I want you, I want to be you -- help?
September 18, 2009 3:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm 25 years old, male, attracted to women. I have some funny fetishes, and there is something called "autogynephilia", love of oneself as a woman, that I'm pretty sure applies to me. What kind of woman can I get into a relationship with who would be understanding?

As a young kid, 5-10 years old, I discovered that certain types of clothing gave me an immense amount of pleasure. These were things that were particularly tight, often thick, and encompassing when I put them on, like furry costumes, fleece jackets, and spandex. I remember laying in bed at night, feeling these funny sort of waves of ecstasy, imagining what it would be like to put on a thick dog costume that fully hugged my body.

When I was 12 or 13, girls started looking really cute. The idea of being with a girl seemed like an awesome one, and naturally I got into a few relationships in junior high and high school. In these relationships though, I'd become deeply attached to the girl I was with, see her as the most perfect thing in the entire world, and basically lose all self confidence, seeing myself as ugly, disgusting, and flawed. My insecurities would inevitably cause the relationship to implode.

During these relationships I always kept hidden my clothing fetish, which never went away. In private I would put on fleece winter jackets, women's bathing suits, and ski masks. When I was 14 or 15, I started feeling a new physical urge -- the urge to be penetrated. I began experimenting in the shower with various small household objects. I found a strange new pleasure in doing this.

As relationships moved past kissing and into more advanced territory, I had a problem. My libido was very fickle: sometimes I'd be turned on and able to enjoy the moment, but often I'd just be thinking too much, going through the motions, and worrying about my performance. In these moments, I'd be totally unfeeling, as if my libido had gone numb. In college, when sex became even more central to the relationships I was in, this numbness became the core of my insecurity. (I dated a girl named Sarah my senior year in college. She was very comfortable with her sexuality, which, given my erectile difficulties, made me feel constantly inadequate. I became so desperate to please her that I secretly took Cialis every day to ensure I'd always be ready.)

It was during college that I noticed a final facet of my sexuality: I was actually jealous of the girls I was with. I wanted to be so attractive, I wanted to wear those tight clothes, I wanted to be the one who was penetrated. (To stay turned on during sex with Sarah, I once imagined myself as the one being penetrated... and oddly, it worked.) It killed me to see all the attention that my girlfriends would get, though I'd always do my best to hide those feelings.

It's been a long journey of trying to figure out and deal with this odd gender/sexual configuration that I seem to have. If I could suddenly totally transform myself entirely into a cute girl, I would probably do that, but I look as masculine as the next guy, and I'm OK with how I look, so I have no interest in becoming female. Though I often fantasize about being penetrated and playing a submissive sexual role, I am not physically attracted to men and have no interest in being with one. I am, I guess, a heterosexual guy. I'm most comfortable dressing and acting like one too.

I am now well into the adult phase of my life and sex is becoming less important as I grow older. What I really want and miss is having the intimacy and companionship of a fun and understanding woman who I also find attractive. I also hope to get married some day and, with the right woman, would love to have kids.

Can anyone identify with any of this? What kind of girl should I look for who could understand and accept this? How do I meet her?
posted by jikeda to Human Relations (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (E-mail is q8fry9zviz@gmail.com for anyone who wants to get in touch directly.)
posted by jikeda at 3:57 AM on September 18, 2009

What you're describing isn't really all that out there. Gender is a fluid construct, as is sexuality. Men who like the feeling of wearing clothes that are more women-specific in this society aren't really all that rare, it's just that we're in a fairly socially conservative time, so men tend to hide it.

There are plenty of women out there who are just as turned on by cross-dressing, gender play and being the one who penetrates. If you've ever read or listened to Dan Savage, a question along those lines comes up every once in awhile, and it's not something to freak out about; you just have to find the places where you share the same interests.

