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Author Topic: Sexual Encounter Made Me Emotional. How to Handle/Talk About It.
Phoenix2013
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My boyfriend and I have had a very active sex life from the beginning and are pretty open in the context of our relationship. While we haven't done anything outlandish, we have experimented with anal, lots of sexting, sex toys, costumes, light bondage, some roughness, etc. Even though he can be very rough/kinky, he always prioritizes my getting off and knows my body well. Up until somewhat recently, we have never looked at porn together or discussed what makes us turned on generally.

Before the relationship, I was with someone for 10 years who I wasn't attracted to and had a very sterile sex life with. At the end of that relationship, we had an open relationship and I had a decent amount of experimental sex in which the male was definitely the one in charge/getting what he wanted. I also had a threesome with my husband and another man which was enjoyable at first but then reminded me that my husband was willing to let me go - something that is very much a turnoff to me since I love the idea of being "chosen" and that gets me sexually excited.

This relationship has been my chance to establish an equilibrium - both personally and sexually - but after some recent incidents,
I feel that the balance is off a bit.

Basically, a few weeks ago, when we were in bed, he asked to look at sex toys online and said that he had a fantasy about me with playing with or penetrating a black dildo while he was in me or multiple dildos. I was very taken aback and said that I wasn't into that specific scenario which made things awkward for the rest of the encounter and made him a bit defensive (he said it was "only a fantasy.") I don't think I was disparaging but it was upsetting to me that he had shared something that was personal to him and I couldn't get on board.

Then, recently, when we went on a road trip together and stopped for the night at a hotel (we were both exhausted), he out of seemingly nowhere asked if I wanted to watch porn. The truth is I didn't (we were cuddling and I felt romantic after our conversation in the car) but I said "yes" anyway. Then followed a series of things that I just kept saying yes to. First, he pushed me to pick the clip to watch even though none of the porn types appealed to me. Then, we got a little rough like we usually do, which didn't feel good this time. Then, he brought up the fantasy from the previous time with other guys but not with him/sex toys, which reminded me of my time before the relationship and was not pleasant. I told him that in the moment (first time I had expressed hesitation) and he clarified that it was just a fantasy and he only wanted me, but I still felt terrible.

When we finished, he started to fall asleep and I lay in bed crying. When he asked me what was wrong, I just got more emotional. I was extremely disappointed in myself somehow but even more disappointed that I couldn't articulate what had gone wrong. When I finally admitted that I hadn't even wanted to start down the road we did, he was very upset because he felt he had violated me, which just made me feel worse.

We did talk about it briefly the next morning, but it was brief. I basically said that opening up my sexuality with a trusted partner (unlike in the past) was complicated and I hadn't figured out everything I want. I also said that I wasn't happy about my past in some ways and found that a sensitive spot. He said he understood and again expressed that it was just "BS" or a "fantasy."

We have had sex and good times together since but what happened feels unfinished and I don't feel like I have talked enough about it to move on. Should I bring it up to him? If so, how? I thought about writing a letter expressing that I want him deeply to be able to be open with me but that I also need to identify and articulate what my sexuality is. I could ask him for his patience through this process and extra communication in the meantime. Thoughts?

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Heather
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Welcome to the boards, Phoenix. [Smile]

By all means, I'd say that if you need to process this with him more, that you'll want to ask if you can process this with him more. Clearly, you don't feel resolved about it.

Do you feel like, as of now, you have more you can add to this? For example, have you got a better handle on why you kept saying yes to things it sounds like you really wanted to say no to? Maybe some thoughts about what could help prevent that in the future? How about better identifying why you felt terrible about his expressing what he says was a fantasy, one it sounds like (?) he was willing to put out there and then just let go of? or why you feel like you have to be on board with anything he suggests?

In other words, is now the time to have more conversations about this, or might it work better to do some more of your own processing first, and 8then* ask to revisit this conversation?

--------------------
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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Phoenix2013
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Hi Heather,

Thank you so much for the quick reply. A few things to add:

-I think I feel like I need to say yes because I am afraid to lose what we have that's so good by putting my foot down. I've always been a bit of an absolute thinker and it's like I somehow believe that by drawing certain boundaries I will invalidate the other sexual things I have been fine with.
-I also fear that by saying no and getting emotionally, he will stop being able to objectify me in the way I do enjoy. Because of my relatively sexless marriage and then being with people in a purely physical way, I don't know what the middle ground is between being fully in and fully out of sexuality.
-Part of me also sees his sexual expression as a way of opening up to me. I know it's hard to share these types of private things and indicates an intimacy so I don't want to penalize him from sharing with me or being part of his mental process.
-One thing I forgot to mention is that he said something about always thinking of me/seeing me when he watches porn. Since that seems like it should be an ideal (being included in a sexual world that's apart from me), maybe I was disappointed in myself for still somehow being sad?

