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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Feeling safe about dating and relationships (possible trigger warning?)

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Author Topic: Feeling safe about dating and relationships (possible trigger warning?)
Rainbow_1234
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The rest of my life seems pretty much together but the relationship stuff just feels like a huge ball of screw up [Frown]

I think whatever people choose to do is fine so long as it's consensual but for me I want to be in a long-term relationship before I have sex (but not wait till I'm married). And I want it to be more like some of the things I read on this site, where it's fun and OK and not harmful. And more generally (not just the sex stuff) try and work out what a good relationship looks like (my past ones haven't been great but mostly due to my own mental health not being good at the time so I got very clingy, but things are a lot more stable now).
But I'm too scared to get there, - scared that dating will put me in danger. eg I'm mostly attracted to guys but find myself wanting to date women cos I feel safer with them. It doesn't help that I have aspergers and can see some situations that I put myself in when younger that actually turned out OK but in hindsight were a bit unsafe due to misunderstanding social situations. I think I understand things better now (we learn it's just less instinctive), but it still worries me. One time I found a friend who also has aspergers after she took an overdose after being raped, and everyone except me said it was her fault cos she did some things a neurotypical woman would probably recognise as risky [Mad]

Then when I do get into a relationship - I want to be able to cuddle with a partner and take things really slowly, and talk about things. From past experience I'm not scared they'll rape me once I get to know someone OK. But there's a different problem because it feels like as soon as I even get together with someone sex is like the elephant in the room and it's this huge big deal that ruins the relationship, and there's huge amounts of unspoken pressure, and that we'll end up breaking up if I don't do it soon, even when there's no pressure coming from the other person.

My parents believe any sex outside marriage is wrong, and basically the church I was raised in made little distinction between anything outside marriage from consensual sex in a long-term relationship to rape - it was all equally harmful if you weren't married. Also that everyone who doesn't share their beliefs is having sex as soon as possible, and regretting it. And it seems to be one of mum's biggest fears that one of her kids might have sex! Seriously my sister is 24 and has to tell my mum her boyfriend sleeps on the couch. She (mum) also says things like it's unsafe to eg stay over with a partner or they'll rape you, and seems very scared about stuff like that.

So erm
a) Could the beliefs I was brought up with cause these kind of worries or is there likely something else wrong? I worry what if something happened and I forgot it - I really really don't think so, but can't see how I'm getting so freaked out without any real experiences to cause it, so it worries me. ?
b) How do I stop feeling so scared about dating & relationships?
c) what do I need to think about for being safe dating?

PS I'm trans* not female so please don't refer to me as female in replies [Smile]


Thanks, this website is really helpful [Smile]

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Robin Lee
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Hi Rainbow_1234,

The kinds of messages you got when you were younger, and that you're getting now, could certainly be fueling these fears. It's pretty hard not to be scared when we're repeatedly told that we should be.

Do you still live with your family? I ask because I'm wondering if that is also holding you back and contributing to your fears around dating.

It sounds like, in the past, you haven't felt like your own boundaries and limits around physical contact were respected. It sounds too like you were expecting them not to be respected even when they were.

What do you think would help you in these situations to feel more comfortable? For example, if you tell the person you're with that you just want to cuddle, and you don't want any genital touching, and they say that's fine and show you that they're okay and even happy with this limit, what else do you feel like you need in order to feel like there's no pressure and everyone is happy?

Your question about what you need in order to stay safe in dating and relationships is a pretty broad one. Do you have anything you're wondering about specifically?

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Robin

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Molias
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Hi Rainbow,


It sounds like it might be helpful for you to spend some time thinking about what you'd like from a relationship; maybe this article could be a good place to start?
Supermodel: Creating & Nurturing Your Own Best Relationship Models

Some people do kind of stumble into relationship with people they're attracted to, and work out the details as they go. But maybe you'll find it better to have a little more discussion about relationship parameters with a potential partner before you decide to date or start a relationship together. That would give you the room to say "I want to take things really slow, physically; right now I am interested in [x] and [y] but not [z] and I want to make sure you're on board with that."

