about posturing and overcompensation. That’s all the result of insecurity. Love is about feeling comfortable and secure enough to sit down with someone and talk about each other’s truths and difficulties. Love is about being with someone and acting in a way that does no harm. Love is reliably showing up for each other in a way that can be counted on in the future.

I’m not saying that a relationship can heal me or that it can heal you. This is not a story about being destroyed by one person and being healed by another. As I mentioned, that healing work needs to be done by me alone. Rather, this is just a way of saying what a benefit it is to find someone who prioritizes my emotional health as much as I do theirs. This coupled with my willingness to take responsibility for my emotions has been a help in my recovery.

As an important aside: people are fond of saying that a person has to love themself and heal themself before another person will love them. I think when people have been through an abusive situation they might have a tendency to believe this. I’m here to tell you, as English punks may say, that this notion is complete bollocks. 

I think the intention here is probably well meaning. I hope what these people are trying to say is that self-worth comes from within. That isn’t what is happening though. They are saying that you, me, and everyone else cannot be loved until we love ourselves. The truth is, you are worthy of love and capable of being loved despite not having every corner of your emotional house squared away.

Plus, there are some issues that can only arise from being in a relationship. I could have stayed single for 4 or 5 years until I thought I was healed and happy, but I would have never have encountered a partner going into the hospital to know that I had a hidden trigger. Trauma responses that form in a previous relationship often surface in a subsequent relationship, not while you are single. If you feel it’s important to remain single for a time then by all means do so, just do not think you cannot be loved as you are.

Ultimately, what is important is that you are willing to do the heavy lifting in order to solve your emotional difficulties and not make them the responsibility of others. If you are willing to heal then that can happen while single or while partnered. You are lovable either way.

And eternity, my friend, is a long fucking time. 6

As I sat down to write this piece, I had recently come to a conclusion that may be too soon to hear for some people affected by a narcissist and perhaps overdue for others. I had horrible things done to me. These things were done by someone who, make no mistake about it, is the personification of guiltless evil. And yet, here I am.

Why should I let someone so bereft of human decency and moral compass affect my entire life? The answer of course, is that I shouldn’t. I allowed this person into my life and they willfully and knowingly visited trauma upon me for two years. I have lived in fear for an additional three years. That is enough. They don’t get to scare me for the rest of my life. I do not give them that power. I don’t have time for childish, selfish nonsense, to derail who I am. The idea of her is approaching a state of total irrelevance. That’s exactly where I need to be.

I know what I went through is a serious matter and in a lot of ways it did temporarily destroy me. I also know that abuse is not a laughing matter. I was lucky that I did not experience physical abuse. However, there are times when I recall the outlandish meltdowns of my former partner and I have to admit that now I find it rather comical. Seeing what I went through as the product of an emotionally immature person has made me realize how silly I would be to let this affect me any longer. This too feels like healing.


I’m out of clever lines, I guess this is goodbye 7

I began by asking a very grim question about wanting someone dead. I’m thankful to say I no longer feel this way. Mine is still a story of partial recovery, but even partial healing is better than where I have been. Currently, I feel as if I’m about to break through to another level of well-being. It’s an odd feeling, kind of like a bubble that is building and about to burst.

None of what I have discussed here will resolve my past, it’s not meant to, that’s an impossible feat. I know I can never get back to exactly who I was before my trauma and anyway, I don’t want to. How I felt then was just as situational as how I feel now. I am better for having gone through it and come out the other side still full of empathy and with an improved understanding of who I am and what I deserve. I find myself in a much more centered position than I have ever been. I will take all of this and keep building the new and beautiful me. After all, I stood up for myself. I got out. I survived. I will thrive.

As we part, I want you to know that the road to recovery often seems dark because we have been driven underground. You will begin recovery within the dark tunnels of your psyche. There is nothing wrong with being here. It is where all self-searching journeys start. It allows you to see whether the foundation of everything above you is secure or if it needs rebuilding. It is work that is necessary to know who you are.

In this long dark tunnel, you can’t always see the light at the end. You may bump along the walls as you go, but it’s the going that is the most important part. Eventually, a dot appears in the black. It’s not a light at the end of the tunnel yet, but this infinitesimally small dot represents hope. As you get closer you bump into the walls fewer times and your path begins to straighten as the light becomes an increasingly blinding force. You are on the precipice of a simultaneously intimidating and exciting self-discovery.

You will emerge into the light basked in warmth with an appreciation that can only happen because of where you have been. The world now opens up before you. When you look back into the tunnel you will see black, but it is self contained. It is now the light which envelopes you. Where you venture from here is up to you. May all your dreams come true. I love you.

About the Author

Jeremy got his start writing philosophical and sociological articles which led to a desire to help others. He is currently writing at the blog Sex Love & Ire (sexloveandire.com) and working on a few books to help people live meaningful lives.

Works Cited

1 – Alkaline Trio, “Nose Over Tail,” recorded 1998, Asian Man Records,
track 4 on Goddamnit, 1998, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5FIxAb_QdhY.

2 – New Found Glory, “Happy Being Miserable,” recorded October 2016,
Hopeless Records, track 4 on Makes Me Sick, 2017,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NLwxPReIZDw.

3 – Suicidal Tendencies, “Institutionalized,” recorded February 1983, Frontier Records,
track 6 on Suicidal Tendencies,1983,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LoF_a0-7xVQ.

4 – Lancer, Darlene. “The Concept of Narcissistic Supply.” Psychology Today.
August 7, 2021. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/
202108/the-concept-narcissistic-supply?amp.

5 – Four Year Strong, “Brain Pain,” Pure Noise Records, track 6 on Brain Pain, 2020,
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lfjwGuRfN-A.

6 – Bad Religion, “You,” recorded June 1989, Epitaph Records,
track 10 on No Control, 1989, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2s7paN4AHpE.

7 – Face to Face, “Farewell Song,” recorded 2020, Fat Wreck Chords,
track 12 on No Way Out But Through, 2021, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/
So_Long_and_Thanks_for_All_the_Shoes.

State of the Relationship Address: Call me Jena!

As my partner slid her hands beneath my dress, pushing it up around my waist, I asked “Will you call me Jena?” This is something I had wanted for a long time but for whatever reason the femme side of my gender was rarely on display during my sexual encounters with her. She complied, but I could sense a little unease in her voice as she said my name. So I took over referring to myself in femme ways and relaxing into a roll I so desperately wanted to fill. Doing this for the first time and accepting that part of me was exciting and liberating. Everything inside me had been leading in this direction.

