I want to introduce you to my new favorite word (it’s my favorite because I made it up just now!). In reality it’s an acronym, a phrase, and a concept.
The word is BONISO. Though it sort of sounds like a new French/Asian Fusion restaurant, BONISO stands for Because Of, Not In Spite Of – which is the secret to dating with cancer (or dating after divorce, or dating while fat, or dating while balding, or dating while shy, or dating while a virgin, or dating while… [fill in the thing you think is wrong with you here]).
Everything I read on the internet about dating with cancer tells the same story. In order to be successful at finding love you have to find The Right Person. If you are just looking for sex, there isn’t ANYTHING on the internet for you. Obviously you are too slutty for this conversation – you have cancer for God’s sake, reign yourself in and go sit somewhere virginally until you finish fighting cancer and then can resume your normal slutty life (or that’s what I imagine the world is saying to me when I want to screw like a rabbit while I have cancer). Someday, if you try hard enough, and put on your super brave cancer survivor face, some Prince/Princess Charming will look past your horrible hideous disease and love you ANYWAY. They’ll love you in spite of your scars/drugs/pain/fear/hospital bills/exhaustion/weight gain or loss/hair loss/etc.
In case you are unclear about my thoughts on that sentiment, let me not mince words.
Fuck. That. Depressing. Bullshit.
I don’t want someone to love me in spite of my cancer. I don’t want someone to fuck me anyway, even though I have cancer. If that is the best I can do, I’m going to go stab myself in the face right now. I don’t want to pretend like anything about me isn’t a part of who I am. If you don’t want the entire package – a chick who’s got cancer, is divorced, is polyamorous, works as a dating coach, is nomadic, etc, then you don’t want me. And I refuse to believe I’m missing out on hot sex or hot dates because I have cancer. I am not buying that bullshit and I don’t think you should either.
*I* think it’s possible for people to want to fuck me Because Of my cancer. Well, not because of my cancer PER SE. But because of the way I’m dealing with it, because of who I am in the face of this obstacle. People who own every single thing about themselves are fucking sexy as hell. It is amazingly inspiring to grapple with your insecurities and your challenges and be vulnerable enough to share those with the people around you. Shitty, depressing obstacles like cancer (and all the others I named above) give you a chance to have real connections with people, and to show them what an absolutely tremendous person you are.
It takes insane self confidence to say – I’m sorry, everyone has to go to a different restaurant that fits my cancer diet, or – I love making out with you but you can’t put that much pressure on the tumor in my neck (both things I’ve said to people I’ve dated in the last few months – terrifying!). That kind of confidence is sexy!!! AND, there is no way to show that confidence WITHOUT the depressing horrible obstacle of cancer. It is only in the face of that beast that your glorious hero comes out.
Much of the dating advice out there will tell you to find people’s insecurities, and exploit them so they sleep with you to make themselves feel better. (This is so vile and disgusting I am barely restraining myself from puking on the keyboard). This is horrible advice for a lot of reasons – it’s vile AND has a serious cap on its effectiveness. A better option is to inspire people, to bring out the best in them so that when they are around you, they really like who they are! People who lift us up are fucking addictive. And there aren’t many things more inspiring than someone who takes life head on, someone who confronts death, and mortality, and community, and their body with a sense of humor, compassion and humility. Add a little swagger and a lust for life (and a lust for lust) and you are one fucking hot babe.
So the next time you start listing the reasons someone won’t want to date you – the things they would have to overcome in order to be happy with you, remember that it’s possible for people to want to love you and date you and fuck you BECAUSE OF those things, rather than in spite of them.
My BONISO is cancer – what’s yours?