Donate Now
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Sexual relationship, disability, body confidence, enthusiastic consent, esteem (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Sexual relationship, disability, body confidence, enthusiastic consent, esteem
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Scarleteen,

This is my first post, but I've been reading for some time, and I'm a huge fan. I'm writing because I don't know anyone or anywhere else where I would get good advice on what I need. I hope this board is an ok place for this post, as it's not really "basic"; it seemed the best fit. From what I've read, I'm hoping that especially Heather will have some useful thoughts, but I'd welcome thoughts from anyone who thought they could be useful.

This post will be pretty long, because there's a lot of complexity around the situation. Thanks for bearing with me!

My partner and I have ongoing difficulties with our sexual relationship. It's even hard to pinpoint exactly what those difficulties are, but I'll try to describe them. I seem to be more invested in sex, and more often, than he. I feel insecure about putting sex on the table in the moment, although it's fine as a hypothetical or a planned thing. I do struggle a little with the possibility of being rejected, but mostly I'm concerned that he will feel pressured into something or will get some kind of subconscious message that sex is more important to me than other things in our relationship. It isn't! Sex is hugely important to me, but what I have found in my relationship with him is a personal, emotional and intellectual relationship that I've never experienced before and that I am amazed by. It is so important to me that our relationship has this incredible closeness which is totally separate from sex, and that he experiences me (when sex is not relevant) as an amazing, interesting person in a completely non-sexual way. As a woman, I find this complete lack of sexualisation by a man refreshing and completely freeing.

It might help to fill you in on our backgrounds before anything else. My partner has a physical disability which, among other things, gives him a fairly obvious limp and makes him less walk-friendly then most people. He and I are both aware that this has shaped his attitude to his own body, and his sexual experiences. Not uncommonly (and rage-inducingly), he has experienced many negative attitudes, from the shockingly appalling to the more general de-masculinisation. I don't know how much he consciously noticed at the time, or remembers now, but his mother told me of times in his early teens when a teen girl would be talking to him interestedly while seated, and then he'd get up and she'd clearly lose interest.

My partner clearly describes being cut off from his own physicality and emotions, and that he became a "head" (as in thoughts, intellect) person, as that was the only place he could find where the world would value him. He didn't value his body at all. He tells me that a few years ago, he decided to take control, and so he took up a sport; and he enjoyed the feeling of having a body that could have aching muscles, that he could train to do something, that Could do something. He went from fairly unfit to quite fit, and lost weight (from chubby to fairly fit and approaching lean). He trained himself to interact with people more authentically and to dare to put his real personality out there (which always, always astounds me - how many people manage to make themself do that?).

Before this transformation, in his late teens, he had an experience with an aquaintance of his at a party. They were hooking up mildly, in bed (iirc) and she wanted to have sex. He wasn't sure what he wanted, but believed her to be very drunk, so declined. After that, he says she was very unpleasant to him and accused him of being frigid. I believe that that experience, on top of generally being overlooked by women because of his disability and his own self-image, had a considerable lasting effect on him. From my understanding of his narrations, it was years from then before he had any sexual contact much beyond kissing. And fairly little of that.

He describes a history of having strong feelings for women who seemed to like him, but when it came down to it, didn't really see him as a remotely potential partner. Some of these women deliberately or accidentally used him. He describes a history of feeling angry and rejected that no woman seemed to be interested. His close friends support that - it seems he was known for believing that he would never meet anyone. He had sex for the first time in mid-late 20s, with a woman he liked, but who was in a problematic supposedly open relationship that she Did Not Tell Him About beforehand. Around 2 years later, that same woman, then single, subjected him to emotional abuse for several weeks when he visited her in a relationship-y context.

He describes deciding at that point that he would rather be alone than ill-treated and that he would no longer expect anyone, generally or specific, to like/love him or want to be with him, and that any woman who seemed to want him would have to Really want him. Barely 5/6 weeks after that final experience, he met me.

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I believe I've dealt with it as much as anyone can, but it remains a part of my history that shapes some of my reactions and feelings. I also had an extremely bad experience with a long-term relationship; that guy, I am sure, did not want to be with me for the last several years, but prefered "girlfriend" over "no girlfriend". I knew that something was wrong, but we'd promised to be open and honest with each other, and he would never say that anything basic was wrong, so all I could conclude was that everything about me was wrong - and I didn't even realise I thought that. I became diminished in every way and lost my real hopes and dreams. One of the worst things was, when I finally realised what the real answer to all the oddness was, it was clear to me that many times when I'd made a sexual approach he hadn't been all that into it, but had agreed just because (easier than saying no? "Men always want sex"? Wanting/thinking he should give me what I wanted? "It's sex, so what the hell, the sex bit will be fun/ok"?). I'd believed he Loved me and had sex in that belief; and finding out that that wasn't true, I felt abused, and worse, like I'd offered myself up for abuse. (That doesn't make a lot of sense to many people, but I know it's very grounded in my experiences as a survivor.) Basically, I just needed the truth, so I could base my own decisions on something real.

I've done a lot of reading around Survivor issues, so I'm pretty aware. My partner and I are also both huge believers in enthusiastic consent, and that is how we approach our relationship. We communicate and negotiate a lot about everything, and are happy that way. I used my awareness of people's reactions to sexual trauma in how I approached my partner with his difficulties.

He isn't very confident about sex or himself as a sexual being. In many ways, he's still getting in touch with the concept of his body being a source of pleasure. The emotionally abusive woman told him that he wasn't very good in bed and that no-one would want to sleep with him. I'm So Angry about that, because it was the last thing he needed, on top of all the history. We've talked about it, and I've told him that I don't believe in the concept of "good in bed". He believes me, but still has concerns and insecurities. I've had considerably more partners, and very many more sexual experiences, than he has. I'm also very self-determined and self-possessed about sex, and he's said that he can find that a bit intimidating. I'm only so self-determined because I've done a massive amount of work on myself, as my take on sex was really messed up. He knows and admires that, and knows that it actually means I can understand well where he's coming from.