I hope this additional detail helps.

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Heather
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Would you like to talk through some of what you've added here together? I'd be happy to do that with you, if you like.

--------------------
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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(I'm heading out for the night in a few, so if that is something you want, let me know, and I'll hop on it first thing tomorrow morning.)

--------------------
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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Phoenix2013
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Hi Heather - I'd love to chat with you if you have time. I can be available at any of these times:
-8 am PST
-12:30pm PST
-4:45pm PST
How should i get in touch with you?

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Heather
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I usually come in right around 8, so I can do that tomorrow, no problem. Meet you here then. [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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Heather
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Just leaving some food for thought to start our conversation when you're here.

quote:
I think I feel like I need to say yes because I am afraid to lose what we have that's so good by putting my foot down. I've always been a bit of an absolute thinker and it's like I somehow believe that by drawing certain boundaries I will invalidate the other sexual things I have been fine with.

-I also fear that by saying no and getting emotionally, he will stop being able to objectify me in the way I do enjoy. Because of my relatively sexless marriage and then being with people in a purely physical way, I don't know what the middle ground is between being fully in and fully out of sexuality.

So, here's the thing about this stuff. You're not an object no matter what, you're a person. And if having some limits and boundaries, some things you say no to, means you don't get to be sexy to someone else anymore, then we can be sure your relationship with that person is very unhealthy, and not a good thing to stay in no matter how much you like the sex.

Now, I'm not saying this relationship is unhealthy, because it may well be, and probably is, that this notion that to be sexy, you have to be all-yes-all-the-time is only in your head, and isn't how your partner feels at all. It may even be that setting boundaries makes you *more* sexy to that person, for all we know.

I hear you in that you feel like you haven't experienced a middle ground: but that doesn't mean there isn't one, just that, so far, it's outside your experience.

Have you ever talked with your partner about these thoughts and feelings? If so, I'd be curious to know what his feedback was.

quote:
Part of me also sees his sexual expression as a way of opening up to me. I know it's hard to share these types of private things and indicates an intimacy so I don't want to penalize him from sharing with me or being part of his mental process.
I don't believe we penalize people for sharing fantasies or parts of their sexuality by not enacting all of what they fantasize about or want sexually with them. In other words, sex isn't a "reward" for sharing those things.

You're right, sharing those things with someone is part of sexual expression, but they are still shared whether or not you actively DO all that's shared with someone. If you listen to fantasies without judging or reacting with shaming, etc, then you're being respectful and making room and safe space for them to be shared. If any of this is also something you, yourself, want to do too, and these are things he wants to make realities, then yay. But it's also just as cool if you don't, and doesn't mean you're not accepting him or his sexuality.

Just that you are a different person than he is who doesn't have a carbon copy of his sexuality, you know?

--------------------
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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Phoenix2013
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Great, thanks [Smile] I will be in the office in 15 and will hop on to chat.
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Heather
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We don't run the chat on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Can we stick to the boards, instead?

If you feel very uncomfortable with that, I am able to make an exception today, so just let me know.

--------------------
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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Phoenix2013
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No problem at all. The boards are fine.

In response to the first thing, I'm pretty sure a lot of this *is* in my head. I've always tended to be a perfectionist and will see 1-2 instances of not being totally up for something or ready to take something on as a poor reflection on me. Somehow I'm convinced, I guess, that there is some ideal I can reach even though I'm sure no one does.

Regarding the sharing thing, it makes sense that you can listen/understand without doing but I guess my issue was that I didn't know how to handle that when it come up in the moment because outside of initially agreeing to the porn, it wasn't really about "doing" something but more about feeling like I had to have the "right" response. In fact, both times he's brought this up, he kept asking me if it turned me on. I initially hesitated but then said yes. With both the initial porn request and then the sharing of the fantasies, what would be the best way to handle those things in the moment to strike a balance between non-judgment and setting boundaries for myself? Should we talk about it before?

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Heather
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With the latter paragraph, it sounds to me like a talk that might be good for you both around this is to say -- this is how it sounds to me, obviously I might be off -- that when asked again and again if it turned you on, you wound up feeling like "yes" was the only acceptable answer.

You can point out that you accept parts of his sexuality even when they don't turn you on, and want to make sure there's room for that, with both of you.

