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Author Topic: c***tease
000
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Okay, I hate that word. Really, truly I do. I realize it's misogynist, and comes from the assumption that what a man wants should be the rule for everything sexual in nature. However, I can't keep it from messing with my head. I'm always afraid people are pissed at me if we're messing around and they think we're going to have sex but we don't either because I never intended to or because I get cold feet last minute or some combination thereof. What's the right thing to do? Do you guys think talking and setting boundaries is very important before you start having fun? What if you don't know whether or not you'll do something when you start?
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September
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Well, then, how about saying what you just did in the last sentence? Try something like "I am not sure where this will lead or how far I am prepared to go, and I might get uncomfortable and decided to stop at any point." And if that's not okay with your partner, then he's not someone you want to get physical with in the first place.

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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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000
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Well, just because they're accepting of it doesn't mean they're not frustrated. And that's the point where this is messing with my head. And if I can tell someone's a little frustrated, no matter how nice they are about it, I'm almost too embarassed to see them again. And there's got to be a finite number of times any guy would put up with that, right? Or not?
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September
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The point of any physical activity of that kind should be that both people involved are satisfied with it. And someone who really cares about you isn't going to really be able to enjoy any activity that the other isn't enjoying or is even causing them pain. Might they feel frustrated wtih it at some point? Sure. But they always have the option of deciding they're not going to put up with it and just leaving, which'll tell you all you need to know about that person.

You are under no obligation to 'put out' so your partner won't feel frustrated. If they want sex, they can masturbate. If they want to experience intimacy with you, they'll need -and want!- to make sure that it's mutual.

If a guy is patient and you trust them enough, the idea is that sooner or later you'll feel comfortable being physical with them. This might take days or weeks or months, but it'll happen. And a guy who really cares for you will wait for that time.

And are there guys out there who're willing to be patient? Hell yes. I'm with one of 'em.

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Johanna
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000
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But how do you feel comfortable without trying stuff first? It seems like a catch-22. Most of what makes me nervous/uncomfortable is not knowing how to do stuff... and having to communicate that. I feel like there's this assumption that if you're a girl and you're doing something for the first time you're supposed to feel it's "special" and maybe get all emotional about it, but I just don't feel that way... I don't want it to be a big deal. I just want to be comfortable and sort of figure stuff out as I go along. And I don't want it to have to be in a longterm, committed relationship either. I've never had one and it seems like such a hassle.

[ 09-28-2006, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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September
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There is a difference, too, between being a bit nervous and being uncomfortable or downright scared. If you're doing something new for the first time, yeah, you're gonna be fumbling about a bit and you're gonna be a bit nervous. But if you're comfortable enoung with your partner, and trust them enough, it shouldn't be more than that.

Honestly? If you're so insecure about being inexperienced, casual sex might not be the way to go for you. I am not knocking casual sex - for some people it's perfectly fine and okay. But for others, having sex just feels better in the context of a relationship where you trust the partner completely and feel comfortable enough to experiment a bit and ask questions.

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Johanna
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000
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The thing is too, I've kind of tried relationships before. I get /more/ insecure if it's someone I know better. I always care a lot more about impressions I make with someone I already know. (possibly b/c I've had bad experiences with people I know including family, so I don't find spending more time w/ someone necessarily helps me "trust" them). When it's a casual setting I actually feel more free to fumble about a bit, and to be a bit more free w/ language in general. Physical attraction is usually stronger too w/ people I don't know too well, everything else being equal. This is just the way my mind/attraction seems to work.

The whole finding someone for a longterm relationship just seems daunting, too. I'd think finding someone to be "patient" would become harder, too, the older you get. Especially finding someone patient who would also be attractive in their own right and therefore has an ok time picking up other people. I don't even hang out w/ that many guys, which narrows it further. Ahh... k better stop before I start worrying more

[ 09-28-2006, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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September
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Hon, if sex is such a big deal for you at this point, and causes you that much anxiety, might it not be wise to lay off the intimicay entirely for a little while?

As I said, it is perfectly understandable and fine to be a little bit nervous when you're just starting out with sex. But if it's taking over your mind, if it's making you feel insecure and embarassed, if you're having a hard time setting boundaries and figure out what you are and aren't okay with, then maybe you're just not ready for all of that yet.

