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Author Topic: The things that don't align
14fields
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Hello all!

I'm in my early 20's (I still make the age bracket here!) and I have identified as bisexual and/or queer for several years now. I was attracted to boys far earlier than I realized I was attracted to girls--but when I acknowledged my sexuality, my attractions towards men became less and less, and now they are pretty faint. However, you know how some people who are bi or pan or otherwise non-monosexual can feel differently towards all genders? I feel I do too, but it can still confuse the heck out of me!

I've only had one relationship, and it was a long distance one with a woman, but we didn't really have that much of an opportunity to explore sexually.... and I've never had a relationship with a guy. Most of the time, I am very much attracted to women, and I find them much more physically appealing than men and they gratify me more in an emotional way. 9 times out of 10, I will be checking out a woman when I'm out and about, not men. I don't want a relationship with a guy, and nowadays even the thought of kissing one kind of makes me go "eep!" The thing that I find as an obstacle (even though I know I shouldn't feel this way) is that I sometimes I wonder if I can ever be fully sexually satisfied with a woman.

See, whenever I masturbate, the thought of a penis being inside of me, thrusting and ejaculating, gets me off very very quickly. If I find a woman sexually appealing, I think of her when I am horny and whereas I am excited initially, once I get down to it and masturbate, I become bored with thinking of a woman and my arousal decreases (even though I find a woman's touch hugely electric). Then, I will switch to thinking of a penis, and BAM! Near-instant orgasm. When I was in my limited sexual explorations with my ex, I would often get turned on.... but long-distance sex ain't the real thing, so then my arousal would drop, and I could orgasm from the thought of a penis, not her.... which makes me feel like I can perhaps never be sexually fulfilled by a woman, even though I don't want to be in a relationship with a man, and I would rather spend the rest of my life with a woman. I know it's possible that I could fall in love with a man again, but it would not be likely, and even if I did... who knows? I may find that I would feel that something were missing (i.e. the wonders of a woman, as cheesy as that sounds). But, I really really want to be able to have great sex with a woman! I really want to have a healthy, satisfying sex life with a woman.... and I don't want strong cravings for penis. I would much rather do away with that fantasy if I had the choice. I really don't want there to feel a block between myself and sexual feelings towards women.

Now, of course, my fantasies involving penis-in-vagina intercourse have gone back to childhood for me, and it was only several years ago when I realized that I could have sexual feelings towards women. Before then, all I fantasized about was kissing, snuggling, touching.... all of which do turn me on (more so than the thought of a man doing those activities). Nowadays, I can imagine much more than that, and I want more than that.I know that some bisexuals are romantically attracted to one gender and romantically another, but I don't feel like I quite fit into that category and neither would I like to be. I also know that penetration alone with a penis is very satisfying for most women, and that sex is much more than one body part, but this issue really bugs me. I don't want to be involved sexually with a woman and have to rely on thoughts of penis to get me off; I'd rather just enjoy her. I also know that fantasy doesn't always indicate sexual orientation, but when it's the majority of the time I masturbate... I wonder. In my darkest moments, I fear I am just straight, and that only a hetero relationship could only satisfy me... but then I realize that if it weren't for the penis fascination I might actually call myself a lesbian (or the rare recognition that a particular guy is hot [Smile] ). So, I don't know. Maybe because I haven't really had too much experience with in-the-flesh sex that this bothers me too much, because touching women, and kissing them, can really turn me on and make me throb down below even though I cannot always imagine more explicit sexual imagery to follow very well, which frustrates me.

Another thing is that the idea of ejaculation, and the potential of reproduction, is a very arousing concept to me (even though I don't want to be pregnant now and I doubt I would want to indulge in unprotected sex), so that could be one reason why the idea of penises arouse me. Maybe unconsciously I like the idea of what penetration by a penis represents to me, or something. But who knows? Maybe actual penetration would be dissatisfying for me, as it is for many women. Heck, maybe I wouldn't even like sex with men in general much. And I know that some of the most electric sparks of attraction I've gotten came from women, and they were certainly incredibly sexually arousing. So taken all together, it's a bit puzzling.

So, what do you think? It would be great to help me with a dilemma I've been struggling with in the back of my mind for years.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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So, I'm going to start by asking a question or two which might sound pretty silly, but they're the questions I'm left with (to start, anyway), after reading this, so I figure I should ask them.

1. Are you assuming you can't have intercourse with women, and/or that if you do, the dynamics won't be able to be similar as what you're imagining the dynamics to be in your fantasies about PIV intercourse with men?