After this experience, I asked my partner how she felt using my femme name (admittedly, something I should have done beforehand). For a little background, my partner is a cis-woman and as straight as they come. By my telling of it, she has never found any part of a woman attractive in any significant way. She is attracted to male-bodied me and yet has been supportive of me wearing whatever female clothing I desire in private or in public.

Still, she said using a femme name for me was not something with which she was comfortable. It did not create any attraction for her. Quite the contrary, I got the impression that it created a kind of repellant visceral response (the opposite of attraction basically).

I want to be clear that I do not fault her for it in any way. While I think there are aspects of attraction that we can control and help shape, there is also a part of desire that cannot be forced. Accepting this duality has been central to my own journey of exploring sexual attraction and even gender identity. I accept and support her boundaries.

Additionally, for about two years we have had an agreement that I could be with other queer folks sexually. For this arrangement I would be non monogamous and she would be monogamous. This was actually her idea initially and one which she mentioned a couple of times before I actually accepted it as a viable possibility. We did this because I wanted to continue exploring my queerdom and retain my visibility as a queer person.  

During that time of being able to “date” (or whatever you want to call it) other folks I had talked to many folks but none who could muster up any interest that went much past the tip of their genitalia. I also found it hard to believe that my partner was one hundred percent okay with this arrangement. Accordingly, I didn’t want to proceed full steam ahead and do irreparable damage to our relationship. As a result, I had only been with one other person who was a dear friend of mine on one occasion.

So when I initially heard that she couldn’t accept calling me Jena I was worried but knew that perhaps I could still explore this aspect of me with others. I felt like I still had a lifeline and an outlet in which to revel in who I was becoming. A week or two later this too came to an end.

My partner told me that while our relationship arrangement made logical sense to her that she couldn’t accept it on an emotional level. Now that she had discovered and spoke her truth, I was happy to focus instead on monogamy. The clarity of monogamy has always felt reassuring and I find simplicity and beauty in the practice.

All of this creates a number of quandaries for me. Is my femme side in any form a problem for her that will eventually surface? For now, I am aware of the possibility, but am accepting that I have heard the truth as best as she currently knows it and am proceeding accordingly. 

The larger issue for me is that now that I am monogamous can I express my femininity in such a way that is still fulfilling for me while not being off putting to my partner? Is it possible to walk this line and leave everyone happy or will tending to her boundaries squelch my identity? Furthermore, is it even reasonable to walk a line at all where gender identity is concerned? Isn’t it more preferable to be who I want and need to be and let the chips fall where they may?

I don’t pretend to have the definitive answers, or any answers, but I do want to talk about what I have discovered while wrestling with these questions.

Realizing My Femme Side

In my past, I had kept my femininity shutoff from the outside world. I was closeted on purpose. Growing up I was surrounded by people who didn’t understand virtually any queer issues nor did they make an attempt. They mainly ridiculed and disparaged those who were different. Twenty some odd years ago, I shared a few pics with the person who was my first spouse. They were of me wearing her undergarments. Later when she was upset about something, she said, “I leave for a week and the first thing you do is dress up in my underwear.” I didn’t know exactly what this meant as it didn’t pertain to the argument at the time but I got the picture. I was expected to knock it the fuck off. 

I had reached out to someone I thought I could trust and I received a scolding that was the death knell to me living openly with her. I didn’t want to experience that again and in small minded (I mean small town) America it was sure to happen each time I tried to publicly become who I needed to be.

So I kept it all under wraps. I dressed in femme ways only when I was alone and my partner was gone. I never mentioned it to her again. Later with other partners I was able to bring this side of me to life but mainly did so only in the bedroom; the most private of spaces.

This year though I have started wearing women’s clothes (pants and shorts) out in public. It is still less than I would like to wear, but it is a process and I am in the middle of it. Still, dressing with femme clothes in public is removing the secrecy around my gender. It is helping to give me some visibility as a queer person.

Likewise, when I was chatting with folks on dating apps I was leaving it up to people to call me by my masculine name or my femme name. Those who chose my femme name lightened my step. It felt foreign to be called Jena but it also resonated with me and made me happy. Having this quality in my life makes me feel more rounded and gives me visibility as a queer person. It’s as if my figurative masculine edges are being sanded down a bit. I like that.

What I’ve Learned . . . Kinda

This revelation is another step in understanding where I have been and in some ways where I am at now. My desire to be femme during intimacy was because I had kept this side of me in relative secrecy. I’m curious to see if having the femme me on display in public will erase the need to be referred to this way occasionally by my partner. If this is the case then I’m not walking any figurative line at all. Problem solved.

Conversely, if I still have the urge to be more femme than my partner can handle then it will be unfair to myself to continue walking someone else’s path. It seems as if this is the more likely outcome. While dressing femme in private led me to also dress in public, the occurrence of the latter has not diminished the occurrence of the former. So it seemingly follows that using my femme name in public is still going to be something I desire during intimate moments as well, though that experiment has yet to be conducted.

It must be admitted though that in a monogamous relationship that one half of the experiment is missing. I can’t use my femme name during intimacy to see how much I need to express that part of me. I just have to wait and see if I think I want it used. If I do, the relationship will end and I’ll have to hope that I was correct and that I didn’t make the wrong choice. It has become a much larger burden under monogamy than it was previously.

I used to feel as if I had a clean slate to explore and write down who I wanted to be. Now the surface of my slate is hemmed in with words to direct my path. I can write down who I am so long as I do not obscure parts of the slate which already contain the writing of others.

Keep in mind, I’m not asking to go back to nonmonogamy. That didn’t work and anyway, I don’t need it. It’s just that now I don’t know how to proceed. However, proceed I must because there is no other option before me.

I have had a difficult time writing this because I do not truly know where I stand. Each line I put down on the page feels shaky and dangerous. How much of what I write here is being constrained by the boundaries of my partner and by my fears? Truthfully, I do not know. Only time will reveal that answer. I have tried to be as kind and yet truthful as possible. I know that being gender fluid is firmly a part of me. I’m unpacking it piece by piece and while it feels good to do so, I’m scared of the consequences that my thoughts on this page could have in my current relationship. Seeing it all typed out here is less than reassuring.

If the romantic aspect of our relationship does not survive then it is no one’s fault. In fact, it will be for the best of all possible reasons. That my gender identity does not line up with her sexual attraction is certainly no one’s fault. It is just one of those unfortunate things which can occur as people grow.

For now, my partner says she is comfortable with me dressing in femme clothes and is good with incorporating these clothes into our intimacy. This gives me hope and currently I could use a little more of that.

