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Author Topic: So here goes... please help...
circe1989
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Hi there.

This board seems really supportive and helpful, and I have a complicated romantic and sexual history and I'm trying to sort out the meaning of it all. I was hoping I could share some of it with you and see if it makes more sense written down than swirling around in my head.

When I was a little girl, I used to get massive, terrible crushes on other girls. I would befriend them, spend all my time with them, dream about them, and want to hold them and protect them from the world. (Oddly, these protective feelings towards women remain even in totally platonic circumstances.)

I always found myself in situations where I was pretending to be the boy to someone else's girl in a fantasy scenario, and one of these adventures ended in a kiss. (I was about eight, and it was with a girl I didn't particularly care for, so I don't remember it that well.)

The summit of all these experiences was when one of my girl friends and I playacted a romance together, and I sincerely believed every romantic word that came out of my mouth. I felt so happy. I wanted to hold her hand and let her know that I was not pretending anymore, but I didn't. Somehow I just assumed that she felt the same way. However, soon after that she declared she was best friends with another girl, and I can still remember my intense feelings of envy and hurt afterwards.

I continued to have these crushes on girls when I entered middle school, but they were less severe, and I began to see boys as attractive. I went out with a guy friend, but when he began to move too far with me physically, I was uncomfortable and broke it off.

In high school, I dated boys casually. The whole period of experimentation with women began to recede and feel more and more like "practice" or a dream that I once had.

When I was seventeen, I fell deeply in love with a guy who seemed to me unlike any other. He was shy around strangers, but warm and talkative around friends, and deeply romantic. Most of his friends were female, and he was fascinated by women, even going so far as to wear women's clothes once in a while. I encouraged him to explore this fascination with the female mind. For a long time we were two peas in a pod: we talked on the phone for hours; we made out in the most unlikely places; we watched art films at four in the morning. It was wonderful.

Of course, like most wonderful things, it ended. Ours was a pretty tempestuous relationship, and we broke up and got back together frequently. When it finally did end, I couldn't wrap my brain around it because I thought we would eventually get back together like we always did.

It took me a year of mourning before I realized, that no, in many ways we weren't compatible, and that this time there would be no second chance.

Around this time I began to have erotic dreams about girls. They were always about the same girl who I felt I knew, but to whom I couldn't put a face or a name.

Then, my sophomore year of college, I realized that I was still a virgin and I really just wanted to have sex.

So I dated madly. Anyone and anything that caught my eye, that might possibly want to sleep with me. But in the end, I couldn't go through with it. I had always envisioned myself having sex with my high school boyfriend, whom I loved, than with the strangers I kept throwing myself at.

I'm not proud of this period of my life.

I did a lot of shameful things in pursuit of this, like go behind a friend's back with her boyfriend.

To my surprise, that particular incident concluded when I got terribly drunk one night and started kissing my best friend. Her boyfriend, who'd told me that he wanted a threesome with us numerous times, was thrilled, and encouraged us to keep going even though I was really inebriated and shouldn't have been doing anything but going to sleep.

My friend told me all these things that night that I'd never suspected, such as how she'd always been a bit attracted to me, and how glad she was to have an opportunity to act out her desires.

I didn't "go all the way" with either of them--I was still inexplicably petrified of sex--but I enjoyed watching.

However, when I woke up the next day I felt ashamed and horrified. I wanted to fix it, didn't want to lose my friendship with this girl, because I felt like something sacred had been violated.

Eventually, after a rocky few months, we mended our friendship.

I got into a new relationship with a guy I wasn't really all that attracted to, and for some reason with him I was able to do what I couldn't for so long: have sex. It was all right, but nothing spectacular, and I spent most of the time worried I would get pregnant. I just couldn't make myself feel that much for him, and he was conservative, and if he knew about all my experimentation he would've just died.

I broke up with him at the same time as my best friend broke up with her boyfriend, and I remember holding her as she cried, and telling her she deserved better than him, etc. I felt very close to her, and again wondered what it was between us.

But then after they broke up, I realized I was actually attracted to her now-ex, and we began to discuss the possibility of dating. However, when it became apparent that my best friend was still heartbroken over him, we decided to wait and not get involved yet.

Then one night I was really drunk at a party, and a boy I'd just met that night decided it would be a good idea to take advantage of me.

I knew I'd led him on to some extent, but I NEVER consented. I wandered around in a daze for weeks, replaying what had happened and trying to make sense of it.

My friend's ex-boyfriend was there for me when this happened. He took me to the pharmacy and hugged me and let me cry on his shoulder.