At 25, you may feel you're "well into the adult phase" of your life, but honestly, it's just the beginning. Learning enough about who you are and what you want is a lifelong process, and having the courage to say that even though what you're looking for isn't what you're seeing in the mainstream is pretty rad.
posted by xingcat at 4:22 AM on September 18, 2009 [7 favorites]

I remember laying in bed at night, feeling these funny sort of waves of ecstasy, imagining what it would be like to put on a thick dog costume that fully hugged my body.

Have you considered looking into furry communities? No, really. There are other people into, if not exactly the same thing, then very similar things.

Anyway, listen to xingcat and kathrineg. What you're describing isn't all that unusual, but a therapist might help you get over some of the guilt.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:47 AM on September 18, 2009

If it helps, here's one more voice saying that what you describe isn't all that far out there. The success of the Bend Over Boyfriend franchise suggests that there is a quite large population of men who like to be penetrated, and women who like to help. Cross dressing isn't anything new or even particularly unusual, nor is wearing funny costumes. So you are definitely out of vanilla-land, but only a little, and not in any truly alarming ways.

But you don't need me to tell you that you are normal -- you need for you to feel like you are normal. "See a therapist" is a cliche, but it really does work for a lot of people, and can help give them the tools to feel better about themselves. You aren't wanting a therapist to change your sexuality -- just to help you understand it, be able to communicate it with a prospective partner, and feel overall better about yourself. There have been previous AskMes about finding a sex-positive therapist which might be of use to you.

Finally, there are entire websites dedicated to helping you find other people who share your interests. I've seen bondage.com mentioned here on AskMe a few times, and there are no shortage of others. If nothing else, reading the personals there might let you realize how non-weird your interests are, compared to the really out there ones.
posted by Forktine at 5:57 AM on September 18, 2009

Best answer: There are lots and lots of people who are turned on by the same things as what you describe in your post, and people who are turned on by people just like them (and you).

A lot of the things in your post sound like a good time, to me! I'm a 25 year old straight female, fyi. I think if you work on liking who you are and not feeling guilty for what you like, you'll find it easier to identify like-minded people. The internet is ideal for this, of course.

A lot of women my age are quite open minded about what goes on in the bedroom. I've definitely had friends who are very straight, who are open to all sorts of sexual play, as suggested by their boyfriends at the time. Most of what you talk about isn't really all that out there, and none of it is scary in the permanent life changes and scars sort of way.

In short: I identify with you. There are lots of girls like me (I talk a big game about being weird but I know I'm not). You can meet her almost anywhere! You're already ahead of the game in that you've figured out a lot of what you want. Anybody else would just tell their partner these things; you don't need to be any different.
posted by Mizu at 6:03 AM on September 18, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I want to chime in with everyone else saying your unconventional sexual desires are not as unusual as you think. In the situation you're in, where you've never told anyone about these preferences, I imagine this has served to increase your preoccupation with how different you and your wants are from everyone else... because you've never given anyone (especially anyone close to you - internet strangers count a lot less significantly in this equation) the chance to tell you they aren't.

I'm not positing that 100% of ladies you might ask out for coffee will be game for the activities you're interested in, but to bring Dan Savage into this discussion again, a common refrain on his podcast and in his advice column is that with uncommon sexual desires/fetishes, it's a numbers game. You ask out a lot of people. Take them to coffee. See who clicks. Build up some level of camaraderie. Then present the issue: you like wearing more lady-style identify clothing and would like penetration to be on the table for both parties in the relationship. Some ladies will absolutely not be down with it; perhaps even most ladies. But there are ladies out there who WILL be interested - you just have to present the option to them to find that out.

Further advice on how to present this: it sounds like you're pretty uncomfortable with your own sexual needs at this point, and with everyone else I definitely suggest therapy to address those insecurities. But, when you're ready to start looking around for a special lady, and you want to broach the subjects of spandex and penetration, you'll be getting the best shot at open-mindedness if you present these parts of yourself as features rather than flaws. Because they are! Someone who gets to be with you gets to explore new parts of their sexuality, too. It's not a terminal illness you're asking someone to put up with; it's an opportunity. . . for the right person. [This particular flavor of advice also poached somewhat liberally from Dan Savage. For fetishy concerns, he is the go-to guy, so in that respect I recommend his column and podcast, even though sometimes he can be a generalizing asshole.]

