I spent a ton of time dating women in my early twenties and when I started dating men again, it was suddenly so much easier. Why? I hadn’t changed all that much but our interactions were so much better. Turns out dating women actually taught me a lot about men.
- I stopped feeling pressure to conform to traditional gender roles. In heterosexual relationships, men are expected to be, well, manly. They’re expected to make the first move, pay for their dates, take control in the bedroom, and possess a host of other dominant qualities. In queer relationships, this isn’t always the case. You’re free to be who you want to be at any given point in time without feeling the need to conform to any outdated and obnoxious gender roles. I’ve dated plenty of manly women and gender non-conforming people and have realized the pressure to perform my gender in a certain way was not only unnecessary but not helpful when I’m dating. I’ve carried that lesson into my relationships with men and it’s worked wonders.
- I realized I was guilty of lumping guys together and perpetuating stereotypes. I’ve dated a number of masculine looking women who didn’t act very masculine and I’ve dated feminine women who liked to take charge and dominate. I once went out with a male dancer who I was convinced was gay at first—I mean, he was a ballerina for crying out loud—and then one night he kissed me. Suddenly I didn’t see ballet, the way he gesticulated sublimely, or his turn-out when he walked. I just saw him, a straight dancer who loved getting his cuticles done at the salon. People come in all forms and judging on appearances or biases is a waste of time.
- I stopped feeling like I had to be dressed to impress 24/7. Many women feel they need to wear makeup all the time to impress guys and I was no different. I dated a woman a while ago and we were sending selfies back and forth. Then she started asking for some when I wasn’t wearing any makeup and I was just chilling at home. I told her I didn’t want to but didn’t say why. When I finally revealed the reason, she laughed and told me to send it anyway. In doing so, I realized I didn’t need to pretend to be someone I’m not to please the person I’m dating. I can and should just be me, and that’s enough.
- I embraced my confidence and sex appeal. Guys want a woman who is confident in herself and who feels sexy and badass regardless of what she’s wearing or how she looks. It took me a while to own it and be comfortable with myself, but once I did, I realized it’s totally hot and men dig it too. A strong sense of self is so much more appealing than the perfect outfit or a face full of makeup any day.
- I cut out all the drama once and for all. Another thing I realized while dating women is that men hate drama. As complicated as a queer relationship can be, the one thing it has in common with straight relationships is that the people in them usually want things to be relatively drama-free and easygoing. Can she join me and my friends for some shopping once in a while? Can she kick back with a pint of ice cream on the weekend without worrying about breaking her diet? Men are simple creatures and want two things from their partners: fun and no drama. If you can fulfill these two requirements, your date will want to hang out with you again, at least in my experience.
- I no longer expect the guy to pay all the time. When I suddenly had to pay for at least half the bill on a date, I had a realization: what if my date can’t afford this meal? I never really took the time to see that this could be a possibility, but after having to fork up the dough on a number of dates with women, I understood that if you’re low on cash, the date is going to be a lot more nerve-racking. In some cases, this can create a lot of pressure to behave in a certain way. If the guy you’re out with doesn’t open your door and makes you split the bill, there’s a good chance you probably won’t want to go out with him again. Why put yourself or him through that when you could simply take out your wallet and offer to buy the next round?
- I figured out what I want. I used to think I wanted a guy that was tall, strong, emotionally secure and a real “man’s man.” But after dating women, I realized that maybe I’d had it all wrong. In reality, I just want someone who’s secure in who they are, who treats me well, and who really cares about me. Really, I want the same thing in a man as I do in a woman, and that’s kinda cool.