Too, finding a relationship might sometimes seem difficult. But these things just take time. And a lot of it is trial and error, putting yourself out there and experimenting a little. If you don't think you're meeting enough guys your age, why not change that? Are you at college? Join a club that interests you, and you'll meet like-minded people. If not, volunteer, take classes, join a sports team. Meeting people isn't that tough. And it truly sounds to me that, at this point, it'd be better if you took a break from casual hook-ups and focus on becoming more comfortable with yourself and who you are.

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Johanna
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000
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well for one thing, I don't look my age. i look older, and I have my entire life. I've never gotten asked out by an interesting guy who was less than 5 years older than me. And I wouldn't say the negative aspects of sex are taking over my mind all the time. More like the positive things. I do think about it a lot, and I have ever since I was 13 or 14. But emotional intimacy has been a constant problem for me, I know that, and I don't know where to begin to start getting over that. I don't know what steps to take. I'm active in lots of clubs. I talk to people. I've been told I often give the impression of being confident and outgoing. I flirt with guys I like. I don't know what I'm doing differently than anyone else, and I don't know how to go about finding that out.

Also, my last casual hookup was like, the best thing that's happened to me in like, a long time. I can't stop fantasizing about it, so my motivation for breaking the habit is not very high right now...

[ 09-28-2006, 04:00 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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September
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You say you have a problem with emotional intimacy, and you've said earlier that you have a problem trusting people because of negative experiences. I don't want to pry so I won't ask, but maybe that's where the roots of this issue lie? And if you feel that it's affecting your life in this way, have you considered getting counseling for this?

Being nervous and anxious is totally normal. Given enough time and the right partner, it should level out. But if you think that other issues are the cause for this, rather than some normal tension, then by all means, talk to someone about those issues.

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Johanna
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000
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I mean, family stuff is pretty dramatic. And there's not a lot of love in marriages in my family, there's some domestic abuse, I've been like the black sheep of the family for years. So yeah, family stuff might be a reason I get anxious in certain circumstances, absolutely. I've even talked to a school counselor a little, but I can't say it's helped too much. It's helped me understand myself better, and understand what's normal in most families better. Scarleteen has done sort of a similar thing for me. But talking to a counselor has not really helped me understand if something about my own actions turns people off from wanting to get to know me better, or how I can keep from feeling weird and way-too-vulnerable about the whole relationship thing.

The solution I keep coming back to in my mind is: just do it, just hookup with someone you're attracted to and go farther than usual. Be brave enough to at least ask how I should go about doing some things. Once you've done it: no big deal, right? It seems that for all my friends who have been in relationships once, afterwards they find it a lot easier to meet more people for engaging in casual or serious relationships or whatever.

And honestly? Yeah, I know some people don't have their first relationship until they're 20, 23, etc. But I've been really interested since I was 15. I see absolutely no guarantee that I'm going to find someone in the next year or within the next 5, for that matter, when I've already been sort of trying for 5 yrs. Maybe it's cuz I'm picky, but then why do I find some random hookups appealing? I'm not waiting for "the right person" where everything feels perfect or perfectly-comfortable, b/c I don't believe there's such a thing. I'm kind of quirky, anyway, so it would probably require finding someone whose quirkiness complimented mine and the odds are just way too low. Especially since I figured out for myself 2 yrs ago that sex isn't the thing-to-be-dreaded that my parents had led me to believe, I'm not waiting. If I can gradually gain more confidence through hookups, what's wrong w/ that? It's just how to do that gracefully that I need to work on/need advice on...

(sorry if this reads as argumentative, I'm just trying to be frank.)

[ 09-28-2006, 04:44 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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September
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But see, we cannot help you hook up 'gracefully' if you're not willing to deal with your insecurities. Because, really? Just pushing yourself to go through with it, even if you're not okay with it, seems to me to be a surefire way to complicate matters even more.

You feel embarrased. That is your body telling you that you're not okay with what's happening. How you chose to deal with that is up to you, of course. But I think that taking a step back, giving yourself time and figuing out why you feel embarrased would be the way to deal with that. Not continuing the same behavour that's making you feel that way to begin with.

Maybe someone else can give you the kind of advice you're looking for, because I've really said all I can think of.