2. It's pretty easy for anyone to find lots and lots in the world that feeds our imaginations about sex between men and women because our world is so hetercentric. Even a lot of porn with women having sex with women is made for straight people, usually straight men, so that material often is more unrealistic than even the stuff with men/women sex and also pretty....well, watered down. That all said, and with what you've said here, do you feel like your sexual imagination has been "fed" as much with other kinds of sex besides PIV as with PIV?

3. You do know not all women have vulvas, yes? That some women have penises?

4. Do you think this is really about you craving "a penis," especially given this isn't a kind of sex you've experienced, or about you craving entry or the kinds of dynamics you assume exist with PIV intercourse? Or craving vaginal entry?

--------------------
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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14fields
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Hi Heather! Thank you for taking the time to help me!

I'll answer your questions:

1. No, I do know I can have intercourse with women, but the pleasure I get from imagining it is quite fleeting, and I cannot sustain the arousal. It's quite frustrating; but, then again, I've never experienced any type of intercourse from another person. This is a difficult question... I don't know if the dynamics would be different... but yes, I do worry that they will, and I won't find them sexually appealing.

2. I would say yes, my imagination has been fed with other things besides PIV sex.... I rarely watch porn, but one can easily observe that PIV sex is considered to be the "ultimate" form of sex, when it simply is not. I just somehow find PIV sex more mentally stimulating... at least when I'm masturbating. Not necessarily always when I'm not. But, it is a good question that I find I cannot answer very well. That would probably take more introspection. Certainly the erotic stories I read written by queer women would fall under the category of not containing exclusively PIV sex.

3. Yes, sorry, I do know that some women have penises... I apologize. I should have just said "female-bodied" instead.

4. Certainly in my fantasies, it seems like it is about "craving a penis," because it is the thought of a real-live one that really gets me off. But at a deeper level? I've thought about whether it is about me desiring entry at a primal level, or whether I've unconsciously assimilated stereotypes about how male-bodied people have sex, and for some reason that type of stereotypical "energy" of male entry is just sexually appealing. Even though I've thought a lot about this, I still find that I cannot come to a satisfying conclusion... especially since I have not carried out my desire to have flesh-on-flesh sex with women and/or female-bodied people. At any rate, it seems that my desire to be entered by a penis, as well as to enter with a penis (a common fantasy, I know, but I do have it) is just very hot to me, for whatever reason!

I just wish this whole issue wasn't a problem for me, because I'd love to not keep doubting myself and my feelings [Frown] Or at least identify the causes for all of my doubts and feelings. I'm just hoping that in real life I can enjoy sex with female-bodied people and realize that it is what I really do want. It sounds silly, because after all, if I desire it, that means I can feel it, right? But I don't know if it is true.

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Heather
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Okay, that all helps. Thanks. [Smile]

One thing I'd be sure to do is remember that our sexual fantasies and our sexual realities are often very different. They tend to be different in terms of what we want to do in real life, in real life, how sex goes tends to be different, too. So, I'd not put too much into what you're fantasizing about when it comes to concerns of how things will go or what you'll want outside your head.

That's especially important to recognize since in real life, when real-life people are involved and we've feelings for them, what we find hot tends to be pretty unique and have a lot to do with those unique people and our unique relationships more than general things we bring to them from fantasy.

Too, you know, if it turns out that you find out, if and when you have explored intimate relationships and sex with people that you do, in fact, prefer or more greatly desire sex with someone (of whatever gender) with a penis, that can be okay, too.

--------------------
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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14fields
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So, in other words, even if I still masturbate to the thought of heterosexual acts but not want a romantic relationship with a man, and want a relationship with a woman yet have difficulty maintaining arousal to the thought of sexual acts with a woman does not necessarily mean that I am one of those bisexuals who are attracted to one gender sexually and another emotionally?

Good, because I want to have both of those elements with women *phew* I really would like to have a monogamous relationship with a woman as a life partner someday.

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coralee
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Sexual fantasies are just that, fantasies, and do not have to align with what we would enjoy in real life. I think it is definitely possible to fantasize about sex with a man, but at the same time know it is not something you would enjoy in real life. I don't think one's fantasies are a good indicator of one's sexual orientation.
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14fields
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I've done my research, and it seems like there are lesbians and female-identified bisexuals out there who also fantasize about penises during masturbation or while having an orgasm.. and sometimes that's what can make them orgasm as well. Even if they may not want to actually have sex with a male-bodied person or women with penises! There are also male-bodied people out there who can only orgasm from fantasies of penises or of certain sexual acts between other male-bodied people... and yet, they don't necessarily want to pursue it outside of their heads. They still feel like they are straight. I'm a bit curious about having sex with a man, but like I said, I don't know if I'd want to have a relationship with one... I'd rather enjoy having sex with a woman [Smile] I just wish I wasn't worried about the possibility of not enjoying sex with women or female-bodied people.
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14fields
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Hey all, I'm still sometimes hung up over this issue [Frown]

