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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » For Claudus/Redskies (Page 1)

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Author Topic: For Claudus/Redskies
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I want to lead with what each of you voiced about ideally wanting from this exchange as outcomes when I asked about that:

Redskies:"I'd like Claudus and I to have a way of working through these things without our own individual issues colliding. I'd like to find a way in which I can tap in to checking out just how much I need something/feel strongly about it, even when someone else has genuine, understandable needs that perhaps conflict with mine. I'd like Claudus to have some place he can go for anything he needs to help his own issues, so that I know he's taking care of that, and all I need to do is be the support he asks for, and not trying to figure out what he needs in the first place. I'd like to really know that I can bring up anything sex-related that I need to with Claudus and it'll be ok, and that we'll get somewhere with it."

Claudus:: "What I would like the outcome to be is that there is no triggering her and –if at all possible- to create a situation safe enough for her to voice, whichever need has to be voiced (including a forceful “I would like sex NOW please”).

I would like some space, where I can get rid of [my] silly demons. I know she will not leave me, if I am imperfect. Still, I feel that I somehow need some way of detaching myself from sexuality sometimes, so that I can figure out what ‘my’ sex is and how I can feel secure and in control (without barring or domineering my partner)."

Now I'd like to just summarize my sense of where there's been/is conflict for both of you, between you, based on each of your posts. I'm going to pull some direct quotes, but also do some paraphrasing in spots so this doesn't wind up being a novel. [Smile] My aim is just for all of us to be able to look at these things as succinctly as possible in one place where they are also next to each other.

What I'd like to do first is have both of you read what's below, and check in with me that everything I've put there sounds right to both of you based on what you each said: by that, I mean for yourselves. In other words, does this properly characterize where you're each at? If not, if there's something you feel should be axed or edited or added, let's take care of that first, and then we can dig in to how each of you feels about these things coming from the other. Make sense?

(I'll also save my initial thoughts about where the conflicts are similar, where they seem to collide, or where they seem to be very different until after you both let me know if I've summed this up correctly for each of you or not.)

Redskies:
• "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."

• "I'm [also] very self-determined and self-possessed about sex, and he's said that he can find that a bit intimidating." You feel that when you initiate/suggest sex out of the blue, he usually is not able to respond very well.

• You express that you have a history where someone saying yes to things they don't really want, or have ulterior motives around, is very loaded for you. You also express that Claudus is not very communicative about what he does and doesn't want sexually sometimes or where he's at. You say sometimes he says he feels sex is being demanded of him (even though he also says he knows that is not true), which obviously validates some of these fears and adds to your confusion. You also are getting mixed messages because he also says he wants you to initiate sexually.

• You sometimes feel that he does not know how to recognize his own sexual desires or lack thereof.

• You are kind of grasping at straws sometimes to try and sort out what he does and doesn't want based more on a history of what he has or hadn't wanted than on direct communication that's happening in an ongoing way. At the same time, you feel like those precedents aren't consistent (not surprising, since your wants and desires can often change, but this is obviously a big problem if you're relying on precedents rather than ongoing open communication).

• Some sexual activities have not been very enjoyable for you, but you don't feel that Claudus is responsive or able to hear, accept and take direction around those things sexually in a positive way. (That's a clumsy paraphrase, but the best I can do at the moment.) On top of that, you are aware that some things you like may cause physical pain for him, so you want to be mindful of that, but also feel concerned about being patronizing around that.

• You feel like you're supposed to be the sexual "leader" a lot.

• You worry a good deal about him knowing you are not like his previous partners or potential partners. Some of the why of that is that you sometimes feel like when he is responding to you, it's like he's actually responding to his previous trauma; to people you are not.

• You feel some of the reasons communication between you about sex might be stalled out are: Claudus not having a good sense of what he himself likes and wants, you feel he gets defensive and/or disconnected around sex, especially if you're not getting what you want and need from it, some of the dynamics of the communication around this are triggering for both of you in terms of past traumas, you worry about making him feel insecure (and his defensive reactions validate those concerns), trouble finding doors and windows for conversations about sex because you feel Claudus shuts them down or out (which also triggers you). You also say, "I don't have much "happy medium" space in between not voicing my needs and being fairly forceful about it," which seems to be something else making communication around this problematic.

• You want a level of concern and attention to what you need and aren't getting around all of this that you feel you are not getting from him, but are giving to him. In other words, that feels unbalanced to you and isn't meeting your needs.

• You feel he's asking more of you with all of this than he is asking of himself: you feel an undue amount of responsibility is being put on you, actively or passively.

Claudus:
• "My baseline problem... would be something along the lines of: "How do I figure out when and how I personally want to be sexually active and not because I want to be a "pleaser’" or "How can I be in control of my own sexuality without barring my partner, disregarding her needs and going into shock whenever she engages in sex unexpectedly." ... or more briefly, "How can I know I want to say "No?" By unexpectedly, you're referring to times when Redskies initiates sexual activity which you didn't anticipate: which is a surprise to you.

• "I somehow am not quite able to read what my partner needs and she does not quite know how to give directions with me."

• This is all very new to you: Redskies is the first person where you actually feel you are having a sexual relationship you are a real part of.

• As I understand it, you are finding that you do not feel comfortable with her initiating sometimes, but instead, feel comfortable declining when she does, and then coming back to initiating sex yourself and THEN feel comfortable. (Do I have that right?) You express that you feel this is an issue around control for you, and needing to have control. You suspect this might have something to do with some gender/masculinity stuff.

