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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Sex difficulties, great relationship

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Author Topic: Sex difficulties, great relationship
Redskies
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I'm really sorry to be asking about this again here; I'm not expecting serious help from here, because I know the boards are understaffed, not aimed at me, and this is really complex, but I'm hoping I might be able to get good suggestions about where to find help.

I've begun to re-form into who I am again after an upside-down-making 6-8 months, and significant problems have come right back. I think this time it might be more to do with me. Previously, I had a good gut feeling that problems were more to do with where my partner was coming from and significant (and understandable!) internalised baggage of his own from disability and self-esteem stuff, but now I'm rather lost.

I have a lot of hard and not-pleasant feelings about sex with my partner: I feel upset, angry, frustrated. I'm becoming less and less interested in engaging in sex with him, I'm guessing because of the negative feelings I have around it and how it nearly always feels like there's something missing for me. I don't even know how to pin down exactly that "something missing" feeling because I know how much one's mental attitude affects the physical feelings. Basically, I feel quite unsatisfied mentally and physically, and I'm having increasingly strong hurtful (toward my partner) feelings about that.

I've not had a similar problem with any other sexual partner - not one who I connected with and who cared about me and my experience of sex, at any rate. I have a secondary partner, and overall sex within that relationship is great.

My partner made some serious headway on issues he had before. He says he no longer feels the same issues he did before, and that's backed up by the way we can talk about things. I think something is still "off", though, because he talks about being unsure what/how to do things because he's inexperienced, and I... I just don't relate to that. I don't know if that's my own failing. I would understand well someone feeling like something's less familiar to them and they might not do things right, but... over and over? Maybe there's something about me/my responses that's keeping this going, and we're riffing off each other negatively... My partner analyses (in his own head) everything he's thinking, everything that happens, while it's happening, and I just can't deal. For me, sex has been a joyful escape into a natural physical self-expression and sharing. I want to be someone who is supportive and open-minded to somebody learning, and I think I Am that, at least to a point, but something in this is just too much for me. I think it likely, too, that I'm still carrying some baggage from the difficulties we had before.

My partner has also not been that good at demonstrating desire for me (though I know he feels it) or initiating/pursuing me - that's not necessary all the time, but is important occasionally - and I've begun to feel just a big ball of frustration and resentment about the whole thing. And I so do not want to be that person.

Other aspects of the relationship are great. Communication about everything. We've handled a whole string of Seriously tough stuff together, supportively. We're physically cuddly and playful. We can even Talk about all kinds of sex with very much shared interests and attitudes, but the practical doing is completely different.

I said we needed to suspend all sex because if we didn't, it - or rather, my reactions - was likely to damage the rest of the relationship, and neither of us wants that.

We both agree we badly need some help. My gut is leaning toward partnered therapy with opportunities for each of us to explore our own stuff separately. Is there anywhere anyone might suggest? We need something/someone that's really good, clearly; and who's queer-friendly, poly-friendly and really sharp on disability stuff. Probably someone who's familiar with abuse/assault issues, too, as that's in my history, and someone who can have some basic understanding of mental health issues, too - not to treat them but who won't be broken or dramatic around it.

Thank you for reading.

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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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Ronete Cohen, who runs The Rainbow Couch, in the UK, is the top person who springs to mind for me.

http://www.rainbowcouch.co.uk/

She's a lovely person, I think she'd be great for either or both of you, and I agree, I think it's been at this point for a while where working with a counselor makes sense.

Mind, I think you know my sense of things with the two of you is that it simply might not be a relationship that works AS a sexual relationship, but I know and understand that you're both fairly resistant to that. And for sure, that could be because I'm sitting here outside of this and you inside of it, and you both better know what each of you feel and have felt than I possibly could.

That said, again, I think you're right that working with someone if you're still struggling with all of this makes sense. And I think Ronete would be someone great for you.

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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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Thanks. I'm looking into her.

The "maybe this can't be a sexual relationship..." thing had occurred to me, but I'm thinking - or hoping? - that that as a conclusion is too far down the track to predict. Clearly it can't work right now, and I think I'd rather deal with things I can know about rather than conclusions that maybe have a long possible way to go before they might come up. I have no idea whether it's something I could consider, as I've absorbed various unexpected things into my life, but my partner has expressed that it wouldn't be workable for him permanently. I feel like I am absolutely not capable of losing this person.

