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Author Topic: trying to get my mind straightened out
carlyn_101
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Hello, I'm in a weird funk and would like to get some different perspectives on how to get out of it. It's one of those situations that I can't wrap my head around (at least as of yet). Here goes... I've been working at a national park lodge for the last couple of months. In May, employees were still showing up for the season. Upon his arrival, I found myself getting along with a guy named Matt. Within the week, we were talking quite a bit and going on drives, etc. I found him really attractive and he seemed pretty interested in me as well. We were able to have really solid, enjoyable conversations and got along easily. When the staff all got drunk one night, he and I broke off from everyone and started talking--this time, more directly. It was obvious that we'd both been quietly analyzing one another. He suggested that I spend the night with him. I declined, simply because quick hookups aren't really my style. This sort of dance continued for about two weeks--a lot of sexual tension with no outlet. During that time, he told other staff members that he was conflicted about me because I was the type of girl that guys "fall in love with and marry." He seemed worried that things might get serious and that he wasn't ready for that. (FYI, he's about 4 years younger than me). Nevertheless, I wasn't even thinking about forging a long-term relationship with him--just a summer fling possibly.

Eventually I told Matt that I liked him and asked what he was hoping to get out of the summer. He said he was open to experiences and wanted to see what happened. He also said that he was sure we'd "have our times, and that it would be good." Not long after that, we fooled around and it was fun. We didn't have sex, but I did sleep over. Afterward, things seemed normal between us.

The next time the staff all partied together, Matt seemed to be flirting with another coworker. It seemed like they were going to hook up. I tried to shrug it off but I was bummed out and ended up sitting out on my porch until pretty late at night. Matt eventually came by and said he was still awake if I wanted to talk. So I went over to his room to do just that. However, due mostly to our mutual drunkenness, we ended up having sex. I left right afterward. The experience wasn't fantastic--kind of impersonal and numb--but I chalk that up to the alcohol.

Following that, things were awkward for a couple of days. I got sick with a stomach bug and worried irrationally about pregnancy. When I felt well enough, I talked to Matt about what had happened. He said that he'd rather it didn't happen again, citing the fact that all of his prior relationships had just "turned into sex and the girl being more interested in him than he was in her." I almost asked him whether he thought that was becoming the case with us, but decided against it. It seemed like he was drawing from a very different perspective than mine, and I didn't have the energy or the words to clarify my side of things. Matt also said that "He didn't know what he wanted, but would know when he found it."

So, since then, I've taken his words as an expression of disinterest and stayed away. In the meantime (about three weeks), he's slept with two other girls. Despite that, Matt and I are finally getting to the point where we can have chill conversations like before.

However, I've been wracked with self-doubt since the night we had sex--thinking that I failed some test or was terrible in bed. I've never had anyone's interest change on a dime like that. It was like a switch flipped in his mind or something. At times, I've been tempted to ask him what changed. But then I turn around and decide it's not worth it. It was just so strange--for the first 2 months he was at the lodge, he didn't approach anyone but me, never hooked up with anybody, etc. Then after me, he's all over the place.

Any advice on how I can move past this or change my thinking? I have to work with him for another couple of weeks so any suggestions would be really helpful.

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Heather
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You know, while obviously,the only person who can truly know what this guy is thinking and feeling is this guy, it sounds like, right from the start, he was voicing a desire to just explore and experiment with new things this summer.

So, it doesn't seem surprising to me, that given, that something like this happened, since it seems pretty in line with what he voiced from the get-go.

Of course, too, sex when people are wasted is always really iffy, including around consent, so we have to always figure we or others might not feel so hot about our choices around that.

I really wouldn't think about sex with someone as a test to pass or fail. That just strikes me as a way of thinking about it that takes a lot of the humanity out of it, and just really isn't sound. Sex isn't a test: it's an experience, a wildly diverse one, between people they choose to mutually share, when they choose to be sexual together.

Again, only this guy can know what he was feeling or thinking, but it sounds like you two already did talk about this, and he said what he said. So, my best advice is to let it go from here, along with your won insecurities about it, and thinking about sex with someone as some kind of proof you're "good at" sex or not, or just worthy as a person or not in some way.

And while this hasn't happened to you before, I'd say often enough, when people have casual sexual experiences, people choose not to repeat them or pursue a relationship afterwards, and that's that's true with an array of experiences, including when people did enjoy and feel good about the sex that they had. Sometimes folks choosing to engage in casual sex are choosing to do so only once with a given person, for a whole host of possible reasons.

This guy hooked up with you, then he hooked up with other people, too. he's voiced clearly he's kind of just exploring things right now, finding things out about himself around all of this, and well... looks like that's what he's been doing from here, you know?

--------------------
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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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey carlyn,

I don't hear anything here that implies you were 'terrible in bed' or that the 'quality' of sex would have anything to do with things.

