*Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is at times a long and exhausting process. It took me many years to completely accept myself, and try to venture into the dating world. Over time, I have ended up collecting stories and lessons learned from my dating life, which I will now be sharing every month for roughly the next year. All names will be changed to protect the privacy of everyone mentioned, as they deserve anonymity and respect- no matter how bad the stories may have ended. Instead of telling these stories in chronological order, I will be telling them by order of importance of their moral.*
Queer people in rural areas know the pain of having very few dating options, so a lot of times, they turn to the internet for help. While some turn to dating websites, it’s more common to meet on social media websites and casually end up talking to a person from another state. You end up messaging each other, and even occasionally video chatting to confirm they’re who they say they are. Then, you’ll talk every day and find yourself liking your online friend a lot. When you express your newfound feelings, and they’re reciprocated, you decide to be in a relationship. Congratulations, you’ve just signed up for a long-distance online girlfriend!
Meet Alice. I’ll be the first to admit she wasn’t exactly my usual type, and her political beliefs harshly clashed with mine, but at the time my options were so limited that I chose to not care. This, like almost every time this happens, is a poor choice. Now, there’s a difference between meeting someone in person and then when they move trying to maintain a connection rather than beginning a relationship online entirely. The main difference being that you’ve never actually properly met. People are able to hide things behind a screen that they can’t in person, and it’s like the screen will serve as a literal wall in the relationship.
I will be the first to admit that this relationship isn’t one that I’m proud of. Not because of the fact it was started and maintained from six states away, but my motivation for the relationship and my attitude towards the relationship. I had, in a moment of weakness, admitted to a friend of mine that I might be settling because I felt like this was as good as I could get. This is never a good reason to enter into a relationship, and I’m glad that this is the last time I ever settled in a relationship.
Alice and I had roughly eight months of this long-distance-relationship, and oddly enough when I think over my previous relationships, I sometimes entirely forget about Alice. This is because our relationship was all surface. We claimed to be in love, but I never told my family about her. We rarely ever talked about anything important in our lives. We rarely ever talked about anything important going on in the world. We would discuss writing, plots, and fandoms that we were in.
My friends at the time weren’t particularly fond of Alice as well. They all thought she kept me from living in the real world, and I can see now that they were absolutely right. I was trying to make my relationship into something it wasn’t capable of being, and I halted other parts of my life in the process.
Alice and I also somehow found a way to fight a lot, and she herself often admitted that she didn’t love me the way normal people loved each other in a romantic relationship. She told me she loved me the way she loved nature. For some reason, I convinced myself it was still better than nothing, and kept going along with this. Every little fight we’d have, I was the one who always apologized and made the effort to patch things up. When people say that love and partnership aren’t always the same thing, they’re right. I sure as heck didn’t love Alice, not like I had fallen in love since, but I was determined to keep our partnership alive. I chose comfort over happiness, and I chose a computer screen over a real girlfriend. I chose to love someone who should’ve been a friend, instead of really falling in love with someone. Maybe I didn’t think I deserved real love.
We’d started planning the idea for a potential future, and thought about going to college where she is and attempting a real relationship with her. We’d decided I’d go to her state to officially meet her and her family in person for a test run. I had booked a flight, took time off work, had booked a hotel, everything. I won’t give an exact number, but it would’ve been the most money I’d ever spent in my whole life.
Then, not long after, she made me realize one of the most important lessons of my life: I deserved better than this nonsense. She had been sick with some sort of flu, and spent a whole week bringing up previous arguments we’d already resolved, and proceeded to insult me and blame me for these things all over again. For five days, I apologized for everything all over again and kept my frustration to myself. The sixth day of this, I’d finally lost my temper and called her out. Alice refused to apologize and kept berating me, and then I broke up with her. I also blocked her on everything, and then canceled all my trip reservations and got almost an entire refund. I’d rather die alone than be dealing with Alice for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even handle it over the internet, let alone in person!
Not much long after this, I ended up meeting someone else and moved on. There are times even now that I’ll forget I had this experience, despite my lessons from it now having helped shape me more into the woman I am today. Years later, another person I would come to fall in love with would tell me that every relationship they’d had taught them something important, and they’re right. For me, my online relationship taught me that settling for an on-screen fantasy is still settling. Never, ever settle.
The reason I’m writing about this is because it is so easy for queer people to settle for less, and especially for online relationships. I implore you to wait it out and make more efforts to meet people and enjoy being single until the love comes to you. You’re worth having a real relationship with someone physically with you every day to enjoy your company and share your life with them. I say share your life, not make you happy, because only you can make yourself happy. You don’t need to settle in anything, and you deserve all the happiness in the world. The right person will come along eventually on their own. I admit, you may have to wait for some time, but the relationships will come on their own! After all, if they didn’t, I’d have nothing to write about!