I have come to believe that I do not get more attractive the more eager I appear to be.
Many people suggest that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. They suggest that I back off too quickly, that I attenuate too soon, that I don’t try hard enough.
Those who are successful at the strategy of persistence in relationships, though, aren’t usually the ones who are asking people to meet them where they are, to engage them on shared ground.
I suspect that the people who are win by coming back again and again are earnest, eager and very much want to be liked. If you want someone else to like you, if you are willing to do whatever it takes to charm them, well, then your efforts may well pay off in the long term.
As for me, I’d rather be respected than liked. Having both respect and affection would be great, of course, but respect always comes first. I am a professional, not a charmer.
The big benefit to my approach is honesty. Over time with me you can figure out that what you see is what you get, that I am telling the truth, that I am not blowing smoke up your skirt to seduce you, that I have no hidden agenda, that you can count on me to keep the commitments that I make.
I don’t just say what other people want to hear, say whatever I think will be most effective in the moment. I carefully consider my responses, doing my best to come from a place of truth and integrity.
It’s just not a very “go along to get along” kind of approach. Many may find it useful to get people to like them before they reveal a bit more of themselves, but in my experience, my personality and vision is going to surface sometime and any sense that I first disingenuously played cute to hide who I am works against me rather than for me.
The truth is that I tend to get more queer the more you know me rather than less. As my essence emerges, people tend to see me as more and more different than they are, rather than finding connections.
This doesn’t mean that they see me as not useful, only that they see me as quite weird. Oddly, one of the reasons for this is because I speak my mind rather than working hard to be liked. I tend to stand out rather than to fit in, which may be bold, authoritative, courageous and strong, but it is far from cuddly and nice.
If you come a little bit towards me, I can offer powerful and fascinating things. If, on the other hand, you find me odd and challenging because I don’t choose to come towards you, well, there is not much I can do to help us find common ground.
Those people don’t like me because they have decided that they don’t see themselves as like me.
“Nobody is more different to an average person than a transgender person, and that makes them nervous,” or so Barney Frank said.
It is very hard to be accepted as one of the gang when people’s first thought is about how very different I am from them. They see me as an outsider, a curiosity, a freak, a mascot.
People don’t really like me because they sense that I am not like them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t respect me, accommodate me, or even admire me on some level, but it does mean that they don’t want to get too close, too easy with me.
It probably would have been useful to learn how to be one of the gang when I was a kid rather than being a bold individualist, but there was no one to help teach me how to do that, and wanting to be one of the gang would have served me quite poorly at home, where I always needed to be able to stand up for myself. In my mother’s last years she would often tell me about how her husband ruined her life by putting her kids first, and I had to just not make the point that I was one of those kids and I needed parents when I was young.
In environments where diversity is already a fact, things are easier for me. Humans, though, tend to enjoy homogeneity, imagining that the culturally normative for them is actually normal, is the way that things should be. When people know the world to be queer, full of unique individuals rather than just chockablock with people like them, they learn to look deeper to find connection.
I have learned that people who find me queer and off putting probably are not going to learn to like me the more I am in their face. They may learn to work with me, to respect me, but that is something very different.
They like people who smell like them.
And that, I am afraid, is something that I will never be.