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Repelled and repulsed by all things sex...including reading this site

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ElKiddo asks:

I have a question...so I was reading some of the questions that you answered and I noticed a strange feeling. The more I read of your site the more I am repelled by the idea of sex. I find that I start to lose trust in the people around me and question the things that they might do. I wonder just how normal they are, or if they are freaks who do sexual things with anyone or if they are gay or have some hidden agenda. The more I read about fourteen and fifteen year old girls having sex or doing sexual things the more I want to leave my house and hike out to the wilderness to live among the trees and rocks who live beyond the debilitation of civilization. I feel so alone, like I am the only one left who cares and that I am being pulled down with the rest of the world. Am I weird? Is there something unnatural or wrong with me for hating this all so much? Am I a bad person? Please be honest, I really want to know.

CJ replies:

One of the most amazing—and, at times, confusing—things about the world is how there are so many people and also so many different opinions and values that people hold. What seems right and good to one person just may not work for another. There’s no single way of being or one way of thinking that is absolutely right. I think that one of the most important things that anyone can do for himself or herself is to reflect on their own values, along with where they come from, and determine what is going to feel right and best for YOU, given your unique experiences and existence.

You are definitely not the only person out in the world who has these sorts of feelings, and definitely not the only person who wonders if they are the only person out there feeling this way.

Finding yourself repelled by the idea of sex (however you define that word for yourself) is probably a good indicator that you don’t want to be having sex yourself at this time. That’s perfectly OK, and nobody should tell you otherwise. Our bodies are our own and we have the right to make choices about what feels good for us and what doesn’t. Our desires are our own and it’s really important to listen to yourself and make decisions that feel best for you.

But I think where it gets trickier is when we come up against what we know full well to be true and feel right for ourselves, but we also see other people acting in ways that don’t align with our beliefs, or seem totally out of whack to us. It’s impossible to go through life without coming across something that makes you uncomfortable or challenges your values. Learning how to manage in those situations is an important skill to have, and most of us get a lot of practice with it along the way.

There is a place in the world for all kinds of values and belief systems (even ones that we don’t necessarily agree with). For better or worse, I think that humans like to judge and categorize—we often make quick assessments of others based on very little pieces of information. It’s how we make sense of the world in a lot of ways, and I think while it’s simple enough to say, “Hey, don’t judge people of make assumptions about them,” it’s not that easy to do. And might not be realistic.

That said, I think it’s important to own your own stuff and be aware of your thoughts and feelings without necessarily putting those thoughts or feelings onto everyone else. Just like it’s OK for you to believe what you believe, and feel the ways that you feel, everyone else has that same right. Simply put, what others believe or choose to do with their lives isn’t something you necessarily need to judge or place value on. Not everyone grows up with or develops the same belief system, not everyone grows up with the same set of obstacles to overcome, the same families, the same religious beliefs, the same strengths or the same priorities. There are so few absolutes in the world, and so while you can feel very strongly about what you want for yourself, that does not mean that what you want for yourself is what everyone else should or does want or need for themselves.

That’s the simple answer: it’s OK to feel what you feel, but it’s also important to keep in mind that not everyone else will feel the same way. No single person or belief is more right than another. But, you know, it seems like there’s more going on here. Regardless of whether or not you want to be having sex, we’re all involved in relationships throughout our lives. There are all kinds of relationships—family, friends, classmates, romantic or sexual partners, people who share similar interests or hobbies…there are a million kinds of relationships out there. When I read your question, I was struck by how it seems like your beliefs and worries have the potential to impact a lot of relationships in your life far beyond a decision you make about whether or not you want to sexually or romantically partner with another person.

Trust is something that is a fundamental part of every relationship, of every kind. From online friend to partner to parent to school friend to relatives to person-you-see-once-a-month-at-anime-club-meetings, the relationships that we build are all centered around an idea that we trust other people on some level. Without trust, it’s hard to be ourselves or share anything about ourselves with another person. We might not be able to share what we think, or how we feel, or what our worries and dreams are.