I just feel that because it can still be hard for me to imagine more explicit sexual acts with women, I'm scared that I won't ACTUALLY like having sex with them and that I'll need to have a man in my life to fulfill my sexual needs. Since I have anxiety, every once in a while it flares up, and then when it happens I get more worried about it and I feel like my feelings towards women get blocked. It's all very strange. I guess what I'm really afraid of is that my sexuality won't ever really fit into a more "conventional" sexual orientation... meaning it will always be unknown and undefinable. I'm fine with calling myself bisexual or queer... they both feel right for me (well, I like "bisexual" less than "queer" but I refer myself as bisexual more often).

I'm just wondering: is there any advice out there for the person who's afraid of always being confused for the rest of her life, or the person who's afraid that she might not ever feel fulfilled with one gender and/or sex, even though I'm fairly certain I'm not polyamorous and don't want to be?

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Robin Lee
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HI 14fields
and welcome back,

First, I just want to check in to see if anything has changed. Have you been in a relationship since you were last here? Do you have a specific person, of any gender, that you're intrested in?

It sounds to me like this worry about ending up disliking sex with women is holding you back from dating. ...or are there other things preventing you from dating?

In general, fantasy is always only going to tell us so much about what we like in real life, and the only way to find out what we like (and not just with sex) is to have different experiences. So I'm wondering if it might not be time, as scary as it feels to be, for you to try dating or meeting people, seeing what your chemistry is like with someone you find initially attractive. There's a lot that goes into attraction other than the sexual activities we like or have fantasized about. What do you think? Does this feel like a practical possibility for you?

In terms of feeling confused and unsettled in your orientation, does it help to know that even folks with the most outwardly conventional orientation experience changes over their lifetime? While some aspects of a person's sexuality and sexual identity are fixed, many of them are not. What someone likes or doesn't like, who someone likes or doesn't like, may well change throughout their lifetime. Think about relationships that end after many many years. Sometimes there are really big problems, and maybe sometimes they could have been solved, but I think, more often than not, what we are seeing in this situation is people not being right for each other anymore.

I'm rambling a bit here, and I think the basis of what I'm wanting to say here is that your uncertainty right now is, I believe, partly part of the human condition, and also that the uncertainty you feel right now, even with as strong as it feels, may well resolve itself. It may well resolve itself, then a new type of confusion might come up.

When you say that your sexuality might not fit into a more conventional sexual orientation, what about that concerns you

--------------------
Robin

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14fields
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No, I haven't been in a relationship since I've last been on here. I've been kind of ferreting around, seeing if I could go on more dates, but I haven't met anybody in person who I find attractive AND is queer. At least in terms of women. And while I'm on a couple of dating sites, it's hard to REALLY tell how the person is by looking at a few photographs of them and a short profile that may not tell you much. I guess that's why you should go out on a date with them though: to see if you actually do have or will have chemistry with that person! I'm much more interested in dating women still.... and I still don't really want to have a relationship with a man. The past couple of days (and from having conversations with others about sexuality within these past couple of days as well) I've experienced some strong instances of sexual desire for men with an inkling of a small crush and that triggered the anxiety which I think also blocked the desire or feelings towards women. That happened in my previous relationship as well: the fear would spring up, temporarily blocking my feelings towards her. It was all very strange. So yet as much as I don't really want to date men, I still have a sexual curiosity concerning them--and I think that part of that has to do with never being involved with a man, sexually or romantically. I think if I had a relationship with a guy in high school or early college that I wouldn't be as uncertain over it, because I already would have experienced it.

So yes, I think that my fear of disliking sex with a woman is holding me back from dating them, sure (as well as practicalities of finding queer women with mutual chemistry). And I certainly agree that attraction is a lot more than fantasized sexual activity! The fear also stems from the worry of whether I'm truly sexually attracted to women or not... which seems to be a silly worry because I was very sexually attracted to my ex and other women! Yet, sometimes I worried that it would be fleeting, or if I were somehow trying to "force" that feeling... that may just be the anxiety and obsessive worry talking though, because sexual attraction just kind of wells up, erupts, gushes, etc. very spontaneously within and out of the self. It's not very controllable. Perhaps I'm just too controlling of myself?