If/when I initiate/suggest sex out of the blue, he usually cannot respond very well. He's not very clear about exactly what is going on for him in those times. He doesn't usually give a clear but gentle "no", but seems to slightly go along with the beginnings of it while seeming to really block me and keep me distant. I "read" people very well, very reliably, so I am very aware that something is not right. I never know what to do because in those times he is impossible to "read", and then when we talk about it, it's because he doesn't know what he wants. I find this situation incredibly difficult, because I cannot contine, because when I pick up any kind of doubt whatsoever, that meets my definition of non-consensual; and yet I find it impossible to be the one calling things off, again, when it's me who wants it so much and I'm basically guessing what someone else wants/needs. He says that he feels as if sex is being demanded/expected of him, even though he knows I'm not, and thinks it's something to do with needing more control of the situation. I don't know how to help him get that, though: we are very, very clear that "no" is absolutely ok at any time, and that sex is only good if everyone involved is into it. I Want him to say "no" to me; I want him to feel ok saying "no" to me. I might feel a bit sexually frustrated or rejected, but we are very clear that those are never reasons not to say "no"!

The thing is, he also says that he likes it when I initiate. I think he's still less clear about how to recognise to himself that he'd like sex and that that's ok, and put it into action, and that sometimes things are easier for him if I do more of the "work". Sometimes he doesn't realise that he'd like sex unless I put it on the table, and then he realises he would. And me - I have to be able to ask. I'm a very expressive person, and I need to be able to air my thoughts and wishes. There is no set of rules about when it works and when it doesn't - and I've looked. We've talked about trying to work this out, and he hasn't identified any set of rules that would make it ok/not ok to ask. I can't guess! That would make me unhappy and paranoid (and be a major trigger to something damaging in my history).

There are a few obvious basics - he's not into it late at night when he needs to get up the next day. I respect that. Originally, I took it as a blanket rule - not into late sex. But then, a couple of times, he Was into it, and it took us blooming ages to get there, because I wasn't imagining for a moment that that was on the cards, and he's not very forward. So it ended up being ridiculously late, which isn't ideal for anyone. So then I refined the rule, and put it on the table later one night when there wasn't an early morning - to find that he was bothered that I was suggesting it late at night. I can't read his mind, and nor does he believe I should have to - he just has this response. I would be ok with him having complex needs and working round those, but I need a framework to work with. I feel like the goalposts are both moving and invisible. And it really hurts because it's immensely difficult for me to be part of something that is not sexually a-ok for someone.

I'm also having some difficulty because manual and oral sex on me from him doesn't feel as good as I know it can, but I don't know how to communicate what I'd like. That's not a problem I have generally, with other partners. Or rather, I experience it as a personal challenge, but one that I can deal with. With oral sex, I don't even know what exactly it is that I like, as naturally, I've never been the one doing it on myself! I'm also worried about upsetting his fragile sexual self-esteem. Part of that is My problem, with an inbuilt fear that a person I told wasn't meeting my needs would be angry with me and then it would create more problems. My partner has shown consistent evidence that he puts my well-being over his own ego. But he is aware that I don't get what I could out of those things, and we've shown a marked tendency to avoid them. Him, I guess because he doesn't want to feel like he's not very good, and me, because I find it physically frustrating. And we would both enjoy the actual acts! The other difficulty is that he has back and neck problems as part of his disability and often has pain when not long into giving me oral sex. I would be more than happy to experiment with different positions, and often think at the beginning that he looks like he's going to be uncomfortable, but he says he's ok - and then he has pain. I don't want to tell someone what to do with their own body, as I'm not in that body. How do I help him become more aware of his own body?

I don't know what to do. I end up feeling frustrated and insecure and on edge, and that's not ok. It's also not ok that he feels bothered by anything. We both want to change this, but neither of us knows quite where to go with it. I felt very strongly that we need some help and that if we discuss it with no new leads we're going to end up hurting each other.

It's frustrating in a different way, too, because I absolutely know that we have an incredible physical/sexual connection, and somewhere, we have a great potential sex life.

I double- and triple-checked with my partner that it was ok to post these personal things about him, and he was fully in agreement, so long as it was anonymous and that other people involved were not identifiable. He was fully behind trying to get us some advice; we've both said we're committed to working this out.

Thank you for reading all of this.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Stephanie_1     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Redskies: Welcome to Scarleteen.

I know I'm not Heather, but hopefully can get the ball rolling for you on working through some of what's happening.

First thing’s first – has your partner sought out any type of counseling in the past to help him worth through some of the feelings he’s having about his disability – and especially in terms of how other people’s reactions and interactions with him make him feel? If not, it’s often a good idea when wanting to work through such honestly tough self-image issues to have someone there that can help you along with this process. With this, someone that knows us and cares as deeply about us as you obviously do, isn’t always the best person for this. It gives us the ability to chalk what they say up to their care for us rather than the fact that what the person is saying is true and valid.

Something I’m also noticing from what you’ve said here is that you’re having some trouble finding ways to talk openly and honestly about sex. IE Him being able to really describe his feelings on different aspects of your sexual relationship with you, and you not knowing or being comfortable with exactly how to talk with him about what is feeling good and working best for you – as well as finding solutions to what’s not working as well without feeling like you’re hurting him (and I’m guessing some of this stems from the fact that you know how other people have hurt him in the past). Can I ask how often you both do talk openly about your sexual relationship? When you do, how do the conversations go? Are you both talking during them? Asking questions, and finding yourselves able to answer them?

One thing I would suggest is you both working on having these conversations. Remembering throughout that these conversations are supposed to help you both learn about one another – and in doing so also learning more about yourselves. One of the first talks that needs to really occur is then “when” of sex. For instance, when each of you is okay with sex being asked for, and when you’re not. Whether late at night works for you, or if you’d rather not begin sex when you know you have to work or be up early. How you both feel about asking the other to have sex, and how to become more comfortable bringing this up.

