I am currently working on getting over a break-up from a relationship that has left a generally unpleasant taste. Some of the things that happened, I know how to put into words (for example, my ex was unsupportive or worse of my mental health issues/depression including self harm and he was very inconsistant in his attention, some days we'd be happy, others he acted like he barely knew I existed). The things I can put into words are the ones that I can explain to the extend that I know why I didn't do anything about them (unawareness, depression) and how I would act if similar behaviour started in a future relationship (I'm much better mental health wise, raised awareness of what can be expected from a relationship). I think throughout the relationship, my depression meant that I was fairly spaced out/feeling blank/empty a lot of the time which didn't help anything.
However, there's still some things I cannot explain, why they happened, what happened... generally, things I'm confused about and before I can move on, I feel like I need to sort these things out. To summarize, essentially I feel like I was overly passive in sexual scenarios and unsure about what I wanted. I'm going to explain the various scenarios that arose to explain what I mean in more detail. If someone could help me find the words to deal with this and how to prevent it in the future, that would be awesome.
Background: My ex (m, mid 20s) and me (f, early 20s) were both virgins, however, I think he was a lot more eager to "loose it" than I was, has he had left a religious up bringing (the reason for his virginity) while for me, it just hadn't happened and I knew I essentially wanted to take it slow. We met at university and while I knew he was interested, I wasn't sure for a while so we got to know each other for a couple of months until we started dating.
When we first kissed, he'd walked me home after an event. We were both moderately to very tipsy. I didn't invite him in, merely said "this is me" and he asked so I said yes. We had a glass of water, he kissed me and kept saying how happy he was. His hands pretty quickly crept underneath my jumper. I kept thinking "if he moves under my tshirt, rather than over it, I'll say stop" "if he moves to my boobs, I'll say stop", "if he wants to undo my bra, I'll say stop" ... I never did say stop. I'd never even kissed anyone before and all I felt was ... nothing. He also kept asking to see my room in the house, the only think I ever said no to.
Generally, our pattern became making out on the sofa after watching a film. His hands would straight away go under my tshirt. After maybe three of four such dates, he started asking why I wasn't touching him. I was a bit surprised by the question and he genuinely sounded hurt. Considering I had my tshirt and bra pushed up to my neck, suddenly feeling bad about things isn't great. When I didn't really come up with anything, he simply took my hands and put them under his tshirt. All I could think of was ... "well, this is awkward". It became a thing for him to keep asking "why don't you touch me more" and generally it would involve him just putting my hands where he wanted them, including on his penis (above underwear).
Dry humping or making out without the whole groping thing was great though. I don't want to give the impression that the entire relationship was me just sat there like an idiot. The reason we never managed to talk about stuff is that all he could ever come up with is "why don't you do X for me" while he never seemed to properly listen to more complex reasons why I might not be ready (as it's not really that simple ... it's just something that ... is that way).
The first time we went below the belt, he was fingering me while I was still mostly dressed and I felt nothing but I figured it was a matter of practice. The first time I was naked (he was still wearing underwear) was another one of those situations where I kept thinking, "this is the last item I'm comfortable taking off", next item I'll stop him but never did. He ... put two fingers inside me. I must've been fairly wet as it only hurt because of the angle/depth. The next morning I felt really uncomfortable waking up nacked and the next day we tried talking about that (the one time I said something! Go me!) but even though he looked like he was listening, I doubt he was paying much attention because it was complicated (because I didn't and still don't know what my issue was) and all he said was that he thought I was really enjoying myself and was maybe ashamed (which I wasn't, shame is different ... I think?).
The first time we were both naked, was less than a week after we'd talked. I kept thinking that my limit was that one of us must still be wearing underwear but I didn't know how to explain why I thought that. He again put my hand down his trousers and said "you have to..." After a while we were both naked and but he quickly lost interest in what I was doing to him and started touching himself. When he was touching me, he also kept saying "I want to **** you". He had once before mentioned being more intimate but in different language. When I later admitted that I liked that thought, he'd not really replied. After that, he was always very crude about the possibility. I felt quite uncomfortable after he started saying that because while I didn't think he'd do it without asking first, I wasn't sure what I would say.
We never did have sex (yay!) and I'm feeling very distant from those encounters. However, I feel like I can't just use my mental health status to explain my behaviour because I did have thoughts, I just didn't act one them. I cannot seem to come up with any kind of narrative to help me make sense of what happened though. Am I over reacting?
Sorry, this got out of hand a little. Maybe I had to just get stuff off my chest. Anyway, it's summarized above anyway so I hope someone will be able to help because I don't want to get into a habit of "lying back and thinking of England" in these situations.
Posts: 1 | From: UK | Registered: Jan 2013
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I don't think you're overreacting at all here. It sounds like your boyfriend just did what he wanted to, didn't respect your detachment or your hesitation, and asked you to do things to him without being willing to engage in a real discussion with you about it. It worries me that you say he didn't pay attention to reasons you gave for not wanting to do certain things. Whether or not he liked your reasons, in a relationship it's important for people to listen to and above all respect the boundaries that their partners set. Honestly, your ex doesn't sound like a very respectful or safe person to be around, at least in regards to a sexual relationship, and it's probably good that you are no longer in a relationship with him. It was really not ok for him to put your hands where he wanted them and to put his fingers in you without you explicitly consenting.
It's ok to be uncertain as to what you want when potentially being sexual with a partner, especially when some of these experiences are new to you. Talking about these issues with a partner can be scary and awkward, but ultimately it's the only way you can be sexual or intimate together knowing you're both ok with the situation. Usually when people are a good fit in a relationship, are on friendly terms with each other, and already have a habit of communicating well with each other in general (not just in terms of sex), having those difficult conversations becomes easier. It sounds like your ex-boyfriend wasn't very respectful or supportive in various ways, so this may have been why you felt like it was difficult to be assertive during those moments, but the next time you date someone, I'd suggest you wait to be sexual with them until you feel comfortable having those conversations. I do think that being with someone who's more supportive overall will make it easier for you to talk to about all sorts of things, including sexual boundaries and expectations.
My hope is that the next time you're in a relationship with someone and you think "if he tries to put his hand under my shirt, I'll say stop," you can instead take a moment to say "this is great, but I'd rather you stay above my clothes right now," and you can continue with what you're doing without being distracted waiting for his hand to cross that line. Sex is a lot more fun when you can talk to your partner about boundaries and feel confident that they will be respected. And if you do tell a partner that, and he puts his hand under your shirt anyway? That's a great sign that this person is not safe to be around.
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