My Emotional Sex Change

I’ve been in a relationship with another boy for over a year now. It’s wonderful and miserable like I imagine most other relationships are. I don’t feel like a minority or a victim though I realize that maybe there’s a little more pressure put on a gay couple. It took awhile for us to get comfortable. There’s a power dynamic that has to be satisfied. I imagine it’s why heterosexuality is far more common than homosexuality: roles in a relationship are very strongly influenced by our gender . My boyfriend and I had to figure out who was going to be the girl and who was going to be the boy. Even though our genitals very strongly suggested that we both were men, a provider and a receiver had to be established. I’m not talking about sex, I’m talking about who gets to bitch about nothing and everything and who gets to shut the fuck up and listen. This distinction is easy for some but it was hell for us.

I’m the sort of person who’s attracted to protection and power. I attribute this to my scrawny stature and wet-noodle arms. Biologically and evolutionarily it doesn’t make sense for me to be the warrior, so I seek out a figure who loves me enough to protect me from big bad things that could pound me into oblivion. This said: I never wanted to be a woman. I am no Carrie Bradshaw so when it became clear that I was to fill the submissive position of “girl” I didn’t really know what to do. When I say submissive I mean little spoon; I mean the one who thinks too much about phone calls and texts all the time about nothing. I’ve always been an empath, so it was easy for me to be the one who knew all about feelings and had WAY too many of them.

Our relationship hit a brick wall when this became apparent: He didn’t know how to be a boy. He wanted to be the girl too. Two submissive people in a relationship SUCK at solving problems. They hang on every syllable, dwell on every hint of body language and cry all the god damned time so we had to take turns being the emotional psychopath. Relationship failure became very apparent to our friends when we got drunk. We’d giggle and snuggle for the first two shots and then whoever downed the third Mojito would sob his eyes out in a corner because his emotional needs weren’t being met by his boyfriend who has conspicuously lost his mojo. The other party recognized this immediately and donned the hero cloak that never quite fit his scrawny shoulders. He carries his soggy burden awkwardly to bed and quietly shuts the door. If I’m lucky, it’s me. Then he holds me, all night and I don’t mean to take this as an incentive to cry but can’t help it. There’s never any question of sincerity; it’s reactionary to weep when you’re confused about how to fill a gender role that doesn’t match your genitals. Tears also seem to make your boyfriend more of a man for you.

The battle of too many feelings continued until a routine became hardwired. Eventually I established myself as the one to be cared for and I didn’t even have to cry to be little-spoon anymore. He climbed on top of me without me begging him. He was even starting to get some muscles from carrying me to bed all those nights! I had forced my man into being a man. There was only one problem: nobody wants to be with a needy manipulative cunt. Well I shouldn’t speak for everybody, but he didn’t.

I of course felt his attraction slipping from me. I tried over and over again to give him space; to be less of a leech. I found words falling out of my mouth before I could catch them. I got upset when he didn’t call me so he stopped calling me. I stopped talking about anything but how he made me feel. I didn’t talk to any of my friends about anything but my feelings about him. I found my eyes couldn’t stop turning into faucets. It was too late. I had undergone an emotional sex-change and to my own amazement my brain was bloated with estrogen. When he finally told me, “I’m not really into whiney girls”, that was all it took to flood back my testosterone and restore some joy to our relationship.

Since this necessary confrontation my hormones have been much less commanding. I am no longer fixated on constantly receiving any kind of attention. Our relationship is perfectly ridiculous: I am not quite a boy and I am not quite a girl, and neither is my very loving and endearing boyfriend. There are enough boys and girls as it is. TC mark

image – Brokeback Mountain

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  • Katgeorge

    I enjoyed reading this and I even giggled, but I feel like I need to make a teeny weeny disclaimer and that hetero gender roles are just as difficult… For starters, the 'girl' role you're talking about isn't as much attributable to women as it is to crazy people. I've had straight boyfriends who have acted just the way you've described. I've been the big spoon. I've put big drunk crying babies to bed. I fully accept that my hormones mean I cry irrationally over stupid shit like spilled milk once a month–but I don't think this defines the role of a girl in a relationship!

    It makes for an interesting topic of discussion, anyway!

    xx

  • Gareth

    The very idea that there has to be defined gender roles for a relationship to work is ridiculous.

    • Kobayashi

      Um pay attention, he essentially said the same thing in the end, did you not finish the article? Trying to define himself as the “girl” didn't work, so he just went with what was natural and embraced both sides.