Best of luck, and be kind to yourself while you're figuring more of this out.
posted by dorothy humbird at 6:25 AM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

As a female dominant, I've run across quite a few men who are very similar to you.

I want to think about my response, so if I don't post back here in a day or so, hit me up on memail or the gmail in my profile.

For now, just know that you are far from alone, and there are women out there for you.
posted by desjardins at 6:53 AM on September 18, 2009

Understanding women, women that are turned on by boys in thigh high boots and panties, are out there. If you do it, they will come. Maybe.
posted by psylosyren at 6:54 AM on September 18, 2009

There are websites, support/community groups and even conventions (kind of like mixers) of all kinds of fetishes where you are sure to find people that either enjoy the same things you do or are perfectly fine with it.

Good luck!
posted by Neekee at 8:54 AM on September 18, 2009

Best answer: Also, I want to stop back in here to say that of course it is a delicate process determining when to broach the subject of your somewhat unconventional sexual interests. Rereading my earlier post, it kind of sounds like I was suggesting you drop this into conversation on the very first date. Don't... actually do that, probably, unless you met via a fetish personals site.
I imagine the time frame runs more along a handful of dates (3? 5?) and maybe a makeout session or so before you can say some expanded version of: "Hey, so the thing about dating me is I have a few unusual interests that aren't that unusual! Are you game?" Of course it's going to vary per situation.
Anyway, go for it when you're ready, prepared for a lot of strike-outs before you hit a home run.
posted by dorothy humbird at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @kathrineg: I think if I meet a girl who's secure with her feminine sexuality, I'd be totally fine with it so long as I could be open with her about my sexuality and she was totally fine with it. As shallow as it is, I really get hung up thinking that my sexual performance is unreliable, and knowing that other guys might (potentially) be able to please her much more in bed. I think if I felt like she really loved me, funky libido and all, then things would be a.o.k.

@xingcat: I'll definitely check out Dan Savage. I recently moved to the SF bay area, a place that seems good for more "gender fluid" people.

@dorothy humbird: I actually have told a couple of girlfriends about my sexuality, though at the time I don't know if I'd had a good grasp of it yet. In both relationships the girls were willing to participate but it was pretty clear to me they were just trying to be nice. I think you and Dan Savage are right, it's a numbers game.
posted by jikeda at 12:05 PM on September 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone for the thoughtful responses. I actually have seen a few therapists about this during more depressed moments in the past. They've been very supportive, of course, but I never really felt like these often much older, often male therapists can fully relate to my situation.

I think I'm pretty clear on and okay with my sexuality actually. It's been pretty much unchanged since puberty so I don't think I'm in for any huge surprises now. As far as finding a mate, the best way to approach this seems to be: when the right time comes, be upfront about these things with women that I pursue. If they don't get it or aren't interested, no big deal, just move on.

A couple of questions (thanks @dorothy humbird for anticipating them) in case anyone else has thoughts:

1) When is the right time to start mentioning some of this stuff? First coffee date definitely seems out of question. I can hold off as long as I want, but if we start hooking up and my libido is unreliable (it often is, especially with people I'm not that close to), things get a lot more stressed for both me and her. ("Maybe he's not physically attracted to me?", "Maybe something was wrong with my ___ that turned him off?", "Maybe he's gay?") ....so maybe earlier is better?

2) What do I say? There are no simple, convenient words to sum everything up (like 'gay' or 'bi').
posted by jikeda at 12:14 PM on September 18, 2009

Online dating.

I've had good experiences with Fetlife and OK Cupid. The one's a specifically kink-oriented site, and includes a lot of discussion groups as well as more personals-ad-type material. I guarantee you there will be other submissive straight guys who like to crossdress on there.

