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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Anal...?

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Author Topic: Anal...?
LifeEnColor
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So my boyfriend and I have been going out for about seven months now and we've been having intercourse very often for four months. For the past couple of months, my boyfriend has really been pushing me to try anal. Pretty much borderline pressuring.

Now, before I get into it, I just want to say that this is the only thing my boyfriend has ever tried pressuring me about. It's not cruel pressuring, but I can see it for what it is anyway. I really don't think he even realizes he's doing it, but it's still happening.

I don't really know what to do. I want to try it for him (I want to at least try almost everything once) but the thought of anal makes me really, really uncomfortable. I'm not even sure why. Any time I let him try fingering me, I get so embarrassed and self conscious, I can't even begin to enjoy myself. I think it'd be possible for me to enjoy it, but I can't even think about that because I get so so so humiliated. I find it easier to handle if we're having intercourse while he tries it, but it kind of just brings me out of my enjoyment and puts me into that 'omg, he's touching my ***, embarrassment!'

He stops whenever I ask him too and doesn't usually try it without my permission first. He really wants anal, a lot, and I want to be able to do this for him, but I don't know how. Is there anyway to get over my humiliation of this?

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Heather
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Pressuring isn't okay no matter what. And the fact that he's pressuring you into doing something should take it off the table no matter what.

Honestly, even if it was something you thought you'd be into, I'd advise nixing it when someone is pressuring you. I'd also make very clear, in clear words, that he IS pressuring you and it needs to stop NOW.

If and when he has stopped, and some time has passed and you do WANT to try this -- not just for him, but for you -- then it makes more sense to talk about anything you might be worried about or concerned about with it. But for now, in the context of pressure, it -- or anything else you're being pressured for -- is automatically unsafe because of that context.

I'd also make sure you're saying no to anything else you just don't feel comfortable with and are not enjoying, okay?

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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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LifeEnColor
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I understand I need to tell him, I'm just bleh about it. He really likes it and he wants me to like it too, I just can't get over my embarrassment. I think if I could, I'd be a lot more open to the idea. I know he doesn't mean to pressure me, but I also know I need to step up and tell him that he is. Since this is summer break, I won't see him very often until the end of August, so it gives me time to think of exactly what to say.
But back to the embarrassment thing, is there any way to get over that? Because I think I would like to try it, but even typing about it makes me flustered. Any tips?

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KittenGoddess
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Here's the thing though...part of what Heather's saying is that it's unlikely that the embarrassment you're feeling exists in a vacuum. It's likely all tied up with the pressure as well. You've got an activity here that you don't particularly want to do and are uncomfortable with and a partner who is pressuring you to do it. On its own, that sets up an unsafe environment. That's a recipe for negative feelings about that activity, which likely is a part of what you are feeling. Until the pressure is dealt with, it's probably nearly impossible for you to sort out how YOU (independent of what your partner wants) feel about doing this.

So really, the first step here is to deal with the pressure issue and then explore your own feelings about it when you can do so outside of this context. If you at all feel like you can, it's probably a good idea to go ahead and set that boundary with him now rather than waiting months to talk about this. Even if it's just as simple as saying, "I know you are interested in trying anal sex. Right now, I'm not comfortable doing that. We need to take that activity off the table entirely, at least for now." I'd also encourage you to make it clear to your partner that you've felt pressured by this and that "trying it" without your express permission is not an okay thing.

Be a Blabbermouth! The Whats, Whys and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner

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Sarah Liz

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KittenGoddess
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If I can also suggest one more thing...I'm a big believer in the idea that the way we talk about things (the words and phrasing we choose) reveals a lot about the way we feel about those things and what we want. Take a second and look at the phrasing you're using here.

quote:
Originally posted by LifeEnColor:
I want to try it for him (I want to at least try almost everything once) but the thought of anal makes me really, really uncomfortable.
...
He really wants anal, a lot, and I want to be able to do this for him, but I don't know how.
...
He really likes it and he wants me to like it too, I just can't get over my embarrassment. I think if I could, I'd be a lot more open to the idea.

Each time you talk about this, it's a something that your partner wants but that you either don't want or are unsure about...but that might be okay if you could just "get over it". The simple fact that it's framed that way indicates a problem here.

Let's try a different example and see how the same thing sounds. Imagine someone is vegetarian (or vegan) because they are uncomfortable with the idea of eating animals. Say they came to you and said: "My partner REALLY wants me to eat meat, but I'm uncomfortable with it. They keep asking me about it and sometimes slip meat onto my plate without asking me about it first (even though they ask most of the time). This makes me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. Since my partner really wants it, I feel like I might enjoy meat if I could just get over this discomfort I have with it." What would you say to that person? Do you think they should focus on just getting over it?

