Dating is fun and exciting until you start catching feelings.
You never truly know at which exact moment you started shuffling your life around, creating space for them.
You begin to wonder why the other person is offline, start looking forward to telling them the details of your day and ask them simple questions that you hope will be loud enough for them to see that you care.
You start daydreaming about your first date and all the dates that’ll come after.
That was how it was with Ayanda.
We’d been dating virtually for nine months. We both had our reasons why we couldn’t meet in person and I assure you, distance wasn’t one of them. She lived just 40 minutes away from me.
Her reason for delaying seeing me was because she struggled with her weight and thought I might not accept her as she was in real life.
Her anxiety was skyrocketing and I had to assure her that it wouldn’t change how I felt about her.
It turned out what she thought was a flaw, I ended up liking more.
We started talking on Facebook after she sent me a DM. That life-altering message led to us talking for hours on end every day. It led to us writing letters to each other every week, sending love songs and memes. It was as if we were 15 again.
First dates are often said to be a make or break. The pressure of thinking you ought to be absolutely ready in case that person is the right one. In my case, the idea of sharing a life with someone else after coming out of a serious three-year relationship was a scary prospect. I wasn’t certain if I wanted to start over.
Yet, after nine months, we began to make plans to have our official date in an intimate planetarium, flowers in hand and later dinner at her favourite restaurant with exotic views.
It didn’t happen like that of course. I was sick in the hospital bed, engulfed in the heat of hospital sheets. I’d asked Ayanda to come because I was in a critical condition, afraid that I might die and never get a chance to meet her.
She walked in bearing a gift: Vaseline! Yep, that’s right. This isn’t exactly what people usually bring on their first dates but I was more excited by the fact that when she handed it to me, our hands touched briefly.
I’d mentioned to her that morning that I was pale and my lips were dry. I suppose Vaseline was the first thing that came to mind.
I can imagine she was in shock, as not only did she not know I have a chronic illness – severe visceral myopathy, a disorder of the bowel, bladder and uterus that I had been battling for eight years, which was getting worse – but she also had no idea I was a trans man before this moment.
These were my reasons for not wanting to meet her earlier. I thought about how much I’d need her more than she needed me and that alone crippled me.
Coming out to someone as transgender you’ve just met is very scary, especially if they are a potential partner. ‘What if they don’t accept me?’ is a question that haunts us.
However, in that hospital ward with her, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what it could’ve been like to make out on street corners with her or lay in the middle of the street at night counting stars.
If I’m honest, I don’t exactly remember how I disclosed my identity to her but it was something along the lines of, ‘Hey by the way, I’m trans and I’m really ill; I might not make it out of this bed. There I said it.’
She looked puzzled at first after I blurted it out. It took a minute for us to both digest what I’d just said.
I felt like a fraud for not being honest with her for nine months, but I have always considered ‘coming out’ as transgender to be more or less self-sabotage. People have rejected me, or become aggressive or even considered it as mental confusion, because it is so ‘un-African’.
I knew that the stakes of losing her were far greater when she started laughing, hitting the rails of the bed with her palms so hard I worried she might break it.
Not knowing whether to cry or join in on the laughter, I was dead silent, engulfed with regret. Nothing is more condescending than hearing someone laugh right after you’ve let them in.
She walked away for a few seconds and came back again, calmer. She had realised that, far from joking, I was gravely serious.
I couldn’t tell whether she was disgusted or felt betrayed. She was taken aback, definitely, looking up at the ceiling as if there were answers lurking there.
Eventually she asked for my right pronouns and the rest was a matter of learning our own truth and accepting it.
When she left the ward, a part of me thought we could weather the storm, while another part suspected that I’d have no way of calming it.
I stayed in the hospital for 19 days and on my last day, she came to fetch me as I checked out. I needed a fresh haircut and our first proper date began with us heading first to the salon, then buying a simple McDonald’s meal, scented candles and snacks for an indoors date because I wasn’t fit enough to be in public yet.
That was the beginning of everything. She assured me that my gender identity didn’t change how she felt about me, even though she wished I’d been honest from the beginning.
Months later, I asked her how she would have reacted to me coming out to her as trans-male if we were in an ordinary restaurant on an ordinary day.
She assured me she would’ve poured wine over me and made it more dramatic. Not because of who I am but because I felt the need to hide it from her.
Looking back at our first date, even though Ayanda and I are friends now rather than partners, I am ecstatic that it happened.
Ours was the softest and gentlest love I’ve ever experienced. If I could do it again, I would.
So, How Did It Go?
So, How Did It Go? is a weekly Metro.co.uk series that will make you cringe with second-hand embarrassment or ooze with jealousy as people share their worst and best date stories.
Want to spill the beans about your own awkward encounter or love story? Contact [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article