Something I'm wondering and trying to get my head round - how is it that a relationship might not work as a sexual one, if/when both people feel like that about each other, and don't have any conflicts about their attitudes to sex or the kind of sex they'd want? On paper, we're a great match - but in practice, just no. How is that possible, even generally?

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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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I don't know, really, how to answer that question, but let me try and riff on why, and maybe it'll come out more clearly than it is in my head.

Basically, we can feel attracted to people, and share those feelings, and the kind of sex we can want and how we feel about it can be the same, but that doesn't mean that we will "work" together sexually or that a given sexual relationship will be workable at a given time.

For me, this is kind of like asking how people who want to work creatively together -- let's say, on a piece of art -- can both share the desire to do so, feel artistically inspired by each other, have the same artistic goals and visions and even techniques, but wind up making crap art, or feeling artistically stuck when they go to work together.

And I'd say that comparison comes to mind because this is, in a lot of ways, the creative component we're talking about here, even the kind of unnameable "spark," if you will, with things that are random and either not anything we can put our finger on, or so complex and intricate figuring out the exact why of something not working would be the labor of ages. Do you know what I mean?

(I also hear you say you are worried you will lose this person if you two cannot be in a sexual relationship. has this person expressed that without that, they feel they would not be willing to be a big part of your life anymore?)

[ 07-31-2012, 06:40 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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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 think I don't get most of what you mean... but I Am thinking that there'll always be a reason why something doesn't work, and I get what you mean about maybe many times it just being far too detailed and lengthy to figure out what.

Having asked the question, I realise that my gut feels that there is definitely something Not in alignment. Perhaps figuring out what that is might be the key. It's something that doesn't seem to show up in pretty thorough and clued-up information (like on this site [Smile] ), that's for sure.

I think part of it is that my partner seems to want to/need to think about Everything, whereas I prefer/need a more organic kind of physical connection with my body, like I might in completely unscripted and rule-less dance at a club, for example. I think my partner doesn't know what that's like and can't begin to understand what it might be like, and I haven't a clue how to explain it. I don't know if that's a "root" problem or a manifestation of other things.

We didn't have a big discussion about "what-ifs" because it seems a bit ahead of itself and not the most constructive use of time/energy right now. My partner did say that a relationship that was permanently non-sexual wouldn't be something he could do, because it would play into his old feelings about him ultimately failing/being no good at a physical/sexual connection. I know it's not generally the most healthy thing in the world to feel we couldn't lose someone, but different types of significant loss have been a regular part of my life and I'm simply not in a place to manage any more right now. Well, not that it would happen right now, but even at any point in the foreseeable future.

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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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I guess I'd say my point is yes, what you asked about is possible and happens often enough, but it's also one of those things I think we often won't be able to rationally explain.

I might be missing something, but when your partner said they could not have a long-term relationship that wasn't sexual, did they actually mean they couldn't still be a big part of your life -- like, not a very close friend -- or that they couldn't do a romantic relationship, specifically, with you long-term that wasn't also sexual? Because those strike me as very different things, and the latter certainly isn't about losing someone, while the former 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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Redskies
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Mhm. I guess I just like being able to explain things - things that are important to me and make a difference, at any rate.

Well, we didn't talk about it in detail, but from other contexts, I would say a friendship would still be very much on. However, I would experience the ending of the romantic relationship and couple-partnership thing as a loss.

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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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Heh. Everything can't be explained or mapped out rationally. But you know that.

And if all of sex (or love, for that matter) could be, I think it's safe to say that it'd be a lot less interesting for most folks. [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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And I certainly can understand that losing a kind of relationship with someone is, of course, a loss.

At the same time, a) I think that's very different than losing a person, a whole person, and them being in your life at all, and b) sometimes that kind of loss can also mean gaining something, too.

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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 do understand that, about loss. It still feels like... not the right result, here. This person has always felt to me like they would be my life-partner, and still feels that way in every other sense. I think, and hope, that having to contemplate that change for real is quite some way off from where we're at now, and that there's a lot we can do first. It might seem odd to put such effort into something that clearly isn't working, but when I try to step back it just feels like the right thing to do. Maybe we just have a great deal of baggage to clear.

