You met someone who’s cute, who you’re attracted to. But they tell you you’re non-binary and you don’t quite know what to do with that.
To keep this person in your life, you want to educate yourself on the best practices of dating a non-binary person. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Know It’s Okay to Not Know Everything
If you don’t keep up with LGBT discourse, you might not understand people existing outside of the gender binary. You might have even heard of non-binariness or met someone who identified as non-binary until your partner came along.
That’s okay. It’s okay to not know everything about the non-binary identity when your partner comes out to you or until you met your partner.
But your initial ignorance is no excuse to stay ignorant. There are tons of resources on this website and on the internet to help you get a better grasp of this identity and how it makes people feel.
Listen to Your Partner
Even if you are knowledgeable in non-binariness, listen to your partner. What experiences have they had to get them to this point? How do they feel about their body, their gender role, and how they interact with this world?
No matter what, actively listen to your partner. Ask them questions. Ask them to clarify. Every non-binary person is unique in how they recognize themselves and the world, though the general trend among them is that they do not feel like either a man or a woman.
Keep an open mind and understand where your partner is coming from if their identity is new to you. At the end of the day, they made the effort to tell you their authentic self to you, so the least you can do is listen and try to learn.
In the process of telling you their history, feelings, and preferences, your partner most likely told you what does and does not make them uncomfortable. Such discomforts could be the name and pronouns they’ve been using before, the way they dressed, or the way they’ve been going about their life.
Do what your partner tells you makes them most comfortable. If your partner didn’t make this clear, ask them what you can do. Communication is the best way to properly set up and follow boundaries, so both parties should be on the same page.
Your partner will most likely understand flubbing their name and pronoun at the beginning as you make the transition — just show you’re making the effort to make your partner comfortable as best you can.
A Few Things to Be Extra Cognizant Of:
- Pronouns. If you met your partner using one set of pronouns but they asked you to use different ones, stay mindful of how you address your partner not only to them but to other people as well. One little pronoun can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
- Name. the same goes for any name changes you might have encountered. Do your best to use the name your partner asked you to use.
- Gendered language. We get it. “You guys,” and “bro” and “ooh girl” are commonplace in the English language, but they may make someone uncomfortable as they remind your partner of what they are not. Apologize for any mistakes made and keep a growth-mindset in terms of the gendered language used.
- Gender roles. Who holds the door open? Who pays? Who offers to work in the yard versus do the dishes? Most non-binary people will adopt a practical mindset with such behaviors — those who are most capable of doing those things should do them, not who has what in their pants. If you hold expectations of gender roles, you might chafe against your partner’s boundaries, so talk to them about who wants to do what in certain scenarios.
- Touch. Your partner might have dysphoria over certain parts of their body. You touching or focusing on that body part might make your partner uncomfortable. Your partner might tell you what touches they do and don’t like, so take heed of their boundaries.
Express Your Thoughts or Concerns When Necessary
Just as your partner is going through a transition, you’re going through a transition along with them. Your partner is doing what they need to do to feel the most comfortable in themselves, but if you have further thoughts, questions or concerns, you need to make them known.
For example, let’s say you’re confused about the legitimacy of a non-binary identity. It’s okay to think this way before you’ve done your research online, but even if that thought persists, you have to express that to your partner. Otherwise, you’ll be on one page and they’ll be on the other in terms of how valid their identity is, which could cause problems in the relationship.
Having an open mind and maintaining open communication between each other is the best way to work out any confusion between you and your partner. Cultivate transparency between the two, and be dedicated to challenging your world views if necessary.
Keep Your Priorities Clear
Being non-binary is only one part of your partner’s identity. It should not stand in the way of you getting to know the person behind that identity.
Especially if you’ve been dating your partner before they came out to you, you could change your mindset to view the change as a celebration of your partner’s authenticity rather than a cessation of who they once were. Your partner is growing, and you can accompany them on that journey.
Videos For You to Check Out
Non-binary & Dating — Addison Moore
Addison describes what it’s like to date mostly cis women as a non-binary transmasculine person. It may be helpful for people who are concerned with how people will react to their identity while dating. While Addison certainly has some rough patches, every experience was a way to focus on what they want in a relationship while building his own confidence as to who he is. A quick watch that I recommend.
Dating and attraction beyond the gender binary — Xtra
This video includes shorted anecdotes from more non-binary people. The video describes the struggles non-binary people have had dating, such as someone being attracted to you until they find out your pronouns.
What is your partner’s sexuality if you’re non-binary? — Ashley Wylde
One concern some people may have when dating a non-binary person is how dating that person will affect their identity. For example, if someone identifies as a gay man, will dating a non-binary person make them not gay anymore?
Ashley Wylde addresses some of these worries in their video. Some people take pride in their identity, be it straight, gay, lesbian, whatever. But dating a non-binary person doesn’t have to be an exclusion of someone for the sake of a label. Wylde puts it best:
“Do your best to not get attached to something so dynamic and so changing, and so limited, as language.”
Don’t be so concerned with labels and language. Just proceed based on your attraction toward someone.
People are cute and funny and smart and kind and welcoming and can fit your personality perfectly. All of that doesn’t have to coincide with gender — though, of course, gender is one of the first things you see in someone.
Perhaps the biggest take away from this article is this: don’t get too bogged down on labels or particular looks. A relationship will withstand discomfort or stigma if the emotional bond (which, really, is genderless) holds strong.
Thanks for reading! Take care.