I never planned it, but in the chaos I ended up spending the night with him a couple times, doing some things (sexually) and not others, simply because I was scared and wanted someone to hold me.

And then we broke off whatever was going on, when I found out he thought it would be a fantastic idea to keep sleeping with my best friend AND me on the side. I was not happy with this arrangement, and I felt guilty again as well. I've never told my best friend that he and I had been involved, and he also kept quiet.

That's another of my regrets, but as she seems to have found someone new, I don't really see the point in telling her now.

I also tried to get involved with someone new I met at a party, but when we went outside to exchange phone numbers, instead he just tried to rip my clothes off and make me have sex with him. Luckily I got away; nothing happened.

And now more and more I am losing myself in fantasies of lesbian relationships and sex, and while it's enjoyable, and makes me remember all the times when I was a child I wanted to cherish and protect my female friends, it's driving me mad.

I just want to know: is any of this remotely normal? Do I secretly like girls?

Or am I just reacting to all the bad experiences I've had with men?

I also think there is something wrong for wanting intimacy to the point where I do stupid things for it. Please help.

Thank you,
an exhausted person

Posts: 8 | From: Dearborn, Michigan | Registered: Aug 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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Happy to listen and give feedback.

It seems to me that there are two -- and likely fairly separate -- big things to address here. One is your orientation and your feelings for others sexually and romantically. The second is your sexual assault and then the attempted sexual assault.

By all means, rape and other sexual abuse tends to impact our sexuality and our feelings about others, but it also only has so much influence. It's not like once we're assaulted, those experiences dictate our feelings and relationships ever after.

It also is very clear that your feelings for women are not new and did not only appear after your assault/attempted assault, nor only after disappointment with your relationships with men. In addition, it's kind of hard to draw too many conclusions about if your feelings for women have anything to do with the relationships you had with men because what I don't see here is any serious dating history with women. Additionally, feeling wary of one gander, or not having feelings for one gender, doesn't make us have feelings for the other. In other words, aversion isn't attraction. Know what I mean?

Are the feelings you're having normal? For sure. It's a very common universal experience for people to have sexual and romantic feelings for others, and there's no one gender or sex where that's normal and others where it's not.

Of course, a third piece of all of this is you saying you feel you do stupid things -- what you call stupid, but what I'd call things that seem to be outside your own ethics, or which you don't feel good about -- out of a desire to be intimate (Intimate or sexual? Not always the same.) with others.

I think it might be easiest to talk about all of these very big things by making picking one of them at a time to focus on, okay? If you're down with that, where would you like to start?

[ 08-14-2010, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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circe1989
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Thank you so much for wading through that post.

All the things you listed probably are separate issues.

However, when I went to see a counselor on my college campus after the sexual assault (even typing those words feels melodramatic, but I guess that's the classification) she pointed out that what seems sexual may be psychological, and vice versa.

Ever since she pointed that out I've been looking for connections between all these experiences.

Everything I feel tangles itself into a big wad of emotion until it almost seems unmanageable anyway. So without her to tease apart the strands, I have to work through it on my own, and as you can probably tell, I'm kind of lost.

The one thing that is totally clear to me is that something has gone fundamentally wrong in male-female gender relations.

It frightens me how little men and women seem to have in common. Working heterosexual partnerships seem so rare.

There is something off with the power differential in male-female relationships. One of my female friends once summarized it as, "Whoever cares less about the relationship has all the power."

Heterosexual relationships seem to be all about power. Right now, with young men at their hormonal peak (ages 18-22 do not seem to be years of thoughtful reflection for most guys), it's all about the boy in the relationship, and his desires, for sex or just for some of kind of emotional release.

One of the things that I didn't like in my relationship with the guy I lost my virginity to, was that he would often talk over me, or we would only talk about whatever he wanted to talk about.

Everyone I knew said how surprised they were that I selected a seemingly stable guy for a relationship (apparently among my friends I am known for bad romantic decision-making), but it was a surface-level stability. I only got it because I remained silent about my own desires, dreams, hopes, and fears. It wasn't cruel. It was just a typical boy assuming that his desires were more important than mine.

I saw the same thing when, on the advice of a female friend, I reported the assault to the police, just so they would have the name of the man who assaulted me on record in case he ever does that again to another girl, but I didn't press charges. It was an ambiguous situation: I didn't know whether he thought I consented or not. But I know some guys try to get girls drunk just so they can take advantage of them. I may never resolve what happened that night, and I've reached the point where I'm okay with that.

I didn't want to ruin either his life or mine by dragging it through the court system.

