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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » is it ethical to want somewhat different things in a hookup?

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Author Topic: is it ethical to want somewhat different things in a hookup?
naplement
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this is a personal thing, but I decided to post it in the ethics section, because as I was thinking of it, ethical and general questions after questions appeared. (overthinker here, hi)

So, I am usually touch-hungry, but my sexual attractions have usually been stamped on by anxiety and a religious internal censor etc, so that side of me hadn't developed that much (of course, I have no idea who I would have become, had I lived a different life). There was only one guy I was attracted in that strong, butterflies-in-stomach, all-touches-are-electric way I keep reading about, it was someone I was in love with. In rest, touches are nice and I want them, but... it's far from how things were described in Heather's Shameless Proposal(something like that) text around here. I sometimes see guys I am attracted to, but they are rare, and it's even more rare to that physical thing to coincide with compatibility.

I do drool over some celebrities' pictures, but what I mostly seek for when reading erotic stuff are dynamics and the psychological part.

[Maybe this would put me in the demisexual box in some people's view, but I don't want to categorize myself before seeing how I work when unhindered by the toxic baggage. And before I stop taking antidepressants, so my libido can go back to a more natural level.]

I am not looking for a relationship, it would be better to work on people skills and friendships in general before that, and there isn't anyone around I'd want to get into a relationship with, anyway. There are, however, hookup occasions.

Now, I get that I am allowed to have limits, and I do try to communicate them clearly and as early as possible. There aren't many people I can do this with (because of the rubbish idea in many people's mind that "good girls are supposed to say no", so "no means yes").

So let's say [theoretic scenario based on real-life opportunities] I am with someone who I wouldn't turn my head after on the street, but seems nice and safe and accepts my limits. He seems to be more attracted to me than I am to him, which leads to me wanting to do mainly hugs and cuddles, while being petted and enjoying it a lot, getting turned on, and, let's say, wanting a handjob[fingering]. It is offered. On the other hand, I am not especially interested in giving a handjob myself: I feel nice and I could do it like a friendly, touchy-feely backrub, but there is no strong enthusiasm there.

Now there are 3 possibilities:
-accept the fingering and call it a night. Disadvantage: guilt, feeling like I am exploiting, unevenness.
-accept the fingering and offer the handjob. Disadvantage: being afraid that doing stuff I am not very much wanting to do would lead me in toxic places.
-stop at cuddling. Disadvantage: frustration, fear that me stopping is caused by old sex-negative things I don't actually believe in anymore.

I am inclined towards the second one, but I see the problems:

On one hand, this scenario sounds perfectly legit, because hey, if both participants enjoy it, why not - saying that sex always has to be a Big Deal is uselessly limiting. But here comes the overthinking part.

Firstly, the "woman passively accepting and thinking just about what she feels vs. man being eager and actually wanting her " dynamic is a traditional one I dislike, and it is a bit funny to be a loud supporter of the idea that hey, women have libidos too, then doing such things. I don't think that we can make consensual things unacceptable just because in other contexts they happen in iffy ways, I support ethical BDSM etc, but the feeling of dissonance is still here.

Also, it just feels unfair - but I also have to learn to just accept what they say, so if the guy says he's happy, who am I to argue? But what if they are just polite? or buying in that myth in the first point, which I am reinforcing now? etc.

Secondly, there is this idea of enthusiastic consent. I know that "enthusiasm" here means something more like willingness, but this scenario still feels a bit outside of this model - maybe getting used to do stuff I am not that very much into would lead to very toxic places.

And this also reminds me of the transactional model of sex, in which women want x, men want y, and it is always an exchange, I want my sex to be not like this. but in the scenario, the things we want wouldn't be that much different...

I am upset because I don't trust my reasons not to let myself get in situations like this (hey, are you the shame I thought I kicked out of my head, trying to sneak back under different theoretical clothes?), I want to be touched and to touch others, and I would enjoy this. But on the other hand, I am afraid that doing stuff I am not super-very-extremely into would not be a good idea.

maybe asexuals/demisexuals could help me? anybody, any ideas? Because asexuals must have theories about how to threat ethics when your wants are different. Or I could just wait until I can hook up with someone I am as attracted to as he is to me. But I do feel cold in the meanwhile.

