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Author Topic: Am I overreacting?
Elemint
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Member # 96252

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I've been going out with my girlfriend for about a year and a half and am about to be 21. Lately we've been talking about sex and she really wants to do it. I want to too, but I'm really anxious about it. I was raised by a single mother and one of my greatest fears is an accidental pregnancy and then having to make a choice between having a career/life and taking care of the kid working some job I don't want to. I guess it's more that I'm afraid I would choose otherwise if faced with the decision or that my own ambitions would be ruined and I would thus cause another child to grow up without a father doing everything they can for the kid. She seems to think this is pretty weird, despite knowing how I grew up, and I'm pretty paranoid about getting semen or anything on her or near her (we messed around once and that happened, although nowhere near where it would have to be, and I freaked out for weeks until her period thinking somehow it was on someones hand or something and our lives were ruined).

So, my question is...is this normal or is something wrong with me? I do want to have sex, but I'm terrified of even the possibility of pregnancy and I don't think it's worth it. She doesn't want to go on birth control pills (I would feel a little better wearing a condom and using birth control pills) and was insulted that I even brought that up. I feel really bad and I do care about her and want to be closer to her, but it's a really big fear of mine. She seems annoyed by it (one of her friends has done it recently) but says she doesn't want to pressure me. I have no problem saying no if I don't want to do it, I'm just afraid that I'll get caught up in the moment and do it and then totally freak out afterward so I'm a bit afraid to spend time with her in case it does happen. She seems kind of annoyed with me over it and because I've been dealing with health problems and getting over it and haven't been as sexual with her that also seems to be bothering her.

Thanks for any advice.

[ 08-31-2013, 02:15 AM: Message edited by: Elemint ]

Posts: 8 | Registered: Jul 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CSandSourpatch
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Hi Elemint,

First things first: Do not, under any circumstances, engage in anything that could cause a pregnancy until you feel comfortable with it and know that you could handle the consequences. Your fear is very real, even if other people don't understand it.

Second: The few people I know who have had unplanned (not to mention teenage) pregnancies have actually managed to achieve their ambitions, if after a bit of a delay. An unplanned and early pregnancy will not necessarily destroy your life, but it would take a lot of outside help and support to make your dreams happen. (That said, you don't want that to happen, and that's totally reasonable, so I refer you back to my first point.)

Third: Is your girlfriend in favor of eschewing all birth control, or is it just the pill/any hormonal contraceptive she doesn't want? If it's the latter, there are many non-hormonal forms of contraception that are quite effective when used properly (even more so if you're using two forms), but I've heard that using some non-hormonal methods can be tricky the first time or ten, just like anything we're new to doing. (Again, if you don't feel confident that these methods would be used properly, see my first point.)

Fourth: Your feelings are valid. (I think we covered that already.) But so are your girlfriend's. I'm sure you two have had very different life experiences. Have you actually sat down with her and laid out "This is why I don't feel comfortable doing X, Y, and Z", and listed the reasons? If not, it's a pretty good thing to do.

Fifth: It does sound like you may have a bit more anxiety than is healthy surrounding fear of causing pregnancy. Don't get me wrong: your fear is a real thing, and it is definitely possible in some cases, but if you find yourself worrying in scenarios that you know can't cause pregnancy, or after your girlfriend has clearly had a negative test or a period, I would suggest trying to get in touch with a counselor or therapist. As one who has had mild anxiety issues (though not surrounding pregnancy), it might not seem so bad when you're not super-anxious, but learning to cope such that you aren't so anxious all the time opens up a beautiful world. And, (I think we both know what's coming here...) until you sort out your anxiety, I refer you to my first point.

So, what can you do for your girlfriend in the mean time? Activities that don't cause pregnancy. Go out on a date to a park or a museum or a restaurant. Watch a movie. Choose from the sexual activities that can't cause pregnancy (that, again, you are comfortable with), and say "Stop" if you think things are getting too heated. In this case, there might not be much in the way of sexual activity, especially if you are worried about activities that can't cause pregnancy. In any case, you should communicate with your girlfriend your anxieties surrounding the issue. It sounds like she doesn't have these anxieties, and might be dismissive of them. In that case, you need to remind her that your fear is real to you, and she needs to respect that while you sort it out. If she can't accept that, it's your decision where to go from there, but if you are working on it, make it clear that you are doing so, and that it will take time.

Like I said, you are always free to say "I can't do this right now" and, if necessary, leave. If something feels wrong, do not continue to do it--that's a sure way to up your anxiety, as I'm sure you know by now.

I hope any/all of this helps.

