Dating is tiresome. Being trans and dating sometimes seems nearly impossible. Every day I encounter someone in my real life or in an online transgender space talking about a break up they are going through and my heart aches for them.

I’ve been there plenty of times. The emotional roller coaster, the sick feeling in your stomach, the rage, and feeling of hopelessness. In the past I’ve had the hardest time moving on from past relationships. I’m that guy who people would give a lecture to when I haven’t moved onto the next person instantly. This quick method of turn around has never been my way of coping with emotions, but I’ve noticed continuously that there is an expectation for people to have the ability to move on from one relationship to the next.

Let me give you an example, a friend of mine recently was in a 3-4 month relationship and he cared a lot for the guy he was seeing. When it abruptly ended he seemed very adamant that he never really liked the guy in the first place and had moved on after a couple of days. It may have been true, but what if he secretly was feeling terrible and his emotions were muddled? Would that not have been acceptable?

To me, if you linger onto past relationships it means you loved with your whole heart. You saw a future with the person and gave it your all. You’re the type of person who doesn’t always find dating to be easy and this time it felt different. You’re picky with who you choose to be your partner and didn’t want to see the end of it. You shouldn’t be expected to recover in any quick fashion. Now I’m not saying that it’s ok to never move on and make yourself emotionally unavailable, but if you need time to cope and process everything then that is totally mature and responsible of you. 

You’re ready to start dating again, but what are you looking for? It drives me up a wall when someone says, “I’m not looking for something serious.” I swear at least half of the people I encounter online say this and I’m stuck wondering what does that truly mean? In reality I think most people would like to be in a strong committed relationship, but we’re afraid to make ourselves vulnerable. If we say we want something serious people might be scared away. 

What if you’re happy just being single and not looking for anything? People tend to be unable to comprehend “staying single on purpose” and are always pressuring you to date. You’re either expected to be a player and have a lot of people you are sleeping with or you need to be in a committed relationship. There is no middle ground in this crazy relationship world. This lifestyle is one I visited frequently and caused me to start relationships with people that were waving giant red flags. When I got tired of that and wanted less strings attached, I would be stuck in situations where I was letting others use my body. Eventually I felt torn apart by being in this purgatory.

Social media is dangerous when you’re having the dating woes. It has caused me to reevaluate my life many times. Scrolling past “woman crush wednesdays”, filtered photos of couples on the beach, or reading someone’s love letter that they decided HAD TO BE posted on Facebook, has caused me many moments of sorrow and questioning of “When is that going to happen to me?”. “Why am I not good enough to find that?” 

Recently all of this has become even more unwelcome because I have crossed into a new decade. Hitting 30 means honestly nothing except people thinking you to have your life together. If you aren’t married or starting a life with someone they definitely are giving you that side eye.

With all these societal pressures floating above our heads it’s no wonder we all struggle to be in relationships. Unfortunately dating is not like looking for a job. It doesn’t matter if you have the most experience or the best resume. In my opinion it is sometimes just pure luck.

The most important thing you can do in the meantime is love yourself. Yes. You are the priority. Learn what makes you feel great and authentic. Life gets so much easier once you learn to live with yourself. We sometimes use other people to cover our negative feelings about ourselves, which is not healthy. 

Once you are reading and dive into a relationship, don’t forget about you. Take time for yourself and never forget who you are independently without the other person.

There is no one right time for love. It can happen once or many times in your life. 

Love with your whole heart. Always 100%.

Good luck y’all. You’re going to need it. 

Riley is a 30 year old activist that loves being a part of the LGBT community. His hobbies include working with youth, traveling around the world, exercise, and being outdoors. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwbVwl4J3T0karIiOOmLAHA?view_as=subscriber