I have a lot of trouble being dependent on other people. My time being trans-identified definitely made me a lot less trusting of depending on “community.” Before trans-identification I mostly conceived of control manuevers as occurring through threats- you don’t do what I want, I will take this important experience/object/resource away from you. It’s my hunch, and I’m not married to this idea, that men tend to go to this kind of strategy of control quicker than women. (This is just an observation from personal experience, so I’m only about 30% invested in this hunch.)
During my time being trans-identified there was this very clear pattern of women energetically trying to get me to cultivate dependence on them. There was this super clear pattern of women noticing I was bummed out (because everything about my body language, my face, my speech pattern screamed “BUMMED OUT PERSON”), trying to get me to hang out one on one and confide in them, and then trying to turn things sexual. (Since so much of what I was bummed out about were very intimate experiences with rape culture, I was not in a place to want to be one on one and have sexual stuff sprung on me.) My hunch, and I actually feel much more confident about this, I’m about 65% invested in this idea, is that women who have control issues are much more likely to cultivate emotional and physical dependence first. These are layered strategies. Men often don’t have to put in the work to cultivate dependence because often men are given control of important resources like money. If you have money and someone needs money to live you don’t have to cultivate emotional dependence, you just say “I don’t like your attitude you’re out of this job/ don’t come around this scene any more.” Women generally (not always) are not in control of scenes/jobs/money in the family and so they have to lay the foundation of dependence when they’re invested in getting control over you.
So my time being trans-identified did not do great things for my view of women. I think this is a fucked up world, yes the vast majority of people wiling out raping and killing people are men, but women really are not angels, and lots of women are not at all honest with themselves about their control stuff. This is on me and my screwed up young brain, but when I started dating female people I did think “oh good I can get free from male bullshit” and that was stupid because I only dated female people who were on out of control bullshit. I found the most controlling, narcissistic, angry at their mothers, looking to get even with the world female people to be intimate with. Now, that’s exactly the same as the male people I’ve dated too. So that’s on me. But I’m not on board with the myth that when female people are in romantic relationships with each other it is easier for them not to destroy each other than in hetero relationships. Only people who are very aware of their capacity to hurt the people they love end up creating healthy relationships. A female person who can only see herself as a victim and not see herself as a potential victimizer is a dangerous person to be close to, exactly like a male person who can’t see himself as a potential victimizer.
Being someone who is uncomfortable with dependence, because I’ve had being dependent on people turn so dark, is rough because some people need signs from you that you’re willing to be dependent on them before they can trust you. I get this. When people who hold their cards close to their chests confide in me I feel really good about myself, and feel more secure in the relationship too. But I also get freaked out when people confide things in me too quickly and we’re not in a context where sharing confidences is expected. The people who feel safest to me are people who take their time, suss me out, aren’t in a rush to get close/ be one on one/ get financially invested in each/cultivate dependence with each other, and can just hang out in that space for awhile. Now, I’m clearly an intense person who likes to talk about intense things. That’s just a tension I have to navigate. Most of the people who want to take their time before getting close don’t want to talk about intense stuff, they want to talk about sports. I’ve pretty much accepted that I’m a person who is 90% red flags and I respect anyone’s threat sensor going off when they hear about my life. I can fall into the “always the victim, never the victimizer” thing myself and like I said before, that’s a dangerous person to cultivate dependence on.
The way things work in an ideal world is when we’re kids we have the experience of 1) not being in control 2) having clear and and consistent boundaries that respect our development. So we aren’t put in positions where we have to navigate situations that are too grownup for us, like figuring out how to feed our siblings, acting as confidante to our parents, or sexual situations. We aren’t in an ideal world and most people I know didn’t get that experience in their childhood, nor did their childhood caretakers get that experience. When people don’t have that experience as kids they often need excessive control in their adult relationships to feel secure. Having control issues doesn’t mean that you’re evil, or out to hurt people. It’s just a pattern you need to watch, because it’s a pattern that can hurt the people you’re close to.
Frankly one of the tasks of being an adult is watching out for other people’s weird control manuevers and having healthy boundaries that protect you from them. I’m not quite there yet. I’m definitely very testy about other people’s control manuevers and boundaries. What I know from both my time in comedy and my time being trans-identified is that when it comes to boundaries whole scenes of people can normalize really diffuse boundaries (just like families do). And then if you yourself tend to be very comfortable with people with control issues and have bad boundaries yourself, you will, like I did, have not great experiences. Maybe you will blame the scene, maybe you will blame a gender, maybe you’ll blame your parents (always a nice go-to) but you will find more scenes and more genders to blame until you start relating to people with different strategies. Maybe you will, like me, have a period where you really do not like people trying to get you one on one. Maybe you will, like me, strike people as not trustworthy because you do not feel good getting emotional when you get together in real life. Maybe you’re not going to go through any of this, and that’s actually my hope for you.
Just be careful out there kids. Your best bet for safety is a collection of personal habits, not a scene of people or a gender. I think we all do end up learning habits that serve us, but the learning curves for each of us can be way different, and I think the longer it takes the harder it gets.