I also see you saying you’re worried about sex pushing limits for your partner – such in a way that he’s sore with certain types of sex or in certain positions. Have you spoken with him about this when you’re not having or getting ready to have sex? If not, that’s something you want to do. His discomfort plays a role in your comfort as well. With any partner there’s learning that comes in – with what feels good and doesn’t. What works and what doesn’t. It’s important to be able to talk about these aspects of sex openly without anyone’s feelings being hurt. As well, it can be helpful to find ways to talk and communicate during sex.

Trying different positions etc, and letting a partner know throughout what’s feeling good or not so it. It’s how we find how sex works best between partners (and it’s never the same from one person to another). It can also help you both find if things may work with what you both like where sex will feel better for you both. Going to add a couple of articles here for you, then if you want to continue chatting after reading through them we’d be glad to.

Be A Blabbermouth! The Whys, Whats and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner
Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent
Disability Dharma: What Including & Learning From Disability Can Teach (Everyone) About Sex
No Big Deal: Sex & Disability

--------------------
"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Stephanie,

thanks for replying to me. I'd already read the articles you linked quite some time ago (said I was a huge fan [Smile] ) but I'd be daft to ask for advice and then not act on what's given, so I read them again.

My partner's never had counseling. With the rest of his life, he seems pretty strong in himself, and tells people where to go if they're messed up about his disability. Not that I'm saying that everything's all fine and easy, just that he seems to have himself pretty together about it. He's generally very disability-aware and very into disability justice. For my partner, it really seems to be around intimacy and sex that the world's negative reactions to his disability seem to impact.

I would very much like to get creative about finding ways with oral sex on me that won't cause him pain. I have disabilities myself, am very into disability justice, and comfortable being adaptable and no-hassle about people's needs. It's just that, if he Says he's ok and that he'll be ok when we're starting something, it really doesn't feel ok for me to tell him that he won't be, when it's his body we're talking about. It's totally not ok to seem like we know more about someone's body/condition then they do, and that's a situation folk with disabilities get too often. Do you see what I mean?

My partner and I do talk about sex and our sexual relationship a lot. Frankly, we both have so much baggage that there's just no way it could happen without that communication. Sometimes we talk about it while it's happening, to check/confirm/direct things; sometimes something happens that we then need to go to a conversation about; sometimes we talk about it in a non-sexual situation. Some of the things we've broached are probably usually considered challenging: for example, while we were getting to know each other, he told me that in his experiences with partnered sex, he ejaculated much, much sooner than he would have wanted to, and how he felt about that; during our relationship, I told him that sometimes in PV sex, I thought that his penis wasn't fully erect, and that that had an effect on my sensation. We talked about those things and others very supportively, with the aim of working them out, which I think we've been very successful at.

We've talked about times, for example, and I have a good handle on "no sex late when getting up early". I was trying to say that we've talked a number of times about when it would and wouldn't be ok for me to suggest sex, and in what way, and the problem is that he can't give me any real answers. I ask questions that I think might be relevant or might help to try to get us somewhere, and often, he just doesn't know.

One thing I do notice is that when talking about what we'd like, ranging from immediate to fantasy, I usually have more concrete thoughts than he does. He's also talked about thoughts and feelings around feeling like a male sexuality is bad - that comes from some feminist influences/thoughts gone wrong and working in different contexts with particularly women who have experienced some kind of male-perpetrated sexualised violence. I've encouraged him to experience his own sexuality and desires as he is ready to, and to witness that my own sexuality is very much me-driven, I'm totally into anything we do together, and that I enjoy being desired by him. I think there's been some progress there, as he seems more comfortable expressing that he'd like oral sex, and also more comfortable with the idea that it's not necessarily a man selfishly "taking" something from a woman. He wasn't comfortable feeling almost as if he was being serviced, so we talked about it a lot, and I described how I felt about it. I think it helped a lot that I said that I loved doing that sex act with him and experienced a huge desire to do it, which I haven't experienced with anyone else, and that the way it's framed in my mind is that it's my mouth round his penis, I'm so much in control of his experience and the sensations he has, subservience is about the furthest thing from my experience.

I think that we're very clued into enthusiastic consent. We both need this in order to feel like being sexual at all.

In terms of him communicating with me, the problem isn't that he can't tell me things, it's that he doesn't know them himself. Really, he's only started to get clued into himself as a sexual being since he met me. I totally understand that this is naturally a slow process, and I have no wish to rush him. I'm honoured to be part of that experience. The problem is that I need to know where the boundaries are, and he just doesn't know, and we're really struggling to work it out.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Stephanie_1     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Per the counseling idea, just remember there’s TONS of different reasons people go to counseling. So while others may need more focused attention to a disability as a whole, or a set of experiences from childhood that’s something thon a whole, etc. it’s perfectly okay to see someone about one specific area of life as well. So even if he’d consider seeing someone for a bit just to work through coming to terms with himself as a sexual person in a positive light, that’s totally okay too. That’s also something you can try little activities around together. IE – spending some time talking about what it is the other person does that works really well for you. A time when something clicked and you have a really fond memory of. It helps build confidences one experience at a time.

You know, one big part of being sexual with someone is also being honest about ourselves and our limits. So that’s something he needs to work on, both on his own and with you. But where I said about trying things that may not make him sore, that’s something that you should be talking about in those conversations you have about what’s working and what may change to make things work better. You could delicately let him know you noticed last time you tried something he was sore after, and what position you’d like to try to alleviate some of that pressure/pain. Also though? If you’re worried about how to put it right away, you may just mention before starting any kind of sex what you want to try (something you think may not make him as sore) and if it doesn’t can just mention you noticed he wasn’t sore afterwards. It’s one of those ways that we help take care of partners and their feelings. And works out all the better if it makes oral sex better for you as well.

