So what’s the difference between a straight and queer relationships? Not much, but also kind of a lot. It can be harder to find folks because the majority of our society is straight, plus there are so many intersecting identities that make relationships and attractions surrounding queerness a little more complex. In this piece, I’ll go over some of these, different kind of relationship dynamics, finding community, safety, and breakups. Whether you’re just coming out of a relationship, starting one, looking for one, or have no interest, check it out.
Different Kinds of Relationships
Relationships can take many forms, and this goes beyond dynamics of non-monogamy. In queer relationships, I think it has a lot to do with the identities folks hold. Check out what I mean below:
As you can see more about in this and this piece I wrote about ace identities, romantic and sexual attraction run on a spectrum. If someone identities on the ace spectrum, and another person doesn’t, it can change the way a relationship develops. For example, if someone who has a sex drive pairs with someone who does not experience sexual attraction or someone is looking for a hook-up with someone who is demisexual, it might be a bit hard to form a relationship, at first. Communication is key here. Check out some links below for ideas:
Rachel Bean’s Navigating a Sexual Relationship as an Asexual Person
This and This Sexplanation Video
Buzzfeed’s 17 Super-Honest Stories About Dating As an Asexual
Everyday Feminism’s Let Them Eat Cake: On Being Demisexual
Lately there has been a lot of talk about attractions being discriminatory, specifically surrounding cisgender lesbians’ attractions/lack of attraction to trans folks. I’m not going to speak on that here, but it does play a role in relationships. It also plays a role on labeling a relationship (see below).
I just wrote a piece on bicuriousity here. Being in a relationship with someone who isn’t sure of their identity/out about it can certainly affect a queer relationship. For example, a bicurious person might have no interest in a queer person and might not want a relationship. Again, communication is key here. Check out my past article’s links for more advice.
I’m recently discovering more about my polyamorous identity and where I lay on the spectrum of desires of nonmonogamy. In the past, I’ve explored what’s it is like to want monogamy with someone who is polyamorous or exploring polyamory themselves. I’ve had a really exciting experience, but in a society where most folks desire monogamy, it can hard. In my opinion, polyamory is everchanging and with so many different opinions on what the words mean, it can be hard to figure it all out. I’ve found nonmonogamy to be an experience that one needs or at least be exposed to in order to figure out whether its for them. Stay tuned for another post on nonmonogamy. For now, it’s important to recognize that just because someone is polyamorous doesn’t mean their partner(s) need to see other folks, or even want to. However, the conversation should definitely be had. Check out some links below on this topic.
Vice’s When a Poly Person Dates Someone Who is Monogamous
This video by Just Between Us
This blog post from Gina Senarrighi
As I’ve written here, while we are the minority in most places, there are ways to find queer folks. Regarding relationships specifically:
Dating apps seem to be the easiest way to find folks who are also interested in some level of intimacy. I do think that if proper communication is had around what prompted someone to go the app, these can be great relationships. Communication can help you figure out if it’s more of a one night stand, or if someone is seeking a relationship.
When folks have community around them, such as work or school, hobbies, it can be easy to make person-to-person connection. If you’re someone who likes to drink, it can be a great place to meet folks out in public spaces. Friends can be helpful here- I love when folks say I should meet their friend.
Ah, dating! Dating is fun because what really counts as a date? Is it a formal thing where one person asks? If it’s dinner, who pays? Or it is just any form of spending time with the person in any environment? The fun part about these questions, is it’s all up to you! Or just see where it goes. I love titles (See below) but I also love seeing where things go without dissecting every minute of time. To be fair, I do think a lot about things, but in the beginning, I love the rush of not knowing and figuring it out. I’m an advocate for transparency of telling someone I like them, but that might be an unpopular opinion.
Remember those dating apps I mentioned? I think I can say that in a majority, folks are just looking for a hook-up, not a relationship. I don’t see anything wrong with hook-ups, but it’s important to recognize that there is a big difference here. See below on safety and consent.
So you found your partner! Partner? Yeah, what do we call this? I LOVE this conversation. Queer relationships might decide to use different words for many different reasons. I remember having this conversation with someone who is straight, in that using partner for her boyfriend was not for them. I was advocating for inclusive language for folks who can’t come out because using gendered language oftentimes outs someone, and not everyone wants to be out. However, I love using girlfriend because on the flipside, I love the queer visibility as an out and proud queer person. Gender also plays a huge role in this. I love that my girlfriend says girlfriend and don’t feel misgendered by it, but it was definitely a conversation we had as a nonbinary person. Gender non-conforming folks might want to use inclusive words such as partner, sweetie, or lover.
Safety and Consent
I’m a very big advocate for consent and sex positivity. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sex, but I think safety is very important. I recently found this book by Michael J. Domitrz called Can I kiss you?: A thought-provoking look at relationships, intimacy, and sexual assault that I highly recommend. Here are some tips regarding relationships.
Sex and Kissing
Ask. Ask . Ask. Just like the title of the book, ask to kiss. When you’re out with someone, it’s really hard to read their body language so asking is the easiest way to know whether someone wants to be kissed or do anything further. Regarding sex, as someone who is polyamorous, I use the word fluid-bonded often. Fluid bonding can be defined in many different ways, but for these purposes, I’ll explain that fluid bonding means there’s been an exchange of fluid that is bonded with one person. Then, with other folks, I value the use of protection and to not fluid bond with them. More to come on this in a future post. This is an important conversation to have with your partner(s) on what their values surrounding this include. For more on safe sex practices, see this post.
Demisexual, pt. 2
This is just a friendly reminder that no means no and if someone who is ace or needs an emotional connection, and that connection hasn’t been made, don’t cross boundaries they don’t want to cross. But also in general, no means no, no matter what identity someone holds. For more on sexual assault in the LGBTQ+ Community, see this post.