Recently, I can say that I've been kind of interested in, though none are viable options because I believe all these women are straight [Frown] For example, I find that I can be pretty attracted to one of my good female friends... but she's straight with a boyfriend. So, I feel that any sexual fantasies I've had concerning her are rather futile. Another part of my fears may stem from lack of mutual sexual attraction... if I'm attracted to a straight woman, I know nothing will come of it and my sexual attraction can't really flourish because I know nothing could really happen (and plus, I think most of us can say that if the person you are attracted is also attracted to you, it's a big turn-on). On the flip side, since most men are straight, I could still be on their "menu," so to speak... there is always the potential that they could be sexually attracted to me, which is appealing. Or maybe perhaps with women I just have a hard time imagining them having sexual desires for me... it certainly frightened me when my ex had strong sexual desire for me, at any rate!

What concerns me about not fitting into a more conventional sexual orientation is perhaps not being able to find sexual fulfillment with one person, because they cannot satisfy that. I realize that no partner is going to satisfy your every need, sexual or otherwise, so this phrasing may be pure folly. But, I don't want to be like the many queer women who do not quite consciously realize their desires towards women until they are married to a man, even with children... except in my case I fear I'll be in a committed partnership with a woman and realize my curiosity to men is so great that I have to have an open relationship or something because that fantasy for phallus is too strong. Or, that an open relationship is not an option, and I may have to end that hypothetical relationship with a woman. And like I said, I don't even know if I ever want an open relationship!

I wish I could just get rid of the anxiety... [Frown]

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14fields
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Another fear that I have concerning all this is also from some of the new ideas concerning sexuality. For example, in Lisa Diamond's work, people have an inborn sexual orientation... but she means "sexual orientation" in the scientific sense, i.e. what sex you're sexually attracted to and who you actually desire sex with. It does not include emotional or romantic attraction. Now, according to Lisa Diamond, women are more prone to sexual fluidity and fluctuating sex drive because of the menstrual cycle, and they can sexually desire a person outside of their sexual orientation due to arousal. Arousal can trigger sexual desire.... as an example, a straight women can begin to sexually desire another woman even though she had never sexually desired a woman before because this other world stirred her arousal somehow. Leaving aside the fact that this research may contain gender stereotypes, when I was asked if I thought that my attractions to men and women were due to organic sexual desire or from arousal, I knew that my sexual attractions to men were certainly organic and ingrained, but with women I could not say because of the above dilemma with the fantasies as I posted above. I'm still not always sure if my sexual desires for women are due to arousal, or because I have an inborn bisexual orientation. While it doesn't really matter if I don't have an inborn bisexual orientation, since some people are more fluid and can experience arousal to many individuals outside of their sexual orientation and be perfectly happy in those relationships, I worry that if I DON'T have an inborn sexual attraction to women, then I won't really be able to have a long-term relationship with a woman. Yet, I find that I feel like I don't really know where I fit in with Lisa Diamond;s theory, and since I'm involved in scholarship... I know that any one theory derived from research is often shot down or at least severely modified as the years go by with more research added. Based on my own personal experience, I feel that Lisa Diamond's theory is very preliminary and does not apply to everyone... although many people have found it useful for their own identities.

Another thing that I disagree with Lisa Diamond about is that she maintains that romantic/emotional attraction is not inborn like sexual orientation, that it is shaped by social forces only. While I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that romantic/emotional attraction is very much influenced by society, I think that it's more biologically engrained than she thinks... especially from listening to asexual people, where many describe a non-fluid emotional and romantic orientation. But, what do I know?

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Robin Lee
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Hmm, you know, I'm not sure that it's useful to think of attractions as being caused by only one of two factors. Seems to me, as you see to be saying above, that there's actually a lot more going on.

Many of the fears that you're expressing here are fears that a lot of people feel when contemplating, or when actually in, relationships; that is, I'm thinking that your sexual orientation might play less of a role in this than you are giving it credt for.

I'm wondering: If you were feeling the level of attraction yu're describing, but instead of feeling it towards women you were feeling it about men, would you feel as doubtful about the strength of your desire? IN other words, never having experienced a sexual experience with a man, would you doubt your ability to enjoy that experience even though you felt really attracted to men?

It sounds like you've read a lot about sexual orientation, but you may find some additional perspective in this article, particularly on the innate versus developed question.

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/boyfriend/the_rainbow_connection_orientation_for_everyone

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Robin

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14fields
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"I'm wondering: If you were feeling the level of attraction yu're describing, but instead of feeling it towards women you were feeling it about men, would you feel as doubtful about the strength of your desire? IN other words, never having experienced a sexual experience with a man, would you doubt your ability to enjoy that experience even though you felt really attracted to men?"