:/

[ 07-16-2012, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: naplement ]

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Heather
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I'm not sure anything about this is unethical, per se. And certainly, wanting different things doesn't make anyone unethical. Ethics are really about actions, anyway, not thoughts or feelings.

But I'm not sure why you'd do anything sexual you aren't actually interested in, or feel that you'd have to. Why not instead seek out someone who wants what you do?

--------------------
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 also realize there's something I wanted to add, especially around that essay.

The context of the scenario of that essay was an ongoing relationship with mutual attraction and desire -- as an ideal -- as a given, which is really a very different thing than you're talking about here, where it's "some person," and you also are talking about anxiety and a history with baggage around sex around religious stuff, so...well, I'd just not really look at something like that with something like this.

I also think that we have to be careful with some of this new ace community language, because the fact of the matter is that an awful lot of people are attracted to people in a whole lot of different ways besides what's presented in the mainstream, or when sexual attraction is boiled down to nothing but this kind of super-hungry, almost-entirely physical attraction. Those of us who study sex and people's sexualites know that sexual feelings and attraction are rarely that one-dimensional for anyone, and that for most people, context is king.

(I don't mean to dismiss the framework of demisexuality nor the framework of asexuality, it's just that it often isn't informed by a broader, less personal view of what everyone's sexuality is and what we know sexuality to be when we look at it more broadly.)

Point is that this sounds to me like a scenario where you really aren't interested in the same things as someone else, and when that's the case, we can always just nix and hang on for someone who comes around with more similarity. I think some folks have the idea they'll be waiting forever because what they want is SO different than "everyone else," and while, for sure, some folks desires or preferences are more common than others, I actually think "start or stay for a while with makeout, snuggles and petting" is not something I'd class as highly unusual at all, but instead, as fairly typical (and not just for women).

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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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naplement
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well, the ethical question was if it's ok to do the second possibility: "accept the fingering and offer the handjob. Disadvantage: being afraid that getting used to doing stuff I am not very much, actively wanting to do would lead me in toxic places".

But I as I think about it, it seems that for me, this sense of obligation is part of the problem, and if I let it guide my actions, I'd help it survive, and I don't want to - I want to feel responsible to inform people of what are my limits, but I'd like to get rid of the feeling of obligation around guys with hard-ons caused by their attraction to me. (I've seen a very similar discussion around here, inclusive where you made the comparation to other people being hungry around me who are even able to feed themselves anyway.) But then if I accept manual sex from them, then I'll feel even more endebted. So a way of getting out of the trap is to stop it at make-out level.

Why I'd be inclined to do option 2? Because honestly, when turned on, I do sometimes want to get a fingering, so we do want to get the same things... the difference is that I suppose that they are more into giving me things than I am into giving them. (maybe you will find problems with this language of giving-getting, but it's hard to express myself without using it; I mean manual sex where the owner of the hand is the "giver".) Actually, I have no idea how other people feel when "giving" these things (except for situations when they are very much into it).

In "start or stay for a while with makeout, snuggles and petting", it all depends of what "petting" means. The site lets me log in in the forum, but doesn't recognize my ID and password when I'd want to see the definition used here for this...

So, trying to concentrate on the question again, I guess my dilemma was based on a question like "in sex, how much does one was to actively want to do something, as opposed to not minding to do it, for it to be considered ethical from their part to participate in it?". Which is an unanswerably broad question in itself, but maybe it;s a bit more answerable in this context?

(I understand the problems with the simplified versions of asexuality theory, and I'll try to formulate my thoughts keeping in mind what you have said.)

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Heather
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I guess I'm still having a hard time seeing the thic in this, exactly. To me, ethics are about a person's sense of morality, of what is, in a big way, right and wrong.

When it comes to the other person in this situation, I don't think you can do them wrong -- or right, really -- by doing something you're not into. While that doesn't tend to be what most people would want from a partner sexually, I don't see how choosing to do that or not could do that person any real harm.

It sounds to me like you're perhaps assuming that if someone wants to give you manual sex, it's only to "earn" the same for themselves. In other words, that that person would not have an interest in just doing that for its own sake, because they want to and would find enjoyment in that. Do I have that right? If so, can I ask why you think you're making that presumption, that if we want to engage in a given kind of sex with someone that involves their genitals, we want the same or similar done to us?