• The idea or actuality of Redskies not being sexually satisfied by you is very loaded for you. You say that not satisfying her can result in you, "being afraid of sex, simply because I think I will eventually just be unsatisfying all over again."

• "Whenever I am approached for sex I tend to become highly confused trying to sort out whether I actually want this for myself or whether I am doing it ‘for my partner’ and simultaneously being afraid, I might not be ‘good’. This in and by itself would probably a bit to work on and (probably) quite a classic, but I think my disability and my past experiences make things far worse."

• You have experienced a lot of ableism, including around your body, sexuality and masculinity. One of your coping mechanisms with this has involved divorcing your body from your mind, where you felt you were given much more acceptance and validation.

• Shutting down/out is also a common coping/self-protective mechanism for you with conflict, especially around love/sex. This -- obviously -- is creating conflicts when it is shutting out someone you want to keep/let in.

• Redskies not being pleased is very emotionally loaded for you because you feel that pleasing a partner sexually is crucial to them sticking around. This also results in something else that keeps you out of touch with your own sexual wants and needs. You sometimes feel you cannot trust your own sexual responses because you worry they are not so much authentic to you, but about wanting to please, and potentially keep that person around.

• During sexual conflicts, you don't feel you know how to stay engaged with your partner, rather than going to your own safe space of shutting them out.

Okay. So, if each of you can just check in with me here about all of that, and make sure it's all accurate and seems to sum things up decently, we can move this forward. I'll be around all day today, and this week should afford me plenty of time to really dig in with you both here.

[ 10-05-2011, 10:34 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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

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Redskies
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Heather, thanks so much. There's so much here!

I think a lot of what you say, to me at least, summarises well. There are a couple of things I'd like to say, but I think I'll go over and put them in "my" thread, because both are to do with Claudus, and one really comes out of something you put to him, and there's no way I want to get in the way of him expressing his own take on it.

Just a note - I completely get why you changed it, but I used "cannot" deliberately, trying to communicate that it wasn't seemingly a conscious choice on his part. I didn't want to make a comment on innate ability/inability, but was trying to communicate that it really did seem like something that, it least in those times, he couldn't.

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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.

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Redskies
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Also, on the "some sexual activities have not been very enjoyable for you" point - I've also been trying to say that I know I have not been handling that as well as a person could, although I have been doing as best I, personally, can; and I'd like to be able to handle my share of that one better.

And about Claudus and I finding doors and windows - yes, I feel he shuts them down/out sometimes, but it's also important that I think we just haven't managed to find ones that work for us yet.

(I, at least, was away from computer today/eve - I think your daytime is my evening.)

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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.

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ClaudusCogito
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Thank you so very much Heather, I feel well summarised in these paragraphs, just two things to add for clarification:

1) By 'unexpectedly' I mean some kind of physical closeness (e.g. hugging, cuddling) develops a sexual turn, which I did not anticipate, e.g. an added element of sexual teasing. Hmm, not sure if this helps. Its more about things going towards sex, when I was not thinking that sex would be on the table.

2) Although it is probably already in there implicitly, I would like to stress that to me masculinity is part of the problem and not something I feel I should be living up to/ strive for. I added it, because I think it would be wrong to not to include the bigger picture of expectations regarding control, performance, potency etc. I have been socialised into and act as if it is all 'just' something in the moment (i.e. not completely taking my 'social context'-glasses of). Clearly though, dealing with that is not the main issue here. Here, I would like to work on, what seems to be a very specific situation.

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Heather
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Claudus, you know, I had originally typed in what you'd said about masculinity, then took it out. Appears I should have left it in!

And got it, both of you. I'll go ahead and make some edits to that first post per your comments so we can all have one place to keep looking at all of this in an organized way, then I'll start in with some of my questions and feedback. [Smile]

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

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Heather
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Got those edits done and in there.

One big thing I'm seeing just in both of your stated desires in terms of outcomes with this is that you both seem to want the other to have better helps and supports with your own issues, aside from each other. In other words, Redskies wants Claudus to have another good support besides her, and Claudus wants Redskies to do some work around her triggers and her previous trauma. The good news is that you both seem to want to do more of that work for yourselves, too.

So, the first big thing I'd ask is if you both are up to committing to really doing that: to each seeking out some other solid, consistent and sound course of support and help besides each other when it comes to your own stuff that pre-dated this relationship. Can you both commit to doing that?

Starting with another big thing. One other thing I'm seeing here that seems pretty huge is something that seems to be inconsistent to me. Claudus, you say that you feel like you don't know how to read what Redskies needs and like she can't give direction sexually with you. At the same time, you voice that you're uncomfortable often when she initiates sex or when it seems like, even in just a moment, she's in the driver's seat, as it were.

Adding to that, Redskies has a lot of conflict when it comes to these things. She feels that, essentially, she is a bit of a leader sexually, she feels like that's often asked of her by you, regardless, but she is also very nervous about taking the lead because she -- like you -- worries about times you may be acquiescing rather than consenting to something out of a mutual desire. She also worries that you will feel like sex is the only important thing. On top of that, she worries about being rejected when she initiates. For both of you, all of this is doubly loaded by these issues being part of past traumas or parts of who you each are.

How do both of you feel about that?

To boot, can I perhaps ask you both to kind of write out a sexual scenario for me where you initiate -- each of you -- and it goes the way you'd like it to, then another where the other is initiating, and that goes the way you'd like it to?