Wait.... I'm not sure if this is clear. Are you asking that if I felt a strong attraction to men overall if I would be as scared and uncertain about my feelings as I sometimes am towards women? If that is what you're asking, then no, I wouldn't feel as scared or uncertain about my feelings. I'm not sure if that's due to society's expectation that women should be partnered up with men, or if my genuine sexual desires are slanted more towards men or not. I'm not sure if that is because perhaps I have been taught that heterosexuality is "safe" or not. I know that if I had lots more explicit fantasies concerning women that I wouldn't be as scared, because then I'd feel like that would be something that I genuinely desired. It's all a very strange issue!

I guess perhaps the solution is not to worry so much and then go out and experiment? Then by actually acting in the world, I can see what I actually like in the real world?

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14fields
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Now that I think about it.... it's almost like imagining a sexual relationship with a woman is difficult because it almost seems so.... odd to me. Like if I try to imagine sexual activity between me and another woman in the way I think that most people would (well, especially non-queer women, I mean), it almost feels silly. Whereas things like touching, kissing, spending time together... feels a lot more sexual and a lot more arousing. And ever since I was young when I imagined kissing a girl who I liked did make me throb down below, ha! But trying to imagine things like oral sex, manual intercourse, etc? Sometimes it seems arousing, but other times a bit boring and pointless. But then imagining intercourse with a male-bodied person excites me, but imagining the kissing, touching etc. part with a man is rather repugnant. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the idea of the most "conventional" form of sex (i.e PIV intercourse) excites me the most... maybe society's ideas of what sex is "supposed" to be like infiltrated me more than I thought.

Plus, I actually don't know what PIV intercourse would actually feel like, nor oral sex given and received by any gender, so it's not the best guide, is it? It's also funny, but... when I've felt sexual towards women, it was very much in the moment, and I wasn't even entirely quite sure HOW I wanted to act out those desires... I just wanted us to both feel intense pressure. Maybe by constraining and judging sexual desire by sex acts I'm not really doing myself a favor?

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14fields
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*pleasure, not pressure. Although intense pressure also sounds pleasurable, haha!
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Molias
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Do you have a sense of exactly what seems odd about being sexual with another woman? I have heard some women say they have a hard time imagining being sexual with other women because there isn't a lot of cultural detail to go off of - most straight girls grow up getting a particular message about sexual relationships with men and while I think it's very one-dimensional and maybe over-reliant on PIV as the Holy Grail of straight sexuality, it's at least visible in some way. There aren't a lot of queer narratives out there, especially for younger folks that are exploring sexual feelings, and that may make it harder for you to imagine what being with women would be like, or what you'd enjoy. It sounds like some of that, for you, might be wrapped up in finding the idea of PIV sex particularly exciting.

I do think that, as you noted above, probably the only way for you to really figure this out is to experiment on your own and with partners. One thing that's great about being sexual with a friendly and supportive partner is that mutual exploration you can do together to figure out what will work for you, no matter if you're each other first sexual partner or fifteenth.

Especially since you don't have experience with PIV or oral sex with people of any gender, I think you'll find the answers through your own experiences; there's not much you can know beforehand. I think variation in how oral or manual sex will feel with different partners will not necessarily fall along gendered lines; everyone's technique will vary a bit and as you do get experience with what you like you can give partners feedback.
If it turns out that PIV sex really is something you love, remember that there are many options for penetrative sex that women without penetrative genitals can explore together. A lot of women don't get the greatest amount of sexual pleasure from penetration but plenty do enjoy it, so if you feel after some experimentation that you really are more interested in women, you don't have to take this off the table. And you could find a penetrative toy and do some exploration around this on your own, as well.

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14fields
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That's what I keep wondering: if whether or not society's larger image of what sex "should" be and how it "should" go has had more of an influence upon my mind than what I thought. It's true: there aren't a lot of queer narratives out there, although I do enjoy reading lesbian erotica (and I try to make sure that it was written by queer women, although I realize that it's not always a guarantee). Penetration with a female-bodied person doesn't sound as mentally appealing as penetration with a male-bodied person, but I kind of doubt that they'd feel radically different from one another.