My First Time

For decades now I have been crossdressing in private. In the last couple of years my desire to take a little bit of this feminine flair out into the world has been increasing. I was going through my clothes the other night and I noticed how much I liked wearing women’s jeans. Moreover, I realized that certain designs were not that far off from the men’s pants I was already wearing. Suddenly, wearing the perfect pair of women’s jeans seemed like a nice blend of masculine and feminine.

There was a slight catch. Because I acquired most of my women’s clothes surreptitiously from strangers (craigslist, ebay, etc), I didn’t get to try any of it on ahead of time. So while I have a huge collection of clothes (more womens than mens, truth be told), not all the pants fit as well as I would like. Accordingly, I knew that to be comfortable for everyday use I couldn’t shop blindly and hope for a good fit. I would have to go the conventional shopping route.

I had a pair of men’s jeans from American Eagle that fit me well. Based on that and the selection I saw online, I decided to give them a shot. Once there, I quickly settled on a pair of their Artist bootcut low rise jeans in an x-long, cuz “I gots legs for dayz yo!” I was curious to try the Boyfriend jeans in a more straight leg, but that style may be discontinued as I could not find it in the store.

I went for the dark color version of the jeans to help hide the masculine shape of my legs just a little bit more. The jeans were a good fit. The stretchy Artist jean fit snugly through my hips and upper legs and then relaxed around my knee and gently flared at the cuff. I was initially concerned that the flare was too much but once I put on my shoes that concern diminished. The bootcut flare on this style pants may still be a bit on the large side for my liking but I decided to go with it. 

Admittedly, one of my chief concerns was how my butt would look in them. I have a rather flat posterior and so my butt really gets lost in most of the sloppy fitting guys’ jeans – happily, it looks better than it ever has. I’m not creating anything I don’t have, I’m not about to pad anything, but it definitely helps me show off a bit. 

As curves are concerned, the front of the pants does showcase more than what folks with penises are probably used to. It’s not extreme, it’s just that we aren’t accustomed to seeing our form showing through (a trend that I would love to see reversed). The pants have enough compression to keep anything from being a spectacle. This aspect of jean fit does mean that the type of underwear I wear matters much more. I’ll touch on this in my next article but suffice it to say that the tighter you can bundle everything together the better the fit looks.

Now that I had found my pair of pants the only thing left to do was put them on and go outside. During my first wearing I was a little self-conscious but not because of anything I noticed from other people. It was just a reticence based on the fear of what could happen. Truthfully, if people were looking at me, I didn’t notice. I honestly didn’t even feel like I was making a scene. I was just being me. 

That last part is important because I have noticed that I am happier that I now wear these types of pants. They say (i.e. studies have shown) that people who have traits which cross the (artificial) gender divide have higher self-esteem than those who rigidly conform to it. My experience reinforces this finding. Living more authentically for me brings me joy, staying hidden does not.

After multiple outings in these new jeans I love them more each time I go out. There are differences based on what I’m used to with guys pants, that is inevitable. I am noticing more and more how they give me a feminine look, more than I had anticipated. However, I have come to love this as well. 

I have always been shamed for my thin body by other men. It used to bother me that I wouldn’t be perceived as masculine. Now, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t end up with the compacted muscular frame I wanted as a kid. My tall lanky build lends itself well to my desired style of dress. I enjoy seeing clothes hug my body and accentuate the thin form that I have come to love. It’s all very wonderful to experience.

At this moment, I am wondering how to maintain my blend of clothes come summer (jeans are too hot in warm weather). I’m currently exploring women’s shirts to wear with my guy shorts as well as looking for a few styles of womens shorts to pair with some of my more form fitting shirts. This is an exciting new frontier for me and as few people seem to talk about this type of thing I plan on detailing my experiences here as I go along my cute, little, merry, crossdressing way.

Until next time, join me in obliterating those gender boundaries my beauties.

Footnote:

I have resorted to generic terms of men and women, masculine and feminine, for the sake of clarity. However, make no mistake that if these labels don’t fit you, then trust me when I say that I see you, you sexy gender trail blazing thang you (I really don’t talk like this, lol). I am also aware of the argument that there are not women’s clothes or men’s clothes, but just clothes that anyone can wear. I find validity in this viewpoint. However, for me there is a distinct appeal to wearing something that I know is designed for women. I also enjoy referring to it in that way. I feel sexy wearing “women’s” clothes. Doing so allows me a rejection of masculinity that feels more complete than wearing gender neutral clothes would.

This likely stems from the fact that I am exploring the identity of being genderfluid and with that the recognition that I sometimes feel a little more masculine and sometimes a little more feminine and never fully one or the other. For this reason, I’m starting to hedge on calling what I do crossdressing. Until I come up with a better term then this description will awkwardly suffice.

Article soundtrack: Every Time I Die – Post-boredom. Every Time I Die – Ebolarama. PUP – Totally Fine. Bayside – Strangest Faces.

State of the Relationship Address: Down Periscope!

Every now and then in life I bump up against people that truly help me see who I am. Sometimes it is because they compliment me in a way that surprises me. Other times it is because of the juxtaposition between who they are and who I am. This latter scenario is my focus here.

Some of these juxtaposed folks suffer from what I have dubbed Woe-is-me Syndrome (WIMS). These people manifest some type of negative attitude which pushes others away, whether it be desperation, despair, or anger. They often have also developed a type of “me against the world” mentality. Unfortunately, when the terms of their existence are that stark, the world generally wins. As a result, they begin to feel as if everyone is out to get them and their mental well-being suffers.

They can become so dedicated to their gloom and doom outlook that attempts to give them another way to view a situation are often met with their blatant refusal of said alternative, a doubling down on their original position, and in rare cases, outright hostility towards a new view.

I have a friend that is in the grips of WIMS. Seemingly, everything that happens in the world brings them down and everyone who looks at them is trying to do them harm. They are so lonely. They lament all their failed relationships, while doing nothing to make new ones or correct the destructive patterns which have led to this isolation. Their inability to control their emotions has negatively affected their career in the past and present. It has become so bad that, once, a guy gave my friend a business card for a job. Instead of thinking about the potential good fortune, my friend began to wonder if the guy was trying to somehow find out where my friend lived to do them harm.

When I broach the possibility to my friend that their view of the world, and their place in it, is causing them harm it is first met with an acknowledgement of “yeah, maybe you’re right” and then a litany of their experiences justifying why they should be like this. Most of these experiences, dare I say excuses, are borne out of no greater logic than the business card incident I just described.

The thing is, I understand this mentality well. At one point, I was clinging to an ideology that was clearly doing me no favors.