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

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Redskies
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I checked in with Claudus about something Heather wrote regarding his angle, and it turned into a really long discussion. For the first time, Claudus talked about a lot of things that are going on for him around the whole issue - it seemed to be the first time he really got in touch with those things, not just that he hadn't felt able to say them before. For me personally, it was really, really good to finally have a handle on what's going on for him, and to know that the impressions I've been picking up are really based in something very real.

There were a few things that weren't totally easy to hear, but they also weren't a huge surprise. I wish he'd been able to get in touch with them some time ago, because then there were things that I could've said that would've made a difference, things that I'd already observed for myself weren't ok and changed. I'm glad that he was able to say a lot of what's going on for him now, and it makes me feel a lot better. I still don't know how he and I can best work through things, but it's a lot better to have a clearer idea of what's going on.

I would say more, but it feels like the new recognitions and knowledge are Claudus', and I don't want to put words in his mouth.

[ 10-05-2011, 04:07 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]

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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.

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ClaudusCogito
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Yes, I still have no clue how and why I finally put things together and managed to talk about them so openly. I will try and summarise them in my own thread to not muddle different discussions. Also, no idea where we will go from here, but it definitely provides us with a clear(er) 'square 1'.

As for this thread I have one thing, I would like to correct:

"[...]Claudus wants Redskies to do some work around her triggers and her previous trauma."

Absolutely not! My partners triggers -as far as that can be the case with triggers - are fine with me. There is a reason they are there and Redskies has put a lot of effort into working through her own past and has done amazing work on her own past and traumas. Apart from not being sure, whether working on her triggers (or finding ways to work 'around them' would be helpful, I know she clearly does not want to go through her past all over again and I would never ask that of her.

What I want to achieve is that we stay clear of triggering situations in the future. Of course
one can never guarantee, but as fas as it is possible at least. Obviously, me being hard to read is partially caused by me not being able to read her and what she wants and needs, so what I would want is to figure out ways that establish situations and channels for open/direct communication. I want Readskies to tell me what is working for her and how we can best establish a safe environment.

This brings up a related point. I am aware that my report might come across as self-contradicting, my bad I could have presented it a bit clearer. My problem with controlling/leading aspects of sex are in two slightly different areas. What confuses/startles me is sex in general, i.e. engaging in sex, when put on the table by her. In a situation like that, I feel like I am a bit overwhelmed. When we are set up for sex, outside of situations like that, I would be / am very happy for her to take a bit of a lead and provide me with a clear framework as to what she wants (and what she thinks could be fun) as I am still learning a lot of these things and am more than happy to have a bit of mentoring.

It is somewhat like the difference between someone asking whether one wants to cook dinner together (have sex) and someone -while cooking dinner- telling me how much almonds to put in the curry to make it tasty.

It is my impression that currently Redskies is having to deal with both, asking me out for cooking dinner and teaching me the recipe, the former often getting mixed messages as an answer and the latter (while being more ok), still being angled towards her. Hopefully, this conversation helps to balance things.

To answer your questions:

Yes, I am committed to find myself the necessary support.

I could also describe a good sexual situation, but I have a feeling that another post has to be written first.

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Redskies
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Just to add to Claudus here, I agree with him about my triggers, and feel very supported by his attitude around that. I think that generally triggers I have around sex and relationships actually work as a very effective early warning system about something that isn't quite healthy for me, and having been in a place in the past where I couldn't identify that very well, I'm not in a hurry to change it. The only thing is that perhaps my reactions are stronger than they would need to be, but... right now that's not top of my list for things to change about myself that would benefit my life.

What I would be up for changing in me is the insecurity or difficulty I seem to have about communicating to Claudus more specific things that I would like, or being able to identify what exactly it is in specific activities that I like.

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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.

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Redskies
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When Claudus and I talked, we agreed that there is a middle ground between being neglectful of/disconnected from one's own enjoyment and being a selfish *******, and that that middle ground is the place where sex is actually fun for all concerned. Claudus said he'd like to find that middle ground.

"Very sexually active..." about me - um, I think that that's relative! I reminded him that in some ways, yes, I'm more clued-up than a lot of people, but in many ways, there's still so much I don't know and where I feel like I'm blundering about too.

I said that to me, if a person is beginning to hurt/not be keen on a particular activity, then either people change how they're doing it or have a different kind of sex.

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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.

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ClaudusCogito
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The 'very sexually active' bit was definitely in relation to myself. As a clarification, I am by and large really happy to have a partner, who is so clued up and in control of her sexuality. To me her past and present sexual experiences are something that is generally good; without them she would certainly not know a lot of bits and be as aware of the idea how differently people can react etc. It is just, when I compare it to the dozenish times I had sexual encounters before, a couple of them when actually being slightly drunk, with less than a handful of people (one of them being abusive towards me, one being a one night stand), I feel very very inexperienced... To add to it, my first sexual encounters penetration-wise lasted probably well under a couple of minutes, so I really feel like I have no basis that I could or would want to call 'my sexuality' in terms of having sex with others.

It is very much a relative thing and I am not trying to put Redskies on a pedestal, being aware that she still discovers a lot of things about her sexuality herself -and frankly- it honours me to be part and parcel to some of these new experiences.

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Heather
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Are you two good with my putting this on a hold until you can come back to me with those written-out scenarios I proposed?