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CSandSourpatch
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Hi Elemint,

First things first: Do not, under any circumstances, engage in anything that could cause a pregnancy until you feel comfortable with it and know that you could handle the consequences. Your fear is very real, even if other people don't understand it.

Second: The few people I know who have had unplanned (not to mention teenage) pregnancies have actually managed to achieve their ambitions, if after a bit of a delay. An unplanned and early pregnancy will not necessarily destroy your life, but it would take a lot of outside help and support to make your dreams happen. (That said, you don't want that to happen, and that's totally reasonable, so I refer you back to my first point.)

Third: Is your girlfriend in favor of eschewing all birth control, or is it just the pill/any hormonal contraceptive she doesn't want? If it's the latter, there are many non-hormonal forms of contraception that are quite effective when used properly (even more so if you're using two forms), but I've heard that using some non-hormonal methods can be tricky the first time or ten, just like anything we're new to doing. (Again, if you don't feel confident that these methods would be used properly, see my first point.)

Fourth: Your feelings are valid. (I think we covered that already.) But so are your girlfriend's. I'm sure you two have had very different life experiences. Have you actually sat down with her and laid out "This is why I don't feel comfortable doing X, Y, and Z", and listed the reasons? If not, it's a pretty good thing to do.

Fifth: It does sound like you may have a bit more anxiety than is healthy surrounding fear of causing pregnancy. Don't get me wrong: your fear is a real thing, and it is definitely possible in some cases, but if you find yourself worrying in scenarios that you know can't cause pregnancy, or after your girlfriend has clearly had a negative test or a period, I would suggest trying to get in touch with a counselor or therapist. As one who has had mild anxiety issues (though not surrounding pregnancy), it might not seem so bad when you're not super-anxious, but learning to cope such that you aren't so anxious all the time opens up a beautiful world. And, (I think we both know what's coming here...) until you sort out your anxiety, I refer you to my first point.

So, what can you do for your girlfriend in the mean time? Activities that don't cause pregnancy. Go out on a date to a park or a museum or a restaurant. Watch a movie. Choose from the sexual activities that can't cause pregnancy (that, again, you are comfortable with), and say "Stop" if you think things are getting too heated. In this case, there might not be much in the way of sexual activity, especially if you are worried about activities that can't cause pregnancy. In any case, you should communicate with your girlfriend your anxieties surrounding the issue. It sounds like she doesn't have these anxieties, and might be dismissive of them. In that case, you need to remind her that your fear is real to you, and she needs to respect that while you sort it out. If she can't accept that, it's your decision where to go from there, but if you are working on it, make it clear that you are doing so, and that it will take time.

Like I said, you are always free to say "I can't do this right now" and, if necessary, leave. If something feels wrong, do not continue to do it--that's a sure way to up your anxiety, as I'm sure you know by now.

I hope any/all of this helps.

Posts: 81 | Registered: Apr 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Molias
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Member # 101745

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Hi Elemint,

I like a lot of what CSandSourpatch said, but wanted to throw my own thoughts in as well. =)

You have every right to only have sex in ways that make you feel comfortable; if that means that intercourse isn't something you're comfortable with right now, that's absolutely ok. There are plenty of types of sex that don't carry pregnancy risks; if you aren't familiar with exactly what is and isn't a risk, you can check out a list of those things here: Can I Get Pregnant, or Get or Pass On an STI From That?

I would really highly recommend that you have a conversation with your girlfriend about exactly what kinds of sexual activities you currently feel comfortable with and enthusiastic about, and set boundaries around them; this might be helpful in dealing with your "caught up in the moment" worries. If you are both really clear about what kinds of sex are on the table, it's doing to be less likely that you'll step over that boundary. And if you feel like either she's pushing or you aren't able to hold yourself to what you've established, I think that might be a good sign that it's time to re-evaluate having sex at all for a little bit, while you get that sorted out.

I do want to note that condoms, when used properly, are quite effective on their own. If you aren't sure what proper use entails, we have some good intro articles about condoms: Condom Basics: A User's Manual and Condoms

To answer your final question: I don't think having worries about pregnancy means there's something wrong with you. It does sound like it might be helpful to make sure you're really familiar with how pregnancy can happen and maybe find other ways that you and your girlfriend can be sexual that don't feel as risky to you, but if you just don't feel like being sexual fits with your current anxiety level, that's ok.
It sounds like your partner's feeling upset that you aren't wanting to be as close to her right now because of these pregnancy fears; maybe you can talk with her about this and y'all can work out ways that she can feel cared for and close to you that don't push you past your sexual comfort zone.

Posts: 1329 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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