As it came up in this conversation, I now feel quite strongly that there Is something not in alignment, and that feels better to me than just a "what on earth is wrong??!". Maybe if we can manage to identify that we can adapt to each other over whatever it is - we've been good at that, historically.

I am aware that I'm immensely stubborn and that I put myself into something heart and soul, and that those things can risk not being able to see the need and/or do getting out of something when it's not right any more. However, I watched my mother flog a dead horse for 20 years in her marriage, and I did a bit of it myself once, so I hope I have enough acquired wisdom not to go very far down that path. We will try counselling, and see what happens, and then there's a big question mark... Reassessment can happen once we reach the question mark. I believe there's a lot of potential for trying to figure this out. I think we both tend to over-think things too much for it to be useful to think about "what about, after counselling...?" when we haven't tried it yet. We did come very far with the help you gave us before, and there are similar-but-different things left. Quite a lot of our relationship has been "well That future thing looks improbable to manage, but we'll see when we get near it", and once we got there it was very obvious and very workable.

I feel rather clearer about where from here. So, thank you.

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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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And, dear goodness, I wish my mum was still around for this. She wouldn't've been able to help particularly, but she sure as hell would've given me a big hug. She was also the only person who I felt Truly understood how I felt about Partner and what we have together, and she "got it" from the word go.

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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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I'm so sorry, Redskies. I know how hard it is to be dealing with a loss of someone when we're in something we really, really need them for.

I will say once more I think Ronete would be a good fit for you, knowing you both to the degree that I do. And I also know she's always up to as many questions as potential clients want to ask her first before working with her, so by all means, feel free to email her and ask what you need.

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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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WesLuck
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I know I can't do much more, but I can still give you hugs and my best wishes.

-hugs for Redskies- [Smile]

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Redskies
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Thank you, Heather.

And thanks, Wes.

My partner and I talked about this again, and I kind of dissolved in a heap about not feeling up to handling Another ongoing and hard thing when there's no guarantees it'll be successful, and my partner completely stepped up and said that although he was hurt, that's His thing to handle, and I shouldn't feel like I have to take care of him so much around it, and he is up for addressing whatever may be going on for him himself. And he completely took care of me about the whole thing. Clearly, he's come really far from where we first started out. I feel like him continuing to be like this is likely to help with some of the hard feelings I have about what we've already been through with this. I felt safe and not-alone with this.

I mentioned the thing about maybe being very different around physicality, and a thought started in my head, and then I was surprised it never occurred to me before: out of my past male partners, most have been ex-sportspeople or current athletes, and out of the experiences I'd class as "great" or "very good", there is only One man who wasn't a former professional or serious competitive sportsperson or very sportily or athletically active at the time. Ohhhhhh. That hasn't been a deliberate choice for me (and isn't about body preferences, as a couple of the former sportspeople were in very different shape to what they would've been when competing), but it seems clear as day to me that I respond well with people who are used to being in touch with their body and physicality and generally pick out partners who I get that vibe from - the one exception above Totally had that.

Separate from all this, my partner expresses an enjoyment of connecting with his own body, and a wish to be more connected. So perhaps, with time and understanding (and help, obviously), we can meet in the middle.

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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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Sans
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Hey, Redskies. I'm glad that you feel safe, not alone, and taken care of while all of this is going on. I think those are important feelings to have in a relationship where there are romantic and sexual elements involved.

What you mentioned about physicality and connection to the body was very interesting to read. It's cool of you to have realized that about yourself. [Smile]

Hugs for you, if you would like them!

