[Two Pronged] I want to date men again
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
I'm 36, and was in a relationship with a woman for 2 years. Prior to that, I had been straight all my life and only dated men. When I was dating my previous partner, I was in the closet because I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to be long term. My partner didn't mind, and so that was never an issue.
Unfortunately, our relationship didn't work out due to other circumstances.
But during that relationship, I changed. I became more "boyish." When I used to wear heels and skirts, I progressed to pants and flats. When I used to love flirty blouses, I changed to basic button down shirts. I realized I liked comfort over being "pretty." This wasn't a concern because in our relationship, I was the soft butch, and my partner was the femme.
But now that it didn't work, and I want to start dating men again, I want to go back to my feminine side. But when I started wearing dresses again and heels, it didn't seem normal. It didn't seem me. I felt I was playing dress-up, and because I wasn't comfortable, it showed in my demeanor. Wearing makeup felt unnatural, and I feel that I look like a clown.
One time, a female co-worker asked me if I was a lesbian, to which I said no. That remark made me realize how much I still carried that vibe, a vibe that I no longer want to exist.
I want to be feminine again. But I want it to be natural.
How do I undo a previous life? I feel like I'm learning how to be straight again.
Thank you, Dra. God Bless you for helping tortured souls like me.
Cara (Doble Cara)
Dear Doble Cara (DC),
Thank you for your email.
It is clear from your account that you are seriously conflicted. Your head is guiding you to be straight, join the majority, conform. Other parts of you are less convinced by this pragmatic approach and are suggesting that trying to be straight is denying the reality of who you are.
But orientation is not a choice. We can accept it or deny it but it is what it is, whether hidden or revealed, whether embraced or repressed. Some, particularly right-wing religious groups, have suggested that conversion (reparative) therapy can alter orientation but this has been conclusively and scientifically disproved, to the extent that most if not all major medical and mental health organizations in the United States (and elsewhere) have condemned it.
Of course orientation is distinct from behavior. As in so many other aspects of our lives, we can choose to act out a role, in this case playing the part of a straight person while remaining in the closet, but our hearts will always know the truth, deep down.
In your case, it is clear that even acting as straight is causing you problems. Looking feminine may be your ultimate aim but if wearing dresses and heels feels fake and wearing makeup feels unnatural, then you cannot be surprised if your chosen attire of button down shirts, pants and flats fails to bolster your chances of success.
To ease the torture you feel, you ideally need to encourage congruity between who you are and how you behave. In your case, that means accepting and living your orientation. If this is not possible or desirable, another option is to embrace your role as a straight woman to the fullest extent you are able (as to make only a half-hearted pretense to be straight seems doomed to failure from the outset).
Best of luck,
Dear DC (Doble Cara):
Thank you very much for your letter and for coming across as being clear about what you want. But forgive me if, despite all that, I ask you something: When you say “I want to start dating men again,”does that mean you want to start having romantic relationships and/or be sexually attracted to men? And is it because you truly feel this way or is it only because if you had to choose, you’d prefer to like men rather than women? (Life is a lot simpler when you are part of the sexual majority). Because if it is the latter, the way Mr Baer thinks it is, then I feel I cannot help you – at least not in this particular column.
However if you really and truly find men sexually attractive, then maybe I can. But if you are sure it is not only your mind, but also your heart, soul and genitals telling you you’re straight, then go! If you’re not, then take the time to figure it out.
Whatever your sexual orientation – lesbian or bi seems the more likely – it seems clear you want to come across as looking like a “stereotypical female.”
But looking like a stereotypical female is not limited to dressing a certain way. There is no rule that says you have to wear ruffles and heels before you can be a card carrying female. There are differences among who you are, who you have the hots for and how you look.
Some men find the boyish look attractive. Sometimes it can just be a matter of finding the right sort of man who finds your dress style attractive the way it is now.
There are some men who will be attracted to you first and foremost because of who you are as a person – how you think, what makes you laugh, what makes you indignant, etc etc. – and will not care about superficial things like whether you wear tight skirts or jeans and use high heels instead of comfortable pumps.
Not dressing like a stereotypical female is not necessarily saying I don’t want to be straight or even I don’t want to come across as straight. After all, high heels, make up etc are mere accoutrements of being one type of female.
I am sorry I cannot give you advice on how to dress more convincingly as a female. This is not because of a philosophical belief but a failing on my part. Forgive me for using the cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but I find nothing more apt to say than: “It takes time to feel comfortable and yet achieve the look you want.” No worries.
If you do not have close friends to advise you, why not watch a few YouTube videos, and go try on a few different sort of styles in different stores and see what suits you best?
It is usually the gauche, the ignorant, the small-minded and/or purposely nasty who know no better who will ask you a question like “Are you a lesbian?”
I take it back. There are some straightforward people around who may ask you the same thing, but usually you can tell who they are because of the way they ask.
To the ones, deadma ka lang to their ignorant questions, and answer them straightforwardly (and calmly while at the same time not apologetically) and say anything, depending on how you feel, along the lines of “Would it matter to you if I were (a lesbian)?” or “No, I’m straight,” or even “Yes I am, Want a date?”
All the best,
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