I feel more worried about this than normally so because I almost made out with a gay man last night, and I felt horny and also kind of wanted to sleep with him (not that it would have happened, of course). And I've also found in this past week that I have a little bit of a crush on some guy in one of my classes.... and I haven't really had a bona-fide crush on a guy in about 4 years or so! I could just be going through one of those weeks where I feel straighter than usual (and they do happen), yet it makes me more worried... because strangely enough, I've also felt kind of a block in my feelings towards women this week as well. Sometimes that happens, and I think it has to do with the anxiety. I'm currently kind of sexually interested in one woman right now (I'm not sure if anything will ever come of it though, but oh well), although I'm not exactly experiencing butterflies or anything... just slight shyness around her and a desire to be around her. It just seems like with all the weird anxiety and feelings this week that I'm more concerned than usual about what I truly want and need sexually... I suppose it's a moot question, since I have such little experience, yet worried I am. And any other crushes I've had on different ladies seem to have mysteriously blown away this week. They may come back.... these strange blocked feelings episodes usually go away.... part of that issue may also have to do with how there aren't any women who I'm terribly interested in now.

The thing is, I find that I'm far more emotionally and spiritually attracted to women. I've found that I've enjoyed the feelings I've had for them much more than the feelings I ever had for men. That's why I'd much rather have a relationship with a woman. Yet, as what this week has shown me, I obviously still have a desire to be involved sexually with men, and I don't want that to always be there. And even if I were to sexually experiment with them, I wouldn't want to actually fall for them... it sounds ridiculous, but it's not what I ultimately want. I don't ultimately want a relationship with a man... at least not a long-term one. I know that people would just think "Well, if it happens, then it happens and don't worry about it and just be happy having a good relationship." But, even if I felt very emotionally attracted to a man, I think I might still feel like I shouldn't stay in the relationship because I would still have the ultimate desire to be involved in a loving relationship with a woman. Again, maybe this is a silly worry, since I don't know exactly what will or will not be satisfying to me sexually, and that the emotional connection I have with a partner will probably trump my uncertainty, but.... yeah, these kinds of times make me really wish I were a lesbian, hehehe. I would be perfectly happy not having feelings for men-- besides platonic ones, of course.

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Heather
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Hey there, 14fields.

You know, if it helps, I'm someone who actually studies, and has for a long time now, not just sexuality but "society's" ideas about sex, and I have to tell you, I don't know what "society's" idea or image of sex is.

I certainly know about the many ideas, presentations and narratives than many different societies and communities and people within them have had, but I don't know of any one, overarching narrative or image. When people talk about that, I have to ask them a lot of questions to find out what they actually mean. And, not surprising to me, when I ask people, they rarely report back the same things.

So, when we're looking at that, or trying to -- if we feel we need to -- I think it's probably more helpful, more truthful, and more real to instead consider and talk about what ideas WE, individually, have about, and have received, about sex and sexuality. A lot of that will have come from our cultures and communities, but we can actually indentify those things, they're a lot less nebulous, and they're usually what we actually are thinking about in the first place. Know what I mean?

I don't see anything in your last paragraph here that sounds silly. In fact, you sound very clear to me in it: you know you want certain things, you also know you have some other desires which don't feel in alignment with things you perhaps want more, or are more important to you. I hear you saying that there are certain things -- or kinds of people, more to the point -- that you would prefer in certain kinds of relationships versus other things or kinds of people. I hear you voicing a complexity in all of this, but then, personally, I find most of our sexualities and relationships to be complex.

By the way, you say this:

quote:
But, even if I felt very emotionally attracted to a man, I think I might still feel like I shouldn't stay in the relationship because I would still have the ultimate desire to be involved in a loving relationship with a woman.
That appears to be about the concern that you'll screw someone over in some way, or commit to something you really don't want to commit to. But, what if you express to a man, in this situation, that you feel these feelings: what if that's right on the table? And what if you simply don't commit to anything you really don't want to commit to?

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Heather
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By the way, struggles like you're having -- and a way to try and get good with them -- always remind me of this:

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.) "

- From Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman (who was bisexual, no less)

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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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14fields
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Hmmm.... guess I should have been much much clearere about what "society thinks of sex"... I was more specifically referring to the belief that PIV sex is the "ultimate" form of sex that is regarded as "home base," or as Molias said, the "Holy Grail" of sexuality (good way to put it, Molias!) I feel a tad bit embarrassed that I didn't clarify this, having had such a strong background in the social sciences.