This part of our tale takes us back about 20 years. I was an emerging feminist and a trained sociologist. As such, I am very familiar with socio-economic stratification and the mechanisms which perpetuate class, gender, and racial inequality. In fact, if I were to pinpoint the moment that my WIMS kicked in it was during my time studying inequality in America during the completion of my Sociology degree.

I was also educated in the ways that numerous marginalizations can create a greater disenfranchisement of the individual, which is dubbed intersectionality. This means, for example, that a woman can, and likely will, experience different treatment than a man. This treatment disadvantages her by depriving her of the same opportunities that a man could expect to experience. Further, a woman of color can experience even more institutionalized forms of disenfranchisement than could a white woman. A woman of color who doesn’t speak English will likely experience even more. Each subsequent status of other (we could add to the list, physically impaired, homeless, queer, trans, etc) creates more obstacles for this person’s equality to those who do not embody these traits. It is basically a compounding of disadvantages based on the ideology of this person as being “other.”

While I was learning this I was also living in rural Illinois. It was clear that I had a personal growth ambition that outstripped my racist, sexist, and homophobic counterparts. That sentence is a little harsh, but I’m going to keep it.

Because of these things I felt both the ways in which I was privileged and disadvantaged. Feeling thankful and guilty for the former and rather constrained by the latter. I continually struggled with who I was compared to what everyone else expected me to be. I only fit in because I did not know how to be myself when that meant pushing against those expectations.

I couldn’t explore who I wanted to be without the disapproving comments of others. I was being policed due to their insecure need for conformity. This made it difficult to sus out if I was queer and later once I accepted it to find out what being queer meant for me. 

Once I had included myself under the umbrella of being queer, I felt marginalized due to bi-erasure (being viewed as straight if with a woman and gay when with a man) and never quite seen as the multi-dimensional person I was. Moreover, there were folks even in the queer community, my suppossed family, who would rather me not exist. My sexual orientation was a threat to them. I was hemmed in on all sides.

I pondered my gender (hell, I still do). I feel a little non-binary-ish. I like to crossdress and enjoy the pretty side of things. If I could switch between a variety of male and female forms based on my moods that would be amazing. 

There’s a good deal of folks who don’t have the space for someone like me. They don’t want me to figure out who I am if it means deviating from the behavior of which they approve. I know what these types of people say about transfolk because they think I’m a safe audience. I know that the same disapproval and scorn is also waiting for me if and when I deviate from the norm. The simple act of painting my nails elicited disgust from midwestern bigots (and others). Imagine if I showed up in women’s jeans, a cute top, and eyeliner.

I hated the stereotypes of what it meant to be a man (still do). They felt so ignorant and violent to me. It repulsed me to my core and I lamented the strictures around manhood that I felt kept me locked in place. As a thin, slight young “man” I never had the physique that I thought was masculine and I grew up thinking myself less because of it (luckily, what was a burden then looks good in a dress now).

I also struggled with my working class status and the ways middle and upper class America protected and elevated their own. I had no such footholds in life.

Religion was another way in which I felt like an outcast. I was fresh from relinquishing my priesthood position and I was a fiery, newly branded atheist. It was a view that wasn’t accepted in middle America, but I don’t think I was actually marginalized because of it. However, my determination to teach everyone about the flaws in religious thinking definitely put me at odds with folks.

So as a queer, non-binary, working class, crossdressing, atheist I was somewhere in the venn diagram of intersectionality. I felt pretty alone and isolated and didn’t see anyone living the life I wanted. I had crafted my image around these various forms of disenfranchisement. I was angry and felt as if my anger was appropriate and shouldn’t be mitigated. I felt as if viewing the situation any differently meant I was giving in to the powers that be.

During that time, if anyone tried to give me a different view of things I would tell them that they were wrong and that these things which held me back were real. I was not being a pessimist, I was being a realist.

I still hold that most of this is true. All of the marginalizations I mentioned above are in fact real and the effects of them can be pernicious, make no mistake about it. Folks have been killed just because they were living authentically and some insecure, fearful, mostly male, person couldn’t handle it. 

There will always be systemic forces at work in society and I am not likely to move the needle on those things greatly. However, one of the things holding me back was something I could completely change and that was my response to those injustices.

The “me against the world” type of thinking was not making me happy and was pushing people away. So I figured out that I could keep going down the bleak path I was traveling or stake out new ground and a new outlook.

I needed to be the best version of me in spite of those socio-economic forces. I wanted people to be attracted to my calm and positive energy. I wanted to be a source of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally, I wanted folks to be challenged by the fact that all these comforting things come from a non-binary-ish, feminist, socialist, anarchist leaning, crossdressing, big ‘ol beautiful queer. I wanted them to see that people like me are not to be feared. We are just folks trying to live our lives.

This would be my contribution to myself and to moving the inequality needle. It would help me to bring people closer and to counter their expectations of how someone like me is supposed to look or act. I would be a teaching moment by simply being myself.

Detailing how I changed my outlook would take me far from the scope of my message here. For now, I will just say that I learned how to relax a little more each day and gave myself the mental, and sometimes social, space to become who I really wanted to be. 

My endeavor has yielded results. I’m still a work in progress, I think that’s always true when self-improvement is the goal, but there are moments when I get a glimpse of how far I have come.

Recently, I began having a conversation with a person that existed within the nexus of intersectionality. Things were a little off from the very beginning. For starters, we picked out a week in which we would meet in person. They quickly put that idea on hold. Their comments indicated that they had given themselves over to the prospect of meeting too readily for comfort. It was clear that they were used to patterning their behavior from fear and were now in emotional retreat.

No matter, I had the time and mental space to see if things could progress before they torpedoed our connection in one glorious explosion.

Unfortunately, when we spoke I would ask about them and they didn’t ask about me. After a month of conversation, I can say that they literally knew nothing about who I was aside from a few identity labels and a list of hobbies I provided on our first day of chatting. Instead, we talked about what was going wrong in their life. I began to wonder if there was anything else to them. 

Then things quickly came to a head. They made yet another disparaging statement, this time about despising something. I had grown tired of the gloom and doom. I needed an extreme last ditch effort to turn this around. I was done with the dynamics that were occurring so, as imperfect as the decision may have been, I decided to call them on it. I sent two sentences saying they could continue to be angry over what they can’t control or they could take the reins and create something new and wonderful in their life. Then I retired to get a shower. 

That was pretty much all it took to flood tubes one through four. They made a number of assumptions about me and then became angry at me over those assumptions. They became angrier still that I hadn’t immediately responded back. Because of all of this, they said they didn’t want to talk for a week.