Or, if that's not something you want to do, or that feels like something that neither of you think will be useful, give me a shout. I can absolutely be flexible in my approach here, and my goal is to try and help you both work this out in a way that feels best and sound to you. I'd hope it's a given, but in case it isn't, I know and feel my ideas won't always automatically be the right ones or the best fits.

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

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Redskies
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That's ok with me. It was just, for me at least, there was some processing to do after the long conversation which kind of took the time on this in the last couple of days. I guess you've seen each of our long lump of thoughts on the other threads. I get how it could be helpful to get scenarios from each of us rather than just deal with our huge chunks of introspection!

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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.

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ClaudusCogito
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It is equally okay with me, although I do have to admit that I find it a bit hard to imagine these scenarios, say without just describing one as the equivalent of the other and stating the obvious like 'We both need to be up for it'... but I will give it a thought tomorrow (after a couple of busy days).
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ClaudusCogito
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Okay, here is my post and as a little pre-text, it probably matches some bits of what Redskies wrote in her initial post as it a) is kind of general and b) there does not seem to be a put-your-finger-on-it general rule to it. I am not trying to get out of the question, by just writing any odd response so that I have done my bit and can leave the work to you, it genuinely are as far as I can get my head around it. I find it tremendously hard to imagine a 'good' sexual scenario the way I think I would like it to go without just ending at very blunt, superficial statements, but I do hope they are still useful and hence I would rather write them down instead of trying to come up with some picture perfect answer (which does not exist anyway, I would assume).

When I started wondering, what a good scenario looks like to me, my first reaction was not going for what needs to be there, but rather what I perceive as obstacles or have voiced as such in the past. I will start with them in a scenario my partner starts engaging me and see where that takes us.

Generally, there are some more physical things that can get into the way of sex for example (actual) tiredness, being hungry thirsty, achy etc. So for a scenario to go well, they should not be there. Also, I dislike the thought of having sex, when there is some kind of appointment coming up as in I or we need to be somewhere and there are still things that need doing and having sex would just take too long. This point and the first one actually go together well, as I am reluctant to have sex, if that means not enough sleep will be had afterwards. Obviously, we both also need to be 'in the mood for it'.

What I realised thinking about these baseline requirements is that it probably comes down to: "No pressure pretty please." When my partner engages me for sex and I feel there is no pressure attached to it, I am usually absolutely fine with it. What has hindered me in the past was that there often were real or perceived pressures in terms of not getting enough sleep for example. That is why I formulated my first 'blanket rule': No late sex.

What really would create a good scenario though would be if I felt like it would not matter where things went and it could just go wherever it wanted too. We would start kissing maybe or making out and it would 'flow' into things like manual stimulation, oral sex, penetration. Okay, I like communication so there would be a good measure of that, whether that is more implicitly noticing that what I do has an effect (seeing/hearing my partner aroused really does a lot for me, i.e. is red hot). Maybe, things do not always go just by themselves, but if my partner engages me, I would really appreciate it, if there was a bit of a walk-through at times, when I am not hitting the right spot or not doing the right thing. I guess, one could approach me with a lot of suggestions actually, taking a slight step back... of course cuddly-huggy sex is cool, but even a plain 'you-me-oral-sex-now!' would probably work, if I did not feel as if I needed to figure things out all by myself and then try to do the 'right thing'. Of course I am happy to experiment, but if I am struggling it gets frustrating and I feel helpless, so for a thing to go well, I need to know that the things I do are okay and even if it does not end in an orgasm, everything will be okay.

That feeling really has been missing for me... I felt like the goal post was already set-up and if I did not get there somehow, it would be fun while it lasts but turn disappointing in the end. A good sexual scenario would not come with goal posts and yet would be matching the space we have time and energy wise, if that makes any sense at all. I know I am repeating things written elsewhere, but if my partner engages me, I feel that the main times I have been really good about it, where the ones when it had a strong subtext of: we will have a fun time and if things do not go so well, we will still be as fine as before. I think those were also times, when having sex actually wasn't on the higher ends of the priority list, when it felt that it was a bit 'optional', something appreciated but in no way a 'to-do' thing.

This is, where the scenario I engage probably starts. When I engaged sex, most of the boxes above were actually ticked. Taking myself as a starting place, I knew which physical state I was in, there was time, mood and Redskies. Also, me just wanting to have sex with her, it did not really matter which kind of sex and how it ended; in a sense it were 'I just desire you, I want you...' and even though I would probably imagine us for example having penetrative sex that would not really be the point. So, I would probably just start engaging her in a more physical way, kissing, playing around, checking how she responded and adapting to what was going on, either 'upping it a notch' or asking if she was interested in having sex and then taking it from there. Quite often we would have sex, sometimes there would be a no and other times, we would go and get some other things done and just remember that sex would be an option and pick it up later at some point. Me being the one initiating is probably also linked to feeling more in charge, I feel better about just teasing my partner, trying things and knowing that nothing was expected of me -as I was the one bringing it up in the first place. It feels like I have a bit more say in what goes and what doesn't, e.g. not going for oral, when I do not feel like it. What would make sex coming from me really well, would probably be if I could actually voice things like: "please let's have sex" or "could you give me oral sex" or "I really feel like giving oral sex to you", which so far I have not managed yet; always going for a more pussyfooted approach.

Yeah, I think what it comes down to for a sexual scenario engaged by either of us is that I can feel relaxed about it, not quite anything goes, but still in a way where I can let myself go and do not need to mind about whether one needs to keep a look at the clock or whether it feels like something has to be achieved in order for it to be good. Whenever we had sex in such a way, I was in fact really happy to not be the active part or -quite the opposite- to have a more driving role.

