My Cis Guy Problem

I’ve got posts I should be working on about actual topics that matter to people, but I have to get this one purged from my brain so I can get some *real* work done. Before I continue I want to get an important point out of the way: it’s relevant to the entire context of this post to know that I’m male identified and was male assigned at birth. Also called “cis gender,” or “cis” for short, it’s the opposite of being transgender or transexual (trans*), and is how most people identify, even if they aren’t familiar with the word(s).

Now on to the post:

I’m in my 32nd year, and I have never been in a relationship with a cisgender guy who was both emotionally invested in me as a person, and attracted to or sexually interested in me.

That’s a really hard thing for me to write about for two reasons:

  • Because I don’t know how to write about it without seemingly to dismiss the incredible emotional intimacy and hot sex that I’ve had with the many awesome trans* men in my life.
  • It really is something I find terribly painful to say, in part because of what it says about my failed marriage, and in part because of what it says about me as a person. 

Let me take on the second point first:

Yes, I was with a cis guy for eight years. And yes, we had a lot of sex (of one form or another) during that time. However, our ex never really hid the fact that he wasn’t attracted to me sexually. Periodically he would go through a phase where he would announce that he’d never actually been sexually attracted to me in the first place, and had been “lying” to save my feelings. Then we’d stop being physically intimate for a period of weeks or months, until he decided he was ready to re-engage with me sexually. It was regular as clockwork (18months) but never stopped being horrible.

He even accused me of sexually assaulting him. Saying that since I knew that he didn’t want to be sexually intimate with me, when he initiated sex I had an obligation to say “no” regardless of how insistent he was that it was what he wanted. That I ignored his “preemptive revoking of consent,” in his mind made me an assailant.

With the physical and emotional distance three years apart has bought me (along with a LOT of therapy), I can see that this behavior could be seen as a kind of emotionally abuse, but it doesn’t actually detract from the driving issue in this post.

Since leaving us, Asrik in fact has for the most part not pursued other men. And while he describes himself as bi/pan-sexual, he isn’t open to relationships with guys (if you’re reading this Asrik, I stumbled onto your OKC profile when researching moving to the PNW, and you were the one who asked me to review your “what I’m looking for” list on Fetlife). He may have used his conflicted sexuality as a weapon, but it’s the conflicted nature of his sexuality that’s actually the relevant point here.

I don’t want to make this sound like it’s all about one guy though, because it isn’t. I’ll get to that in a bit, but first back up to point number one:

I’ve had some amazing experiences, both sexual and emotional, with the trans* men in my life. Some have been lovers or friends with benefits, while others have been partners or boyfriends.

The last thing I want to do is come across as saying that I don’t value the FAAB men in my life, or that I don’t see them as men. Neither are true. My life would be far less rich without the men who are important to me, and some of the most “masculine” and male men I’ve ever known have been trans*. That I have a stupid issue around wanting to be accepted by cis guys is my issue, not theirs, and I hate myself for having it.

That’s not hyperbole either, it’s fair to say that I deeply loath that I care in the slightest whether another cis guy can both emotionally and physically engage with me, particularly when so many men who happen not to be cis, have done both.

I said that this wasn’t an issue about one guy (Asrik), and it’s true.

For some reason, maybe spooky, maybe not, I have a life-long history with cis guys who are not able or willing to engage simultaneously on both a physical and emotional level with me. It’s a pattern that dates back to my early adolescence playing with other boys at sleepover parties. The role of the one who wants, but isn’t wanted, is a very familiar one, and maybe that’s why I’ve been so willing to play it so often in my relationships.

Before Asrik, Fire and I briefly dated a different guy who wasn’t all that into men. Since Asrik, I’ve been in one actual *relationship* with a cis guy, but he felt pretty much the same way Asrik did, drawn to me emotionally and able to engage sexually, but not really attracted to me.

I’ve also encountered the exact opposite: men who were open to fooling around, but didn’t want anything beyond the physical. It’s worth noting that I was thirty-one the first time I had a sexual encounter with a cis guy who actually wanted me sexually, and it just a one-time hook-up from Manhunt. It was still enough to teach me the profound difference between grudging and enthusiastic sex. And it cast a whole new light on the “good” sex I’d had with cis guys before.

There’s a third, and related classification of guy that I’ve been involved with, and that’s the “conflicted straight/bi boy.” You could argue that the cis guys I’ve been in relationships with fit this category, but it’s one that can apply as easily to hookups as to relationships.

For some reason they are the one kind of cis guy who seeks me out (other than 60yr old married men on hookup sites). For years, I was happy to “help” these guys explore their feelings, because I found it affirming to have a cis guy need/want me in some way. But doing so has always left me feeling worse about myself in the end. Sex or relationships with someone who feels conflicted about their feelings for you can be devastating for one’s sense of self worth, a lesson you’d think I’d have learned during eight years of marriage to Asrik. It took a guy giving me oral sex while crying in despair over the realization that he liked it, to make me realize that I needed a break from taking conflicted bi guys to bed.

I wish I could tell you why I cared about any of this. For a long time I thought it was just a penis thing. I’m an enormous fan of cis guys’ genitals, and I thought I was just missing having access to a dick or two. But I’ve had hookups at conferences and with guys I met online, and while it’s sort of fun, it doesn’t do anything to help me feel better about this bigger issue.

