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Sometimes I think that I am the only adult over the age of 30 who is still dealing with issues of personal identity. There are so many things that we’re socially forced to define about ourselves in the pursuit of a place in the world. To be realistic, we all want somewhere to belong. For some people it is a community that they have been in since their youth. I’m afraid that I’ve been too much of a nomad in those days to have formed relationships that lasting (save one). And I often envy those around me who have lived in this area from the time they were children. I blend in well enough here. That’s true. But when pressed for what high school I attended and I admit that I am not originally from the area, it seems that people lose interest in talking to me. Truth is, it isn’t only a geographical identity that plagues me.

There is increasing pressure to identify yourself for relationships. Are you straight, lesbian, bi, or transgender? Are you into bondage? Do you have pretty feet? Will you involve yourself in our open relationship? Be the third to our twosome? In order to get anywhere you have to identify with a group, be open to promiscuity, and deal with people who refuse to read profiles. It is about photographs and instant attractions, lust, and not about actually fostering a relationship with communication and similar interests.

stash-1-506b67e6df37bIt seems no great leap for me to understand the pressures faced by our youth today. For all our talk of acceptance and equality, we are increasingly intolerant of those who seek to define themselves on their own terms or in terms of their personal moral fiber. In my personal experience, defining myself as straight and seeking a friendship first has ostracized me from the dating community.  My lack of primary interest in a sexual relationship is apparently abnormal by the dating standards of today. However, this will not be the first or last time that I walk to the beat of a different drum.

I have always been a bit eccentric. I caved on those convictions before in an effort to fit in and find myself in a relationship. Where did it get me? In an abusive relationship where I was oppressed, often humiliated, and undermined at every turn. The lesson learned, I can honestly say that I refuse to change my personal convictions for the sake of fitting in. I am many things and I do not fit a mold. I don’t think that anyone does. We do ourselves and injustice by conforming to the cookie-cutter roles that are put before us.

I identify myself in many ways:

  • I am a large woman. I make no excuse for my size. I only strive to be healthier for my own sake, not for anyone else.
  • I am creative. I write, I sing, I paint, I create things.
  • I am funny.  Not a comedienne but, I have my moments (even if they are quirky).
  • I am spiritual believing in God and Christian values that shape much of my life.
  • I am eccentric.
  • I am increasingly anti-social in a large part due to the isolation I feel from society.
  • I am caring, generous, and friendly.
  • I am a survivor.
  • I am intelligent. And that intelligence often intimidates people.
  • I am deserving of love and affection but, on my terms. You see, I consider myself to be unique in my sexual identity. I am straight. This does not, however, mean that I see a man and am instantly attracted to them to the point that I want to sleep with them. It all comes down to connection and intimacy for me. It takes the forming of a relationship for me to even consider activities that involve making myself that vulnerable now.  Sex is not an impulse to me. It is a deepening of a relationship. It is a matter of trust in your partner and that trust, for me, must be earned. How? Through respect. Through getting to know me. Through an emotional attachment that is cultivated over time.

All of that being said, I think it is important to ask ourselves why we feel forced to belong to some group or another. Yes, we all want to be accepted for who we are. Why let that acceptance be defined by parameters set by others? Why can’t we be ourselves and still find relationships that strengthen us as individuals?

the-online-dating-ecosystem_50290b8d29fb4So, why write about this in conjunction with online dating?

I made an apparent faux pas in how I was utilizing my profile and settings on the site I frequent. By choosing an option that I was interested in meeting both genders, it opened up a floodgate of requests from couples in open relationships, lesbians, and men looking for “friends with benefits”. While my profile clearly stated that my intentions were to meet friends and hopefully find a “Mr. Right For Me”, these people took a few parameters to mean that I was bisexual and open to sexual experimentation.

The profile has been corrected now. But, I am saddened to find that being open to making new friends led people to believe that I was something that I wasn’t. I suppose it goes to prove you should never judge a book by its cover. It is alarming to know how many people judge you based on so little though. And when they find you aren’t what they thought, they simply cease communication. I think that says something about society as well.