Petting is a term that usually means some kind of full-body sexual touching, including genitals.

Ultimately, this seems about what having sex out of a feeling of obligation, or a sense one has to "pay" for a kind of sex they want with another kind someone else does, would do to YOU. In my framework, sex out of obligation or quid pro quo isn't a healthy framework, nor one that supports the best and most satisfying -- for everyone -- sexual relationships. But I don't feel it's unethical to choose if and when one chooses that dynamic.

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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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naplement
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hey, thanks for the answer, and for the lowering of stakes you suggested, I feel better now. [Smile] I know this scenario wouldn't be the best and most satisfying, I'm just trying to adapt to not-perfect situations.

I understand what you said meaning that I should base this decision on what I want, because I know that I have all kind of problems around this, and I don't want to feed them. So I'll wait with doing things until I'm more wanting to do them.

quote:
"It sounds to me like you're perhaps assuming that if someone wants to give you manual sex, it's only to "earn" the same for themselves. In other words, that that person would not have an interest in just doing that for its own sake, because they want to and would find enjoyment in that. Do I have that right?"
->yes, that's how I feel. Partially because of cultural notions of "what all men want all the time" (I'm trying to kick these ideas out of my head, they can be diverse), and partially because I have little experience with sleeping with people I am very much into. And I see some fingerprints of the low self-esteem problem around here too, because maybe if I thought of myself as more likeable, then I could easier imagine someone else's joy in doing that for me.

wow, it's interesting thinking about it from this point of view. Because it isn't even necessarily about generosity, because seeing the effect their action makes on me could be attractive for them... it could be about knowing that the impact is theirs, or just the sexiness of my noises etc.

I remember a list of needs relationships tend to fill from a psychology essay ("relational needs"), and one of them was impact, seeing that what people do has an effect on their partners, so I can see that. I think I will go trough that list and will try to imagine how other people might get those relationship needs met in relationships with me, not just in sexual contexts, but generally - sounds like a fun project in expanding my imagination (as opposed to "I can't imagine why anybody would want to be friends with me").

Thank you for the answers and the space you have offered to organize my thoughts. If you have the time and the right mood for continuing the conversation, I'm curious, but I am satisfied with these answers too, if you don't have those. Have a nice summer.

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Heather
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I'm happy to keep on talking about this if you'd like to, no problem. [Smile]

I also think looking at relational needs and thinking from that standpoint could absolutely be helpful.

I do think that a lot of people have ideas about sex with others as being about what is done to or done by, if you get me 9and then also often presuming intercourse means everyone is doing and getting both at the same time). That framing is, I think, deeply problematic, in so many ways.

Have you ever looked at this: Reciprocity, Reloaded?

If not, it might be useful here.

--------------------
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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naplement
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Thank you, this article was spot on. I will re-read it again.

Honestly, while these are problems I do meet again and again, I have asked this because I did the sleeping in the same bed and making out thing with a friend of a friend for two days (nights, I mean), and who has left the city since. So there was a point when I just didn't know what to do. The third night I refused to go because I was too busy, and the fourth night he asked me not to come, for his own reasons (which he partially explained). But I think I managed to remain calm and to communicate as clearly as I could, and to be nice and non-blaming, so I do qualify this as a success.

I did get sad afterwards ("oh my god, it IS impossible to find someone really willing to hold me"), but I'm all right now (I'm just busy, so I will pause this tread soon).

There was a heart-warming exchange through I'd like to share with other scarleteen-ers: after I have tried to explain what my limits are and telling that I won't do stuff I don't want, but I do feel bad for being unfair on the other hand (I skipped asking what he actually wanted, let's say this is on the list of things I must learn), and he said something like "no one is perfectly fair". I asked what we can be then, and he said "human". In this context, this meant unexpected acceptance and permission to be myself (of course I didn't actually need this permission, but it was welcome anyway). It did warm me in a way that lasts more than the endorphin surge of touching. [Smile]

[ 07-19-2012, 06:56 AM: Message edited by: naplement ]

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Heather
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Of course.

And LOVE the exchange in that last paragraph. [Smile]

--------------------
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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