      Stupid comments aside, I think this was a fun article. Thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/r0semarym Rosemary McClure

      Certainly there have probably been people who have made relationships work without defined gender roles. But that doesn't change the fact that most of us model our relationships after other relationships–our parents, our friends, people in books/on TV, celebrities, etc. And just because YOU don't feel the need for your relationship to adhere to existing gender roles doesn't mean that other people won't try to make your relationship fit that mold.

      I thought this was an interesting article about the fluidity of masculinity. Thx!

  • http://twitter.com/aaronthedem Aaron Wilder

    I feel the same way sometimes. I think that is important to understand that in a gay relationship it isn't really boy/girl roles because it is 2 boys. So striking a balance between providing for your partner and also having a strong person to provide for you can be the best of both worlds.

  • jenn

    I'm guessing this article is going to be picked apart without end, I'm guessing everyone will want to put in their 2 cents about gender roles and “how dare you make generalizations” and “how dare you say women are more emotional than men” and blah blah blah… and I'm guessing that this piece of  work won't be recognized as what it is: something incredibly interesting to read and something that makes me empathize with you.  I liked this.

    Now everyone else can go ahead and write about how this part and this quote and this section was not PC enough for them.

    • Katie

      I don't think it's necessarily about what's PC or not, but I think most relationships (of any kind) would benefit if we all stop worrying about applying traditional gender roles.
      Regardless, I don't see why anyone would attack this article since he was simply being genuine and honest about his feelings. I liked the last paragraph a lot. Although my girlfriend and I are both girls, emotionally we're a mix of stereotypically masculine and feminine traits as well. it confuses people who want to box us into “top” and “bottom” but it works for us. :)

  • Tim

    I really liked this. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/snosk Snosk

    People in relationships balance each other out. Interactions change to fill voids. If he's talkative you complement that with silence/more listening. If you're emotional he'll be more stoic/logical. Whoever's more partial to one extreme or another will take it up. Doesn't always fall along gender lines, which I suppose is what you discovered.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

    I really liked this and found it interesting and empathized with you, as a straight man/boy? I feel sometimes that I don't put out a manly vibe and lack the personality traits that a lot of girls are attracted to and it can be confusing when I like a girl and she likes me but I can't “turn it on” or “go for it” and it's usually them that come to me because I get shy if I feel like I'm in a hooking up situation. In a lot of ways I feel like a girl at times, but I like girls, and the internal conflict arises when I perceive this as an incongruity.

    • Guy

      So fucking true.

  • inflammatorywrit

    This made me really uncomfortable, because I saw so much of myself and my relationship in it.

  • hanna

    It's not that this post isn't interesting and honest, etc., but it seriously reeks of misogyny. Being whiny and needy and emotionally shut down is not the same thing as being a woman, and becoming that way because of your relationship doesn't say anything about your estrogen levels.  Saying “nobody wants to be with a needy manipulative cunt”? Seriously, bud, any other word would have been better. For me, the last paragraph doesn't undo any of the gross stuff in the rest of the post. I hate it when gay dudes, regardless of their gender expression (or the way they function in their relationships), think they can get away with putting women and femininity down. Guess what: you're still misogynistic.

    • chelseafagan

      I have to say, I don't agree with you at all. Whether or not we like it, women *tend* to be the cared for and protected in relationships, the more emotional and the more romantically engaged. Evolutionarily, historically, and in many ways currently–that is the case. There are distinct benefits for our propensity towards the loving and concerned: it makes us good mothers, it makes us caring friends, and it makes us take notice and take care of the things that men often don't. Estrogen and all that comes with it are precious things, not something we should be embarrassed about or try to disown. I think it's very interesting to hear how a gay couple navigates the balance that needs to be struck without having clear gender roles to help define it, and him filling the role that is *usually* filled by a woman is an honest exploration of this circumstance.

      This may be getting too general, but I am glad to have the soothing, caring, concerned nature that comes naturally to me as a woman–and heterosexual men seek that out because they need it as the ying to their yang. I don't think anyone should be “put down” for their gender roles, but I also don't think we should pretend they don't exist. If you want to bend or break them, or pursue what you appreciate about masculinity, more power to you. But denying the divide and beautiful, necessary differences between our genders is to deny what makes us human.

