There are certain things that must be disclosed in relationships lest they eventually come to life and devastate the unaware. Fertility, biological sex, previous offspring, criminal record, etc. are all such items that should be laid out in the open for the other party to evaluate whether the relationship can continue. I would suggest that these types of matters not be discussed on a first date, but they definitely should be discussed before the relationship gets serious or otherwise headed toward long-term status. I’m sure the reader can name other types of characteristics that should be revealed as well, but one sticks out for me as particularly worthy of discussion: the ability to empathize (affectively). Many would be devastated to learn that their partner has no capacity for affective empathy toward them, much less the ability to truly “love” the person they are with. In many ways, this would be a selfish dealbreaker if the relationship was otherwise functional, but the very fact that it could irrevocably damage a person makes it worthy of required discussion between two individuals. This is a realization that I struggle with as I explore the possibility of one day having another relationship.
I do not believe that a marginalized status confers a magic status of invulnerability or of excuse-making. For instance, I am not entitled to have a relationship with just anyone because of my transgender status. In fact, it is because of my transgender status that most relationships are off-limits to me. I am not entitled to that which is against me. Likewise, the psychopath is not entitled to relationships in which affective empathy is critically important to the other person. It may be a bad hand that was dealt regarding one’s alignment, but that does not excuse bad behavior toward those that have differing requirements. As such, it is terribly important that one that has an inability to affectively empathize make known their limitations to those around them. It would not be fair to waste another person’s time – something they can never have back – by leading them on, no matter how good of an actor the psychopath may be. Even if the appearance of true affective empathy is indistinguishable from a neurotypical’s affective empathy, the other person in the relationship is entitled to evaluating whether to continue or not.
I end this post with a short summary of a case I heard about nearly a decade ago. A woman was married to a transgender male (born with female biology), but did not know of his true biological sex for the first fifteen-plus years of their marriage. When she found out – having not known due to their asexual and non-intimate relationship – she was devastated and far too old to easily embrace another relationship. Regardless of her desolation, she ended the relationship, believing that she did not truly know the man, for he had hidden something so very important to her from her. To waste a significant amount of another person’s time is cruel. To destroy their trust is even more nefarious. You are not entitled to anything because of your marginalized status. Get over it and be a respectable individual.