I know this is not a description of a scenario as in 'role playing', this happens, then that happens and then this would be the case... I hope that is okay, I tried but I literally cannot bring anything like that to mind. The above being as far as I got... It is exactly the 'he is giving broad, abstract responses', Redskies mentioned initially. Happy to take on board any advice or different approach that might elicit thoughts.

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Heather
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Claudus: this is super-helpful and really fills me in, thanks!

Redskies: anytime you want to weigh in with yours, I think we're going to have a lot of excellent stuff to work with here. [Smile]

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Redskies
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I find it quite difficult to write just one scenario, because there are almost unlimited options available in my imagination, and it feels a bit like picking one is putting that one before the others, and that's not how I see it. I don't even know what scenario I'm going to write yet! It'll be just whatever comes out. Also, it feels a bit like whatever I write might seem like that's the role I'd like/expect from Claudus, and I don't really want to give that message. He can be himself, not a version from my imagination.

I haven't read what Claudus wrote yet, because I wanted my contribution not to be affected by his.

Me initiating. I look at Claudus across the room, smile at him, he smiles back. I catch his eye and grin, hold his eye, and he holds mine, looking happy. I walk over to him and nuzzle his arm, kiss him on the cheek and squash my nose on his. He smiles, kisses my cheek and puts an arm round me. I snuggle close to him, then move to sit in front of him and slowly peer over the top of the book he's reading and pull a slightly funny face at him. I say, "so, is your book really engrossing right now, or could anything else possibly be as interesting?" and grin briefly at him. He glances back at the book then lowers it slightly to the side and looks at me. I put my hand on his cheek, lean in and kiss him lightly, then draw back a little and look at him. I say, "well, to me, you looked very appealing curled up there... perhaps I can be more entertaining than your book right now?" He looks at me steadily, and I lean in again and kiss him more slowly and deliberately. I draw back and look at him and stroke his cheek again and hold his hand. He lifts my hand up, interlinks fingers and pulls it towards him. I lean in towards him and he pulls me in and kisses me back, and puts the book down. I put my hand on his neck and slip the edge of my fingers under the neck of his t-shirt, and he kisses me back more. <camera pans to the ceiling> [Smile] Also, at some point onward if/when any clothing removal happens, there's a pause, eye contact and the remover says "cool?/yeh?/happy?/good?" And just saying, it would also be cool if he'd said, "uh...middle of chapter...check in in half an hour?"

Him initiating. Um, don't know what to pick from my imagination here! He and I are sitting talking. He says, "I was reading/thinking about <x sexual activity> and thinking I'd like to try it sometime." Me: "mhm?" Him: <says what appeals to him about it>. Me: "I'd be up for that. That sounds good to me, I'd be into trying that", grins. He grins. Me: "I'd like <this thing> about it, I think, to make it work for me." Him: "Yes. And I'd like <this thing> in it, I think that'd be hot." Me: "sure!" Him:"...are you interested in trying this right now?" Me: grins and kisses him, "Hm, Well, Try me!"

This is a bit weird, because there's so many ways these could happen. Just want to emphasize that I'm not being prescriptive here.

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Heather
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Good stuff, y'all! And no worries about erring or not doing this right: the goal was really to just go through the process, think about this, and have a hand at putting what I'd only assume to be some of your ideas about this out there where we can all have a good look at them.

I'm finding both of your replies to be really enlightening about some of the possible challenges and possible inroads here. Would you both like me to share what I observe and throw out some suggestions first, or would you first like to read each of the entries, think about them and talk about them wither here or privately first and share yours? Either way works fine for me.

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

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Redskies
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Heather, thanks so much.

I'm glad that you feel like there's a lot to work with here. I read Claudus' last night and really had difficulty processing it. I understand what he's saying and where his history comes from, it's just that before he and I were togther we'd had conversations about how sex shouldn't have a goal and how goal-oriented sex was a lot less fun, and we've talked about no-pressure lots of times, and I really don't know how we got here. I'm a bit confused and upset. He and I did talk briefly about it, but I feel like we're back at our going-round-in-circles point, and I don't think that's helpful, so I'd find it really great if you had stuff to break us out of the circles.

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Heather
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You got it, and I understand. I'm so sorry this is so rough for both of you. You both seem like truly lovely, thoughtful people who clearly really care about one another and I've no doubt dealing with and working through some of this...well, just seriously sucks.

Claudus, how about you?

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

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ClaudusCogito
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I am all with Redskies on this one. No idea, how we got here and now one of is feels pressured without the other one having put pressure on and the other one is hurt without hurt being intended... it is probably part of the process,but I likewise thing we are at a point where external suggestions would be very helpful. I am glad and grateful that you are offering so much support for us.
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Heather
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Happy to do so. Will sort through this in my head and be back with a start for those shortly!

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

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Heather
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I first want to make a couple lists that I think will be useful for me in this and hope will also be so for both of you. I'd like to make a list of the things one or both of you seems to clearly voice wanting that I see as things you both want and need and should be easy to connect with, or things that seem like relatively easy givens, even if they may not always specifically be easy for each of you personally due to things like physical limitations or emotional issues you're working through.

Then I want a list of places where I see some core conflicts, or places where it seems like it might take some real work to connect well or have things work for both of you. I also want to include some expectations of sex with another person I don't think are sound, or expectations of one of the two of you that don't seem sound or workable given what I know of and from you both so far.