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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WesLuck
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Hugs are good, for almost any reason! [Smile]

-more hugs for Redskies-

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Fallingangel
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My name is Victoria and I'm am in a relationship with this man that I really care about and I've been with him 4 7 years sin I was in high school we had 2 kids 2 gather could have been 3 but I lost 1 still born at 5 months and 23 weeks a little girl. And I'm not happy with our sex life he just cant seen to make me nut right to tell u the truth he have not ever med me have my first orgasm not ether the other mans I've been with be 4 him. I've had my first orgasm by shower water lol why I was in the shower How? well I was washing my self up with sop and some of the sop had got in to my Virgina and it start to burn so I lady back in the water and torn t on the shower water just a little bit and open my legs to let the water hit my Virgina to get the sop out so that it can stop burning and I Guss I been down there for a while I start feeling something and I start to shake and there it was my first orgasm I new it was be cause it felt good at the time and now wen I get head form the father of my kids I have to think about something in order 4 me to get a nut now I'm hearing about this g spot I would like to have but don't think I can be cause I Berle can get a nut form him wen he go's down on me with out thing about something that can help me get off and now I don't know is it just me that need help or is it just him lack of sex can someone help me plzzzz.

[ 08-06-2012, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: Fallingangel ]

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I'm a nice sweet person that love to have fun and cook and just do what girls love to do.

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Fallingangel
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sorry about the spelling

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I'm a nice sweet person that love to have fun and cook and just do what girls love to do.

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Robin Lee
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HI Victoria,
We can definitely talk about all of this. We do ask that people start their own topic so we have one person's concerns per topic. You can do that by clicking the "post new topic" link on any forum page.

Thank you...and welcome to Scarleteen!

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Robin

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Redskies
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Bit of an update, really.

So, turns out this was an object lesson in "so, are you Sure it's "just" about sex, no underlying relationship stuff?... now, are you Really sure?"

My partner has basically had a permanent work-crisis situation which was supposed to end 18 months ago, but is only nearing being wrapped up now. It's been unchangeable, because Partner tried everything, and getting out before it was finished would've meant a permanent ending of that career route. I've been hanging on, and not really sharing how unhappy and stressed I feel about the whole thing because Partner was already on their limit, and it's built up into a big pile of resentment and frustration that I'm too good at hiding even from myself. Partner has also tended to be really defensive when I bring up personal concerns, even though they then take it away and think it over properly; but it means I find it exceptionally hard work to have the conversation and sometimes just give up part-way through because I'm just exhausted and upset.

A number of times the past week things have felt Totally not-working, and very like heading-to-break-up, which has been extremely confusing for me, because something fundamental seems wrong with that outcome.

I think Partner began to realise what the work situation had been like for me when I just sat down and sobbed. I'm great at coping when I have to, but I can't go on indefinitely.

I think my mum would've said, don't go on with something if it's really not working. She would've said, people can Say pretty much anything, but if someone keeps saying something and doesn't follow through with the actions, they're either not capable of changing to something that works better for you, or they're too selfish to, or they don't want the relationship enough to change.

Partner had been planning to start something else work-y that they really wanted pretty much immediately on the ending of the nightmare stuff. I'd expressed concerns about the timing and the time commitment involved, but Partner thought it would be fine. I hadn't planned it, but just blurted out, "Partner, Please don't start that now", and they didn't breath before saying "I won't".

I think my mum would've said that that Means something; that someone who'll change their plans, delay something they really wanted, is actively showing that they care about how I feel and the effect things have had on me. Showing that as soon as they have a choice, they put their relationship first like they always said they wanted to, and not the dratted work. I needed that. I won't be like my mother and have my primary relationship go the way hers did, someone always Saying all the right things and how much they cared, but never doing the things that mattered to her.

I think my mum would've said, that's a really good sign, and so long as you still want to, hold onto this one, they're worth it.

There was one particularly tough day too where things really felt very off, and I felt it was important to air that openly at the end of the day, and Partner was caring and supportive, not defensive, and put my needs first; I found out as the conversation developed that Partner had had a massively challenging day including their most significant insecurities triggered and a really hurtful dose of ableism. I thought, you are outstanding. That was exceptional; very few people would manage that, and I don't think I would.

I feel like Partner is demonstrating how very much they care about me by acting on my needs within the relationship. That means everything to me, really.

I know it maybe seems strange to work so hard at something, but when we clear paths for light through all the rubbish, I love the very bones of this person, and they're going over huge hurdles to show that loving me is not "just" a feeling but a whole practical way of life.