Just like sometimes folks just want to hook-up, sometimes people just want friends. In dating apps bios, someone might write that they are “just looking for friends” or “just moved here and want someone to help show me cool places to eat.” It’s important to communicate those those things some folks aren’t lead on, in my opinion.
In This Book is Gay by James Dawson, the author mentions folks often lose their virginity twice in order to figure out “what their preference is” (169). This is true for some folks, but not all. I also think virginity is a social construction, and super heteronormative. Check out this article for more about this. However, I do know that some folks value it or value being someone’s “first” as a big deal, and may link it to being in love with them. It’s all about what you value, which I think gets figured out as you go along.
We can’t possibly talk about relationships without talking about their endings. Here’s my advice and some other links to help you out.
Being rejected stinks. There’s nothing fun about getting really excited about someone only to feel that feelings aren’t mutual. This can be even harder if it was done through someone blocking you on an app or texting you. Remember when I said I like to tell folks I like them? Maybe looking at it that way is helpful: if you have a rad time with someone and never hear from them, there’s so much unclearness there. I personally don’t always mind it too much, as I know so many folks seem to not be looking for relationships.
Here’s some advice:
Autostraddle’s Rejection 101
The Verge’s How to Be Human
Huffington Post’s Why Do Gay Men Make Dating So Hard for Themselves?
While I don’t think they should really be compared or put on scales, I personally think breakups can sometimes being worse than being rejected. One minute you’re holding hands and then all of a sudden something falls apart and there’s a breakup. Sometimes things are mutual, but I think more often than not, one person’s heart gets broken, or someone gets hurts. There are plenty of reasons why this can happen, and it’s a personal decision whether those things are talked about or not. I tend to be a person who just moves on and tries not to dissect it all. However, I have also gotten great closure in later talking more about it. I think my advice is to give folks time. I like to look on the bright side and recognize that I want attraction and desire to be mutual and if that’s not the case (even if it was at a point in time) you’re probably better off without them. Here are some articles that talk more about this:
Zara Barrie’s Why You Shouldn’t Try Figure Out Why Your Breakup Happened
Zarrie Barrie’s 7 Gay Men Reveal Their Best Breakup Tips (And On Lesbian Weighs In)
Scarleteen’s Breakup articles
Stevie Boebi’s video on breakups
Ravishly’s 7 Things My Breakup Taught Me About Dating As A Nonbinary Trans Person
This certainly isn’t everything, not even close. No matter what identities you hold or what your life looks right now, I hope it makes you think about relationship dynamics in the queer community. Feel free to check out the links below ❤
Stay tuned for more about polyamory…
Bean, R. Navigating A Sexual Relationship as an Asexual Person. Medium. https://medium.com/@RachelKeith/navigating-a-sexual-relationship-as-an-asexual-person-379a8a75e743
Sexplanations by Lindsey Doe. Mismatched Sexdrives. and 5 Asexuality Experiences.
Karlan, S. 17 Super-Honest Stories About Dating as an Asexual Person. Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/skarlan/it-isnt-easy-being-ace?utm_term=.ojX16RXlV#.pd0rKkz6g
Liebowitz, C. Let Them Eat Cake: On Being Demisexual. Everyday Feminismhttps://everydayfeminism.com/2015/02/let-them-eat-cake-on-being-demisexual/
Stevie. TRANS WOMEN AND WOMEN: Controversial? Lesbians React to TERFS. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-7xgcPlFxE
Tierney, A. When a Poly Person Dates Someone Who is Monogamous. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en_nz/article/bjj9kd/when-a-poly-person-dates-someone-who-is-monogamous
Just Between Us. Can a Monogamous/Polyamorous Relationship Work? Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGzd6Di-89I
Senarighi, G. Is there hope for Our Mono/Poly Relationship? Uncommonlove. https://www.uncommonlovepdx.com/relationship-resources/2017/9/28/open-relationship-advice-is-there-hope-for-our-monopoly-relationship
Domitrz, M. J. Can I Kiss You: A thought-provoking look at relationships, intimacy, and sexual assault. Awareness Productions: Greenfield. Print. 2016.
Fabello, M. 4 Myths About Virginity. Everyday Feminism. https://everydayfeminism.com/2013/08/4-myths-about-virginity/
Dawson, J. This Book Is Gay. Sourcebooks: Naperville. 2015. Print.
Grace. Rejection 101: A Lesbian’s To Getting Turned Down, Keeping Your Head Up. Autostraddle. https://www.autostraddle.com/rejection-101-for-lesbians-what-to-do-when-it-doesnt-happen-98317/
Reich, L. How to be human: when you fall in love with the very unavailable. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2016/12/4/13833496/how-to-be-human-unrequited-affection
Rosenberg, M.B. Why Do Gay Men Make Dating So Hard for Themselves? Huffington Post. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-do-gay-men-make-dating-so-hard-for-themselves_us_58eba6a9e4b081da6ad00622
Barrie, Z. 7 Gay Men Reveal Their Best Breakup Tips (and One Lesbian Weighs In). Go Magazine. http://gomag.com/article/7-gay-men-reveal-their-best-breakup-tips-and-one-lesbian-weighs-in/
Barrie, Z. Why You Shouldn’t Try To Figure Out Why Your Breakup Happened. Elite Daily. https://www.elitedaily.com/dating/figure-out-what-happened-breakup/1758535
Scarleteen. Breaking Up. http://www.scarleteen.com/tags/breaking_up
Stevie. How to Survive a Break Up. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPC9Iov9pJs
Cameron, C. 7 Things My Breakup Taught Me About Dating as a Nonbinary Trans Person. Ravishly. https://ravishly.com/2016/12/28/7-things-my-breakup-taught-me-about-dating-nonbinary-trans-person