It’s good to hear that you’re finding you are able to talk both in and out of sex about sex. Something I would suggest is seeing if he’d be interested in really seeing where feminism comes from, and reading through some articles here if he hasn’t. Being you’ve read the articles as a means to help make sex better for both of you, it may also be helpful for him to read some of the articles that helped you most. It may also help him to better understand how mislead the women who have influenced his thinking really were on feminism. After all, feminism is about empowering and helping women, and not about down trotting and breaking apart men. We also have articles that focus on sharing pleasure, how sex is about pleasure, dealing through any feelings we have after, etc.

Per boundaries being a tough hurdle right now, a lot of boundaries come about from those experiences, which you’re finding they are here. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but it’s really okay to not always know. Something you may find works is bringing up things you’ve thought about (even only slightly thought about or those thoughts that seem way out there) and talking them over. Is it something he would consider, or something that just not sounding him. Sometimes focusing on those types of moments brings about thoughts you may not know the answers to originally. Also, as I’m sure you know with your enthusiastic consent rules – if something just not feeling right at any time it’s totally okay to say so and change to something that does. And that’s a matter of continuing to work with him on being able to be open and honest about his feelings in the moment (so as not to find out times later that something like asking for sex later isn’t okay with him). Part of this is going to be a step-by-step process, and it can be frustrating every once in a while as you work on finding and setting those boundaries. A lot of this is going to come in encouraging him to speak his mind, even when it seems small or inconsequential. It will help him begin setting those boundaries more freely as he understands what he is and is not okay with.

--------------------
"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Perhaps I didn't explain something well enough - my partner is very familiar with feminism of all stripes, is a little bit activist about it, and has it as a major academic research interest. He loves feminism and is really vocal about what it has to offer men (particularly men who don't fit the " stereotypical ideal version of a man" picture. I meant that I think that repeated narratives of a selfish male sexuality harming women (which there are too many of in this world) had an effect on the frame in which he thought about male sexuality and desire.

Regarding the idea of counseling - believe me, he and I are very aware of the many situations in which it can be a very good thing, and are very pro. Of course it's Possibly a thing that could be helpful for him, or us, but I think we're still at the place where we're trying to identify what's going on and if it would actually be beneficial. Whether we can sort this out ourselves or whether we really need that help.

We do talk about positive experiences of and with each other, and that's definitely helped.

I do know what you mean about talking about positions that wouldn't give him pain away from the situation. I've just shied away from it because I know that talking about that sex act will make him feel insecure and a bit inadequate (I've picked that up when we've talked previously). That part's on me for not getting it together enough to go for it anyway, but I'm doing my best here. I don't deal very well with discussions where there's even a hint of defensiveness from the other person.

I do talk about some/many of the things I think about, and he says that he'd potentially be up for trying them sometime, but isn't really sure either way. I'm not usually ok with doing something that a partner of mine isn't really sure about, because that doesn't meet my standard of enthusiastic consent - if someone's not clearly a "yes" - including a "yes, I definitely want to try this, even though I don't know how it will go/might want to stop/am even a bit scared" - then it's no-go. It totally disturbs me. I need a partner of mine to know that they want to do/try something.

I know that it's ok not to know where boundaries are, and that one learns as one goes along. I always encourage him to speak his mind. I know various exercises that can help survivors get more in touch with their bodies and wishes, and put little bits of those in in a very informal way (because I didn't want to make it into some big thing - I think that would be his choice to make, not mine). Generally, there is progress, and that's great. But we have a problem, and we don't know how to tackle it, and it's becoming one of those things that gradually grows up and eventually starts damaging a relationship. We're trying to catch it before it does damage. We both know the difference between something being a long road and something that keeps repeating that one doesn't know how to change.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 36725

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Stephanie_1     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
“I meant that I think that repeated narratives of a selfish male sexuality harming women (which there are too many of in this world) had an effect on the frame in which he thought about male sexuality and desire.” This is why I’m suggesting he seek some outside help. There’s a lot that one can do to begin working through these experiences, but so often also a roadblock that is hit – which is what sounds like it happening here. I also think as a couple that may be helpful to look into together.

One thing I will say about everything I’ve read here is that I see you saying you talk a good bit, but I don’t see a lot of conversation happening. What I mean by this is that A) A lot of the talking seems to be a bit one-sided. As in you start the conversation and are expecting certain responses from him that he either can’t give because he doesn’t know an answer or isn’t likely to give just because of where he’s at right now. In this comes the fact that you’re looking for enthusiastic consent (which is great) but then not being comfortable because he seems unsure. It’s totally normal to be unsure about something before you try it. There’s ALWAYS the understanding that if it doesn’t feel good emotionally or physically it can end – but he may very well not be sure about things unless/until he does try them. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it doesn’t mean a lack of consent.

There will be things in life we’ll just never do or want to do. There’s things we’ve always wanted to try. Then there’s things that we’d be okay with but are unsure of or shaky on. A lot of people feel that way about different aspects of sex. Things do induce nervous feelings when they’re new though, so don’t think it’s always a lack of consent just being unsure. But I also see a lot in the way of asking questions and expecting answers he doesn’t or can’t have right now.

B) I see you saying things like you’re shying away from speaking up about concerns because you’re worried about his feelings and how emotionally he’ll take these things. As well as not speaking up when you notice he’s sore or not taking care of himself and his needs per feeling good throughout and after. It’s never a fun easy part of a relationship, especially a sexual relationship where there’s baggage being brought into the relationship (for use of a better word) that has already done a lot in the way of hurting the person. But his reaction while may be hurt to some extent – really shouldn’t be defensive. And should it be, you need to know that you can and how to handle that reaction (because sometimes hurt does bring defensiveness).

I also see some of these quickly becoming the elephant in the room (like where you’re talking about boundaries in your last paragraph.) You know it’s there... and you don’t know what to do about it. So you do what seems like the logical thing, you ignore it and hope it finds its own way out. Talk about the drapes, the sofa, even the knickknacks – but ignore the elephant completely.