I get the impression that perhaps this was simply a casual thing for Matt and he might have had sex already with an aim of it being a one-off etc... However you can't really know unless he tells you or you ask... but in any case from what you've said it didn't seem to me that either of you were initially anticipating an escalation or a continuation of your sexual connection.

It seems like you're struggling to understand what seems to you like inconsistency in his behaviour but I'm not hearing much about what it is you would like next.

Are you hoping to get with him again, or to just be friends or are you interested in anything more?

Because given what you don't know about him and his intentions, I don't see why you couldn't pursue whichever thing you'd most like. It would certainly be clearer than trying to second guess somebody else's thinking and it'd be much more relevant to you.

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carlyn_101
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I think you're right. I just wish everyone viewed sex as an experience and not as some measure of worth. Young guys, especially, talk about girls like they're race horses or something. They say the crudest things. I know that not everyone views sex in a neutral, exploratory way. I doubt that Matt does.

To me, there is something unbalanced or unfair about sleeping with that many girls in such a short period of time. I understand your progressive stance on it, though.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey carlyn,

I'm sure there's also every possibility that Matt is a total arse... there is a social context where it might be more likely that he thinks of these situations in a much more cynical and inflammatory way, but it just isn't something anyone could know for sure...

So I think what you're saying about cultural sexism is totally sound we just have to be careful not to apply that general understanding to individual situations without asking more questions. Although I think it's nice to think of us as progressive, I think that stance of asking questions first comes from more of a practical place when trying to help people than a stance on people's actions or sexism. That is at least my personal interpretation.

[ 07-21-2013, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Heather
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You know, I hear you saying -- in your last response, and even in your first post -- what sounds like statements that make clear that casual sex just isn't a fit for you. In other words, it sounds like it's just not in alignment with what you want, or find that you feel good about.

And you get to have that: we all get to make the choices around this we do, and that includes opting in OR out of relationship or interaction models or scenarios we find out or know just aren't a good fit for us.

I don't think it's "unfair" or "unbalanced" for people, of any gender, with partners of any gender, to choose to engage in casual sex when that's something everyone involved actually wants. I also don't think it's unfair or unbalanced for people to choose, if that's what they want, to have more partners rather than less, in any period of time, particularly if they're honest about that with the people they're with, not, say, saying they're going to be with them forever, or only be with them, etc.

But the fact that I don't see unfairness in any of that, or even if it were so there simply isn't any, doesn't mean you have to be okay with that and choose to be part of any scenario like that. It also wouldn't make you less progressive, somehow, if those were your preferences, okay?

I'd also just add that how guys, or people of any gender, talk about people of a given gender or sexual partners tends to actually vary really quite a bit. So, if you find the groups you're hanging around have a bunch of sexism in them like you're talking about? I'd suggest seeing about mixing up or changing your social circles. You don't have to be part of that or privy to that: you get to choose to hang around people who think differently, and they're out there, including amoung young guys.

--------------------
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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carlyn_101
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Thanks for clarifying [Smile] I'm realizing that my whole outlook on this thing is influenced by the fact that I've only slept with one other person besides Matt...that was a relationship that lasted a long time. I guess I'm just surprised by the whole thing.
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Heather
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I certainly think that's understandable. By all means, a one-time hookup is a very different thing than sex within the context of a long-term relationship.

I'd also just add that how YOU see sex is totally in your control. In other words, I hear you saying it's upsetting to you that some people see sex as some way to prove worth, but you voiced feeling that way yourself.

So, you can't change the minds of others who see it that way, but you can certainly change your own mind and adjust your own ideas, and ultimately, those are the ones that are going to have the most impact, anyway. [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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carlyn_101
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I don't see sex as a way to prove worth, but I definitely get antsy when I sense that others do. I hate being held to standards that I think are bogus. I wish I had more control over my own thinking with regard to sex. In an intellectual sense, I am comfortable with it, but there are all these underlying insecurities and worries that accompany the actual act for me. When something like this happens, I tend to judge myself in very sexist ways..like internalizing all the bad messages put forth by society and the people I'm around.
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Heather
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So, what do you think you can do for yourself to counter that?

--------------------
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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carlyn_101
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Get more comfortable with people before I get physically involved with them, I suppose. That's a goal I've always tried to reach. Haven't really achieved a healthy mindset yet though. I also try to stay away from mass media that pushes sexist agendas, etc. But it's like trying to hide from the sun haha.
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Heather
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Heh. I feel you. It's easier than it seems once you get used to it, avoiding that stuff and making better media choices, if that helps. personally, I only encounter that stuff anymore because of you guys, where I'm looking into it for work.

If you haven't ever read it, the anthology "Yes Means Yes," (I have a piece in there myself), might be a really good balm for you around a lot of this stuff.

I'd also strongly suggest avoiding sex when you're intoxicated, especially with someone you don't know very well, and isn't a partner already. We just know that booze changes our judgment and our perceptions, so while it doesn't always mean not making our best choices, or making choices we'd not make when sober? It very often does.

--------------------
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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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