However, the guy I got involved with soon afterwards, my friend's ex, was outraged when he found out I'd been to the police. I was angry at him, too. I couldn't believe how quickly he judged me when he has no idea what it's like to be a woman at the mercy of a man.

Sometimes I wonder if, despite our strides against sexism and abuse, women really are powerless against men in the end. It's a very bleak thought, I know. But it occurs to me a lot.

I don't care for traditional gender norms--after all, in the happiest relationship I ever had, I was the one to ask him out, not the other way around. I like being the one to initiate things.

I've never been the sort of girl who listens to Taylor Swift songs and waits for her Prince to arrive. Which is what straight females seem to be like to me, and why I don't always understand them either.

I understand I am painting men and women alike with broad strokes, but I just can't seem to articulate my frustration with what seems to me to be a huge problem.

Like pretty much everyone, I want someone to listen to who will listen to me, and whether I find that kind of intimacy in friendship or in a relationship doesn't especially matter to me.

As much as I don't agree with much of the behavior of men in dating situations, at least I understand it. I get by thinking that well, they're so driven by their hormones that they'll do anything to find sexual relief.

I've compromised my morals too, in pursuit of sexual intimacy, when I dated my best friend's ex. So I can't pretend I'm much better than they are.

Many of my friendships with women are not all that deep. The last time I opened my heart completely to a girl was when I was child, and still getting crushes on them. I simply don't understand most women at all anymore. It's like they're from another planet: beautiful, innocent, untouchable.

Again, I probably overgeneralize. I shouldn't do that. But until I meet someone who truly breaks these molds, I can't stop overgeneralizing.

That's what attracts me to the queer community, I think. This sense that it's better there, that people are more respectful of each other, and there's less blatant inequality. More individuality, as well--you're allowed to be who you are without being ostracized. But maybe that too is wishful thinking.

I don't know what I want, but I do know what I DON'T want, so maybe that's progress.

Thank you, again. This site is amazing.

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Heather
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I hear you talking about your own experiences. In other words, you are generalizing, for sure. All man/woman relationships aren't like that (and also aren't all hetero!), and neither women or men as the whole diverse groups that we are are as you say. But you're really not talking about everyone here, you're talking about you, where you're at, and where your experiences have led you to this point. And we all get to do that. [Smile]

For sure, our emotions, history and psychology are all part of our sexuality. Those aren't the only parts of your sexuality -- just like sexuality isn't all there is to our psychology -- but they're absolutely parts, and it's all intertwined.

But again, there's so much here, that trying to talk about it all at once feels a little tricky. So, how about we maybe start with where you're at right NOW, and what you want right NOW? In other words, not focus on what may or may not have gotten you here, but on where you're at today, and what you feel like you want moving forward?

(Just an FYI, I'll only be in and out a little the rest of today, but I will be around most of the day tomorrow. So, if I lag, that's why. [Smile] )

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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circe1989
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Hi Heather. Wow, you respond quickly.

I guess my real question is along the lines of, should I go ahead and try to date women? I'm afraid that with my history and my inexperience with same-sex romantic relationships, I'll end up hurting the other girl if I decide for whatever reason it's not for me.

Also, I don't want to come out (even accidentally) or anything until I have real experience--my parents and friends might not understand even if I realize I'm bisexual.

If I find out that nope, these are just fantasies and when it comes down to it I have no desire to act on them, then well...

... that will REALLY confuse everyone.

I don't want to alarm people. My friends already are worried about me.

I just have this insatiable need to see what sex with a woman is like. But I don't want to lead anyone on or hurt anyone.

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Heather
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Well, one thing to know is that if and when we have sex with someone, all we can find out, really is what sex with *them* is like. One person can't represent a whole gender, after all. So, yes, if you have any kind of sex with a woman, you'll know what it's like to have sex with a woman. That may or may not give you the information you're looking for about women, plural, though. Know what I mean?

I think that if what you want is to date women, then that's what you'll want to pursue. You can always qualify to anyone you date -- if you find you feel that way -- that you're uncertain about anything you're uncertain about, and then it's up to whomever that is if they're comfortable with that situation or not; then that person can decide for themselves if that's a situation they think they may get hurt in or not.

You also get to date and not be out if that's what you need: not everyone will be cool with that, but plenty of people will be, and plenty of people are in the same space, too.

Of course, if you can't make certain agreements with people -- like being exclusive -- and honor them when you date, then the answer there is to be honest about that and not make those agreements until you can honor them. That's okay: everyone has the right to form relationships and make agreements at their own pace.