After I completed my evening ablutions I discovered the drama that had played out on my phone. I replied with the reason for my absence and that I would be around in a week if they were still up for talking. 

That was all I sent. I didn’t justify my actions or defend myself against their allegations. There was no point in trying to have a rational conversation where none had existed prior. It certainly wasn’t going to happen now that they were triggered. Perhaps a week without talking would create a little levity and we could discuss what happened and why.

Not a chance. The next morning, I awoke to a message saying that the universe had given them a sign and our connection wasn’t going to work out. They told me to stay positive because it is a beautiful thing and that this was goodbye. Compared to the last message I received they at least seemed calm.

I was perfectly fine with this outcome and I wished them a peaceful life filled with happiness. 

Their response was that they don’t get to live a happy life because society won’t let them (insert angry screed about social forces here) and that my positivity was toxic and a result of my privilege. Therefore, they are going to block my phone number. Fire all torpedoes!

Yikes. What a rollercoaster.

I can only assume that all of this was a type of posturing. After all, there is little point in blocking me after I made no attempt, nor did I show any interest, in messaging further. I suspect that calling me toxic and blocking me was meant to do me emotional harm (a one-upmanship of sorts). However, quite the opposite happened.

I’m not at all bothered by any of this. As I have written about before, I consider these occurrences to be a blessing of sorts. We are just in two very different emotional places and that is perfectly fine. If my outlook is too shiny and triggers someone with WIMS then I totally get it. 

However, I do not acquiesce to casting the outcome of my struggle to become a positive person under the generic woke nomenclature of toxic. Quite the opposite, I left that encounter feeling better about myself than I have in years.

You see, after emotionally conquering society’s downward gaze and crafting my new outlook, I ended up in an abusive relationship. Over the course of a couple of years this person systematically tried to eradicate my positivity and happiness. During my down moments (near the end that may have been all I had) they would chastise me for being unhappy. It has been a long journey to work through the PTSD that was created during that time in my life.

Since then, I have wondered if my positivity was even visible. I have been fearful that it wasn’t. I thought that I had failed to become who I wanted to be.

To have this new person try to use my positivity against me in such an erroneous way meant that I was seen. I, twice, built myself up. Once after battling systemic inequality and then after enduring the mental beatings of an abusive ex. This let me see that the good in me is still here and thriving. I felt beautiful, because I knew my past and what I had accomplished to blossom into what I am now.

I am exactly who I need to be at this moment and that is an amazing feeling.

I hope you too blossom. Be responsible, be empathetic, be lovely, and always work to build a better you. I wish you peace and happiness in your life.

Horny Hometown

They say you can never go back. Sometimes though that isn’t true. 

I’m from a small town in the middle of nowhere Illinois. When I was a child I had a crush on a fellow classmate. He didn’t know it at the time. What I didn’t know is that he also had a crush on me.

Once we were out of school, I would occasionally bump into him at the store. I would say hello, hoping he would say anything back. It never really happened. Crushes can be weird that way. 

Twenty five years later we discovered our mutual interest and discussed possibly meeting up to fulfill some part of our desire. 

The thing I didn’t mention about this small town is that it is somewhat incestous. Through social media I watch people bounce from person to person, classmate to classmate; married to one and then another. It’s like a game of romantic musical chairs and when the music stops for the final time you die with the one you’re next to. 

I often wonder if anyone imagines potential romantic partners existing outside of that two mile square radius. 

My crush messaged me to say that another classmate was in a bar and had just made a couple of moves on him. He seemed very excited about it all. Nothing against either of them but I suddenly became aware of the dynamic I was considering entering into.

I don’t think I am above anyone that lives there, it will always be a home, but I don’t want to become another townie fuck toy. Someone who is just a tidbit of conversational fodder consisting of “hey did you hear who so and so had sex with!” A coupling with my crush would initiate me into the familial order of the small town orgy. It’s not that the talk alone bothers me, I’m sure I’ve been a part of the gossip round table before. It’s that I don’t want to become part of the culture and what it represents. I do not want to shrink back down to fit in there. 

I realized that during my return trips, I visit the same place I was at during high school, the same place I was at when I married at 20, the same place I was at when I divorced years later, and the same place I left 900 miles behind me 8 years ago. 

Nothing there has changed, except for me.

A Story of Depression, Dating, and Boundaries

A friend of mine shared a meme on Facebook that said never give up on someone with depression. I like that sentiment. If you have a long relationship with someone it’s definitely a reminder we need from time to time. Though lately, I have been struggling with this ethic and have come to a few nuanced opinions that run contrary. Chiefly, that when dating there may be times to walk away from someone who has depression (or other mental health conditions) and that it’s okay to do so. 

That sounds harsh and my gut tells me that it makes me sound like a horrible person. Historically, I have almost always extended myself to others even if I have little left to give. My gut informs me here as well; this is a bad strategy. Somewhere in between there must be a balance.

I have had people say that I’m an empath. I don’t believe in new-agey empathic ability, but I am highly sympathetic and value deep connections with others. People often say they feel safe around me and tell me things that they have previously told no one. This means, as a friend once told me, that those who are hurting seek me out for comfort. This is a blessing that without boundaries becomes a detriment.

Perhaps that explains my relationship history. I had an eighteen year relationship where the other person dealt with depression and mania. I was mostly on the outside looking in and was shut out concerning my partners thoughts and emotions. 

My next relationship was with someone coping with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. They chose to talk about the problems they were having with our relationship only as they were packing their things to leave. Two years later, they said we couldn’t be friends. I didn’t really get a good reason for any of it, not that I have to. It was their choice to make. 

Last, I spent another two years in a truly abusive relationship with someone who was on the heavy end of the narcissist spectrum.

I had given myself over to these relationships and extended myself in ways that were both reasonable and not. Most of the time, the emotional flow and attention felt like a one-way street and to a large extent I understand. Having a mental health condition can make it especially difficult for someone to show up for a partner in the way it is needed. As the brain turns to bleak thoughts it can be hard to ask for help, discuss feelings, and to know what is real. People who have a mental health condition sometimes use all of their willpower to take care of themselves. They don’t always have the ability to look out for someone else as well (1).

Flash forward to my more recent dating life and I’m still running into people with some of these difficulties, but something in me has changed. Namely, that I don’t have the space for folks like this that I once did. I need a mutually supportive relationship; a connection with someone where we lift one another up. Otherwise, it’s a rush of goodwill and emotion flowing out without much in return. It leaves me depleted.

My relationships have taught me that it’s not my job to heal everyone. In fact, strictly speaking, it may not be my job to heal and center anyone but myself.

