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Author Topic: Starting over?
fallenleaf
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Hi Everyone,

I've posted a few times in the past year in regards to worrying about pregnancy risks, and discussing my confused feelings when I had intercourse with my boyfriend, which I really regretted. My parents took me to see a gynecologist to talk about horrible PMS symptoms (and also to make absolutely sure I wasn't pregnant for my own sanity!), and I was prescribed and have been taking a combined birth control pill. Though I don't feel I'll be ready to go as far as intercourse again for what feels like a long time, hopefully the pill will not only ease my period symptoms but also give me a sort of security to not worry needlessly about a pregnancy that is impossible from other sexual activity. I'm so happy I was completely honest with my parents about all of this, and I'm also currently working on some self-help in regards to anxiety in general (Heather, I remembered your comment about my perfectionism in a previous thread, which was too true and has really given me insight on how to approach my personal anxiety issues. Thank you!)

I talked to my boyfriend many times about sexual activity and my limits and he is completely fine with not having intercourse, it's not like he needs it. I basically told him I wanted to start over, I felt like because it was the first relationship for both of us, and we fell so in love so quickly, it felt so perfect, and we moved really fast with sexual activity, at least for me, or else I wouldn't have taken Plan B needlessly just because I was so scared and uncomfortable afterwards.

We're apart for the summer, and will see each other again when the college semester begins. I was wondering if I could get some advice on not only "not having intercourse" but actually taking a step back. I feel like he expects us to continue straight as we were doing in terms of sexually, but I feel really traumatized after this year in that regard with all the anxiety I went through, and I actually want to "Start over" per se, physically. Is this possible? I feel really awkward asking him about it, especially because I've told him so many times I don't want to have intercourse and he's reassured me so many times, and I feel like I don't want to "impose more limits" or he'll feel like I'm just getting anxious for no reason.

I don't know how to go about this. I know I shouldn't be expected to do anything I don't want to, but his sexual background/where he grew up/his friends is much more liberal than my own (my family is very conservative and didn't think I'd have sex until I got married). So I feel like if I suggested backing off on "smaller steps" (basically, oral/fingering) he'd feel like I didn't trust him anymore.

The point is I guess I'm not going to look back on the past but I'm so sad I gave up my virginity and have really conflicted feelings about that too. It was absolutely horrible, I made the decision so callously, we were having trouble in our relationship and I just didn't care anymore.

I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to value myself and feel like I'm sharing myself with someone I love at a pace I'm comfortable with. I would just feel really awkward bringing this up again and micromanaging. How do I go about this?

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Robin Lee
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Can you say a little more about wy you think your boyfriend would feel as if you don't trust him anymore if you talked to him about changing the kinds of sexual and intimate activities the two of you engage in?

You mention that you fear micro-managing. I wonder if we can see this more as a cooperative effort, in which both you and your boyfriend talk about your physical relationship and come to an agreement about what you both want.

The Yes, No, Maybe So: A Sexual Inventory Stocklist
tool can be a useful place to start when couples are making decisions about their sexual relationship.

I hear that you're still feeling really guilty about having intercourse with your boyfriend. What do you need in order to be able to forgive yourself and move forward?

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

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fallenleaf
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I feel like we've gone over this so many times that he'd be kind of annoyed at going over it again-- I first made it clear that I just didn't want sexual intercourse, and to bring up more "detailed" limitations, so to speak, I feel he'd find annoying

That ties into part of the reason I feel guilty-- over winter break, I had decided on no sexual intercourse, talked to him about it, and so I don't know what was in my head the night that I did it. I feel like he has every reason to believe i just can't keep my decisions... so I feel stupid for bringing it up again.

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Heather
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You know, the idea that the only kind of sex we get to negotiate is intercourse is pretty whack.

In sexual relationships, anything and everything we do can often have limits and boundaries, and people who put intercourse off the table don't somehow have to put everything else ON the table.

If you think your boyfriend can't handle that, or handle that you don't want the kind of sexual relationship he does, that's on him. For sure, he'd get to decide, if he wanted to, not to continue this relationship with you then, but honestly, the alternative of you doing things you don't want and don't feel good about is a truly crappy one that's not good for either of you.