      • http://www.noahtourjee.com Noah Tourjee

        *yin

  • Caves Deno

    You make some good points about relationships and some utterly terrible ones. The one I liked best was about two submissive people being bad together. That is pretty true. That said by what you posted does not sound like a healthy relationship. It is hard to judge from this side of the internet, but it seems like you two are codependent. The point of a relationship is to be build and support each other not to utterly depend on each other. 

    On your ideas on gender roles I think you are half way there. In us we do have certain gender roles, and we do behave a certain way in a relationship based on that gender roles. The thing is gender roles are not based on the sex organs you are born with but rather on who you are as a person. Different people identify with different gender traits. It is something that is much more fluid than man and women. In your relationship you should not need to fill a specific role. If you start changing who you are to fit the relationship than it is an easy way to get in an abusive relationship.

     It sounds to me overall that the issues you guys had were because of mutually exclusive expectations of each other than the outdated concept of specific gender roles.

  • Indescifrable

    when you talk about being a “girl”  all that I could think of is that you really need to find a dictionary and expand your vocabulary, you see instead of using “girl” as an adjective let me give you a phrase that could work: “clingy annoying boyfriend” SPOT ON who would've guessed

    with this article or whatever, you're only perpetuating the forever stereotype that gay men hate women, at least that's how you come across.

    • Friendly ghost

      Thats a stereotype? Gay men hating women? I have yet to meet a guy without girl friends. Including myself.

  • Patrick

    The one-to-one mapping of female / submissive and masculine / dominant is silly, of course, and I wish that the author had shown a bit of awareness by noting his own silly archaic propensities. That said, this was an interesting and well-written piece about relationship dynamics and one person's gendering of them.

  • http://www.noahtourjee.com Noah Tourjee

    Two Bottoms Don't Make a Top

  • Ankush Thakur

    Why is everyone hopelessly stuck on “traditional gender roles”? Maybe the author worked from this angle only to make the article more biting . . .
    Why can't you take your opinions to your graves?

  • eeqw7
  • HalloSpacegirl5

    I'd consider myself a feminist, but coming from a standpoint akin to this, I think that for this article one needs to put aside “Political Correctness” and think more about the meaning.  He's not meaning to say that all heterosexual relationships consist of one whiny woman and manly man, he's trying to say that there are in EVERY relationship (regardless of whether or not one wants to admit it) a set of roles that people take because of their personalities.  He had to put aside expected roles in order to find the roles that work for both of them.

    to end, I think this is a very genuine and insightful piece.

    • asdasdasd

      “He's not meaning to say that all heterosexual relationships consist of one whiny woman and manly man, he's trying to say that there are in EVERY relationship (regardless of whether or not one wants to admit it) a set of roles that people take because of their personalities. “
      if that's really what he's trying to say then maybe he shouldn't have used the words “girl” and “boy”. sometimes relationships can be unequal but that isn't due to gender, it's due to circumstance, personality and a bunch of other things. bad choice of words imo.

      • Taylor

        I'm not sure your criticism of boy and girl really works because he himself is
        not claiming that boy = strong and dependent and girl = whiny and
        annoying. I read his argument to be that those are the claims that society foists  on us
        and we try to default to them in new situations.

        I don't think there's a denial in the piece that other factors influence
        relationships. He writes “roles in a relationship are very strongly
        influenced by our gender” not that gender is the sole influence. Other
        things influence our roles in relationships too.

        I think it's insightful to note that many couples start with that
        “default” conception and gradually, in most cases (but I would actually
        argue that not in all e.g. very conservative societies),  other factors come to bear and re-define those roles. As
        well as to wonder how, without recourse to those default roles at the
        start, roles get defined in homosexual relationships.

      • Taylor

        I'm not sure your criticism of boy and girl really works because he himself is not claiming that boy = strong and dependent and girl = whiny and annoying. I read his argument to be that those are the claims that society foists  on us and we try to default to them in new situations.

        I don't think there's a denial in the piece that other factors influence relationships. He writes “roles in a relationship are very strongly influenced by our gender” not that gender is the sole influence. Other things influence our roles in relationships too.

        I think it's insightful to note that many couples start with that “default” conception and gradually, in most cases (but I would actually argue that not in all e.g. very conservative societies),  other factors come to bear and re-define those roles. As well as to wonder how, without recourse to those default roles at the start, roles get defined in homosexual relationships.

    • Hekatesgal

      This is bullshit.  And  putting them in the binary gender model makes it even worse.

  • Pfft

    this offends me as a woman

  • Neil

    This guy's another Ryan wannabe.

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