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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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Sounds like good stuff! [Smile]

I'd also add to all of this that I think we have to always remember that if and when we are in or walking into a relationship where both people involved have some tough history with a certain issue or area of a relationship -- like sex -- we have to adjust our expectations, and know that a lot of the times, things not going swimmingly in that area is likely to be a given.

It'd be awesome if being with someone awesome and having an otherwise great relationship could magically "fix" longstanding issues, but as cool as love can be, it simply lacks that power.

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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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WesLuck
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-big hugs for Redskies- [Smile]
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Redskies
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I don't expect much reply or time from anybody, because I know the site is busy and not exactly "for" this. It would help me even to just talk into the ether, though, because I don't have anybody I could talk to (really: my step-dad didn't really say anything and then changed the subject when I even began to mention it, and other possible people are all downhill from there) and it's very bad for me not to be able to say what I'm thinking feeling/at all, and journaling also doesn't cover that for me, I definitely don't need to be any more inward-turning than I already am, it's not good for me.

Things are significantly bad. My partner and I have very different behaviour around disagreeing-discussions and so far have found no way of addressing that. It's something I've been aware of nearly the whole time, and something I have tried to mention, but it hasn't resolved to anything I can really live with. Basically, my conflict-resolution style is heavily on the de-escalation side. I don't mean I back down - in fact, I'm used to being told that I'm too forceful or too intimidating, in personal contexts - but I really can't cope with a combative or tense style. I find it traumatic and distressing. For me, conflict resolution between people who baseline like and/or respect each other should be about a pooling and sharing of viewpoints to work together for a solution. My partner's conflict resolution style, and he openly says this himself, is explicitly combative and escalating. He says that he experiences that people find good solutions when they challenge each other and are really challenged. He says that that's how conflict resolution has always been in his family, and it's how he's needed to be both in personal and more impersonal discussions in order not to be shouted down and ignored. I would guess there's a gendered element in here - that he, as a man, may be ignored if he isn't assertive enough, and I as a woman, am told I'm too assertive. But the fact remains that I cannot cope with his style, and honestly, while I'm trying to be open-minded, my honest opinion is that that style is less healthy, less constructive and much less inclusive. I am exhausted and upset from trying to have discussions in that way, and half the time I give up because I get too exhausted and traumatised and it's too Hard.

In discussions with other people, too, it looks to me like he puts a barrier up beyond which people May Not Cross. He agrees with that. Any point someone makes that crosses that barrier, he just cannot or will not hear. I really can't deal with that. How can you discuss with someone who has already set some absolute parameters? He also regularly responds to a person he's discussing with as if they're someone else, saying something else. He's aware of that (although perhaps not quite how much). I can't really deal with that; I feel like I'm not being heard, he's not responding to Me and what *I*'m saying. Again, how can you discuss with someone like that? I also have a low tolerance level for people going off-point in discussions in order to follow their own agenda and not addressing the actual point.

I've started being very vocal about this. He is now feeling like he can't talk about things and figure things out in the way he needs to. A rather cynical part of me feels "well, yes, Now you have a problem, now I'm saying things have to come in my direction some".

We have started therapy. I think it's a very good thing, and I think the therapist (thank you, Heather) may be the kind of therapist I've needed and not had for a long time. At this point, it's made things worse for the relationship, because these things have come up that we currently have no way of dealing with, resolving or remotely usefully talking about.

I'm exhausted and upset, and I don't even want to talk to him about anything any more.

Ordinarily I would end a relationship considerably before this point. I'm not here, because so much about it felt so right, and because life circumstances will be skewing things considerably, and because maybe a therapist can help us to sort this out and it's not necessarily unsolvable. I still don't really know what to make of things, because it's all so muddied by life circumstances, and because I have very little experience of varied (romantic-ish) relationships and probably don't know my own typical behaviour and feelings to know what calls to make when.

The more connect-y friend I have is also a kind-of relationship, so no good to talk about this in any detail with, but they're also homeless and uncontactable a lot of the time, so I haven't really got that person as regular and solid friend-support for anything else I could really do with it for at the moment, either. I could just really do with a real friend who's actually there, and I don't have one. And I miss my mum. I could write that sentence every five minutes, and it doesn't change anything and it doesn't get any better. I'm so... desolate... of feeling so completely alone nearly my whole life.

