A man wonders why his fiancé’s father assumes that he should be girly, simply because he’s the shorter one in the relationship.
Dear Sexes: I’m a bloke, and engaged to a bloke who’s about eight inches closer to the clouds. I’m average height, but he is tall. Recently we met his parents for a few drinks, and his father made a comment that I “wasn’t as girly” as he expected. What does that mean? Is it some kind of compliment?
I realize there isn’t necessarily a “feminine” half of a gay relationship, and that most people hopefully don’t see it that way. This extends to the bedroom; neither of us is exclusively the top/dominant partner. Not everyone knows that, naturally. Will I always be categorized as the bottom/feminine half, despite being considerably fitter/more muscular than my partner? And do you think height plays that big of a role in people’s preconceptions?
P.S. – My partner isn’t to blame for anything; he didn’t decide to struggle to find giraffe-jeans.
She Said: Why would it seem okay to say to someone, “You aren’t as girly as I expected”? But, you know, people are weird and awkward. They say stupid shit, and the older generations who just haven’t had a lot of experience with same-sex couples are going to be even worse.
I’m not saying your future father-in-law is innocent in this crazy stereotyping-turretts, but society has been throwing the image of the big burly man with his girlie man-wife around for as long as we’ve been talking about homosexuality. In truth, I don’t really know any long-term same-sex couples where a huge polarity was the case. Sure, there are often tops and bottoms in any relationship, het or non-het, but the super burly butch guy and the teeny tiny queeny husband? Pretty rare in my experiences. We generally are attracted to people who are like us, and same-sex couples aren’t an exception.
For your father-in-law, it may be that assuming you were “the wife” in the marriage is a way for him to continue a narrative in his mind about how he thought his son’s life would look. His son would marry a woman, and if not a woman, a girly man. It’s not right, but it’s probably the way he frames the world. But by going through life with his son and son-in-law being exactly how you two are, his frame will expand and grow and change.
And sure, you may go through the world with people thinking you’re a bottom because you’re the shorter partner, but try to keep in mind that by being proud of who you are and who you love, you’re educating everyone around you as to the massive diversity that exists in the world of LGBTQ couples.
He Said: Was Dad drunk when he started saying you weren’t as girly as he expected? Hopefully, this wasn’t part of the equation, but it could partly explain his strange/lame comment (you mentioned drinks were had). But that probably wasn’t the case. To answer your question bluntly, yes, height does play a big role in (many) people’s preconceptions. It also plays a role in their MISconceptions. People are like dogs in a way – they’re both smarter than we think, and also much dumber than we think, depending on the moment. As silly as it may seem, people really do (often) equate height to strength, and strength to power. So, there will be plenty of people who judge you to be the “bottom/feminine” half based on the height discrepancy between you and your boyfriend.
You just have to remind yourself that those people aren’t you or your fiance. They don’t really know what your relationship dynamic is. And they don’t know what happens in private, behind closed doors, or even in the bedroom. You know how you and your boyfriend operate, and if you’re happy with each other, that’s all that really matters.
If it bothers you that much, you should speak to your boyfriend (about his father’s comments). He might have some insight on how to proceed. And if comments like that become a pattern, then maybe you’ll consider calling out the old man, and ask him what he means. For now, just let it roll off your back. You’re shorter than your boyfriend the giraffe, so things should roll of your back easily, right?!?
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