So one thing I will make the suggestion on is working on the communication – not just the talking – before you’re actually going to act on what’s being discussed. So considering putting sex to the side right now as you work on that communication (and especially being able to talk about those tough and rocky subjects) because it sounds like as you’re tiptoeing around things (like that elephant) the problems become worse, more obvious, and more frequent.

[ 09-20-2011, 09:51 PM: Message edited by: Stephanie_1 ]

--------------------
"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3429 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Woah there. I really have to say, right away. Something you said is just not true. When he expresses that he's in pain, or not comfortable, I act on it right away and ask him what he needs. When I think that he doesn't Look comfortable, or like it's a position that will still be ok in 5 minutes, I ask him - are you sure that's ok for you? I don't care about fun or easy, I want him to be healthy, happy and secure, and I'll do whatever is necessary for that.

Also, communication generally in our relationship is extremely good.

If he isn't sure whether or not he wants to try something, how on earth can that be enthusiastic consent? Unsure about the thing itself - sure, no problem. Unsure about trying it - not enthusiastic consent. Not consent of any description, in my book.

It probably sounds like I'm talking more, partly because I have more concrete things to say, and partly because I'm the one writing here, and I can only describe my take on things, not his. I'm always interested in his take on things and his experiences. I also don't push him for answers he hasn't got. I don't expect him to know things he just doesn't know - that would be silly.

We have talked about this. It's not an elephant in the room, because we acknowledge it's there and try to figure out what to do about it. We just draw a blank.

Someone being defensive with me is something I struggle with, for very good past reason. I wasn't saying "he is defensive, and that is bad"; I was saying "I don't cope very well with a hint of defensiveness. That doesn't help the situation, and is another thing we need to try to figure out what to do about. He can't help the hint of defensiveness any more than I can help not dealing with it well, and neither is bad; they just don't work very well together."

Maybe I'm explaining myself here very, very badly. I do appreciate you taking the time, really I do, but I'm feeling like we're not grasping each other properly.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Also - I'm not causing him to be in pain. As I can't find a way of broaching the subject to ensure that he wouldn't experience pain, or at least start a journey to figuring it out, I do not ask for or suggest oral sex on me. Hasn't happened for some considerable time. I am not standing/sitting/lying by while my partner is in pain.

We Do talk about tough and rocky subjects. Frequently. Including ones where one of us (and yes, which one changes) needs to and does say things that the other finds hard to hear. Including ones where one of us has to say things that are hard to say.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Karybu
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 20094

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Karybu     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Redskies, I hope you're okay with someone else jumping in here.

I have to say, I've read through your initial post and the subsequent conversation you and Stephanie have been having, and while I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the issues you're tackling in your relationship, I'm still not clear on what exactly it is that you need from us/came here wanting help with specifically. (I am fully aware that I may be missing something really obvious here, and if that's the case, I apologise, but I am at a bit of a loss as to what exactly you're asking for.)

For the record, from what I've read I think some couples counseling would be really benefit the both of you: you have some problems that you know are problems but don't know how to deal with, and other things that aren't so defined but may still be problematic, and a good counselor will be able to help you work through issues in both of those categories. Both of you are bringing quite a lot to the table in terms of - for lack of a better word - baggage, and someone who can get some productive discussions going between the two of you, be able to talk to you both together, and make suggestions based on those conversations would likely be incredibly helpful.

In addition, I'm going to second Stephanie's suggestion that you take any kind of sex off the table for now. I hear you saying that you feel the two of you could have a really good sex life together, and I agree, but it's pretty obvious from where I'm standing that you've got some work to do before that can happen. The impression I'm getting is that sex isn't something either one of you feels 100% great about right at the moment, and continuing to try and make it work is likely just going to result in frustration on your part (and probably his as well).

Does that help at all?

--------------------
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

Posts: 5799 | From: Canada/Australia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've been away for a few days, so sorry to have missed this, though Stephanie and Karyn have, IMO, done an excellent job with it.

One thing I'd add to all of this is that given your partner okayed these posts, has he also read them? If so, have you been having conversations about what you have been posting? How have those gone?

If he hasn't read them, might you share him with them? They seem like truly excellent starting points for you as a couple to get a start on having some of the conversations that clearly feel so difficult to have so far.

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Karybu, thank you for writing.

Heather, I'm so sorry about your cat. I hope you, your partner and your pug all have what you need to deal with your loss.

Heather, I'd just really like to say that I've read quite a bit of what you've written on this site, including some personal pieces and things about your history, and I think you're incredible. I think that what you do with sex education, and support, here and elsewhere is amazing. I admire your conviction, dedication, generosity and wisdom.

My partner had work/study committments over the last few days that meant he couldn't read this, but he knows it's here.

I'm sorry I was unclear. I think what I'm asking about is:
-that I find the dichotomy in my partner of him needing to feel more control sometimes while often wanting to put more of the control in my court so that he doesn't feel so insecure, and not being able to know in advance which, difficult to deal with. How can I deal with that better, and how can I help him be more comfortable, and how can we set things up so that he can identify what's going on for him and communicate it to me Before he gets a bit worried and shuts down a bit.

-suggestions for how he might feel more secure in his own body and sexuality, and how I can help with that

-I know of resources/groups to do with women with disabilities and body image, and I wondered if there were any for a gender-mixed group, or men? I don't know whether my partner would be interested, but I thought it might be something to explore

-how can he and I talk about oral sex on me without activating his insecurity and my not dealing well with defensiveness in a way that is unhelpful to what we're trying to achieve.

I don't think there's much, if anything, that I've written so far that he doesn't already know. We have had conversations about these things, sometimes quite a few, but we haven't managed to resolve them or find a game plan for resolving them.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for such lovely wishes and such lovely compliments. [Smile]

I'm heading out for the day, but am happy to pitch in on this.

