In order to really be seen and allow a safe space for someone to know I see them, I have always approached the getting-to-know-you process often called “dating,” with a deconstruction of what that conventionally means.
For starters, I’d let someone know “I don’t date” if they asked me out. But, I love getting to know people. We’d hang out.
Or suppose I found myself at a restaurant in a “date-ish” situation. In that case, I’d say, “You know this isn’t a date,” to open up a conversation. It’s the conversation about how “dating” immediately creates an atmosphere wherein there is suddenly something to be, someone to impress, an implied right or wrong to the questions asked.
I’ve always thought this is the absolute worst way to actually explore coming to know ourselves and each other! Not to mention the implicit track toward a collective, inherited compulsion (seek-to-marry) as a supposed absolute. A conclusion that I wish to arrive at organically, if at all. The implied marriage track seems to erect itself whenever we sit down for a date:
“Do I like you enough to kiss you?
Did I like that enough to have sex with you?
Do we like that enough to do it again?
Do I like this enough to marry it!?”
In this same kind of situation, I’d say something like: “There is no one for you to be or not be. You need not try to impress me. I just like hanging out with people.” I’d try taking away that automatic, conditioned impulse to impress. (I swear I can feel that impulse almost palpably in the air when the dating construct is in play.)
The other person’s wind might temporarily drop out of their sails. They might start thinking, “Well, I guess this is going nowhere,” but we always, simultaneously, drop into a much more authentic conversation and way of being. The air clears, and we can get to know each other in a more maskless way. It will go exactly where it was “meant” to go but in a deeper way that feels more spontaneous and alive.
The process of deconstructing conventional dating so that it’s less about impressing—liking or not liking, being attracted or not attracted, yes or no, less, well, binary—often includes my looking them intensely in the eyes and saying, “I am not really a woman. Do you get that?” What I would be trying to get across (successfully or, sometimes, extremely unsuccessfully) is this:
Everything you think a woman wants—what you want from a woman—try shaking it off right now because I am pure presence. I am just this human who does not want what women are conventionally supposed to want. The sooner you see me as just me, at this moment, the sooner we will arrive at the actual same place, time, and table. And that will be way more fun.
From the outside, I think I read as profoundly feminine. That is okay with me. I know the micro-balances that go into my external expression, the tiny things that teeter it over my personal top. There’s no way I’d wear high heels, for example. And I’m more comfortable in one dangly earring and a stud, rather than two. But these are not the things that make me non-binary.
I was also never the one interested in nesting—quite the opposite. I am steadfastly devoted to flowing wherever the moment takes me and open to either of us having connections with other people. It’s been this way since the first time I fell in love. I called myself “married to the moment.” Each human I met was the person for that moment that I was “in a relationship” with. Almost zero of the stereotypes identified with “women” at the time and many more of the “male” stereotypes (at the time…because so much has changed) applied to me. But these are not the things that make me non-binary.
It is the fact that I almost 100 percent identify with my soul. And the soul is, in my experience (and in many traditions, including Kabbalah), completely genderless and androgynous. So though my outward appearance presents as “feminine,” whatever that means, in my being, I feel like an undifferentiated stream of pure grey, unconditional, universal and non-binary, love. And my body? It’s rather arbitrary.
Dear Reader, there is no one for you to be. There is nothing that you need to do or to prove to be worthy of love. Any “love” that we obtain by doing something is not love; it is approval. Love is something that you are. Right now. Whether together with another or all alone. Let love be the given as you walk through this world because you are full of it.