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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » lack of arousal=guilt?

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Author Topic: lack of arousal=guilt?
fallchild
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Hello, everyone. Last night my boyfriend and I tried to have sex. My boyfriend is rarely in the mood for any sort of foreplay, so of course we went straight to the "meat and potatoes." Needless to say, I wasn't aroused at that point at all, and after trying to have sex for about 15 minutes, we gave up because it was too painful and dry for me. After that I felt guilty because he was ready and willing, but my body wasn't. I'm the survivor of emotional/mental/physical/sexual abuse at the hands of my father, and there are some sexual things that give me the jibblies. But as we were falling asleep (in a sad, awkward funk) and my boyfriend told me i'm just "stand-offish" about sex, I got really angry. I told him that he can't expect me to just be instantly ready for sex if we didn't engage in any foreplay activities before-hand. I told him that if he's not in the mood for anything else but actual intercourse to not even ask me because I just end up feeling guilty when my body "fails" us. I HATE feeling like this and every logical part of my brain is telling me that even though I'm the survivor of abuse and that that could definately be playing a part, I'm angry that my boyfriend thought we could just have sex without any arousal on my part. And I'm angry that he called me stand-offish despite of this fact. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ASargent42
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I don't know of any woman who could go right into intercourse cold-turkey. I mean, it takes time for us to be aroused and self lubricate, and even when using extra lube, we cannot just be ready for it all the time. Personally, I think you are totally in the right here.

I'm sorry you had to suffer abuse, from your father of all people, and that could also be playing a large part.

I think you did right. If your boyfriend can't take the time to make sure you are comfortable and ready for intercourse (being aroused is part of being comfortable), then it's probably time to take some time to discuss what you need to be in a good sexual relationship, and how you can work on things together.

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Narwhal
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For starters, it's good to see that you already recognize the immediate problem, that you weren't aroused to begin with. You're right to assert to your boyfriend that you can't be expected to sex without arousal. If he doesn't understand that, try explaining it this way: ask him if he would be willing to have sex when he's not aroused. The answer will most likely be no, right? Because he's not physically able to have intercourse without being aroused, right? Well, it's the same for you, even if it's less obvious. If you're not aroused, sex will likely be painful for you, and he doesn't have the right to expect you to endure that pain simply because he wants to have sex without foreplay.(By the way, I'm sure I read that somewhere on the main Scarleteen site, I'm just not sure which article. It seemed pertinent, though [Smile] )

Part of the responsibility of partnered sex is respecting your partner's needs and wishes, and being willing and able to help you partner "get ready" to have sex. Nobody has an inalienable right to sex with a partner, and you do have an inalienable right to autonomy within your own body!

And regarding the abuse: that's definitely all the more reason why you need your partner to respect your boundaries. If you're getting counseling, that's great! If not, it would probably be beneficial for you to start.

[ 08-07-2007, 03:00 PM: Message edited by: Narwhal ]

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fallchild
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About the need for arousal going both ways, that's EXACTLY what I told him. I asked him if he would want (or be physically able) to have sex if he wasn't aroused because it's the same for me (even if the arousal is...hrm...less obvious). I just wish I could shake the guilt. The abused part of me feels like I'm just being spoiled (a big part of the emotional abuse is that nothing I had was really "mine") and that I should grin and bear the pain. But then the feminist/logical side of me is really really sick of the pain and lack of attention on my part. I'm not sure how to talk to him more about it though...he ends up getting his feelings hurt. But we'll see how it goes.
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Narwhal
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fallchild, it does indeed sound like the abuse you've survived is playing a big role in your feelings of guilt. Congratulations on standing up for yourself and recognizing the impact that the abuse has had--it shows tremendous strength, courage, and insight. I'd just like to reaffirm that, despite what you may have been taught by your abusive father, your body and your sexuality ARE yours, and you have rights which are non-negotiable. It sounds like you already know this, but I think it's a point which cannot be too strongly emphasized. [Smile]

As to how to talk to him about it, consider writing down what you'd like to say. (Of course, unless you're actually going to give it to him in the form of a letter, you probably won't want to show him the piece of paper.) It can help you organize your thoughts, and help you think out ahead of time what you might say to him if he responds with hurt feelings--although really, it sounds like he's the one who's hurting you, and he doesn't have the right to pressure or manipulate you here. You might try pointing out to him what I said in my earlier post about his responsibilities in a sexual relationship, and that you're not trying to hurt his feelings or say that you are unwilling to have sex, but that it needs to be on terms that are acceptable for you.