I came around in my thinking about a year ago when I started seeing someone that was dealing with depression. When we were together I could tell they liked me and I liked them. Still, they were understandably distant. Plans were canceled and messages were returned 10 or more hours later if not the next day. It wasn’t exactly the kind of behavior that fosters a solid connection or indicates interest. I had to end that relationship and I was honest with them and myself as to why.

People will come with their own baggage because, my gods, who doesn’t have that? Run from anyone who says they don’t. Should someone come along who has a mental health condition who can also care for me as I care for them then I will gladly accept them into my life.

For instance, I have a friend whom I dearly love. They push back against chronic depression and addiction every day. I’m not going anywhere in that relationship. They have let me in enough to understand what they deal with and they still manage to be there for me even though it must be difficult at times. 

That’s the kind of love that I want, and need, and it’s okay and even healthy to say so. 

So I’ve started a new chapter in my life. I don’t have the mental space anymore to pour myself out for others without anything in return and I’ve been bowing out from those situations when I feel the need. 

Those twenty two years weren’t a loss. I don’t view experiences that way. It has given me a hyper-awareness of when people aren’t able to fully step into a relationship. I still give folks the benefit of the doubt because I think people are deserving of that. If they cannot meet me where I am then I just step aside. 

Staking out boundaries for myself is incredibly hard to do. Still, this feels healthy and I want to stick with it. I want to put myself in a position to find someone who can show up for me as I can for them. This is part of how it will happen (2).

1. Though I don’t think this gives those who have a mental health condition an excuse for carte blanche, because who we are is defined in part by how we deal with others. I see people using things like introversion (not a mental illness) and depression as excuses for how others must make concessions for them and their behavior. That works to a degree. Just as others may have to make concessions to occasionally accommodate them, so too must they accommodate others. I think the key for those with a mental health condition is to know when to push their boundaries to be there for others and when to politely bow out in order to take care of themselves.

2. I wrote this when I was dating. As of this writing my tactics have been successful in helping me to establish a relationship that is reciprocal.

Cis Is Not a Four Letter Word

I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of ire directed toward cis men. Primarily this is from some feminists and transgender folks.

For those who don’t know a cis person is someone who is comfortable with the gender in which they have been raised. So if you were called a male at birth, raised as a male, and have no problem with being male then you are a cis man. If you are not comfortable with the gender you were given at birth and you feel as if you should be another gender then you would be considered transgender. These are over simplified explanations, but for now simple works because my point here isn’t strictly about labels or identity issues.

Somehow cis has come to be slang for everything that is wrong with men. There is nothing wrong with being a cis man, or cis woman for that matter, just as there is nothing wrong with being a transman or transwoman. It’s just another form of being.

I understand that problems arise when cis men don’t check their priviledge and act in ways that marginalizes and harms others. I also realize that among all offenders, cis men are the largest group both as a population and as a percentage. 

A cursory reading of my writings here should dispel any notions that I go easy on men, quite the contrary. This is not one of those “not all men” writings. I’m not using this as a cop-out for me or anyone else. I give guys a lot of shit because I grew up around them, date them, and hear the dumb things they regularly say which indicates a lot of them haven’t done any personal searching.

What we should be fighting against is toxic behavior no matter who exhibits it. Having dated cis men, cis women, and trans women (sorry no trans men yet, but I love ya just the same) I can tell you that toxic behavior can be found in all of these groups. Also amongst these groups are some genuinely lovely people. Everyone has responsibility and thus should be held accountable.

There are a lot of cis men out there who can be or who are feminist and trans allies. We don’t need to push them away.

As you can imagine this is a little personal for me. I consider myself to be very much pro feminist, pro choice, pro trans rights, pro identity rights, and most likely a cis man. 

That last part depends on who you talk to; for instance Kate Bornstein in her book Gender Outlaws would posit that I am trans by bucking certain guy norms and by the fact that I’m also a queer crossdresser. Truthfully, how people describe me doesn’t much matter to me. However, since I am somewhat to mostly content with being a man let’s just say I’m cis for our purposes here.

If you’re trans, queer, and feminist, I’m doing my damnest to be there with you. I regularly check my privilege and allow others to check it for me. If I am called out, it does not diminish who I am. In fact, I make myself become a better person because of it so that I may help others, which is all I really want to do anyway. I live my life by a feminist/humanist ideology and owe much to the theorists from all walks of life who have helped me to see the world in all it’s complexity and with kindness.

And yet, I’m a cis man.

There are some real assholes out there, trust me I know, and I get it that men who have never had to question their privilege are most likely to be the ones to offend, but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Maligning all cis men is the same as when TERF’s malign trans women as murderers and pedophiles, it’s the same as when fundamentalists call feminists nazis. Surely we have more compassion and nuance than those groups. 

I think (and hope) that when folks generically write about cis men that they really mean the ones who exhibit toxic behavior. Without that clarification though they are throwing their allies under the bus.

We need to do better. 

To be clear, this is not a call for moderation. I’m not asking you to be less militant. I’m not asking you to curb your anger. You have every right to be angry and you too deserve a hold on the reigns that guide society. Instead, what I’m asking is that in your anger, your militancy, your passion, your fire, and your drive that you bring some level of honesty and nuance to the world along with it.

I thank you, I support you, and I love you!

Signed,

A cis-man (mostly)

Dating Someone Much Younger (or Older)

One of my valued experiences in life was when I dated someone who was 18 years younger than me but it’s not for the reasons you might expect. There are no bro-motivations lurking here. I didn’t care one iota about their age. Rather, I didn’t want to pass on an opportunity for a meaningful relationship and always wonder about what might have been. It was more about me saying yes to life and taking a chance on love when it seemingly had little odds of success. In the end, the relationship didn’t work out, but I have zero regrets.

So, in case you have ever thought about a relationship offset by age, here are a few tips for how to make the most of it. 

I have written this with the older person in mind but there are tips here for the younger person as well. I also have age differences of 15 years or more as a focus but again, those in relationships with lesser gaps might find some pointers in what follows. 

This is also a heteronormative article because I think that amongst queer communities, which have non traditional relationships already, that age differences are accepted more than in the rest of society. I also don’t have any personal experience into long term, queer, age stratified, relationships. However, there may be some things that resonate herein for those folks as well. 

The first thing I want you to know is this;

The stigma is real

There’s a good amount of social disdain that will come your way from a relationship with a significant age gap. If this relationship is not something you truly want, then others will easily tear down your resolve. It is true that things are gradually getting better as more people are accepting that love can happen in non-traditional places. Still, the stereotypes are plenty and I can assure you that none of them are about you having a meaningful connection. 