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Johanna
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000
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But you also can't tell me how to "deal" with my insecurities. What do you mean? You mean accept them? I know inaction doesn't help me get over them, b/c I've been practicing inaction for the better part of 5 yrs. Everything else that once seemed scary you learn to do and get comfortable with by trying: riding a bike, skiing, kissing. I think sex seems like a bigger deal b/c all of culture is telling you it is and telling you it's dangerous. But I've at least gotten somewhat more confident w/ myself since I've started experimenting, even if not everything's perfect. So yeah, I don't know what to do exactly either *shrug* all I know is that pushing myself has gotten me past most of my other challenges in life.

If there was some hot guy who wanted to date me, it's not like I'd say no, but in the meantime I don't see a reason to hold off. I've also learned that dating friendly, dull guys is not a good alternative, as it makes me feel kind of icky like I'm trying to get physical with a brother. So not to beat a dead horse, but yeah, just waiting around for the "right guy" was not really the advice I was looking for, sorry...

[ 09-28-2006, 05:17 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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kitka
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It seems like you're getting wrapped around at least two things - feeling comfortable about the physical stuff, and finding someone who you feel comfortable with - the paradox being that you have trouble trusting people in close situations on account of feeling like a black sheep.

just hookup with someone you're attracted to and go farther than usual.

You could... But if you're still worried about a guy's frustrations (re: the proverbial tease), it's gonna be tough to set and maintain boundaries. I'd wager that for a fair amount of people who are interested in hooking up, they're not just looking for a make-out session and a few cheap feels. So there's that to consider.

This is thorny so I'm gonna try to dissect it:

but then why do I find some random hookups appealing? I'm not waiting for "the right person" where everything feels perfect or perfectly-comfortable, b/c I don't believe there's such a thing. I'm kind of quirky, anyway, so it would probably require finding someone whose quirkiness complimented mine and the odds are just way too low.

You find them appealing because there's not the threat of emotional intimacy and confusion - and it's a situation that you can walk away from.

Things don't always feel "perfect" with the right person. I didn't know my guy was the right one and in many ways I still don't know how "right" he is, in terms of a long-term relationship that would last more than a couple of years. I just went with my gut and hoped he wouldn't bail on me. It took me over two months to feel totally comfortable with everything that was going on, including the sex.

The odds aren't low - they're just different for everybody. It's one thing to realize that you have unique needs, but it's another to cut yourself out of the possibility of serious relationships altogether.

For the record (and I say this as the chick who waited until she was almost 24), many people who wait past the average "norm" of high school are often also "really interested" in having sex.
I sure as heck was.

For whatever reason, some people don't feel like the circumstances are right for them, or they don't have the opportunity. Doesn't mean they don't want to do it as badly as the next guy.

Being in some kind of relationship before you move onto the more serious variety definitely helps to acclimate some people. You get used to kissing & whatnot & feeling ambivalent and wild about somebody. The second time around, you have a better idea of what to expect, so it can be easier.

The nice guy conundrum. Hmm. Friendly guys are not necessarily dull. You may find one who's pretty cool underneath the glasses and the shyness. There's also sometimes a fine line between nice/respectable and cocky/tough. Those guys can be interesting too. But you never really know their character until you spend sustained time with someone.

I don't think September was advising you to wait around for the "right guy" - she knows that "right" is different and temporal depending on your point of view. (And besides, sometimes the "wait" is a lot shorter than you expect.)
As far as insecurities go, everybody's got them, and they have to learn to deal with them. There's only so much other people can do to help in that department. If people don't act on your insecurities, they don't get over them - they just put them away for a while.

I think a lot of us would advise you not to leap into a random hookup in the hopes of pushing past the challenge. And that's generally because hookups usually don't take inexperience (emotional and physical) into account, especially if you're dealing with being part of a dramatic and abuse-prone family.

From your first couple of posts, it sounds like you're pretty dedicated to finding a "graceful hookup." If you want it, it's your choice to go for it. You need to figure out if it's a matter of just wanting to have sex (since you're categorizing it as a challenge) or if there's another issue driving you.

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000
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it's pretty much b/c I want to have sex. (in the interest of being honest, to a much lesser degree, i don't want to feel separated in experience from so many people that it makes me feel like i can't relate or i'm a little kid. when it comes to most things, i'm the wise one in the crowd.)

"I just went with my gut and hoped he wouldn't bail on me"
It's so true we all want different things. B/c this is like never a thought I'd have. I really don't think it's fair or realistic of me to just hope people will stick around. Plus I myself get bored with most people after a certain period of time.