If you find yourself constantly questioning everyone, or wondering if they might believe in something different than what you think, or might be doing something sexually that you don’t want to do or don’t have an interest in, I’d bet it’s pretty hard to build relationships with other folks. I can imagine that might get pretty lonely. Or scary. Or exhausting.

When it comes down to it, nobody has the power to control another person’s thoughts and it’s not our job to police what other people think or do. I think that most people in the world just want to go out there and be able to be themselves and feel good in the world, and be supported. People want to be safe, free from abuse and coercion, and to live their lives true to themselves.

You mentioned that you often wonder whether people are “normal” or if they have some kind of “agenda” or might be gay. Well, “normal” is a pretty loaded word, and what we do know is that people enjoy all kinds of things and hold all different values. It’s hard to define what “normal” really is, though lots of us wonder if we fall under that category at some point or another. As for hidden agendas, I think that the biggest agenda people have is to live honestly and with integrity to themselves. And, yep, some people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning and/or asexual. And that is OK, too. I know this probably sounds a lot like “I’m OK, you’re OK,” but, you know, there is truth in there.

It’s perfectly natural to wonder about others, or be curious about what they believe or what they do with their lives. There may be some people in your life to whom you can ask those questions, and there are likely plenty more for whom it’s not really going to be socially appropriate to go up to them and ask them what they’re into sexually. Constantly wondering about those things, and then feeling like you can’t trust anyone, probably makes it pretty hard to connect with others. Additionally, if you learn something about somebody else and find out an aspect of their identity that doesn’t jive with what you believe, it might prevent you from ever getting to know that person if you write them off just based on one little piece of who they are. You might miss out on what could otherwise be awesome friendships or relationships.

Sometimes stuff happens in our lives that makes it really hard for us to trust another person. When adults or other kids tease us or hurt us or otherwise don’t allow us to feel safe and loved, it’s natural that we might have a hard time letting other people into our lives. We learn to protect ourselves so we don’t get hurt more—that’s survival. I have no idea what your experiences have been so I don’t know if any of that rings true to you. When you feel hurt or unsafe, the world can be a pretty scary place and it makes a lot of sense that packing up and heading to the wilderness might seem like the best bet.

We get our values and our beliefs from a whole range of places, including our families, religious or spiritual communities, our school and friend circles, and messages we pick up from the media. It can be kind of confusing to figure out why we think what we think, or even WHAT we really think about any given topic. It can sometimes be helpful to talk with other people as we’re sorting through all of that and figuring out what values work for us and ring true for us. It can sometimes be hard to take that initial step to let someone in enough for them to really hear us, but it can also feel super liberating (even with the scariness or stress of it) to really have someone there who can help us sort through what we’re thinking.

At the end of the day, the person you need to take care of and worry about is yourself. Making sure that you feel safe and have supportive people around you is the number one priority. What everyone else thinks or believes might be interesting, but it’s not something you can control. If reading this site is something that adds to your stress or anxiety, then by all means please keep in mind that you don’t need to do anything that makes you super uncomfortable. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, sometimes the best advice we can give people is to navigate away from the page if you feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable. We’ll always be here if you need something, but sometimes folks need a break from information overload or just from the constant discussion of sex and sexuality. I think it’s important to take care of yourself and do what feels best for you.

Sexuality and relationships are a part of all of our lives, no matter what forms they take. It’s probably not realistic to make those parts of our lives disappear, even if sometimes we might want to. How we choose to relate to ourselves and relate to others is something that can change over time, and something that develops as we explore our values, desires and goals for ourselves. The more we know about ourselves, the better we can advocate for ourselves and be true to what we want and need. While it can be tough, I think it’s also important to be nice to yourself along the way—we all have a lot of questions and a lot to learn, and it takes time to make that journey. The pace and the path are up to you, but we all are learning as we go.

Here are some additional articles that might be interesting for you to check out:

written 18 Oct 2010 . updated 29 Jan 2014

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