One thing I feel like I'd need to know and don't to help best is to understand why -- if I'm getting this right -- you want to avoid triggering feelings of insecurity in him. I mean, beyond the obvious. Sometimes we are going to feel insecure about the things we feel insecure about, and that can be okay: we can get through that, and perhaps get more secure in the process. Do you both feel okay about knowing that's just going to happen sometimes and that it can be okay, or not? How about you? Can you accept that at times he might feel insecure and that can be okay?

You also say he gets defensive when you communicate about what feels good to you with oral sex. If you two have talked about that, has he expressed that he feels able to have that kind of typical sexual communication without getting defensive?

I suppose I'd also be curious about what he did have to say or express when reading all of this.

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Why do I want to avoid triggering feelings of insecurity in him? Hm. I think there's quite a bit there.

- I'm ok with insecurity generally, eg if someone can say "I'm feeling insecure..."; not so good if the insecurity results in them shutting down a bit or not being able to communicate so well with me. One, that's not the easiest situation to have a conversation in, two, it's not nice for them to feel like that, three, I grew up with some emotional manipulation and having my feelings/needs as they related to specific people denied and turned round to how much I'd hurt Them and what a bad person I was. I know that that's something I don't need to fear in many situations now, but my inner emotional reaction to defensiveness is still quite strong.

-he has good reason to have insecurity issues, and I always want to be clear with how I am with him that I'm not like the previous women, to look after his emotional needs

-I recognise that there's an imbalance in how many sexual experiences he and I have, and how comfortable/confident we feel in our sexual selves. It's no problem to recognise that, but I don't want to go stomping over it in hobnail boots - that won't help make him feel more secure! I think sometimes he worries whether he's "good enough" for me, and I never want to send him the unintentional message that he's not.

When we've talked about us having difficulty being able to talk about oral sex on me, I think we came to the conclusion that him having a hint of defensiveness and my struggling with that were things that we just couldn't change. We accept those things about each other; what we haven't been able to figure out is how to have a constructive conversation through it. We've managed to have conversations about it that were understanding and supportive, but not to find a practical way forward.

Trying to pinpoint things as much as I can, it's not really his insecurity or uncertainty that I can't deal with (in terms of me initiating sex). It's the feeling that I'm somehow supposed to know what to do, to be able to find the right thing to do - when there is no way anyone could know that, because there's not the slightest sign, because he doesn't know himself. It would be ok if he said, "um, I really don't know what I want/how I feel right now...". What I can't deal with is feeling like I'm supposed to magically work out what's going on for him, how he feels, what he wants. That triggers very strong bad emotional memories for me, as I grew up with someone who expected me to work out what they thought was right, often with no leads and no predictability, and who was then unpleasant to me when I got it "wrong". He knows this, or at least, I Think I've managed to express it that clearly, but he doesn't know how he can feel more able in the times when it happens to communicate anything to me, even "I don't know".

To be clear, it's not like this every time. Less than half, perhaps less than a quarter. It's just that it's a really serious problem for me when it does happen, and the effect builds up for me.

I've tried to figure out what makes it happen some times and not others (including asking him), trying to establish if there's ways I shouldn't approach him, but he's not very sure, and I'm struggling to find any clear patterns myself.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That helps a lot, thanks.

Okay, with the way he tends to respond when his insecurities get triggered, what if you two made an agreement something like this: you both know that when that happens, he tends to shut down and get noncommunicative. So, you allow for that, accept that, but then make it a given that you'll always reconnect later -- be that an hour later, a day later, after a walk, whatever -- and THEN you will talk it through together.

How would you feel about something like that? How might he, if that sounds doable to you?

I'm not sure I understand why you're focusing on how you're different from his previous partners. Why not just act the way you do, and let the difference, where there is one, make itself clear?

It also sounds to me like you might be taking on more responsibility than is sound about how he feels about himself. It's very, very clear you are super-mindful of his feelings. He still may worry, around his own stuff, about, for instance, being "good enough" for you. I doubt you're sending him that message. So, why not just be the caring partner you already clearly are and let him experience those feelings when he does and work them through himself? One assumes if he ever wants your support in that, he'll ask for it, yes? Seems like he's got to know by now you're available for that.

quote:
Trying to pinpoint things as much as I can, it's not really his insecurity or uncertainty that I can't deal with (in terms of me initiating sex). It's the feeling that I'm somehow supposed to know what to do, to be able to find the right thing to do - when there is no way anyone could know that, because there's not the slightest sign, because he doesn't know himself. It would be ok if he said, "um, I really don't know what I want/how I feel right now...". What I can't deal with is feeling like I'm supposed to magically work out what's going on for him, how he feels, what he wants. That triggers very strong bad emotional memories for me, as I grew up with someone who expected me to work out what they thought was right, often with no leads and no predictability, and who was then unpleasant to me when I got it "wrong". He knows this, or at least, I Think I've managed to express it that clearly, but he doesn't know how he can feel more able in the times when it happens to communicate anything to me, even "I don't know".
Can you fill me in on how he has responded to this paragraph/these feelings of yours? or maybe try and make it make a bit more sense to me about how he doesn't know how he can say something like "I don't know?" I'm feeling a bit lost there.

With how things are going around the communications with receptive oral sex, when you say you can't find a practical way forward, do you mean that this hasn't improved for you because he hasn't done things like just tried to take your direction, rather than getting defensive, or that he just can't seem to bring himself to bypass his defensiveness and just follow your positive cues?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Heather, thank you so much for writing with me. It's a privilege.

I try to make sure that I am clearly different to his previous partners because that was something he needed on coming into the relationship: he needed to be sure with himself that it wasn't the same thing happening all over again and that a person was actually treating him well as opposed to just claiming she cared about him. I've tried to be very sure that my actions match my feelings. As you say elsewhere, though, because I Am different, there shouldn't be any need to deliberately show it. Hm. I don't know - I think it's important not to neglect the messages that I really mean just through carelessness.