"It took me over two months to feel totally comfortable with everything that was going on, including the sex."
I don't see how having sex you're not totally comfortable with in a relationship is much different than having sex you're not totally comfortable with outside the confines of a relationship. Personally, I think outside a relationship is nicer b/c there's little to no sense of obligation -you have more guaranteed control.

I mean, really, I've known some very interesting people who I kind of wanted to sleep with, you know? But to tell them I haven't done y, z, and to have it be like some special thing, is just way too much pressure to put on them and therefore on me. You know the part in American Beauty where the dad is about ready to have sex with the (granted, terribly naive) girl and when she tells him she's a virgin he's suddenly just like 'no, I can't take your virginity'? I would die if some guy did something like that to me. I also may really hate myself if I get /another/ chance to sleep with someone I really like, and I'm having a terrific time and then just suddenly wig out b/c I'm worried about "doing something wrong". I seriously feel that it's just about on the level of a stage fright issue I had for awhile in 10th grade. I'm not totally inexperienced, in the sense that I've been in relationships for a couple of months where there was some pretty intense sexual touching, and I am very familiar with my own body. I know I'm pretty mediocre at pleasuring another person, and that is going to be something I worry about no matter who I'm with, no matter our level of familiarity. I'm like the kid no one ever wanted on their kickball team, you know? Not out of shape, just very uncoordinated.

And part of all my questioning may just be me still trying to be okay with being different from a lot of people, and certainly different from the rigid morality my parents tried to give me. I think I just need to have experiences that feel mostly right for me at the time, and to try not to be so nervous about what I'm doing, so worried about making mistakes. Also I know I need to work on my verbal communication skills. But I'm getting better all the time -baby steps, you know. I even think being with different people can be a positive b/c you get exposed to different ways of doing things and communicating.

Finally, just b/c a hookup is intentionally short-term, doesn't mean there isn't some emotion and respect on both sides. Like, this traveling musician I almost went all the way with a couple of weeks ago, was really /sweet/. He was respectful. We had some intelligent conversation. Plus I was just extremely physically attracted to him. It was prob one of the best experiences I've had with a human being, all in all. It's possible he's a total slut -but I kind of like that in some people, as long as they're respectful and nonjudgmental of others. His band is going on tour again in a month or so, and if they're playing something nearby maybe I'll go to a show and try to meet up w/ him again. I mean, I'm aware the fact he's in a band makes it sound like it's a pretty juvenile fantasy -but as far as I'm concerned I don't have much to lose, so what's wrong w/ it? Sure I might meet someone else for a real relationship within the next month, but the odds are against it ;P

If I could be anyone, it would be one of those people who are emotionally intelligent and socially graceful, who are comfortable with themselves and have been with a lot of people and communicated well and had mostly positive experiences, other people crush on them often etc. etc. But I don't begin to know what it feels like to be one of those people. I've just got to be me.

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Heather
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Just an FYI?

quote:
"It took me over two months to feel totally comfortable with everything that was going on, including the sex."
I don't see how having sex you're not totally comfortable with in a relationship is much different than having sex you're not totally comfortable with outside the confines of a relationship. Personally, I think outside a relationship is nicer b/c there's little to no sense of obligation -you have more guaranteed control.

I can't tell you how naive that reads from over here.

Because the idea you have more control with someone with whom you haven't had any time to make a basis of trust with strikes me as pretty loopy.

Again, my personal perspective is that there are not either/ors here in terms of more casual sex or sex in longer-term relationships being more or less ideal for everyone.

However, with someone whom we have known for some time -- even in the context of plain old friendship -- we are going to have a MUCH better idea of if they are even safe for us to be with (if you've ever been date-raped, you know what I am talking about: if you haven't suffice it to say, this is a huge issue), how responsive they'll be to our boundaries, to issues of birth control and safer sex, and to whatever obligation IS assumed (the idea there isn't any is pretty out there, because you'd be amazed how many people DO assume obligation after casual sex, and how much you still WILL have to deal with that sometimes, which can be a LOT harder to manage when you didn't KNOW what was expected than when you did).

Again, see your other posts for more of my thoughts, but here, again, I'm hearing a lot about sex as self-validation than about sex as some kind of connection (even a casual one), and that strikes me as a setup for a less-than-satisfying sex life at best.