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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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Robin Lee
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Hey Redskies,

I'm glad to hear you and your partner are in therapy. Is individual work part of it, or is the therapist just seeing the two of you together?

It might be helpful for the two of you to talk to the therapist about how doing this work has brought a lot of things out, and see if you can get some strategies for dealing with this in the short-term while you work on the long-term stuff.

It does sound as if you're profoundly unhappy right now. I understand that you're committed, at least for now, to staying in this relationship but as I read your thoughts here, I'm wondering: Do you think you would be happier in this relationship or out of it?

Sending gentle thoughts to you.

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Robin

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Redskies
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Thank you, Robin.

I went into therapy saying that I thought a mix of joint and individual work would be the way forward, and after talking with us, the therapist agreed. I also wrote to her asking for the next joint session to be as soon as possible, basically, with a mind to giving us some strategies for right now, and my partner agreed with that.

I'm under no illusion that right now I would be happier out of this relationship than in. I'm really trying not to be naive about this, or to hold onto something out of wishful thinking that should be let go. The only thing stopping me is that I don't know whether that is changeable for the future. I guess some good therapy would show that more clearly, and I don't want to abandon it before then. If our disagreement-styles can be resolved, then I think the relationship comes out very much as a net positive; if they can't, then obviously getting out as soon as that is apparent is the best thing to do.

Also, other than my partner, I would often not speak to another person for a week. Up to this point, speaking with my partner has been a considerable net gain for me. That not-speaking-with-others thing is only partly about mental health issues, by the way - people I've known for a long time, I'm just very, very different to, and I realise I don't get much out of talking to them and don't really enjoy it, and mostly feel more isolated and weird as a result. The mental health stuff makes meeting new people harder, but also, I'm in a really bad geographic place for finding people who would be a reasonable fit, and I, like many people, I think, amn't in much shape for meeting new folk after a significant bereavement and resulting issues.

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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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Redskies: I'm really glad you two followed up with that therapist, and glad she feels like a good fit so far. I thought she might be. [Smile]

In terms of increasing your support circles, I don't suppose you've looked into if there are any support groups expressly for people dealing with loss of a loved on where you are? Those are often pretty easy to find in most areas, and it might be one good way to widen your net.

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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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Cruse Bereavement Care is the go-to org for that in the UK, I believe, and there is a local branch. It looks like some branches facilitate/provide group support, so I'll call tomorrow and see what mine does. I'd shied away from actual counselling there because of doubt that anyone would understand half of what I'd need to talk about; meeting people might be a good option, people who at least I may have One shared experience with.

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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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It sounds to me like your best bet would be a support group, rather than therapy through there. That's what I had in mind when I suggested seeking something like this out, anyway.

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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 what I was trying to say, and that I hadn't really thought about the possibility of a support group before now. Sorry if I was unclear.

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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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Firstly, I'd just like to say a really big thank-you for giving me the space here to be able to take care of myself a bit when I'm very short of other ways to do that. Thank you also Robin for your kindness above, and Heather for the suggestion.

My partner and I managed to have a discussion, typed. Funny how sometimes things work differently to the usual advice. It seemed to make us try to make sure we were saying what we meant more, and check if we weren't sure, and build in a little bit of space to bring the tension down some. It still took quite some time but finally we seemed to get somewhere. He'd also talked to a friend, and Finally something seemed to click about what I'd been trying to say for a really long time - that when we're not understanding each other in a discussion, he focuses on what He's not understanding and what He's not communicating properly, talks loads himself and shuts me down completely. Before, he just Would Not listen that this was not a good thing to do, he just kept saying that if he was making a mistake, he needed to fix it; Would Not listen to me saying that lack of understanding goes both ways, that I need to do exactly what he does, but he's not Allowing me, he's shutting me up. The more I tried to tell him, the more he'd say "but clearly there's something I'm not getting right, and I need to fix it!" Me: "you can fix it by letting me speak, by listening to me" Him: "but I need to work out what I'm getting wrong!" Me *!!??*