So. I'm going to add some notes to this, which hopefully won't make it too hard to make sense of.

The Connecty/Easy/Given Places:
• physical comfort, including not being too tired or hungry or in any kind of pain
• not having something else that needs to be done at the time or very soon
• no outright sexual pressuring from the other person: in other words, when someone nixes sex, it's a given sex is off the table (not including things like Claudus' feeling that lack of sleep and a request for sex = pressure, because I don't think it's sound to say it is, even if he feels his own internal want to say yes when he would rather say no: the other person just can't control that)
• open and active communication
• wanting the flow of sex to feel less strained and more free-flowing or organic
• getting feedback from a partner about the positives of their sexual experience during the experience
• wanting to feel like even if sex isn't totally awesome or completely satisfying, everyone is fine and the relationship is fine
• wanting some discussion about what is sexually wanted in a way that's about sexual invitation, and may also lead to the initiation of sex from anyone involved

The Disconnecty/Conflicted/Problematic Places:
• wanting it not to matter where sex "went" and wanting "it" -- tricky word here, since there isn't an it, really, there's the two of you as people -- to have its own places "it" wanted to go and to be able to just go to them (really, this whole framing is a problem for me, since again, sex doesn't want things by itself, people do)
• wanting spontaneity that doesn't go both ways: in others words, wanting the ability to be spontaneous with a partner, but not being as receptive when the partner wants that from you -- This strikes me as a really key issue for the two of you, something you both want, but where, Claudus, I'm seeing you being less open when it's not you being spontaneous, but Redskies
• wanting a level of control in partnersex that doesn't really leave a lot of room for the other person and for sex as a mutual dance, as it were, nor does it support the desire for things to be more organic
• more direction and being and feeling able to give more direction (you both voice this so it's a connect per your wants, but also both have expressed experiencing challenges with this, so I'm filing it here).

(Per usual, if any of my reads/obeservations with these things seem off, give a holler.)

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

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Heather
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Looking at that on my screen, hopefully the first list all looks like things you agree on, and which you'd agree are often relatively easy to manage, or when applicable and not easy to manage, easy to acknowledge they're not working or in alignment and just ditch sex at those times. Would you agree with me on that?

The only place in that list I can see as a maybe trickier issue kind of pulls up the last bit on the other list. I also hear Redskies saying that, for her, something that has strong appeal is being able to initiate sex during times when say, maybe a book does need to be read for you, Claudus, but if you were interested in sex and she was too, and it wasn't insanely pressing, you could put down.

I think the other thing I'd add to that if that I don't know about your lives, but in mine, there's almost never a time when *something* doesn't have to be done or done soon. But I'll delve more into this and some possible ways to work with that in a bit.

The one other thing there, and it sounds like this might be something for you just to work through mostly yourself, Claudus, though I think some of my suggestions for the second list might support/help with that, too, is sorting out what pressure is, and separating what pressure from a partner is and what pressure you put on yourself is. I figure you're clear that holding Redskies responsible for pressuring she has no control over and isn't actually herself exerting isn't sound or fair, and it also sounds like this ties into some of what you've talked about with having a hard time trying not to be a "pleaser." My biggest cue for you on this would to maybe just try and take some more time for yourself really checking in to make sure you're at a point in life and this relationship where you feel earnestly able to "be the bad guy" in nixing sex you don't want or don't want at a given time. Of course, you aren't really the bad guy in those situations at all, but when people are worried about pleasing like that, some of that tends to be about not wanting to feel like or be seen as the bad guy or the buzzkill. Know what I mean?

I'd also have put the bit in that first list about needing to know you both are in this for more than the sex, and that always-satisfying sex isn't required into the second list at the start of all this, but my sense is you've both already done a great job sorting that through together and alone, and both feel very confident that's a fear, but not a real, valid concern. You both feel strongly you know that's not why either of you are together, and that less-than-stellar sex sometimes or even for a while is not going to make or break this relationship. Do I have that right?

On to some possible creative solutions, not fixes, but ways that might help you both start to work this through.

• Again, sex isn't an it. It also doesn't have it's own desires. We as people have what sexual desires we have, and when we're being sexual with someone else, we still each have our own desires, which sometimes will mesh and other times will not. As well, the aim is having a flow that feels natural to us, not forced nor stilted. Sex can't go anywhere without us, and because there are people involved and sex is something that often is linked to big things and vulnerable places, sometimes it might feel very flowy, other times not so much. What I'd suggest to start with this is for each of you to maybe come up with a couple activities and contexts where you feel like -- in that limited way, not in an all-sex-the-whole-time-we're-having-it-way -- you each ARE comfortable engaging in sex in a way where you feel like you can each let go of a good deal of control, trust the other and yourselves, and let it flow. Let's say, maybe just two activities and contexts for them each to start. After that, can you both agree on any of them that sound good and cool to both of you? If not, we'll ditch this for now. But if so, set aside some time for that where as many of those boxes in the first list are ticked, to the degree they can be in advance. Then do this. Let go as much as you can (though know stopping is always okay). Talk about it later: how did it feel? Where, if anywhere, did it feel like it could maybe get a little scary or be harder to let go like that?