quote:
In fact, you sound very clear to me in it: you know you want certain things, you also know you have some other desires which don't feel in alignment with things you perhaps want more, or are more important to you. I hear you saying that there are certain things -- or kinds of people, more to the point -- that you would prefer in certain kinds of relationships versus other things or kinds of people. I hear you voicing a complexity in all of this, but then, personally, I find most of our sexualities and relationships to be complex.
So.... how the heck do I manage all this complexity? Hahaha! I've calmed myself down a bit, so I'm not quite as anxious I was before, but.... I'm still scared that I will end up denying one part of my desires for the sake of others, and what kind of long-term relationships my seemingly contradictory feelings might allow. And I still have the fear of having a sexual relationship with a woman in my way.... although that's probably more easily solved by having sexual experiences with women I feel comfortable with and sexually attracted to.

quote:
That appears to be about the concern that you'll screw someone over in some way, or commit to something you really don't want to commit to. But, what if you express to a man, in this situation, that you feel these feelings: what if that's right on the table? And what if you simply don't commit to anything you really don't want to commit to?
That's true: I could very easily set those statements out onto the table if I end up being in any type of relationship with a man. I also fear this with women too: what if I say "Well, gee, I like being with you, but I also may feel like I have to be sexually involved with men too so I'm not sure if I can really be 100% committed to you... who the hell knows, maybe I'll be too scared to have sex with you or maybe I'm just not capable of doing so... how'd ya feel about THAT??" While of course that's a facetious exaggeration, I'm afraid that something like that will happen! Ay, this is what happens to a girl who lives in her head most of the time...
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Heather
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Well, per your last statement, you know this is the case with heterosexual or homosexual people too, right? As in, someone who has feelings for one person of a given gender could at some time have feelings for another person of that gender. In other words, I don't see the possibility of at some point having interest in someone else having anything to do with orientation, and having a lot more to do with something we know is common with human beings of all orientations.

I'm probably not the best person to ask about how to accept sexual complexity because, for me, this is given about pretty much everyone, something I know just by doing my job every day. Human sexuality? It's complex. For, so far as I can tell, everyone. We're just not all complex in the same ways, that's all.

As far as your worries about LTRs, I feel like, in alignment with some of what Molais said, this is one of those things we find out and learn as we go. rarely do people engage in lifelong sexual or romantic partnerships. I mean, I don't mean to be curt, but if people don't end them, death does. And usually, long before death does that, people choose to. When we're in them, if we commit to them, we put our all in, hopefully the other person does, too, and we see what happens as we go. We decide -- every day, really -- if they're working for us or they're not. Usually, if we agree to commit to anything -- be it a person, a job, what have you -- that involves not doing other things, or not pursuing some things, and we simply see if that's worth it to us as time passes. You know?

No need to feel embarassed about a lack of clarity.

What I'd say as someone who studies sex and sexuality is that the idea that "everyone" (that amorphous, murky everyone you likely know plenty about if you're a soc person) thinks that PIV is the holy grail tends to stand counter to what people actually report enjoying. When we see in-depth sex studies, they show a wide diversity of activities people enjoy, not that one ranking above all others. On the other hand, I think what happens is that more people will talk as if that diversity isn't there in some media or circles because they have learned or understood the right answer to be that PIV = sex. But we have the data to know, again, that while it may be a lot of people say that (not in the circles I've ever run in, really, ever, so I'm the wrong person to ask about that one, too), people
's actual experiences don't tend to demonstrate that.

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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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14fields
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Yeah, that's true... you can totally become attracted to other people while in a relationship when you're gay or straight too! Heck, I know when I was in my last relationship, I had a couple of crushes on other women when I was with her... she was NOT happy about it, but it reflected more of the needs that weren't being met because she kept breaking up with me and then getting back together. It was an emotional roller coaster and there was a part of myself looking elsewhere to deal with that instability. Plus, I also just may have a fear of commitment in general, as a few people have suggested to me, and if that's true that will throw wrenches into any relationship.

I also very much know that very few relationships last a lifetime, and that's ok. Usually relationships are good for that particular slice of time they were in (assuming they were healthy, of course), and it's just part of life that they can, and do, change. I guess my fear is stemming from the possibility that I may not even really be able to commit to any one person due to the issues listed above. Granted, that's a very premature assumption, but assumptions I have made.