What do you mean when you say you don't want to alarm people? Alarm them how?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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circe1989
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As for "alarming people": I just don't want my friends to think I'm confused (although I am). My family would be less than thrilled about it as well. Some who know about the assault will think I'm afraid of men and I don't want them to think that.

I've spent a lot of time thinking and concluded that I'm not avoiding men. I'm still very attracted to men, so I'm not gay, but I'm not particularly interested in men at the moment, so I'm not completely straight? Hm. I have... an itch that may need scratching when it comes to women. As stupid as that sounds.

The female friend that I mentioned in my first post (I was in a kind of threesome with her and her boyfriend) has a new boyfriend. She just put up Facebook pictures of the two of them, and she looks radiantly happy. I barely noticed the boyfriend at all; I mean, he seems nice. But SHE looks beautiful, and, not that I'm jealous or anything--I'm know I'm not, plus she deserves happiness after all she's been through-- but I don't think I could have looked at those photos with only the thought of how beautiful she is, if there weren't some kind of attraction there. But who knows. Maybe I'm confusing friendship with attraction.

I have a profile on an online dating site, and I just switched my preference to 'women' to see who responds.

I will definitely need to be upfront with whomever I go out with, just to avoid hurt feelings. Maybe I can put a note on my profile that says something to the effect of, "I think I'm bisexual, but I'm not completely sure and I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm interested in getting to know girls and casually dating them, but please avoid me if you want a serious relationship right now."

I've been technically single now for eight months, and (sadly) that's a long time for me.

I think I should be single a while longer, and just casually date, until I meet someone that I am 100% sure about. Eventually I want to be exclusive with someone else.

You say that other people are in the same headspace as I am with regards to possible bisexuality, and that's a huge relief.

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Heather
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hat if some of your friends are confused -- or, more accurately, questioning -- too? It's very common for people in their teens & twenties to be doing so, after all.

Sometimes everyone keeping their questioning to themselves tends to make it so....well, so that everyone feels they have to. Being out when it comes to questioning can have the same kind of power that being out as LGBT can: it can make room for people to find acceptance and community, and to reduce stigma. Mind, I'm not saying to be out because of politics if it's not something you feel ready for personally. Just dropping a tip about how often when it feels like we're the only one in a certain spot, it can be because we and others just aren't talking about it to find out who else is where we're at, not because no one else IS where we're at.

I think the way you say you're going to put out where you're at to potential dates sounds totally straightforward and excellent. I'd just say that you'll want to check in with yourself and be sure you feel like you can handle the same thing.

In other words, if you develop strong feelings for someone who is just testing out the waters and decides that's all she wants to do, is that something you feel like you can handle?

[ 08-16-2010, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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circe1989
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Hi Heather,

So I've received some responses on the dating site I belong to. And one of the responders is a very sweet girl who has many of the same interests as I do (plus she's a redhead with, not to objectify here, but it must be said, an amazing body). I like exchanging emails with her, but today she left her name, number, and email address, and basically put the onus on me to contact her with them.

It's been about a week since I admitted to myself I MIGHT be bisexual, and I don't want this to move so fast.

It's hard for me to connect via the Internet anyway; I always feel like I miss social cues more often and it's never easy to connect "reality" to what's happening onscreen.

The prospect of contacting this girl more directly does strange and interesting things to me--I feel my stomach is doing somersaults, and I start to question everything again--do I really get crushes on girls, or are they just platonic sympathies, for lack of a better term?

And then there is the notion of aesthetic enjoyment of the female body. One would think this would be a good indicator of sexual orientation, but I don't know for sure.

I like art and used to check out books of Rubens and other painters who portrayed female nudes (stuffing these deep into my backpack because I was afraid they would be found). I always kind of assumed that part of my enjoyment of these was sexual, but I never really admitted it to myself, and now I'm wondering if it is just artistic. Is the nude human body ever beautiful without being sexual?

Funny though, I like looking at art, but porn just flat-out disgusts me. When maybe they're really a hop, skip, and a jump away from one another.

Also, I've done a lot of reading and have decided I really hate the term bi-curious even though it perfectly describes the feeling of "what if" I'm missing out on something by not exploring these feelings. Maybe I dislike the term BECAUSE it describes me: a sort of wishy-washy caricature of a bisexual person, someone who's perhaps just bored or needs to find a guy that would be better for her.

My mother made a homophobic comment today, and I saw a movie with a really attractive male actor. It was stunning to think how attractive he was to me, after so many weeks spent thinking about girls.

In short, I'm just kind of confused. I think I like this girl, but I'm not sure because how can anyone ever judge attraction via the internet?

So yes, I am checking with myself mentally right now, to see if I can handle this, and the verdict: not sure.