Regarding communication about receptive oral sex, I think it hasn't improved because I just don't have a way of feeling able to give direction to someone who doesn't seem totally ok with that. It scares me and makes me feel sick (and that, I haven't said before). I believe that he would try to respond to my direction, even with feeling a bit defensive about it. I've been thinking that the way forward might involve us both tweaking our responses a bit to see if we can then find a place in the middle, but we haven't managed to figure out how to do that.

I think I don't want him to have to experience those feelings because I know how very tough he finds that (and I relate). I also carry old emotional fears about if I "cause" someone to be upset, they take it out on me in a large variety of unpleasant ways. I know my partner wouldn't do that, but the emotional fear is there. I'm also scared that if someone's upset and can't deal with it, even if they're not being unpleasant to me/blaming me, then the good thing we had will be gone, because they're unhappy.

The other things you asked, I think I might be more clear about with a bit more time, if that's ok.

I really hope it's ok for us to carry on talking? I'm feeling like we're beginning to get strands of the "how to get somewhere with this".

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You're so welcome: I'm so happy to help as I can.

Have you yet had some big conversations and brainstorming seesions about how he thinks you can give direction in a way he's okay with?

Perhaps a tougher question: have you talked about if it is even sound for both of you to be sexual together if one of you doesn't feel able to communicate with the other when things aren't feeling good? Because honestly, that concerns me, and that, to me, is often not a context for healthy sexual relationships that work. In healthy sexual relationships, we can communicate not just what feels great, but what doesn't feel so hot and how it could feel better.

In terms of feeling like you cause these upsets, I'm pretty sure I'm hearing you express that they mostly have to do with his own history, and not you. Do I have that right? If so, then you can know you aren't causing these insecurities.

To boot, this might sound silly and obvious, but we are going to be unhappy in life and in relationships sometimes. We are going to be and get upset. That's part of being close and experiencing things together. And if we're going to get close, that needs to be okay. Do you feel like you're able, at this point in your life and in this relationship, to have upset happen sometimes, accept it and work through it, together and alone? Is that a sense of security you yourself have at this point?

(And yep, happy to keep going with this as long as you need and find it useful! As well, with things I ask or put out there, you can always take as much time with them as 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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Heather, thank you so much for making me welcome.

One thing I can answer right away. I can completely see how from what I've written you'd be checking out whether this is a completely sound relationship right now. A thousand times, yes. For me just by myself, I'm kind of used to upset and trying to manage it. I'm actually in therapy at the moment for some specific things, a lot of which come into the whole "worried about not getting something someone's version of right". It's pretty tough and slow progress. Within this relationship, we've both had a number and range of tough times while we've been together, and we seem to be good for each other. I can tell my partner things that I can't manage to get out to anyone else for the life of me. I know that he really trusts me and is secure with me. I've been by his side when he's been upset about other things, and that's been fine for me. In terms of us being upset at each other, of course that's happened a small number of times, and we seem to have very challenging, honest and sensitive conversations to resolve it.

I think with me it's fairly specific versions of and expressions of upset that I find really difficult.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Firstly, I have a question. When he has time to read this, it's possible that my partner might want to post something too. I feel like that would be a positive thing, for him or for us, but right now I'm also feeling like I need this thread to be about me. Not that I don't want him to post on it at all, but that I feel like I need it as a space where I can take care of myself without concerning myself about taking care of him first. Would it be an option for him to start another thread, or would it be annoying to have two threads going about the same situation? If he posted, we would both read both threads, so no-one would have to repeat themself.

I've been thinking a bit. The way he responds to me at certain times, even though he Knows it's me, and different, it's like he's responding to the previous people. I understand why he has feelings about those situations, and that people can't help the way they feel, but it's not very good for me, and it's no wonder I'm trying to be so clear about being different.

When his insecurities are triggered in life generally, he tends to get a bit defensive. While that's not my favourite thing, I can deal with that. I think I just find it impossible when someone gets defensive about something I'm asking for for myself.

When he shuts down a bit because he's not sure what he wants, it's not like a complete shut-down - that, I would recognise and know what to do about. I find it really difficult to deal with because I can't tell what's going on. He's still involved in what's going on, there's just a subtle hint of something not quite being right. When we've talked about it afterwards, he's said he feels like something is being expected/demanded of him, even though he knows that I'm not doing that. I find it really difficult to clealrly identify that it's happening, let alone what to do about it, and I find that too hard. He's not completely clear about what's going on for him in those times or what we could do to make it different.

This conversation has given me the space I need to realise that I really can't deal with that situation. I've been trying to tell him that I'm not ok with it, but also trying to take care of him too, as he's obviously bothered when it's happened. I feel like when we've talked about it, any good that has come out of those conversations has been for him, and that my difficulty with the situation hasn't been helped at all. I want to say to him, "I know you're finding this tough, and I do want to take care of you, but I feel like you're noticing how it bothers you more than you're noticing me saying that it isn't ok for me. I understand where you're coming from, really I do, but I Cannot Have this situation any more, at all, because the way you're acting is TRIGGERING ME, and nothing that we're talking about so far is remotely helping me heal that. I've gradually been feeling less keen about having sex with you, and that's hardly surprising if I'm being triggered sometimes. I Really, Really don't want to be less keen about having sex with you, that hurts me; it's not a healthy thing for my own sexual being and attitudes, which you know I take care of fiercely."

That situation really, really hurts me. I've realised it has to be a hard limit for me. I just can't do it. Either he needs to not act like that, or we need not be in a situation where it could happen. I could deal with very many things, but not that.

I know that I don't really cause the upsets. It's just my own emotional baggage that makes me automatically wary of doing that.

I feel like we've not known how to get started on brainstorming sessions. Like maybe we're both a bit tender about it, and don't know how to get going. I think we both had a feeling that we maybe didn't know how to do that in a constructive way, so we shied away until we did.