It also personally kind of gives me the ookies, because there is something that tends to feel kinda of icky about sleeping with someone who you sense is doing that. Mind, some people won't feel that way: in fact, someone else using sex as primarily an ego-stroke will often get off on it, because you've made them feel more important by making clear, even covertly, that they're important enough to be a validation for you.

[ 10-01-2006, 11:27 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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000
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"However, with someone whom we have known for some time -- even in the context of plain old friendship -- we are going to have a MUCH better idea of if they are even safe for us to be with"

In my personal experience, more coercive people have been people that I knew for awhile and never would have expected to be like that. And I'm uber-sensitive to anyone trying to coerce me when I've given them reason to believe I'm not into something. I realize this doesn't prove that casual situations are /more/ safe than other situations, I'm just not sure it's very clear cut. I've known friends who had bad experiences, so I know there are a lot of manipulative people out there. I have to wonder if the fact I project feminism and outspokeness for miles around in non-sexual settings, and the fact I'm an Amazon means that guys who are looking for a little girl to control wouldn't touch me with a 10 ft pole.

In terms of why you'd have more control in a casual situation? I feel this way b/c if you know someone, and then you become sexually active, so much more of their ego is at stake for them, and you. In order to break up w/ them you have to realize you're sending a message that it was something personal that was wrong. I guess I've just known a lot of girls that although (or perhaps b/c) they were "in love" found it tough to set strict boundaries w/ a bf -most are a little manipulative/coercive, after all. If I'm with someone more casually, I'm not worried about bruising egos when I don't want to do something. I'm not worried about seeing them again at school and having to deal with them in a civilized manner. I'm sure as heck not feeling like I'm the main object for someone's sexual energy. I'm never going to be having sex that I'm "not that into, b/c I'm having an offday" or anything, just b/c they love me and I love them most of the time. I go through mood swings, and I think it'd be very invasive to have someone I was supposed to interact w/ civilly and intimately on days when I wasn't enthused to do so. Now, you may say that it shouldn't be this way, but I know it often is. Plus if I'm with someone new, the prospect of sex is more exciting, so I wouldn't have to pose even if I was to feel predisposed to do so.

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Heather
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I'm not talking about coercion. I'm talking about forcible or date rape. Sometone outside your circle of friends, or barely known to you, has a lot less to lose by raping you as someone largely unknown than as someone more well-known.

And our body size doesn't protect us from being raped. You're young. Sadly, just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't. Mind, that also isn't to say it doesn't happen with ongoing partners: however, it's often a lot easier to see coming.

quote:
I feel this way b/c if you know someone, and then you become sexually active, so much more of their ego is at stake for them, and you.
Okay, but even looking at YOUR posts, about your feelings, it's clear a LOT of your ego is at stake. So, even with you alone, that thesis is clearly iffy at best.

I think what I keep hearing a lot of in your posts is this being all about you (or all about male/female binaries/simplifications), when there's a whole other person involved. In other words, can you perhaps put the shoe on the other foot with your last paragraph?

Eeven if you're only sleeping with men? Casual male partners DO sometimes get their ego bruised. casual male partners DO often get attached like casual female partners can. Casual male partners DO sometimes have a hard time boundary setting. You WILL still run into them in your life -- heck, like I said, I moved 2,00 miles away from my home city and a casual partner of mine, 20 years later, is now one of my local bartenders. And holy moley, do casual partners just as often take it personally when you don't want to repeat what they experienced as a pleasant sexual experience with them. Maybe youre have not expressed that to you directly, but you'll find very few people who tend not to take it personally.

Look: if you know you do not want to be in a committed relationship (though I confess, I bristle at your generalizations, because lord gawd, it doesn't have to be like that: for sinatcne, you do not EVER have to have sex out of obligation), then by all means, don't be in one.

But I'd look back at what you asked when you started this topic, and emphasize that what I'm seeing is you feeling really comfortable in none of these scenarios right now, committed OR casual, and that obviously this is not as simple as it's sounding, because right at the top of this you're expressing that you do feel some obligations per sexual delivery, for lack of a better term.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Heather
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I have to confess, I'm also bristling some at some of these posts because I keep hearing what sounds a lot like, "I want to have sex with someone else to make myself feel better, but I really don't want to consider that person as a person."

