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Author Topic: scared of getting too close
Prozac
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My boyfriend and I just started having sex, and so far it's been great; don't get me wrong. We go slow, we respect each other's boundaries, consent is always loud and clear -- it's been good. But here's the thing. We've had sex about five times or so, when suddenly I just -- stopped wanting to. I seriously just stalled sexually; I do not want to do anything sexual with him right now. And I'm actually starting to feel like I should break up with him.

My therapist says this is because I have a tendency to feel like I'm getting "too close" to someone so I push them away. He recommends stepping back a bit -- going back to what I was really enjoying before we had sex, which was just cuddling and hanging out and being comfortable with each other. He says you don't HAVE to have sex to be in a romantic relationship, but that's not how I learned things, so I'm struggling with it.

I should mention that my boyfriend has been really great with the no sex bit -- in fact, he hasn't even brought it up. The only thing he doesn't understand is why I've avoiding him.

Is it possible my therapist is right, and I'm only trying to push my boyfriend away because I'm scared of getting too close?

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Molias
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Have you specifically talked to your boyfriend about wanting to pull back from sex right now? I'm not sure, from what you've written, if you've had a conversation with him about it. But since you say he's confused that you're avoiding him, I'm guessing you haven't really gone into all of this with him, which I think is an important step. Whether or not you decide to continue your relationship with your boyfriend, I think it's best to let him in on what you're thinking - or at least what you're confused about and not yet sure of.

I get that if you've struggled with the idea of having a romantic relationship without close sexual contact, it may feel odd to talk to your boyfriend about this or set some boundaries around it, but that's really the only way to change the parameters of your relationship without having a lot of confusion hanging around between the two of you.

So how about, first off, talking to him about your reluctance to have sex right now? Having that out in the open may make it more comfortable for you to spend time with him so you don't feel like avoiding him.

And of course, if you are just really not feeling like being with him is working for you right now, it's all right to break up with him. But if you're feeling unsure and confused about this, I think bringing all of this to your boyfriend first is a good next step.

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Prozac
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I just feel like I need to sort out my own feelings first. Do I really want to break up with him? Do I have valid reasons for breaking up with him? Or am I just trying to avoid getting too close to someone? My boyfriend seems ideal -- I told him once that just because we were having sex now didn't mean I would always be having sex with him, and he was fine with it -- but like I've literally been avoiding even seeing him, and he doesn't understand why -- and I guess neither do I. I'm sure my boyfriend would be fine with not having sex. But I'm not sure I'M fine with that -- even though that's what I want. I know I'm not making any sense.
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Molias
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Well, it certainly does sound like there's a lot for you to sort out here. Maybe you could even tell him "hey, I need to take some time to sort out some heavy stuff but I'll check back in with you in [some amount of time] to let you know how I'm feeling, ok?" so he at least knows that you need some space to think about things on your own.

Is any of this that you're working through something that would be helpful to discuss here? Do you want to talk at all about your conflicting feelings about not having sex with your boyfriend?

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Prozac
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Sex just isn't my thing. I was abused as a kid and it's just... blah. I've been wildly promiscuous, even had an HIV scare, but I've put all that behind me and now, honestly, I see myself in the future alone (as in, no partner), with my own apartment, career, and cat, and there's just no room in that picture for another person in my mind. I like being in relationships, but they have to be finite -- there has to be an end to them. And I don't like getting too serious; I especially don't like saying the L-Word. Anyway, sex in relationships is something I've ALWAYS done, so the two go together in my mind. And while I can enjoy it if it goes okay, I can really take it or leave it. I think if I never had another sexual partner in my life, I'd just get myself off once a month with my own hand and forget about it.

And I like my boyfriend a lot. And sex with him is fun. But I don't want to get too close because then when I get to the point where I want to end it, it's messy. And I'm just not enthusiastic enough about sex to want to do it frequently. It's like if I could have the perfect relationship, it would have all the kissing and affection but a lot of space and virtually no sex whatsoever. But I've never met a guy who wanted to put up with that kind of thing, especially if I told him it would have to end probably before he was ready and never progress into something deeper. I don't know. My therapist says I'm not ready for a relationship. Maybe he's right.

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Robin Lee
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Well, it sounds like what a lasting relationship entails, with caring and commitment and mutual consideration is an overwhelming idea for you right now. Perhaps what you look for in relationships is companionship more than anything else?

Does your boyfriend knwo that you're not interested in a relationship that will last indefinitely?

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Robin

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Prozac
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No, he doesn't know that yet. It's never seemed like the right time to bring it up. And companionship is exactly what I want.
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Robin Lee
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So, maybe it's a good time to sit down with your boyfriend and talk about mutual expectations, particularly since I got the impression from one of your posts that you'd prefer to avoid messiness. [Smile]

Have you discussed this relationship with your therapist?

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Robin

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Prozac
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My therapist knows about it. He thinks I'm not ready for a relationship but as long as I'm in a good one (as in, not abusive), then I should stick with it and see where it goes. My therapist does not know I plan on spending the rest of my life single, or if he does know (I forget) he does not take it seriously.

And I don't know, I just feel like telling my boyfriend after dating for like a month, "Hey, you know I'm not gonna marry you right?" seems pretty premature.

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September
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Talking about marriage after a month would, indeed, be a bit premature. However, it is generally a good idea to have a conversation fairly early on in a new relationship about what you want and need and what your partner wants and needs, and what kind of a relationship model you are looking for. It sounds like not only have you two not had that conversation yet, but your partner is also a bit confused about your behavior.

Having that conversation is really a win-win: if your partner is on board with a more casual relationship model were you each get lots of space, you may feel more comfortable in the relationship. And if he's not okay with that, then you know that he is not the right kind of partner for you and you both get to move on and find people where your ideal relationship models match up better.

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Prozac
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Ah, okay. I understand what you guys were trying to say now. Sorry for being so obtuse.

I'll definitely talk to my boyfriend and figure things out. Thanks!

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