I have only envisaged writing three parts to the Speed Dating event (Go back to read the posts starting here if interested) but I have had a number of responses and questions which have cropped up which deserve a post of their own to answer.
Q1. Did you get any matches from the Speed Dating event?
Nope. Not even as friends.
Q2. Have you tried on-line dating before? What did you think? What are the pitfalls you encountered due to your mental health difficulties?
Yes. I have tried OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Match. I also tried to sign up for e-Harmony but I got rejected at the application stage!
I started off by being polite in rejection to those persons who were too far outside my criteria. I was utterly horrified to get back extremely abusive messages in response to polite replies from myself wishing them eventual success. “Whore”, “slag”, “ugly” and “fat” were common retorts which were the mild end of what I received.
The onslaught was such that after a time I stopped replying to anyone outside of my criteria. However this did not stop determined characters who would deluge my in-box if I so much as failed to respond to their email within an hour.
Some communications which were initially acceptable turned into demands for me to do sexual acts via webcam. I think this is fine where both parties are up for this sort of activity and I was not offended that I was asked but only that the my refusal was rarely taken seriously.
I found that I got fewer messages of abuse from Match.com which is a pay-for site although messages of abuse still occurred. I accepted dates from a couple of men (Match does not allow for multi-gender searching) and on the advice of a friend reluctantly decided to accept offers from outside my normal criteria.
- One man seemed generally pleasant but I felt nervous about his insistence on paying for an expensive meal on a first date. I presented a series of questions and topics but his views were were quite opposite to mine and he declared me to be ” a bit bohemian” for his tastes.
- Another man was fifteen years older than me. I have never been into the “older man” fantasy and I felt very uncomfortable throughout the date as he kept referring to me as “young lady” and “Miss”. The worst thing that occurred was that when the date was over, without warning, he grabbed me to kiss me on the cheek to which I responded by swinging at him and planting a fist in his face. I don’t know who out of us was the most surprised at this happening but obviously neither of us wanted to see each other again.
- On the other end of the age spectrum was a young man who was probably young enough to be my son. I am not interested in a large age gap from that point of view either and whilst he was an amusing companion I just could not see a viable partnership.
Being that some of my interests are considered “alternative” (i.e. the Science Fiction fixation) I found that I got the highest hit rate from OKCupid. I did come across a couple of people who seemed genuine, kind and a reasonable personality match but the vagaries of chance determined that they lived too far away from me for a viable dating arrangement to work out.
Q3. How do you experience the dating scene specifically as a bisexual person?
OKCupid “allows” you to record yourself as bisexual. The crowd there are fairly cosmopolitan with a lot of representation for non-heterosexual people and (for want of a better word – forgive me!) “alternative” people.
Sadly bisexual myths and stereotypes are still persistent. I’ve yet to meet a bisexual person who states that they have “twice the fun”.
As a bisexual woman who presents as physically “feminine” I was a popular choice for heterosexual couples looking for “threesomes” and for bi-curious women looking for a one off experience in order to explore their sexuality. I am respectful to all sexual choices that are between consenting adults, but I found it was very tiresome to have to field through these types of requests when I had specifically stated in my profile that I was only interested in monogamy. (yes, it is a myth that all bisexuals are unable to commit).
If you are a bisexual female interested in on-line dating, one article I recommend you read is this. It explains the bisexual on-line dating issues better than I can!
Q4. Is dating a triggering activity for you?
Yes. There are a number of issues for me.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a survivor of childhood physical abuse from my mother. It has made me hyper-vigilant in respect of both genders for traits which I believe might signify a tendency towards violence and controlling behaviour.
I look out for the following:
- People who exhibit homophobia, transphobia, ableism and prejudiced remarks towards the homeless and people on low incomes.
- People who are too excessive early on in lavishing praise or trying to spend monies on me.
- People who do not tolerate my friends or the fact that I am on platonic terms with my ex-partners.
- People who do not respect my need for mental and physical space.
- People who are cruel about my phobias and sensory issues.
- People who try to “exoticise” me on the basis of my multi-racial heritage.
- People who trivialise my experiences and accomplishments
I am also diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Unfortunately, particularly for women, much of the advice on dating is based around looking as physically attractive as possible. When you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder which causes you to feel extreme shame and stress about your appearance, the prospect of dating puts your body image concerns very much back in the spotlight. Every date is a terrifying prospect of having these fears confirmed.
I found it extremely hard on my mental health to endure the tirade of abuse about my appearance as indicated above.
I also have OCD, anxiety and depression. Dating is also scary from the point of view that there is a lot of stigma behind these conditions and sadly self-stigma kicks in when I anxiously rack my brain trying to think of ways to “hide” these conditions. NOT easy to do for very long.
Q5. What does the word Neuro-divergent mean? Are you actually diagnosed with Autism?
Here‘s a useful article defining this term.
I choose to use the word neuro-divergent to catalogue a number of sensory and communication deficits for which I do not yet have an official diagnosis for. I know that these traits and features are unusual and disadvantageous relative to the general population and hence the reason why I choose to catalogue them in this way.
I have been referred for autism diagnosis and have completed the first stage but completion of the remaining stages is contingent on input from my family on my early childhood behaviours. Given issues around my childhood abuse it makes parental involvement of questionable value and certainly detrimental to my current mental health.
As such, I am at a “stand-still” for the moment.
I recognise that some people choose to “self-diagnose”, however I think it would be unhelpful in my case as many of my sensory issues could be attributed to Post Traumatic Stress as a result of the abuse.
It would take a very good expert in the area of autism to distinguish abuse from autism and from that point of view I can understand why the requirement to get evidence from early childhood would be a very important clue. They would need to find evidence from before the abuse started (aged four approximately) but even assuming that my parents were willing to participate my mother’s memory would likely be blocked out due to psychosis and my father’s memory be decimated through the trauma caused by sustained domestic violence that he suffered at the time.
I have issues with:
- misophonia – there are certain types of sound which are very painful to me.
- touch – unexpected touch makes me extremely fearful and panicky.
- eye contact – I have become better at this over the years but it does not come naturally to me.
- body language – flirting and detecting signs of interest and disinterest also do not come naturally to me.
- communication – my range of interests are a lot broader than the AS diagnostic standard, however I have a tendency towards monologuing and treating subjects in a dense and academic manner.
- last-minute changes – I do not do well with unexpected situations. Although I exhibit some flexibility and try new things I like to be able to plan things at least several weeks in advance.
These may or may not indicate autism or may indicate having autistic traits but be considered insufficiently disabling to merit an autism diagnosis.