I feel like older folks carry more stigma in these types of relationships, but I could be totally wrong as I’ve never been more than 6 years younger than a partner.

Older man/younger partner

If you’re an older guy, then other men generally want to high five you because they assume that dating someone younger is just about sex. Apparently, dating younger is supposed to be an accomplishment; a bucket list item of some sort. The downside is that these high-fivers are incredulous when you suggest that someone younger fulfills any purpose beyond the physical. Such dismissal is demeaning to a heart that has found so much more in another person.

Older men also face the stereotype of having a midlife crisis and the assumption is they are trying to recapture their youth. This mid-life crisis trope is easier for folks to believe. The truth is, sometimes two people’s personalities synch up and there is an attraction regardless of age. 

Also, when an older man dates a young woman, I’ve noticed that both parties face the ire of some older women. This is true even if the older women have no romantic or physical interest in the man. I believe that for these women, it’s the fear that one day they too might be replaced by someone younger. 

This makes sense given that most of what we are taught that is sexy in a woman comes with being youthful. It’s complete drivel but the notion is present nonetheless and it can shape people’s insecurities about your relationship.

It means that some older women have a fear about their relationship ending at the hands of someone younger. These older women can be a lot of things, but young again is not one of them. For these women there is going to be some resistance to your new relationship. That’s not your problem but it won’t stop some from trying to make it so.

Older woman/younger partner

Older women have to worry about the cougar trope and that they are preying on young men. 

Older women face a huge stigma for dating younger men. Even a small age difference skewed in this way is hard for some women to accept. I suspect this is based on the stereotype that men are more immature than their female counterparts. The thinking being that a younger man is even more immature and that no older woman would want to date such a person. Again, this notion is ridiculous but it doesn’t change the way some people think.

Unfortunately, because men seem more prone to fetish, older women also have to worry about young men fetishizing them as cougars. If you are an older woman dating a younger man then your worry can come from all sides.

Younger person

Aside from being seen as too immature for an older partner, younger folks are also viewed as having parental/daddy issues, being a homewrecker, naive, or a gold digger. There’s not much to find from others that says young people can seek legitimate love and companionship in someone older. However, I’m here to tell you that it can happen. Not only does it occur I have seen some wonderful lives and families formed as a result of two people putting aside age and focusing on one another.

This was a long way of saying that stereotypes abound and there is no safe haven if your relationship threatens someone else’s security. People will come at you from all angles to tear you down so they may feel better about themselves or their relationship.

I don’t say any of this to scare you, I just want you to know that if this connection is just about sex then be honest about it to each other. If you want a relationship that goes deeper, then be honest about that too. You will need to lean on each other often. Some folks will easily support you so you won’t be alone, but you will also hear negativity in regards to your relationship and it will come from within your social circle (family, friends) and without.

Don’t let the stigma bother you. Acknowledge that where you are now is a result of living your life to the fullest. Be honest, be fair, and love each other regardless of what the goal of being together means to both of you. 

Beware the power imbalance

In any romantic relationship both partners should have a balance of power so that decisions are made equitably. In age distanced relationships this becomes even more critical. 

Whether you realize it or not, the person who is older often exerts authority just by existing alongside someone who is much younger. It is important to make sure that what the older person says isn’t taken as law just because it has been spoken. This requires mindfulness and checking in with your partner. If they confirm this dynamic then you have to be willing to make the necessary changes to keep their autonomy intact. 

How you ask is important. You could say, “do I assert my authority too much when I speak about something?” This is an honest attempt to get at information for the good of the relationship, but it also triggers a desire in your partner to not upset you. In this situation, the other person has to establish your wrong doing by saying “yes you do this.” That can be hard for people to do because it adds pressure to an already tense situation.

A better way to ask is to assume culpability up front. Instead say something like, “how much do I assert my authority when I’m talking about something?” This helps the other person know that you acknowledge the behavior so they don’t have to be the one to call you out. They will either let you know the extent that this happens which can then be discussed, or they will let you know that they don’t feel that you act in this way. When wording this way it also opens a line of communication for this topic down the road if it’s needed.

It’s important to make sure the balance is equitable in any relationship because both people need to feel as if they are valued and are guiding the relationship.

Accept the age difference 

You’re going to think about how old you were when they were born. For me I was graduating high school when my past partner was born. If you think about it that way it’s freaky as hell. That’s the wrong way to view it though. It’s not like you were waiting outside the nursery at the hospital trying to pick out your next partner (unless you’re a fundamentalist Mormon and then all bets are off).

In reality, you found each other when you were both adults and assuming you have both said yes to this experience in a fully consensual way then you’re good to go. Stop thinking about the age difference before you were together and focus on the here and now. 

Also, don’t mention age as a factor in their behavior or their lack of knowledge. This is belittling. 

Sure folks who are significantly younger than you likely haven’t had the same amount of life experience as you. Don’t lord that over them or say stupid things like “you’re only 20 what do you know?” That is toxic behavior. You’re just seeing them for their age and not their worth in your life. 

Those from other generations have uniquely different ways of seeing the world. Try and learn a little something while you’re at it. Plus, just being older doesn’t make you intelligent. I can show you some pretty dumb adults parading around as know-it-all’s on any given day. 

You will die first 

That’s a harsh statement isn’t it? The truth is though that if everything goes to plan then you will end up on the other side of the dirt far sooner than your partner. Are you both okay with this?

This can feel like your time is fleeting and that you’re being deprived of a long life together. Dating someone younger brings your mortality into focus in a way most other relationships don’t. If you proceed, it’s important to focus on what you have, not what you haven’t, in order to make the most of your time together.

Your friend groups are different

I’m not saying it can’t happen but it’s unlikely that you’re going to bridge the age gap between your friends and theirs to create a unified group that hangs out together. That may be unrealistic in any relationship regardless of age. So if you’re 40 and hanging out with a group of 20 year olds, or vice versa, it might sometimes become a bit much. The dynamic between you and your partner is far different than the dynamic present in the elevated energy of a group. 

These situations will make both people feel their age. Each of you may have to develop a good deal of patience to handle these situations. Try to enjoy them as best you can though because that dynamic isn’t going away while you’re together. Luckily, things can get a little better as both friend groups age. For some reason the distance between 40 and 60 year olds is less than that of 20 and 40 year olds. 

I suppose that as we deal with the ups and downs of walking around on planet Earth we develop some similar life experiences as we age.