OK Cupid, on the other hand, is a general purpose dating site — but a fairly liberal and sex-positive one, and one that's good for meeting people who have kinks or fetishes but don't necessarily identify as kinky. The deal there is, there's a long, long list of questions, and on each one you answer for yourself and also pick the answer your ideal mate will give. At some point, you'll hit some questions asking how you feel about cross-dressing, and you'll answer "Yes! Yes! YES!" — and from then on, women who have said "No, I will not date someone who cross-dresses" will get filtered out of your list of matches, and women who have said "Sure, a cross-dressing mate is fine by me" will get bumped towards the top of the list.

Ultimately, yeah, it is a numbers game, and even someone who's OMG 99% COMPATIBLE with you on a dating site may not hit it off with you in real life. But you can at least swing the odds in your favor.

(On a personal note: my girlfriend wishes I was more into cross-dressing. When you meet the right woman, you will make her very, very happy.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:18 PM on September 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Anonymous person who e-mailed and said this was ok to post:

I read your post on AskMefi and thought I'd respond. I am a 21-year-old straight female, and I would not be freaked out at all by the kinds of things you describe. I would actually be pretty into it, and I know at least 2 or 3 other people who would feel the same way.

(Look at Eddie Izzard. Lots of women think he's hot.)

I agree with others in that thread that the problem is your fear of telling people about this stuff. It's understandable, for sure, and there are many women out there for whom your desires would be a total turn-off... but, for every women like that, there is another who will love it.

What you need to work towards is being up-front about your desires. There's no magic formula to find the woman you're looking for without putting yourself out there first, as scary as that is. You just need to keep trying- and, yes, facing potential rejection- until you find someone who is into it. It won't take as long as you think.

posted by jikeda at 2:35 PM on September 18, 2009

I'm at work so I have to keep it tame, but I'll memail you directly later.

First off, you are so far from "strange" it isn't even funny; I can think of five friends off the top of my head that could have written your question.

To answer 2) above, though, the standard term is "kinky". It's applicable for all orientations and motivations.
posted by geckoinpdx at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2009

Terms that spring to mind: cross dressing, having a drag identity, "drag queen", kinky. Not trans.

And you can be a straight man who wants to be penetrated, just like you can be a gay man who doesn't want to be penetrated. And you can find a straight girl who wants to do the penetrating!
posted by heatherann at 1:02 PM on September 19, 2009

A bit more on why I don't think you're trans: You don't want this to be a full-time identity; it's just a sex thing. You're comfortable being masculine in your day-to-day life but sometimes you want to be a submissive feminine sexy person. That's cool, but that's a drag identity, not a trans identity, so far as I understand the terms.
posted by heatherann at 1:04 PM on September 19, 2009

Best answer: Seconding FetLife; if nothing else, the active discussion groups and sheer volume of events will be very affirming.

Since you're in SF, I'd suggest also looking out for a few genderqueer-friendly events. (There should be some opportunities on FetLife to find out about them) Not because genderqueer necessarily summarizes you, but because it's an opportunity to socialize with people who share a strong sense of gender's fluidity. To me it sounds like you're more hung up on the perception of a role than on actual gender. You have a clear sense of yourself as a man, and like it; but are troubled by internal notions about how your masculinity is supposedly allowed to be. You know what? It's your masculinity; it can be anything you want of it. There are infinite permutation out there, and yours is not only okay it's not even that remarkable. You don't have to identify as a woman, sissy, TG, or a drag queen in order to explore the kinks that make you happy.

The performance anxiety is a separate issue. There's a lot I'd like to say about that, but would do so at the risk of speaking for other women. So I'll just speak for me: performance is completely irrelevant. Be with me. Be attentive to what makes me happy (at any given moment there are lots and lots of options, and only some of them are physical), and allow me the privilege of giving you pleasure. Let go of the criticisms in your head, and your sex life will be much better.

As far as therapy goes, you'll probably feel more comfortable once you've found a kink aware professional.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:41 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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