Intellectually I can understand that I’m not really what gay cis guys are looking for. I’m poly, and cis guys in their 30s are generally looking for “the one.” I’m kinky, but in a way that doesn’t fit within the narrow confines of most gay male BDSM. My faith is another huge issue in the gay dating world, where overwhelmingly it is understood that atheism is the LGBT default. And of course, there’s the Tourette (the “barking” in Notes from a Barking Shaman), which is a dating obstacle to start with, and seems particularly problematic with gay men.

Understanding some of why I’ve been out of the closet for 19 years but have never had a healthy relationship with a cis guy doesn’t really change anything though. In my mind this has become a double edged personal failing, both that I’m undesirable/unable to be with cis guys in that way, and that I give a shit what cis guys think.

I know this is one of the more rambling and pointless posts I’ve made in a while, and I apologize for that. Del and I have a joint NFaBS/SGaR post on the word “shaman” that will be awesome coming up soon, and I’ve got some religion and politics posts that I think you will appreciate. But in keeping with my new commitment to greater openness about who I am and where my internal processes have been, I felt it was important that I share the experience here.

4 thoughts on “My Cis Guy Problem

  1. I’m a MAAB genderqueer queer and have had similar issues. As with you, I don’t seem to be what most gay cis guys are looking for or they really aren’t what I’m looking for. That coupled with my own attraction only to very rare cis males and it’s been few, far between, and lacking.

  2. You’re really brave to share this here, and I doubt you’re the only one who’s felt this way. Good on you for having the guts to write about what must be difficult and painful to write about.

  3. I’ve encountered the “I never actually wanted to do this in the first place, and it’s your fault that you didn’t see through my lie” thing before, though it was about polyamory as opposed to sex in general. It is passive aggressive emotional abuse, nothing less, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when a lover is retroactively devaluing an entire relationship in order to cause the pain they need to see in your eyes.

  4. Wow. I applaud your openness and willingness to be vulnerable. Thank you.

    First, I’ll start with who I am. I am a 58-year old FTM transsexual. I began my transition 25 years ago and have had all my surgeries and am fully legally male. I identify as marginally bisexual, mostly to avoid confusion, but all of my adult relationships have been with women. I have been with mostly non-trans women, but I have also had sexual relationships with trans women including a 5-year relationship with a non-op trans woman. I am currently in a 15-year monogamous relationship with a non-trans woman.

    Next, I want to give you permission to want cock. As an FTM I think it is perfectly okay if you want a relationship with a non-trans man. After my relationship with the non-op trans woman ended I wanted pussy. I missed everything about it. I felt my own manhood validated by being wanted by a non-transsexual woman differently than what I got from an MTF. There is a difference. Vive la difference. Some people are able to be with a trans person, some are not. Some like the sex, but don’t want a commitment. It’s all okay. That’s just part of the spectrum of sexual preference. Own it, own who you are. Just like it’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to have a limited interest in trans, or straight or women or men or whatever turns you on or off. Attraction and sexuality are multi-faceted, operating differently in the realms of fantasy, sex, BDSM play, sensuality, emotions, and types of relationships your interested in, and it can change over time, or over night and on a person by person basis. It’s all okay.

    Also, I have a dear friend with Tourette’s. Hers is a mild case but it still affects her behavior. She’s odd and quirky in ways that can be endearing and can also be annoying. She is very set in her ways, OCD. Some people have said to me that they think she has Asperger’s which is likely. She doesn’t like to take medication to control her tics because it makes her feel numb and it gives her a flat affect. She is able to mostly control her tics by holding her muscles stiff which gives her a rigid appearance and robotic manner. She has been out as a lesbian for the 35 years that I have known her, but she has never had a girlfriend, though she has tried and tried. She is often attracted to complicated troubled women, and likes to help them. They often become good friends but rarely lovers and never long-term. A couple committed suicide. Others had drug or alcohol problems and AIDS. Some have remained good friends. She has lots of friends.

    I’m not sure exactly what goes wrong for her but I am sure that Tourette’s plays a role and is most likely and the heart of the issue. Nobody ever says this stuff to her. I don’t because I can’t offer any solutions. I’ve never met you, but if you “bark” then probably your Tourette’s is a factor in your relationship issues. Having Tourette’s can sound exotic to people but the reality of it may not be exactly what they bargained for. Just as you feel guilty about wanting something that FTM’s can’t provide, your partners may also feel something similar if they are turned off by your Tourette’s related behavior. Feeling guilty and wanting to save face with oneself and others, to not be seen as a bad guy, can lead good people to do bad things like blame the other person inappropriately.

    You need to figure out what you want in a relationship and watch out for people who are incapable of giving you that. If you have a recurrent pattern, which you view as unproductive, then maybe there is a lesson you haven’t learned yet. Look at whether the men you are attracted treat you like someone in your family of origin—Dad perhaps? And his dad before him? You may have inherited more than the Tourette’s. When do you first remember feeling that way? What is the lesson you need to learn? Make a deal with yourself to stop repeating this behavior and ask for guidance (from your unconscious or your spirit guides) in learning this lesson and moving on.

    Try to be flexible. Be kind to yourself. It’s really okay to be who you are, with your preferences and quirks and imperfections. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Sometimes things suck, that’s normal. It’s part of the range. It’s part of how we grow. What matters is to be kind and to live your life to the fullest, which it seems you are already doing. Go to the park and play on your favorite childhood equipment. Stop and smell the flowers. Get out in nature. Practice gratitude every day.

    There is somebody out there for you. Don’t settle, but be prepared to compromise. Relationships require flexibility. Nobody out there is going to be perfect. Know what your priorities are.

    Thank you for the opportunity to explore these issues from a different perspective, much of this has direct relevance in my life.

    Shane Harley

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