In other words, if you want one pace and he wants another and he can't really slow his roll on this, you may have hit a point where you're just not compatible. It happens, especially early on in life as we're just learning what we want and need. It can suck when it does, but again, someone having sex or kids of sex they don't want and feel good about is bad, bad news and the way to make sure a sexual relationship is unhealthy for everyone.

--------------------
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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Also, while you have some time this summer, it might make sense for you to really think about if you two are a good fit. Do you want the same things? Are you in enough of the same place in your life in this area to make sense together at this point?

Sounds like you might not be -- especially if you strongly feel unable to set limits you need without guilt and worry, and with the sense your partner would be annoyed.

--------------------
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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fallenleaf
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Yeah we talked and the sex aspect of our relationship is really not important to him. He has never been in a relationship before, so he has no ideas himself on what he likes on pacing, etc. I haven't been in a relationship before either, but I have limits and boundaries just because of my own personal beliefs which was probably influenced by the more conservative background I was raised in compared to where he is from.

In other words, theoretically I could negotiate boundaries but the reason I feel awkward is because it seems weird to pull back, and I don't know how not to be stuck in an awkward push and pull, and how to pace sex if we've done those things before but I just want to go back.

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fallenleaf
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Like for example, I still feel really really awkward being naked with the lights on, and having him look directly at my genitals-- but he seems to think this is just a sign I don't trust him. But I can't explain why I'm uncomfortable, I just am... I don't know how to explain it?
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fallenleaf
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Or recently, since we're away, he suggested Skype sex which I was really really uncomfortable with. He was completely fine when I told him, but I got the sense that he really wanted to, which made me feel awkward
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Heather
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I think some of the trouble may be you thinking of sex as something on a line. In other words, where there is a forward and a back.

I'd say that not only is a very problematic framework, it's also not very reflective of human sexuality and sexual lives.

I think it might be helpful to think of sex as a buffet, rather than a strictly structured meal with courses. At a buffet, we can eat and much or as little as we'd like, have dessert but not dinner, dinner but not dessert, go back for seconds of one thing but not another, or choose not to eat at all. And these are things that tend to change for people every day, not as some sort of one-time choice that then either stays the same or ends.

Does that make sense to you?

--------------------
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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fallenleaf
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It does. I guess I'm just concerned when we're back together if he initiates something we used to do (and I regretted how I often just went along automatically, and told him this, and he wished I told him at the time, but I just had no idea what i wanted)... anyway if he initiates something we used to do and I don't want to do it anymore, he'll feel confused and that our entire relationship has taken a step back in development of intimacy, when really, physical things more than kissing don't make me feel anymore intimate. Sometimes I just feel weird talking about this with him because he explained to me the kind of environment he grew up in, like two of his friends got to know each other and start dating by getting wasted and sleeping together.

Maybe I'm a huge snob, but that's so not me, and I feel like even though he doesn't need sex, he'd think I'm so strange or whatever... I just don't like how I feel like he's adapting to my values? I feel like that doesn't make for a strong relationship?

[ 06-15-2012, 12:58 PM: Message edited by: Anna284 ]

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Heather
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Well, why not have conversations about this first? Including talking about the barriers you're feeling to communicating about it?

And again, this isn't about "steps back with intimacy." Intimacy is something that can happen in WAY more than just sex 9andalso doesn't happen with sex sometimes!), and respecting limits and boundaries, and working out what works for both people, usually develops more intimacy: it's not a barrier.

But again, it sounds like you need to really, really start talking about this together. And it might help, to, to stick to what just isn't you. You can have models that won't work for you without judging others, after all. And having something not be what's right for you doesn't mean you're being snobby: it just means you're being true to yourself.

Btw, if it helps, I came of age very freewheeling when it comes to sex and sexuality, and you know what I do for my living. And yet, I have dated people or been in relationships with people plenty of times in my life where they wanted slower pacing than I expected or was used to. It was SO not a big deal, and when it was, we just opted out of dating and into partners we felt better suited for. And I never thought anyone was strange for having a different background or pace than me. Why would I, or anyone with any kind of perspective and emotional maturity, think that?

[ 06-15-2012, 01:05 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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