Gender stereotypes and expectations color most people’s education on how to form close bonds with others. However, misgendering the other person by our actions, no matter how harmless they seem to be, can have negative consequences. The non-binary dating scene has its share of obstacles, but it promotes a mindset that is more curious and less dogmatic.
This Non-Binary Awareness Month, learn how to celebrate the binary-breaking folks on your life. Here are some tips on things to avoid while dating a non-binary person:
Don’t Box Them into Cisgendered Norms
This can include things like assuming they will identify as a certain gender when they haven’t brought it up or using terms like “woman,” “man,” and “girl” instead of gender-neutral alternatives. There’s no shame in asking your date what they prefer. In fact, they’ll appreciate this!
Non-binary individuals span the spectrum from “no gender” to “agender”, from “clean cut” to “obscure and queered”. It is not their outward appearance but their gender that influences their dating preferences and it is up to you to learn about them.
Avoid Apologizing Profusely when You Mess Up
Struggling to catch on to someone’s pronouns is normal. Whether your friend just came out to you or re-introduced their pronouns, or your date asks you to use “they/them”, they will expect you to take a few tries to get it right.
However, what really irks non-binary folk is when you apologize profusely and stress on how awful you feel for slipping up. Remember that apologizing to a non-binary person may put undue pressure on them to help you feel okay about your mistake. Just keep it simple and move on.
Ask, Don’t Assume!
If we haven’t driven this point home already, the most important habit to avoid is making assumptions about your non-binary date. Don’t assume they’ll be into feminine ideals just because they’re wearing a dress. Or that you can call them a “handsome fella” if they have short hair.
The easiest and the best thing you can do is ask. Ask them what’s okay and what’s unacceptable. No one wants to feel like a display in a museum that people come awe at and leave. Show them you’re curious to learn about them because they’re a genuinely interesting individual!
Don’t Expect Them to Give You the Non-Binary 101
While we do encourage learning more about your date, the questions get annoying when they start sounding like search engine queries. Ask your date about their experiences but avoid asking them about their gender identity in general. There’s so much information on the internet now. Do your research in your own time.
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