I know myself, and I can be quite controlling with myself. It's far more comforting for me to have only a specific area of interest, and I will obsess over it for a length of time before I move on to the next one. Even though my interests are very broad and flip back and forth quite a lot, I tend to reject something else that I was interested in before for the new thing because I fear that the previous thing will dominate again. It's hard to explain, but.... it seems that my conflicting desires also fall into that line, where I find that they can't easily coexist within me and I fear that one will dominate the other, so I will cling to the more desirable possibility so the less favorable option will not dominate. I know that's not really how life works (and in many other ways I'm quite flexible, oddly enough: for example I see no problem in having in multiple tiers of religious belief and practice as long as no cultural appropriation in involved). In other words, I don't really want to have the desire for sexual involvement with a man cloud me if I'm involved with a woman, because I feel that would cause problems, especially as a person who views herself as monogamous. It doesn't guarantee problems, of course, because some partners can be very understanding in that area, but many are not. At least my ex was not. She considered feelings for others to be the equivalent of cheating.

quote:
What I'd say as someone who studies sex and sexuality is that the idea that "everyone" (that amorphous, murky everyone you likely know plenty about if you're a soc person) thinks that PIV is the holy grail tends to stand counter to what people actually report enjoying. When we see in-depth sex studies, they show a wide diversity of activities people enjoy, not that one ranking above all others.
Certainly, but from what I've observed, there is still a dominant narrative and assumption that PIV sex is the "Holy Grail" of sexuality, even if plenty of people know and report that it is not, same with any other stereotype. Mostly I was referring to that underlying assumption that belies mainstream American society that I personally feel shapes the way that our youth view sex and relationships. I can definitely remember when I was in elementary to high school and feeling like PIV sex was the BIGGEST deal in sex, and other sexual activities such as oral or manual sex were just lead-ups to it, and things that people did as a way to avoid the huge cultural weight of the connotations of PIV sex. Or, that even oral and manual sex, or dry humping were all essentially "immature" forms of sexuality that scared middle schoolers indulged in!
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14fields
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Hmmm... I suppose if I REALLY want to distill my questions down, it'd be this:

I’m worried that I just won’t be fulfilled by either gender. Do I need to have experience with guys in order to know that I’ll feel secure and fulfilled with women, or no? If I just dated girls and found someone that I really like, could I feel fulfilled enough by them to not need men? Will my curiosity screw me over?

I suppose I just haven't met the right person yet?

What tangled webs we weave....

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Heather
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Here's what I'd say about this: gender is only one part of who people are. One part of MYRIAD parts. And relationships are about even more than that, since they're about all of who more than one person is, and then the unique thing -- the relationship -- they actively create together every day.

As well, fulfillment in any given personal relationship is not only a really individual thing, and typically isn't likely to have a whole lot to do with gender most of the time.

I'm not sure than any of this is about not "meeting the right person," so much as it is about you only having experienced one relationship, and not having a range of experiences with relationships. It sounds like all these thoughts and ideas about relationships are really more in your head than in lived experience, so it's not surprising to me that it seems like you're getting a bit bogged down around ideas, since this mostly IS about ideas for you.

I think you're also forgetting that plenty of bisexual/pansexual people do just fine in long-term monogamous relationships and feel happy. But also forgetting that for those (or people of any orientation) that that doesn't work for, monogamy also isn't your only option. Polyamory/open relationships are also an option, too.

So, in the event that you DID find that, for you, to feel fllfilled in sexual/romantic relationships what you really needed was a partner who is a man and a partner who is a woman, it's not like that isn't something you can do. You could do that.

Again, like I said, that's usually not something bi/pansexual people feel we need, mostly because people are about so much more than gender, as are our relationships, but if and when it is? People can have that.

Of course, you also get to explore dating, without making commitments to anyone long-term, for as long as you want, even forever, if you want. It's not like you have to sign up for something long-term before you feel pretty strongly that that is something that will work for you in the long-term.

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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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Heather
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You know, if it helps, too, to hear something personal about this, what I've experienced in somewhere around three decades of relationships with people of various genders is that the older I get, and the more relationships I've been part of with people of varying genders, the less gender even tends to mean to me, or be easily differentiated.

I'm not saying my experience with that is universal, mind, but I will say that the notion that I'm "missing out" on any one thing when I'm with a person of a given gender because they're not of another gender feels more and more foreign to me, because what I tend to see in all the people I'm with isn't gender as something black-and-white, but instead, as an array of characteristics or behaviours or ideas in everyone, where I find it rare, for example, to be with someone who identifies as a man who doesn't also have things about him that would be considered feminine (or he considers so), or to be with a woman who doesn't have things about her that would be considers masculine (or she considers so). The older I get, the more even differentiating between people's body parts when it comes to gender seems to make less and less sense, and seem like more of an abstract idea to me, because I know bodies to be so incredible diverse, even among people of any one gender.

Know what I mean?

(I should add that it's possible some of that gender-mushiness is about all of our age, btw. I'd posit that people often present or perform gender more binarily in their teens and twenties. Certainly not as little children, but also, I'd say, way less as people past their teens and twenties than those in them.)

[ 02-05-2013, 11:59 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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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