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Ecofem
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Hi fallchild, [Smile]

To add to what Narwhal and asargent said, your boyfriend's attitude towards all this really bothers me. Partnered sex is all about it feeling 100% good and "right" to both partners!! If one person wants something wants something, anything, the other doesn't want for any (and every) reason. That's when the interested partner backs off and finds a solo alternative, such as masturbation. That's the truly caring thing to do; I just can't shake how your boyfriend called your wanting to stop when it was painful selfish, when HIS reaction is plain, downright selfish.

I'm glad you were able to express how you feel about this, even if it's not the answer you're looking for. I'm not saying to completely stop all sexual activities, but I'd stop doing anything you're uncomfortable with until after you've sought out additional resources. I would recommend "The Survivor's Guide to Sex" by Stacey Haines and RAINN for starters. And this Scarleteen article, if you haven't seen it already: Reciprocity, Reloaded.

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Ecofem
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Hello again, here are three more articles to check out:

Is THAT All There Is?

Ready or Not? The Scarleteen Sex Readiness Checklist

Sexual Negotiation for the Long Haul

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fallchild
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Thanks for the help everyone, but I'm sorry to say that I feel like I've now taken a big step backward. Last night we tried to have sex again (this time with some foreplay) and it was great until we got to the actual intercourse. I froze up and in the end just gritted my teeth and did it even though it really really hurt. Of course, afterwards, I felt like absolute crap. I went into the bathroom to get my brain together, and then came back into the bedroom and told my boyfriend we have a big problem. My mom was raped by my dad and was also physically/emotionally abused until she divorced him a few years ago. And basically, the biggest feelings I have towards sex right now is that it hurts people big time. My boyfriend was speechless for a moment when I told him all this, but then he had this weird anxiety attack where all he could think about is hurting my dad. I got a little upset at this, because he was completely ignoring me and just focusing on him. And pretty much the only solution he thought would work is just not doing anything for awhile which will only perpetuate my guilt of being spoiled and unfullfilling to my boyfriend. My boyfriend is not selfish, like a couple other posters have said, but I can say that he has no idea how to help and I don't know what to tell him.
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Narwhal
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fallchild,

obviously your boyfriend's initial reaction when you talked to him about the abuse wasn't what you hoped for, but it sounds like it came as a shock to him and hopefully when the shock wears off he will be able to respond more constructively. It doesn't sound to me like a huge step backward for you: you talked to your boyfriend about why intercourse is a problem, and he wants to help you (he just needs to figure out HOW to help you). That sounds like a huge step forward. [Smile]

You indicated that you feel you are somehow disappointing your boyfriend if you don't have sex with him; but if he cares about you, and it sounds like he does, then he doesn't want sex to be torture for you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are allowed to take care of yourself. And if you don't feel that taking a break from all sexual activity would be a good idea, what about taking a break just from intercourse? The two of you could still engage in whatever activities you DO both feel comfortable with.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest that you and everyone else affected by your father's abuse seek some counseling. The abuse has clearly had profound effects, and it can be terribly hard to deal with that alone, or with others who don't know quite what to do.

[ 08-08-2007, 01:31 PM: Message edited by: Narwhal ]

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Channy
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fallchild,

I understand where you're coming from with the whole abuse issue, and trying to help your boyfriend understand. I've been there. Yet, I truly dont believe anyone can fully understand unless they've been in the situation.

How your mind see it is that nothing good can really come from sex, because of everything that you've been through shows you what harm it can do. This is definately not something for you to feel guilty about! I'm sure your boyfriend cares for you dearly, and as Narwhal said, what you told him was probably a huge shock. Him getting angry at your father was his way of showing you that what your father did wasn't right...and that he does care.

Sit, talk with your boyfriend again. Communicate! Tell him excatly how you feel about disappointing him. I think you will find his reaction comforting.

We're here for you!

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fallchild
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Hey everyone and thanks for all the replies. I did talk to my boyfriend again yesterday (after we'd cooled off from the emotional night before) and it went much more smoothly. I told him that intercourse is just too hard for me right now (emotionally and therefore physically) but other activities are still ok. He was totally ok with that; he even said he'd thought about suggesting that. I'm still figuring out how I'm going to get through this crap with my dad, but at least my boyfriend is willing to help me out. Thanks again everybody [Smile]
Posts: 117 | From: SLC, UT | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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