In terms of safety when dating, this is worth a read: Safer Sex...for Your Heart but if you have other specifics we can touch on those too. =)

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Rainbow_1234
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Hi Robin & Molias,
Thank you so much for the replies, sorry it took me a few days to feel OK about thinking about this again.

"Do you still live with your family? "
no I moved out a while ago.

The 'supermodel' article looks really helpful thanks I've printed it out to read through more slowly [Smile]

"Your question about what you need in order to stay safe in dating and relationships is a pretty broad one. Do you have anything you're wondering about specifically?"

specifically personal safety rules for either online dating or meeting friends of friends where you don't already know the person well.

"What do you think would help you in these situations to feel more comfortable? For example, if you tell the person you're with that you just want to cuddle, and you don't want any genital touching, and they say that's fine and show you that they're okay and even happy with this limit, what else do you feel like you need in order to feel like there's no pressure and everyone is happy?"

I'm not sure, I'll think about this and try and come up with some ideas.

" But maybe you'll find it better to have a little more discussion about relationship parameters with a potential partner before you decide to date or start a relationship together."
that sounds good, but how do you do that without just sounding really serious and putting the other person off - is it possible to do this well?

Thanks [Smile]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Hey there, Rainbow.

What do you feel like you need in this regard per safety information?

For instance, does the information in these pieces give you what you're looking for, or did you need more/something else?

• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/he_mostly_seems_nice_online_should_i_meet_him_in_person
• Getting Real: Relationships on the Net

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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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Molias
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You know, there are some people who just don't want to talk about relationship boundaries in general before dating or before becoming sexually active. But I honestly think that if someone isn't willing to talk about their own limits and desires, as well as listen to yours, when you bring that sort of conversation up, then that's a pretty good way to filter them out as potential partners.

Say you go on a date or two with someone and it's going well; maybe one of you or the other initiates some physical intimacy like a hug or kiss, or you think that might happen soon. You could just say something like "I'm really enjoying this, and I like [hugging/snuggling/kissing] a lot, but I want to let you know that I like to take things really slow and don't want sex (you can be more specific here if you want) to be on the table right now - maybe not for quite a while." And then you can listen to what they have to say. This sort of conversation can feel overly-serious, awkward, or stilted, but I think it's still important. And it gets easier with practice.

It's possible that you'll tell someone this, and they'll say that they really need to have sex earlier in a relationship to feel happy. And that's their right to feel that way! It's not their right to try to be coercive about it, or bug you until you give up and have sex out of irritation. That would just mean that the two of you aren't a great fit. But there are plenty of people out there who either also prefer to take things slow or could be happy either way.

I know we've given you a lot of things to read in this thread, but here's another one! [Wink] Be a Blabbermouth! The Whats, Whys and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner

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Rainbow_1234
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Hi Heather,
the second one is useful, thanks [Smile]
I think with queer relationships it's more common to meet someone online because you're looking at a much smaller pool of people. Like I can't see where I could meet someone somewhere else - a lot of my friends are straight or gay but not really attracted to someone of non-binary gender. So I kind of feel like the online thing is probably my best option if I can do it safely.

The blabbermouth one is good, thanks molias. I think what I find difficult is at what stage do you bring that sort of thing up? But hopefully it's just practice [Smile] .

I was thinking going back to Robin's question - what would make it feel safer is having a two-way conversation with the person, rather than me just saying "I don't want to have sex for a while" and them saying "fine". Cos it feels like I'm always the one holding them back, they're waiting and I assume they're really feeling impatient when they might actually prefer to wait themselves as well. And we don't really have any conversation about what else we might want to do or not. Or what we might want to do when we do have sex.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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By all means, when we're queer and we don't live somewhere with some kind of queer community we can easily identify and integrate into, I'd agree, online dating is much more common.

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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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