And for what are probably obvious reasons, that really bothers me. I think it'd be easier to see why if you were male and your partners female, but I don't see a real difference here. We'd tell a guy expressing these sorts of things to just use his own hands, then, and I wouldn't giove a woman a different response, either.

quote:
I go through mood swings, and I think it'd be very invasive to have someone I was supposed to interact w/ civilly and intimately on days when I wasn't enthused to do so. Now, you may say that it shouldn't be this way, but I know it often is.
Either way, there IS another person there, however nihilistic you or he may feel. Obviously, if you're both in agreement than neither want of you really wants to consider the other person after this one hour, well, there you go. You're consenting adults, that's your call.

But in general, I guess the long story short is that I feel like we have an awful lot of personal and cultural problems with dehumanizing people as it is, and thus far, it's not exactly resulted in a fantastic cultural or personal sexual dynamic for most.

(And I gotta be even more brazenly honest and say that it's very hard for me to feel symapthetic in this regard, because anything that smacks of dehumanizing in a sexual context really, really rubs me the wrong way.)

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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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"(And I gotta be even more brazenly honest and say that it's very hard for me to feel symapthetic in this regard, because anything that smacks of dehumanizing in a sexual context really, really rubs me the wrong way.)"

Well, in an abstract, intellectual kind of way I agree with you. That doesn't help the way my psychology seems to put the realities together.

I don't really think I have a double standard as far as the gender thing goes. For the most part, I don't want other people to have greater or lesser expectations for me or our relationship than I have for them. I feel more comfortable with the idea of someone feeling free to bail on me than the idea that they expect me not to bail on them. I also don't have any force in me causing me to yearn for monogamy once I develop a crush on someone. Maybe that's kind of sad, and I do think my experiences growing up have taught me to prefer low expectations for people I'm close to. I think my post on my other thread does a better job of describing why I do feel I have some connection with people, though.

Maybe I need to work on having emotional relationships -I'd expressed above that this might be the case. It just so happens that sex is the more important thing to me at this point in my life.

[ 10-01-2006, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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kitka
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For the record, iheartdc, although it took me a while to get totally accustomed to the idea of having (emotionally and physically intimate) partner sex

there was never a moment when I did not WHOLLY trust my partner. I was confident that he wouldn't hurt me, disregard my boundaries or feelings, or fail to answer any concerns I put to him.

I developed that trust over time. That's why I waited to have sex with him. It wasn't just a matter of being around him. I knew about his upbringing and the ethical mandates that were hammered into him because we talked about it at length. Heather is saying that you can't know those things - per boundaries, obligation, etc., until you establish some kind of rappaport.

There's no obligation in a casual relationship if you don't establish it first. (Hell, there's often not much obligation in committed relationships either.) The difference is that, by culling the idea of obligation from your list of boundaries, you're setting yourself up to be bailed on. And hard. In effect, you're telling a perspective partner, "Hey, you don't need to take any of my feelings into account. Ditch me whenever you need to."

That's exactly what you're saying here.

I feel more comfortable with the idea of someone feeling free to bail on me than the idea that they expect me not to bail on them.

Effectively, you're telling that person that their feelings don't matter either; you don't seem to want to incur any kind of obligation here.

I also don't have any force in me causing me to yearn for monogamy

Do you think the oppositions are that binary - that all people who want committed relationships yearn for monogamy and thus some kind of emotional nirvana, that they're controlled by their emotions alone? Why knock monogamy in the first place? No, it's not for everyone. But it does some important things in many relationships, not the least of which is create an understanding that your partner isn't, theoretically, going to infect you with an STD.

I don't want other people to have greater or lesser expectations for me or our relationship than I have for them.

You can't control the other person's expectations for or of you. You can't tell them how to feel about you, or order them not to acknoweledge your existence just because you don't feel like acting with them civilly.

Acting civilly toward a sexual partner - casual or not - is mandatory as far as I'm concerned.
If we intentionally prize sex above and at the expense of emotional interests, then that reduces sex to a mere physical act from the get go - something to be done to someone, not with them.

[ 10-01-2006, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: kitka ]

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"you don't seem to want to incur any kind of obligation here."

Yep. pretty much that's what I'm saying. I think respect is hugely important. I think not being outwardly mean to people, and not hurting people is important. But what someone considers respectful can be hard to pin down sometimes b/c its defined by a culture context. I just think things get sticky when one person or another starts making assumptions of where a relationship is going, or how committed it is. Personally I like the idea of a looser organization -no obligatory monogamy, and if one or another of us decides we're done altogether, I'd prefer that we not have to justify it, and that the other person wouldn't be bothered much. Maybe that's too much idealism. If you bothered to actually have the conversation w/ someone about wanting that kind of arrangement, it would probably sound like you weren't getting much out of that relationship, b/c it's so against the status quo which associates commitment w/ value. I'm saying you can have a very good time and try to make sure the other person has a good time also w/o a sense of temporal obligation.

