Observations Evangelia's Made Dating Those that are Male, Female, or Non-Binary

During my first semester of college, I came to the realization that I was bisexual and if I’m being completely honest, I found this to be both odd and surprising. This is because, for the past five years, I had identified as a lesbian. Additionally, I had almost exclusively dated people who identified as women or non-binary. In truth, this was just what my peers and I were used to. 

Around December, I re-came out, so to speak, and as a result, I began to date more across a broader gender spectrum. As I experienced this shift, around this time, I noticed some key differences between dating men and masculine aligned people compared to dating people who identify as women and feminine aligned people.

The most glaring difference was the way I was treated on these dates and not by the person I was on the date with, but those around us. For example, when I go out with women, I’ve observed that people seem to notice both my date and myself more. Every single time I go out on a date with another woman, I am met with a multitude of stares -- these stares, I have noticed, fall into one or all of of these three categories, be it stares of vitriol from homophobes, general stares of curiosity and confusion, and/or worse, stares of admiration and fetishism. When I go out with men, this doesn’t happen. On these dates, people tend to usually leave my male dates and me alone.

Another difference I’ve noticed is that men tend to be more upfront with me in regards to their expectations than women are. While men usually tell me exactly what their boundaries are and what they are looking for in a relationship or casual arrangement right away, with women, I’ve noticed it takes more time for them to open up about what their boundaries are. This has taught me that with any entry into any relationship or new sexual driven dynamic with another individual, no matter how casual it is or what gender the other person identifies as, with a newfound sense of patience and understanding. I’m not sure why many of the men I’ve been involved with have been more upfront and blunt than the women I have dated. Maybe it is because we live in a patriarchal society that tells women their needs, wants, and desires don’t matter in the face of those of men, while simultaneously telling men that on the contrary, theirs do in the face of those of women. This prominent societal attitude seems to have made it easier for men to express what they want, while at the same time, driving women and non-binary people into silence.

Back to the topic at hand, there are certainly countless other differences between dating men, dating women and other genders that tends to align with what we would expect to occur on dates in a more traditional sense. One of the most well known and notable is that men tend to pay on dates far more often than women do, although this is starting to change in our society. When I go on a date with a man to a restaurant, coffee shop, or anywhere else that costs any amount of money, he almost always offers to pay. For example, one time, I got coffee with a man and I offered to go dutch and pay for myself, but he refused and insisted on paying for both of us! Conversely, when I go on dates with women, either I pay for them or we both go dutch. More often than not, my dates with women involve going dutch, because I am a broke college student and I can’t afford to pay for both myself and another on every single date I attend or take any person out on. I believe that this is tied to a patriarchal standard surrounding men being the breadwinners in their chosen households and making more money than women. This is further supported because a lot of the men I associate with want to feel more financially secure around women proving they can provide for them so as a result, paying for these women on dates is often a display of that. Now, this isn’t to be said for ALL men, some men I also know pay for women on dates as more of a gentleman like gesture, and for them, there is nothing more to it than that. 

Lastly, I’ve also noticed that the women and non-binary people I date are more willing to listen to me about my instituted boundaries and what I need in any relationship (be it one that is casual or serious) that we would pursue than men are. I find it a lot easier to make compromises and discuss my emotions with the women and non-binary people I tend to date than with the men I date. Oftentimes, the men I involve myself with, in my experience, will ignore me on several occasions over the duration we spend together and/or talk over me during our discussions. This is a significant pattern of behavior among men that has become one of the dominant reasons why I’ve only had serious relationships with people who identify as women or as non-binary than those who are male or male-identifying because our dynamic tends to be more equal. 

To sum it all up, dating women and non-binary people is a very different experience for me than the ones I have had dating men. Now, this isn’t to say that this is necessarily a bad or a good thing. As a matter of fact, the key differences I’ve had in experiences have taught me more than I ever thought I would learn about gender, relationships, and in a more general sense, this deeply rooted sense of patriarchy that continues to be a drive-in our society today for interactions between both men and women.