• I think a sort of babystep to seeing if you can't find a happy medium around the combined issues of control and spontaneity is to see if you can't each kind of make times where, in your head -- not as something you share with one another, announcing this time -- when you are doing something else, for the possibility of the other suggesting or initiating sex. You can also run this both ways, by just exploring, in your head, while the other is doing something else, suggesting or initiating some kind of tough/sex then. In other words, see if you can't get a bit more comfortable, with practice, with that idea. Again, even if and when that's a reality, no one has to say yes; everyone can always say no, yes, maybe or not now. But since you both express wanting things to be able to be more spontaneous, that means you both have to be more open to them being so, or to the other person being so. So, just maybe, once or twice a day, they're around, you're around, one or both of you are doing something else, just imagine it and kind of feel it out, on both sides.

• At the same time, it sounds to me like you also might need to make more room to be sexual or sensual or just plain physically intimate. I know that "date nighty" stuff can sound really ugh (or maybe that's just me, I always feel uggy about that presntation), but at the same time, if and when we're feeling like there's not enough time and space for being physical or sexual in the ways we want, with the things we need -- like not being tired or hungry, like being open to communicating -- some of that is usually that we aren't making that time. Life is busy: sometimes we have to make it. Maybe one a week for now, maybe set aside two hours, and prep for it, getting rest the night before, eating well before, etc? That doesn't mean when you both get there you have to be sexual. You don't. Maybe you're just physical or cuddly. maybe you even go out and do something physical or sexual or touchy in some way. Maybe you're not into that either, and decide instead to devote that time to talking through more of all of this. The point is to make the time and honor the time, and be open to it then use it as feels right, but have it be about some kind of focus on this part of your relationship.

• Lastly (for now), with the direction. I'd suggest maybe getting some practice talking about what feels good and what could feel better -- keep it positive and as balanced as you can, but is still real -- outside of bed, or just not when you're in the middle of a given sexual activity, just for right now. Pick a sexual activity you do, maybe. each talk about what you love about it, where you have limits about it, and where you like it, but some tweaks could make it better. Again, try and keep it positive. You're talking about pleasure here, about things you like and feel desire for, that ultimately are about feeling good. It shouldn't be a super-heavy convo, but if it goes there, maybe see if you can't talk about why it feels that way very openly if it does.

How does all or any of that sound as some possible starting points?

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

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Redskies
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Heather, thanks so much for this. My overall feeling was of relief and that what you say really, really lines up with what I've been thinking and feeling.

I just wanted to clarify a couple of things:
- framing sex as an "it" - is that a mistake I'm making? I didn't think it was, but if I'm doing that without realising, probably helpful to know.

-you suggest that each of us comes up with 2 activities/contexts that seem completely ok and then see if we have any of them in common? (checking I understood)

-just to add another piece of difficulty into all this (sorry), Claudus and I have a long-distance relationship. We see each other maybe 1 week in 4 or 5, or 2 in 6/7/8. Obviously that brings its own long-distance-relationship difficulties, which I at least have a working awareness of, having done long-distance before (and swore never would again, but Claudus was unmissable).

-Claudus and I are usually pretty cuddly generally, which is nice.

I reckon I'll have more detailed thoughts to add in a bit.

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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.

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Heather
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Of course!

I actually think being in an LDR will help with a lot of the suggestions I made, rather than hurt. For instance, when we see each other in LDRs, it's a given that that time is for each other, so doing things like setting aside concentrated time for intimacy is kind of work half-done already, know what I mean?

The "it" stuff was about Claudus: it came from a paragraph of his. Sorry not to be clear!

And yep on the 2!

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

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Redskies
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I'm still mulling over all of this, really.

One thing I think is, I personally think it would be a good idea to put the "always-satisfying sex isn't required" thing on the list, because even though we both believe it rationally, I'm hearing from Claudus fairly strongly that some feelings or thoughts of his around that is/are an issue or something that bothers or worries him. Plus, he still isn't quite sure how to/what he needs to put his (very understandable) feelings around what happened twice with me to one side. And nor do I know how best to help with that and what more I can do than what I've already done with it and give reassurances.

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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.

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Heather
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With that latter thing, one of the things we know is key for healthy sexual development is having and developing resilience.

Sometimes sexual experiences are going to be meh, sucky or even outright bad. Obviously, if we're talking about things like abuse with someone, resilience is important to heal and move on, but you still do not want to keep engaging in sex with that person. But when that's not what we're talking about -- and we're not with the events we're talking about at all -- even though it can hold some challenges in getting back into being okay with sex with that partner or having it all feel okay, this is where resilience comes in.

And it's something we need to also figure out for ourselves at any given time, if we have the kind of resilience we will all need for intimacy. Because it does tend to require a good deal of it. And you know, we won't always have it or have it yet, or have it for a little while. So, this may be something else for Claudus to think about and for you both to talk about: if he feels like he's really resilient enough to move forward right now.

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

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ClaudusCogito
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Heather,

I must admit at a first reading I got quite defensive, but I assume that is more or less a matter of 'things not explicitly mentioned'. I agree with both of your lists in terms of what the problems are, especially the 'easy' ones, but also the imbalance in control, spontaneity and directions. What probably got me go '... but but but' is that it reads to me as if I was expecting things of Redskies I am clearly not.