"I was confident that he wouldn't hurt me, disregard my boundaries or feelings, or fail to answer any concerns I put to him."

I have those same expectations for people, more or less. If someone gives me a bad vibe, I'm not interested anymore.

Finally, I acknowledge that some of my feelings may come down to the fact that I think chances of being active w/ people who I'm really attracted to are higher with lower commitment. B/c generally w/ lower committment, people have lower standards. I've just noticed I've enjoyed my casual experiences more, and I think the reasons, which I've been trying to disect in my two threads, are multifaceted.

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logic_grrl
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You know, you're talking as if "committed intense monogamous relationship" and "casual sex with someone you'll never see again" were the only two possible formats.

There are plenty of people who choose to have non-monogamous relationships or "friends-with-benefits" relationships.

There's a whole range of different possibilities, and different ones work for different people.

But you've specifically posted here about getting "cold feet", feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed, not being able to be honest about your level of experience, etc. and clearly that's something that's happening to you in casual situations too.

So to return to what people have been saying, it might be helpful to look for a context in which you know the person well enough to feel comfortable possibly being awkward and don't feel an obligation to "perform" to particular standards.

That doesn't necessarily have to be a monogamous committed relationship, at all.

But it does mean some scenario in which you are considering the other person as a person, and a person you hopefully like, and vice versa.

Which I think is pretty a good principle for any shared human activity - I'm not going to have a meal and a deep conversation with someone I don't like and get on with, so why would I have different standards for who I have sex with?

Which does not mean that I'm automatically going to commit to only ever having dinner with one person! ;P

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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"it might be helpful to look for a context in which you know the person well enough to feel comfortable possibly being awkward and don't feel an obligation to "perform" to particular standards."

My problem with thinking about things this way, I would say, is that the better I get to know someone, if I like said person, the /more/ I feel an obligation to "perform" to particular standards, or even just to not to fall below standards I've already established. And well, if I don't like them as much when I get to know them, if I start to get bored, then I just get lazy/unenthusiastic and any connection sort of falls apart. I don't know how to explain this so that other people will get it, exactly. It's like my whole thing with initiating sexual activity -part of the reason I don't do it much is b/c I don't feel an urge to initiate certain kinds of activity, and part of the reason is that I get panicky about being judged. I've just never met anyone who liked me whose rhythm/personality seemed to mesh with mine well for a longer-term relationship, such that I felt comfortable or less inhibited around them while still being interested. Meanwhile, I keep meeting people who I'm very attracted to who are interested in being physical in a more casual setting, so it's hard not to want to try stuff with them. These are overall positive experiences (at least for me), even though I still get embarassed some and stuff.

"I'm not going to have a meal and a deep conversation with someone I don't like and get on with, so why would I have different standards for who I have sex with?"

I could as easily use that statement to explain why I haven't had many traditional relationships. I also wouldn't have sex with someone I don't like and get on with. I just feel more energized and comfortable to be around people who are new to me, or at least that has been the bulk of my experience. And perhaps it is a little strange, b/c I don't have the same problem with platonic friendships to the same extent. I certainly don't have problems with long-term friendships, but even with friendships I /do/ feel awkward when I'm in a 1-on-1 setting with someone. Something happens where I just get a lot quieter, and less clever, and eventually start to worry about what they think of me. There are people whose life stories I know and they know mine, but I don't necessarily get very close to people in the sense that they'd call me their "best friend". I'm inclined to think these things are somehow related.

[ 10-02-2006, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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okay -no one has more comments. That's not too surprising -I'm a bit of a basket case. How about something more practical: The heart of what really bothers me about all this, is that when I'm with someone I like who's nice to me, I'm still embarassed about sex, even though I'm physically ready; it causes me to not have very good control over my actions. I don't think needing to know people better is the solution to the problem. If I'm going to be telling someone that I might be getting physical with that I'm relatively inexperienced, it makes me nervous and I want to learn to do things better, when and how is the right way to do have that conversation? If it differs with the circumstance, what exactly would you recommend for various circumstances?
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