The suggestion about taking some time out and then re-connecting - we kind of already do that, but the problem is, it's so unclear that that it's actually happening, I don't know when we need to do that, so I've already been hurt.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
By all means, it's fine for both of you to participate -- ideal, really! -- and however you want to work that is fine by me.

I'm just getting started here today, but once I get a little more coffee in my system, I'll dig into what you've posted here.

Do you want me to include some ideas about some practical ways you two might work on some of these things?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd welcome ideas from you, whenever it suits you.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm sorry for such crummy timing! I need to pack it in per direct service for the day, and Saturday is the day of the week I always try to give myself off.

So, I hope it's okay for me to come back to this Sunday. perhaps in the meantime your boyfriend could read through all of this so far and get started on his feelings? It'd be great to be able to see that before we go further, and would likely help me be able to give solutions most likely to be useful to you both.

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Heather, I hope you have a good day off. No worries about the timing, I'm not an urgent case [Smile] But thanks for letting me know.

I don't know when my partner will read all of this, as his work/study committments are still very extensive.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I appreciate your patience.

Maybe this is one of those places, per your partner, where you can take a step, tell him this is really important, and ask him to just take the hour, max, it would take him to read through this so that you can start to get the kind of attention from him with help you need it seems pretty clear to me you're giving to him?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't want to keep you when you said you need to go.

If it was a normal really busy schedule, I'd do that, but he's at conferences. My judgement is that he really can't take anything else on right now. I know that I can ask anything of him if I really need it, but right now I'm aware he's got almost nothing spare left for anything. I'm hoping the beginning of next week, but if not, definitely later next week, because I know that his schedule eases up a lot then. Of course I would rather it was sooner, but I don't think it can be helped.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's okay.

But how about you just ask, eh?

I do plenty of conferences too, mostly where I am also speaking and doing some kind of organizing on top of attending and having my presence of mind really matter to people. I know how busy that can be.

But I also know that when it's important, I can make time for the people I'm closest to in my life when they say they really need me to do something for them or when our relationship has a crisis going on.

That's not an "if he cares, he'll..." if you know what I mean. Rather, it's just a reminder to say that asking for something never takes anything but a few moments of someones time. If he really can't spare it, he really can't. But if you don't even ask, he doesn't get the chance or even know this is something you want and need.

In other words: no harm in asking, is all, right?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I completely see what you mean.

He's badly stressed by work and I didn't want to add to that by having him feel like he couldn't do something I was asking that was important to me, as it isn't essential. There have been times when I've really needed something right there and then and have asked.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
On Saturday, he seemed a lot happier and no longer stressed beyond his endurance level, so I mentioned it and asked him to read if he had time. When we spoke on Sunday eve, some way into the conversation he said he hadn't had time to read it, as he wanted to give it proper attention and not cram in a quick skim-read, and apologised for that. I said that if he'd read it, I would've known (because I'd been thinking that), and apparently that caught his curiosity because he immediately gave it a skim-read.

I don't quite know what to make of his reaction, because it was only a Very brief skim-read, so he won't have got everything from it, and I don't know what he has and hasn't got from it. The later stuff was obviously new to him. It was also late for him, so he didn't have a lot of brain-energy or time left, too.

I suppose his reaction was full of positive things. He was concerned that something like that was happening in our relationship and wants to work on it, he was open to examining his own behavior, and he wanted to have things better for me. The thing is, he's trained to examine his own perspective and behaviour, so that's what he automatically immediately does. If I talk to him about something else that's wrong for me, he's absolutely great. But involving/about him, especially this time, honestly, I feel like... I would've wanted 2 minutes just about Me, about me feeling the way I did. Particularly with me not having been able to put it out there before now, it felt important just to have a bit of time as care for me. It also seems a bit unfair/silly to say that, as his whole attention to the situation showed that he was taking plenty of care, but... I can't shake this feeling of needing something for Me, and not around the situation or him.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sorry to be AWOL yesterday: last year, I moved from the city to the middle of nowhere and when we get storms, sometimes we lose power.

Do you still want that list of ideas from me to start with?

In listening to what you have to say about the conversation yesterday, do you mean that what you needed was to hear your partner make some address as to how this is affecting YOU -- not him, not your relationship -- but just YOU? As in, "I'm so sorry to hear that you're feeling like this, how can I help you to feel better?"

If so, then do I have right that nothing like that was said?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Heather, no problem [Smile]

You have that right.

He got back to me today about it after reading it in detail, and I feel a lot better about that.

I know he's planning on putting something on the board as soon as he can. I'd really like your ideas - do you think that would be as helpful now, or better after you read something from him?

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Whatever you prefer, though knowing what he's thinking and feeling would probably make what I suggest more likely to be helpful.

So, with the way he responded and what you felt you needed and didn't get from him, did you say something about that? If so, how did he respond?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I tried to say something about it last night, but I didn't think he quite got what I meant - but it was late for him. He would've read my post from last night with all the others today, I guess. After I'd tried to say something once, I thought that we might end up just going round in circles and it was more likely to go better when it wasn't late and when he'd actually properly read it.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Okay, so maybe this is something you put a pin in for when you talk about this next?

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes. Overall, his response today was really positive and supportive.

(Also, I just wanted to say, I'm aware of another conversation that you've been having on the boards, and if I hadn't already thought a great deal of you, I would now. That must have been very tough.)

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh, I'm so glad to hear that.

(And you're so lovely! Also saw a couple posts you left to help other users: always appreciate that so much!)

--------------------
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
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks.

Something still doesn't feel quite right around the situation, but I'm hoping that might be helped by ideas you have. I'm a little conflicted about that, as I'd say that it makes more sense to wait until you have a handle on him, but at the same time it doesn't feel quite right to me that I'm waiting until he does something before I get something for me.

Away from the situation, just as people, what he wrote to me today was really, really good. He was really clear about just how much he appreciates me and my efforts around this, and that he's seeing how much care and patience I've had for him, and that he really cares about the effect it's had on me.

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3