I (F, straight, cis, 29) am really fucking furious about something and I think I need a guy with lots of male-female insight to talk me off the ledge.
In a therapy session last night with my AMAZING sex therapist (whom I decided to start seeing a few months ago to work out some hangups I had about racial identity, body image, and sexuality), we sort of came to a bummer of a conclusion about a consistent dating hiccup I have.
Basically, I run into this problem where I’ll meet a guy, we’ll be flirty and friendly and I think maybe it could go somewhere, and then as soon as I make any sort of half-move beyond benign flirtation, he backs off with lightning speed. It’s really uncanny. And very disappointing and frustrating.
After recounting my most recent experience with this behavior and explaining how insane it is that this keeps happening and how it’s really starting to weigh on me, I wondered aloud if it could have anything to do with the fact that many of the guys in my social circles are White and I’m Black (biracial, actually), and on top of that, I’m fat (actually the national average, but that’s considered fat by cultural standards). I posited that these guys don’t even see me as a viable romantic option at all, just a “non-threatening” female that they can get something from without putting in any effort themselves–someone they don’t have to try with. Considering some of my male “friends” (I use the term loosely because of what I’m about to explain) are actually in relationships or married and still flirt with me and conveniently omit any mention of their partners when we spend time together (always platonically; I would never start something with a guy in a relationship), this seems like it could definitely be the reason. Their partners, if they did find out how these men talk to me (definitely in a way they wouldn’t interact with male friends), probably wouldn’t like it if I were a conventionally attractive White woman, but because I look the way I look they deem their flirtation harmless and safe.
I should also say that it’s not particularly difficult to find men who want to have sex with me, but as soon as anything more than that is on the table they put their hands up and back away like I might permanently injure them. Anyway, my therapist, who is also a Black woman, agreed that all of the above is totally a realistic possibility. I think hearing that from someone who looks like me, and not just a platitude of “No, you’re amazing, any guy would be lucky to have you, I honestly don’t understand why guys aren’t tripping over themselves and each other to get to you” (which I hear a lot from my female friends who don’t looks like me), was simultaneously refreshing and very depressing.
The thing is, there’s a PERSON on the other end of that flirtation. I think I’m pretty good at discerning the difference between casual flirting and something more pointed, and the times I’ve tried to nudge things in a more romantic direction have been the latter. I don’t think I’m hopeless at reading cues. These guys like getting attention from me and seem to enjoy my company. Until I indicate that I might actually want something from them, and then they WITHOUT FAIL gaslight me into thinking there was absolutely no flirtation or intent on their end. (I should say that the gaslighting happens when I call them out on it, which I don’t do often because every time I have I get the exact same shady-ass response. And, by the way, I have witnesses who attest to these guys’ flirtatious behavior.)
I hope what I’ve outlined so far is comprehensible. I’m clearly a ball of angry, anxious, sad, lonely energy. I don’t even know if I have a question, but I’d love to hear your take on why men do this and whether you think I’m totally crazy for being so fucking over it all. I’m so sick of being treated like my feelings don’t matter, and then being told that the things I’m feeling were based on nothing to begin with. I’m a writer by profession, so maybe I just need to write a book about this or something so people will believe me and maybe even start holding men more accountable. I don’t know. I feel like my anger about this is making me bitter and less open to the men who I’m sure do exist out there who would be open to–or even thrilled!–to date me. I don’t want to close myself off to them, but experiencing this same exciting-then-ultimately-disappointing interaction over and over is really starting to break me.
Thanks in advance,
Black Ladies Have Feelings Too
P.S. My amazing sex therapist also brought up the good point that it would be worth expanding my social circles, and I agree. That said, I’m stuck in my city for work and obviously the pandemic has put a damper on major socializing efforts. I do have a very diverse group of friends, but our industry is pretty overwhelmingly White and image-conscious. (Can you guess which industry I’m talking about?) I also don’t date using apps anymore because I have done that a TON in the past and I’m burnt out; plus, they’re super racist and that makes me feel very icky and I’m allowed to choose to avoid situations that make me feel that way.