Obviously, it also sounds to me like you very much need to have some talks where you mention the things you have here, including concerns there are 'right" responses, be they to feelings about a fantasy or sexual requests. You can make clear that you, personally, have trouble feeling like you're allowed to have things you don't want to do or don't like, and worries that when that's the case, you'll somehow be found less sexually appealing. So, you might need a little extra allowance made, while you get better at that, for some limits and boundaries, for the room to say no.

If it makes you feel better, even though I don't think it's necessary, you can make clear that not wanting to do something or not being turned on by something isn't a judgment of that thing, it's just you being a different person than he is. In other words, just like he likely isn't turned on by every single sexual fantasy you might have, or will want to do every sexual thing you do, and that doesn't mean he's judging you, the same goes here.

How about we talk a little bit about this idea of the ideal you feel no one reaches?

Is this ideal you have an idea about that a sexual "ideal" is someone who only says yes to anything sexual someone wants, all the time? A yes man who also has no strongly emotional responses?

[ 04-24-2013, 10:26 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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

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Phoenix2013
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I think that approach makes a lot of sense. I also think I am trying to figure out what actually gets me going or fits within my own sexuality and that gets more complicated when I don't feel that I have the liberty to say no or set my own boundaries. And while I am certainly more open to being submissive and more "pornographic" than I used to be - and enjoy that most of the time - I honestly don't feel that comfortable with very explicit images that showcase the woman only taking it or not necessarily being a willing participant, at least not in the style that it's typically done. That doesn't mean I don't like submission but I like to see power dynamics at play and interaction and a more human perspective. Maybe it's bothering me that that difference exists (although understandable maybe given gender) and I don't know how to express that.

I remember at the beginning when we first started dating, we talked on the phone when I was away and he told me that he was so into me that he "started to watch porn and couldn't get into it." That has stuck with me because it made me feel on a high of being an ideal for someone and it's almost like I've been trying to be everything since so that I can maintain that feeling of being all someone wants (a turn-on to me, as I mentioned before). His private porn habits since (which have of course continued) have bothered me a little bit, but bringing that into our shared experiences was a big trigger for me.

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Heather
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So, sounds like some of this is perhaps about some checking-in per updates to what you've been figuring out does and doesn't work for you, too.

And that kind of ongoing communication is a given for pretty much everyone, since our sexualities will rarely stay the same for all of our lives, or even though one relationship. It's also really vital in healthy sexual relationships.

Certainly, perfectionism is likely to make being someone's "ideal" pretty appealing, I imagine. I wonder if it might not hep to let go of some of that?

In other words, in reality, that's far more a fantasy than something real, about real people. It's not actually something someone can fit in a big way, though for sure, sometimes you may fit it for a given person at a given time. But really, no one person can be all-someone-wants in the way you're talking about, and that's not really a bad thing, because that's kind of a humanity-denying idea, especially since people don't stay the same, nor do sexualities, and you're a whole person, not an item on a menu, if you catch my drift.

How about seeing if you can't shift from the idea of being all-he-wants to being WHO he wants, as the whole person you are, including when you don't like the same things he does, or aren't turned on by the same things?

I mean, really, he already has that person: himself. If he just wanted an exact replica of himself, I don't imagine he'd be with you at all, you know?

--------------------
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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Phoenix2013
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I like the idea of shifting the focus to being the person he wants instead of being everything. I think that's something I tend to do in a lot of aspects of my life.

Two specific follow-up questions:
1. In the moment, what would be the best way to respond to his questions/requests/fantasies with firmness but respect? It's hard to do that in the emotion/frenzy of sex.
2. What is the best way to start the conversation now about what happened before/what I want from sex?

Thank you, Heather [Smile]

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Heather
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By all means, perfectionism is a freaking killer, isn't it? If it helps, it's been something I've struggled with for a lot of my life, working hard to make progress on. It's taken a lot of time and effort, but it is something you can learn to let go of more in time.

Per the floow-ups:

1. Some people who find that tough for them seem to find that suggesting something else -- when they would want to do something else -- works well for them. A la, "I'm not really feeling that, but what do you say we try this?"

But if the answer is really that you don't want to do anything -- like that night you really just wanted to chill out and snuggle -- I'd say it's just about making yourself practice. There was no frenzy there, mind, but even if there had been, you just kind of buck it up and say the hard/challenging/awkward thing. the more you do it, the less hard or uncomfortable it'll tend to get.

2. I think just saying. "Hey, I have some things I want to talk about regarding our sex life: when can you make some time for us to sit down and talk?" should suffice, no? And when you do that, you can go ahead and pick settings you know tend to provide you what you need for challenging conversations, even times of day, if there's one time that feels easier for you than others.

--------------------
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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And you're so welcome: I'm very happy to be of help. [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

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

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