Trans Monogamist Dating: The Hickey

Joshua Byron


I keep hoping that I will find a man worth trusting. But let’s face it: many of us have never been given reason to trust men. For those of us who date them, it often feels like we’re playing a losing game. Men have all the power whether we want them to or not. Who holds the power, the stakes, and calls the shots owns the hierarchy of hurt. Repeat: whoever has the power to hurt is the one in power.

The hickey, while a sign of intimacy and of ownership, is not necessarily a sign of love. Love is something we could debate about all day. We all want it in some form or another. Whether we want it from our romantic partners is another story. Plenty of folks just want something physical while they sort their life out. OKCupid defines romantic partner as someone to go out with or someone to come home to. Think, Mr. Hickey. 

Although who goes to who is another part of the power dynamics, especially in Brooklyn.

I’ve found that dating in New York is like anywhere else. There are two kinds of men: the ones who want to get married and the ones who want a good time and some gin. 

A Brooklyn gay is chill to a fault. He wants nothing more than a good time and to wax nostalgic about his favorite TV show, writer, or artist. He’ll tell you about his job prospects, torrid family life, or his last ex and then vanish like smoke. The Brooklyn gay lives by an inconvenient train stop so he has to go—now. Sorry, he can’t see the last minute of your favorite show. A Manhattan gay won’t give you the time of day if you’re a Brooklyn gay, so I really have little data there.

The last guy I was actually seeing lived a block away from me, near the bodega I went to. It was incredibly romantic to think I could make it work with someone so close and share a bodega with someone I liked. 

This guy was sweet and he went to Rutgers, which sounded prestigious enough. He taught pilates and was into Twyla Tharp. Of course, he told me it was surprising I knew her. His knowledge of female-driven comedies was superb. I was intrigued and wanted to turn our rendezvous into something more date-like. We’d seen each other twice in one week, so when he didn’t respond for three days, I was noticeably worried.

So I did what I always do: I pressed self-destruct.

I messaged him that if he was interested, we should continue. If not, he should let me know so I could move on with my life. He responded that he had just been busy, as he had left Bushwick for the Bronx before moving to Williamsburg. Besides the absurdity of this statement, he also let me know he wasn’t looking for anything serious.

This time I did something I never do: I told him I was not looking for something chill and that we were probably not a good fit. Actually what I literally said was “naw that doesn’t sound like a great fit sorry.” Needless to say, I never heard back.

The new guy I’ve been trying to see after the last hickey commitment-phobe is a down-to-earth Pisces illustrator. We were going to meet Monday, but his family kept him tied up that day so we rescheduled to meet in Central Park. He describes a deep love of Cowboy Bebop, homebody culture, and monogamy so I was intrigued enough.

I sit down and start reading, waiting for my first real romantic date in the big city. The boy is fifteen minutes late, so I text my location. A half hour later, I call. No answer. Now I have to walk around the couple-filled park, doomed to be alone for the rest of my life. I go grocery shopping and get some pork buns before getting a text.

He was there! He had been for over an hour. Does this mean he is madly in love with me? I am alternately pissed, scared, and excited. 

We settled on going out Friday instead. I wait a day of no texts before bugging him on Instagram and the app we met on to see if his phone is still dead. He sees it, I see he sees it, and nothing happens. I spiral into worrying about all the other things wrong in my life: trying to schedule screenings for my latest video work, getting more shifts at my job, my lack of food in the cupboard, and of course—the boy who set it all off.

The commitment-phobe and the commitment-crazed in this case were one and the same. Both were flakey and unavailable due to reasons they didn’t care about telling me. Both seemed to want some hyper-specific romantic fulfillment that I couldn’t fulfill.

Of course, this goes both ways. I too have a fantasy I’m trying to fulfill but because I’m me, mine is more logical. All wild dating stories are wild on both sides, even if we find the other person lazy, rude, weird, irrational, or whatever. That said, I definitely bought myself a giant chai latte after all the rejection. It feels defeating to constantly try and date and not end up hating yourself or thinking you’re the problem. Most likely, you aren’t. You just don’t match up for some reason. Now if you’re a nasty, argumentative, or pretentious jerkface then yes it is your fault.

But none of us see ourselves that way.

Cover image courtesy of Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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