Finally, something got through. I did get quite upset that apparently that only got through after he was open to listening to a friend suggesting how a discussion should go, when I've been trying to say for a really long time. I said again, this is Another example of how you listen when you want to learn, but if not, you don't and that's horrible for me. Just in the space of a few days, in just what I'm aware of he's had the same dynamic in at least two other situations (one public Facebook discussion and one conversation he told me about); the facebook one, the person pointed out he wasn't responding to what they'd actually said, and the one he told me about, he said he realised, apologised, and tried to engage with what was being said. So this really isn't just me or centrally about me. I've told him that either he's wanting to learn and then is great at listening, or else he's discussing as if he's defending a medieval castle with sword and shield and all comers Must Not Pass... but perhaps they're trying to arrange a trading agreement or something but he's waving the shield at them and telling them they won't ever invade the castle. I can't cope with that. He's said he'd like to change that, so that's a positive thing. I said very strongly that to me it seemed like, these discussions, He'd get something out of it, because he'd go away and think about what the other person had been trying to say, but *I* wasn't getting anything out of it at all but was putting in a lot of energy and getting exhausted and frustrated, and that's just not fair.

Also, the discussion dynamic felt different. We were still head-on talking about difficulties, but it felt Much lower tension and much less combative. At the end he said that it had felt much better and more constructive, and I felt, well, Yes, This Is What I Have Been Trying To Say. Argh. Happy too, but argh, why did this have to be so hard to get here.

There were other bits and pieces, too, like, over a year ago we discussed sexual health and both agreed it was time we were both tested, and it was the standard of carefulness that we both felt was important. I got mine done within a few weeks, but he hadn't still a year later. I mentioned it a couple of times, but he just felt too overloaded to manage anything else and feels spooked by needles and blood tests. I was fine with being understanding for a while, but not for a whole year and not when he didn't explicitly say there was any significant problem with it, when he'd expressed real concerns about the health issues and I'd done my responsible bit even though that's somewhat challenging and a minor trauma for me as a sexual assault survivor. When I talked clearly about all this, he was bothered that it had been a whole year - apparently he hadn't realised - and has now had the blood tests part, though not the other. That helps begin to address some of the difficulties I've felt. I'm happy he's actually doing something about things that are issues. If he wasn't, if it was just about nice words, I would leave.

He's also not ignorant about the work-stress situation. Even before I got really vocal about all of this, the official acknowledgements he wrote, about half is directly and personally to me. That's very unusual for the genre - and he was informally warned not to but said no way, it was what was right - but does entirely accurately represent the situation we've been in. So, although he wasn't able to see just how upset I was and just how much it affected me and our relationship, he did fully recognise my effort and time and what my input and support had given to him. That matters: I won't be anybody's taken-for-granted behind-the-scenes magic-worker.

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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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I just wanted to say thank you and let you (especially Robin and Heather) know that things have improved a lot. I know that such serious issues and unhappiness in a relationship usually means nothing good, and it could easily sound like I was kidding myself about our possible future... but it really does seem to be all about the baggage and that Partner and I Can find a way around it.

Even from just a couple of sessions couple's therapy and a couple for my partner individually, I felt an enormous difference (I'm a different situation - as may be apparent from elsewhere, I'm no quick-fix, and it does seem like my baggage affects me more than it does anyone else). It was very, very intense and pretty hard-going, and even a bit scary, but we really started hearing each other again. I was also totally surprised how almost immediately he seemed Totally different in sexual situations - things now seem like a journey of learning and discovery, like I would think a healthy thing should be, rather than messed-up-ness. I was/am Delighted, and he seemed/s so happy too. A dynamic between us that I'd sensed right at the beginning has re-emerged too, and that was Great.

Vero's article/blogpost about the end of a relationship of hers was really helpful to me, so thank you for that. It helped me feel sure of the line in the sand I was drawing for myself, and also helped me feel that I was right not to walk away right then and just before that line, because what I was feeling was wrong just wasn't quite the same (and I related a lot about a previous relationship). My partner and I feel very much on a level with political and personal viewpoints, I never feel like I have to dim down, and I feel truly seen for who I am. I didn't feel right showing him great affection for quite a while, and he never pressured me or whined or demanded it and still showed me all the affection he felt, and all that made me like him more once I was ready to again.

[ 11-12-2012, 03:08 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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