Make sure you aren’t overcompensating 

This is a general relationship warning that cuts across age lines. As a human, you will often crave stability, attention, or whatever energy from a new relationship that was lacking in a previous one. So as often happens, your next coupling may have too much of that quality. 

Here is one example of what this can look like if you are the younger of the couple. Let’s say you are dating someone your age but they are too immature for you. So you break up. Then you meet someone older who is calm, low key, and emotionally intelligent and you find it wonderful to be with someone so mature. You begin dating and life is great. One day though, this mature person doesn’t seem to hit your sweet spots in the same way and they seem too mature and without the excitability that you have.

This can also happen with the older person who may feel the exuberance of youth in their partner which becomes too much to handle down the road. No one is immune.

The takeaway here is that while seeking opposite personality traits from that of a previous partner can be exciting it is always possible that this same trait can become too much as the relationship progresses. If you let your emotional pendulum swing too far after a breakup then you can overcompensate in your next relationship. As you reach your emotional center again the sheen of your new partner can begin to wear off. 

This can happen with any personality trait and you can probably point to a time in your life when this dynamic was at play. 

Sometimes there’s no way to know this until it’s all said and done. Seeking an opposite can be just what you need or it may be too much. The key is to know what you need independent of others. 

For instance, maybe the person in your last relationship didn’t correspond throughout the day as much as you wanted. Your new potential partner texts you throughout the day. Are you going to want this same attention a month, a year, or a decade from now; or will it become too much? Can the behavior be altered to fit each other’s needs or is intrinsic to who each of you are. This is a small example, but it can result in some big issues centering around trust and primacy if neglected. Make sure to ask yourself probing questions about what traits are best suited to you in a partner, what traits your new partner has, and then proceed accordingly. 

Don’t make this a unilateral decision. Use this as an opportunity to open up and discuss the issue with your partner. You may find that they have similar fears and that the two of you can work together to solve them and grow stronger.

It may not last

I’m betting fewer age skewed relationships last than age approximate ones. It can be hard to bridge that gap and when it doesn’t work, it’s okay. People change as they go through life and the two of you won’t always change in complementary ways. We find out what we want in life by living it. 

If the relationship ends, don’t let the negatives rule your present. Instead, focus on the joys from the experience and let them shape your path forward.

In my case, as I said before, it was a wonderful experience for me and it taught me something very special about how to be present when life happens. I held onto that beautiful idea first and foremost and that has always stuck with me. Looking back, I wouldn’t have made the relationship last one more day than it did, and I wouldn’t wish it back either. There’s beauty in that.


The sooner you realize that the good experiences can shape your life more than the bad experiences, then you will be in a position to benefit most from what life throws your way. Let it make you better, not bitter.

So there you have it. These are all of the things that I remember thinking about and the dynamics I noticed while in my relationship. Don’t let the dissolution of my relationship or anyone else’s discourage you. If you think you’re doing this for all the right reasons then “grab life by the horns and hump it into submission” (thanks to the movie Dodgeball for that little gem). What I actually mean is, go for it and enjoy one another’s company. I know couples with huge age differences that are still going strong after years and years. It can work. There are success stories out there. 

Ultimately, you have to make your own decisions and guide yourself. May your path be true and happiness abound.

When Love Breaks Through

“There was a time culminating here recently with the Potato Head toy incident when I made everything about me. I didn’t care about other people because I couldn’t get over my own issues. I was literally trying to order the world around my insecurities” said Matthew Drake from Yuma, Arizona recently at a one on one where we spoke about the political climate in America today. 

“I was really scared at one point about trans people, which is really what the toy incident was about for me. I had to have strict gender lines because what if I went on a date with a woman and found out she used to be a man? I was concerned that it meant I was gay. Plus what did it mean for me to be a guy if we could just change? I had so little self-esteem I needed the world to look like me exactly or it shook me to my core.”

Matthew is not alone. Conservatives are finally coming to terms with their own unassuredness that has long been fueling their self-destructive world views. 

Matthew continues, “Anything that used to help people I would say was socialism. I didn’t even know what that word meant and I didn’t care. I realize now I was using it because it helped me to shut down my rational thoughts about social issues. I was upset that some people wanted to help others without realizing that I too had help. I thought I was self-made, but that’s a delusion I had so I could feel better about myself. I went to college and received grants when a single class was $100, now that same class will cost over $1000 at a lower tier state college, heck you can’t even buy books for $100 anymore. Meanwhile, the grants amount to nothing nowadays. No one said life is fair, but no said it should be unfair either. No wonder people are drowning in debt, they just want what I have but are paying 10 times more for the same thing.”

Most folks have realized for a while that the social causes which are humanitarian in nature are not social boogeymen; that trans rights is an attempt to let people live their life in a way in which they most identify, that women’s rights is about extending the autonomy that men have enjoyed since society’s were founded, and that generally extending rights to others only further entrenches those rights for all to enjoy. 

As more people learn these things the objections they found as rational before suddenly lack muster under this new realization. 

Tricia McKay from Killeen, Texas said, “I mean at first I was like, what’s all this women’s lib bullshit? I mean if guys don’t force their opinions and their desires on me once and awhile then how do I know they are interested?” 

Then an interesting thing happened to her; she met a guy who did respect her enough to ask for her permission and he gave her a chance to guide their interactions as much as he did. In the atmosphere of consent she found a level of respect she didn’t know possible. 

“Yeah, at first I was unsure. I mean I told him no and he accepted my answer. I thought he was gay or something; as it happens, he is just confident enough to accept no as a legitimate answer. Turns out I have been passing up opportunities for love my entire life because of my views about dating” (1).

Angie from Charlottesville, Virginia says, “I used to be what’s called a TERF (trans-exclusionist radical feminist) and what I came to realize was despite all the rhetoric about caring for women that this was just a hate group. I just couldn’t do it anymore. As a lesbian myself, I was too concerned about other lesbians becoming males and limiting my dating pool. I couldn’t accept that for some people lesbian is a stepping stone to being a transman just like being bisexual was a step in my journey to accepting that I was a lesbian” (1).

In a statement that is as good a closing note as any Angie says, “I just learned that hate over the long haul is so hard to maintain. It took such a toll on me and I didn’t like who I had become. Love can be harder to show to people that are different but it’s worth it. After all, isn’t that what we all want” (1).

Works Cited

1 – http://www.if.real.life.only.worked.this.way.com. “April Fools Day.” Jokester. 2021. 

I would love to write this article as more than a fantasy for April Fools Day. It’s sad that people don’t come to love one another and have these epiphanies on their own. We hate so easily and come to love others so slowly. We are truly broken.