It would be nonsensical to expect my partner to magically read my mind, understanding a lack thereof as pressure and if anything I would not want to bar her from spontaneity (frankly, I feel bad that she does not feel secure to be spontaneous with me atm). Rationally, I know these things, but somehow my mind does not work on this knowledge. It drives me absolutely mad to have a clear understanding of what I can and cannot expect of my partner and my brain just hitting the confused-button as soon as things happen. I am fully aware that sex is not an 'it' but something humans create and that springs from our wants, needs and desires... but I have no clue, how I can figure out what I want without putting it all on my partner's plate and then shunning her for taking control. Thinking about sex and having sex do not quite connect... sometimes when we have sex, I just feel clueless and then there is the 'it'. It is frustrating, because I really SHOULD know so much better...

This being said, I like your suggested approaches a lot, thinking about situations (sometimes I figure that actually happened implicitly and led to great sex) and also creating situations where we already have a common, safe ground and go with the flow if one will and apart from that also talking about an activity and how we feel about it. I am not so sure about the date night thing, but maybe we can leave that for later?

On top of this, Redskies and I have started going through "Yes, No, Maybe so" and it really feels like a great icebreaker and probably a really good list to have a talk about, even if there are no problems at all. I feel this helps and provides new insights for both of us, anything one could add to that one maybe?

Thanks so very much for the help so far.

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Redskies
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We've started talking our way through that list because it seemed to be a really good way to learn things and not accidentally miss things, even though we've already talked a lot. We're picking sections that we feel we have something to say about and that we can talk about ok. No surprises or big stuff yet, but some interesting conversation and some extra things we didn't know. Obviously it doesn't really tackle the specific problems, but it seems like a healthy and helpful thing to do in any relationship.

And, this doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this conversation, so sorry about that. - someone dear to me died yesterday unexpectedly. I'm going about things as normal, but it's one of those things that weaves a thread through absolutely everything, grief and something that makes a permanent difference. Nothing is really entirely separate from it. I don't know how not to mention it in anything that's at all personal or emotional.

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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.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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That sounds like a great approach!

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Claudus. But I also think it's okay after a loss to have it lead for a little while and be part of things for a while.

Again, you both know your relationship isn't only about sex, but about all of your lives, including things like this. I don't think you need to try and compartmentalize, you know?

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

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Redskies
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Actually it was me with the loss. And I know what you mean.

Just checking that you saw Claudus' post just above. There'd be a few things there that I would pick up on, but maybe that's just me... and I think it might be better if you pick them up (or not, whatever you think works best) than me, as I keep being aware of them (not just from that post) but not being able to get anywhere useful and getting the circly feeling.

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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.

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ClaudusCogito
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Hello Heather,

apologies for bumping the thread, I have seen there are a lot of other threads so I would not want to be pushy. I am not quite sure how to continue here though and maybe you can give me/us a hint.

Redskies is currently not in the right place to deal with all of this a lot, she said to me, but of course that does not mean that it has to come to a halt. I am not sure, how much talking about my issues might help, but maybe it does and so I wanted to post a bit here.

In terms of your suggestions, I was thinking about them and did not really do a lot about it so far, because to me they sounded more like exercises one does with ones partner face to face and as I have returned home recently I was a bit stranded and needed Redskies to remind me that a lot of this can actually be done in my own head and alone (e.g. stopping and questioning myself how I might react if I was approached for sex in a particular moment) or talking with my partner. Talk about being a bit daft at times [Smile]

This being said, there is a reason as to why I approach things the way I do and as far as I understood it, these are the things Redskies probably meant by "I would have picked up on some of the things Claudus said". We talked about it, while I was still at hers and I have not mentioned this before, but I think it will add to the picture; I am a psychologist by training.

While my field of work is not clinical, I did learn my bits and pieces about psychotherapy as part of my studies, had some seminars on sexuality and even did an internship with a couple counselling service. Hence, me saying "I SHOULD know better". I technically know the basics of getting to underlying problematic thoughts, I know about couple counselling and sexuality, but it all escapes me when I try to sort myself out.

Redskies had the most beautiful analogy in saying that I might read all the books there are on playing an instrument and yet will not be able to get any sound out of a real one. Theory does not equal practice and somehow I forgot that and was all frustrated about myself. I am aware that all my worries about being rejected if I turn 'bad boy' are nonsense and yet I could not switch them off.

Hopefully, it will help me to be more relaxed about it now, but if you have any further suggestion how a 'nice guy' can personally learn to figure out his own needs (and maybe be the 'bad one' every once in a while, I would be grateful indeed.

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WesLuck
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If you don't mind a quick word of encouragement - There certainly is a difference between theory and practice, but with a bit of practice (toe dipping in the water as an analogy [Smile] ), shared interest, understanding, (which often comes with some) talking, things do often move towards a better place. [Smile] And you two have those four things already in your repertoire. I wish you all the best in your quest! =)

[ 10-24-2011, 03:34 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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No worries, it's okay to bump it.

In terms of things being a bit on hold, have you used that time to do some work on seeking out more support for yourself like we'd talked about? If not, that seems to me to be something you could do to still be working on things.

I'm not sure what you mean by "turning bad boy." Can you explain that to me? I don't see anything in any of this that's about good/bad. Nice people are also sexual people: these things aren't in conflict. Are you saying they feel in conflict to you?

In terms of the issues you're having with all you know about counseling and practice towards self-awareness or changing behavior, it's not uncommon -- as you probably know -- for people in a field to sometimes have trouble....well, waling the walk, really. In other words, doing the things themselves or for themselves they'd suggest for other people. But you know you need to do it all, yes? So, it may be a matter of just knowing you're having that conflict, acknowledging it and then pressing on. After all, you certainly know how important it is.

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

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