Perhaps I WANT to be more towards the bisexual/homosexual end of the spectrum than I actually am? Just because it would explain things.

What on earth do I do now? I feel scared for some reason.

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circe1989
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I texted her! It was something godawful and cheesy like, "Good morning, beautiful. Have a good day." But I woke up this morning STILL thinking about her and I just couldn't take it anymore. She approached me on the site, and I don't want her to think this is completely unreciprocated.

I think I do have feelings for her, otherwise I would be able to actually concentrate on my life right now. But "should I text her?" was constantly going through my mind, distracting me, so in order to have any peace I simply had to go through with it.

See? This is a problem for me: I'm too romantic, and I'll fall hard (and fast) if indeed I fall.

I'm still nervous, still confused, but now I'm excited too. I don't know what she'll say. She was definitely flirting with me in her message--she said she thought my "nerdiness" was "cute," and then handed out her contact information.

I'm so new at this... and dumb...

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Karybu
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Hey circe, Heather's busy today, but hopefully I can help out a bit.

First of all, porn is not at all a good way of trying to determine your sexual orientation. It tends to be very unrealistic, and it's fantasy, whereas orientation is based on who we are attracted to in real life. Art also isn't likely to be too helpful in that regard, because it is absolutely possible to find someone beautiful without being attracted to them.

Secondly, while I know it's really easy when you're questioning to thinkthinkthink, sometimes it's possible to overthink things, when really what's needed is just to go with how you feel. Too, rather than trying to figure out where all this will end up, taking it one step at a time is generally going to be less stressful.

As for feeling new at this? You do get to be new at this - everybody is, at some point, no matter what their orientation. It's also totally okay to be nervous or scared; you get to feel whatever you feel, and as long as you're doing your best to be honest with yourself and others, it's just fine. Everyone learns how to date and how to have relationships, it isn't something anyone is automatically good at, everyone has to figure it out as they go along. Maybe you'll find out that right now, dating women isn't what feels like a good fit, but as long as you're communicating throughout and are aware of what you want and feel comfortable with, then that's completely okay.

--------------------
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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circe1989
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Hi karybou,

This girl and I have been calling and texting each other constantly. Initially I thought she was cute and funny, and I was flattered that she was into me.

However, last night we were on the phone, talking about inane things that people talk about in first-date situations--this call felt like our "first date" for some reason--like what's your favorite drink and do you have siblings and that kind of thing, when all of a sudden she just opens up to me as if we've known for years.

She told me a lot of personal things that frankly made me uncomfortable. I don't hold it against her exactly, I don't see oversharing as a crime, but the things she told me suggested that perhaps she has some issues.

She's been through a lot in life, and I couldn't figure out what to say to comfort her because I've only known her for a very short time and we were having the kind of conversation I usually reserve for friends I met in like, seventh grade.

I also reminded her yesterday that I was leaving for a foreign country in a few weeks (it was on my profile at the dating site where we met)and she didn't like that at all. She accused me of not telling her on purpose, when I had just assumed she already knew.

Every relationship I've ever been in (with the exception of a few ill-advised hook-ups) has moved at a glacial pace. I usually like to start off as friends first. With the guys I've dated, it took me at least a year to start thinking of them as more than a friend, and then another six months to go out with them, etc. I have heard that lesbian relationships tend to move very quickly. I don't know if that's true though.

Of course all girls are not the same, but I don't know if I would feel the same way in a relationship with another girl, perhaps one who is a little less emotionally needy (I feel bad, because usually I'm the emotionally needy one who feels unheard and I know how bad it is). Or maybe it's just this particular girl who's like this.

So anyway: I think I need to break this off.

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circe1989
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She just texted me for the third time today.... and it's not even noon. (She also called me at 7 in the morning.) Maybe I just need to explain to her that contacting each other twice a day is enough for me. Starting to feel smothered here.

The thing, I don't want to "break up" with her for some reason.

I just want her to give me a little breathing room. But I think she would be offended if I asked for some.

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Heather
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Remember that if and when we date, it's not about diving head-first into a relationship from hello. Well, not usually if we want to make sure we're really choosing relationships that are right for us, anyway. Dating is more about feeling things out to see IF we want to pursue a relationship. Often, we have to check out quite a few people before we meet someone we want to take things further along with, past initial meetings or talking.

I think talking about this as being in a relationship is pretty hasty. You've just been talking online for one or two days. And it sounds like already, you've gotten some cues this isn't something you want to pursue or that would be a good fit for you. This isn't breaking up, it's declining to pursue something. And it sounds like that's what you know is the right step for you with this one.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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