I know it's not a perfect analogy (I'm on my first cup of coffee for the morning and that's the best I could do, lol), but perhaps you get the idea. The hypothetical person is saying essentially the same thing about eating meat that you're saying about anal sex here. That it is not about what they/you want...but that their partner's desire for them/you to do a behavior takes priority over what they/you want for themselves/yourself outside of that partner. When we approach an activity that way, (So-and-so wants me to do X. I'm not really too keen on doing it, but if I could just get over it and try maybe it would be okay.) we're setting ourselves up for problems. Just because a partner wants to try something, that does not mean that we should make it our mission to get over any issue that we have about it so that we can try it. When we're approaching things from a perspective of what we want (I think X activity sounds interesting/sexy/potentially pleasurable and that I might enjoy if it I tried it. So-and-so wants to try it as well.), then we're likely in a much better place to work through any concerns we have with trying that activity and we're more likely to potentially have enjoyment with that activity.

Please understand, I'm not suggesting that we not do things that are pleasing to a partner. We want to be invested in doing things that are pleasing to a partner. But, when it's only pleasing to one partner, is only something that one person in the scenario wants/is interested in/is pleased by and the other is uncomfortable or unsure about, that is a problem.

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Sarah Liz

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Heather
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What Sarah said, in the biggest way.

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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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LifeEnColor
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Thanks to both of you for all of your advice and help. I've realized that this pressure he's putting on me shouldn't be acceptable to me and I won't let it be anymore. I'll tell it to him straight that I don't want to even think about anal right now. I know he'll understand and he'll accept this despite any disappointment he'll feel. Thank you again for all your help again. [Smile]
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Heather
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You might want to make sure you add that even though you don't think this is something you really want to do anyway, that pressuring someone for anything sexual is not only unhealthy (and would make any sex that happens as a result not consensual), it's also one of the easiest ways to get a "no" to something sexual he wants.

In other words, if he wants a sex life where his partners feel freer to experiment and try things, one of the best things he can do to nurture that environment is to always be sure he is NEVER exerting any kind of pressure.

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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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September
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Hi LifeEnColor! I'd like to jump into the conversation for a bit, if that's alright with you.

Reading this post, I was reminded of some other conversations we've had with you, and I feel like I'm starting to see a pattern.

What jumped out at me is your ardent desire to engage in a sexual activity that you don't actually feel comfortable with, because it's something that your boyfriend wants. You voiced pretty similar feelings in an older post here, where you talked about your boyfriend pressuring you to engage in intercourse when you weren't into it, and feeling pretty crappy afterwards when you went along with it.

I know that's not a fun thing to hear, ever, but it really sounds to me like you are in a relationship that's unhealthy and potentially unsafe. Your partner has been repeatedly and consistently pressuring you into sexual activities that you've stated you don't feel comfortable with. You state here that he's "borderline pressuring", but what you've said here and in other posts is bona fide pressuring, and actually bordering on sexual assault.

We've talked previously about how you have difficulties asserting yourself and your boundaries. But even if that's the case and you feel that it's part of the problem, that's still no excuse for what's going on. If you know that you have trouble speaking up for yourself, the last thing you want to do is be in a relationship with someone who can't take "no" for an answer.

I also remember an even earlier conversation, where we talked about you wanting to become sexually active, partially also to prove to yourself that you're "normal" and that having been sexually assaulted did not damage you in some way. I wanted to make sure that that isn't part of what's driving the car here, as well: wanting to be able to engage in this activity to prove that you can, and that you don't have any lingering issues. If you recognize this as a motive, then that's something we should talk about, as well. Those feelings are completely valid and understandable, but that doesn't mean that going ahead with anal sex would be a wise thing to do right now.

I hope you don't mind that I'm bringing up your posting history. Please understand that this isn't about pointing fingers or I-told-you-so's. But throughout your posts here, there is a clear history of your partner pressuring you to go faster and/or further than you are comfortable with, and you wishing to comply with his demands and trying to ignore what your body is telling you.

I want to be frank with you: it does not sound like your partner is a safe person for you to be with. I would strongly advise you to, at the very least, table all sexual activity until he is ready and willing to accept your boundaries and stop pressuring you.

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Johanna
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LifeEnColor
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I thank you for your advise September, but you really have some stuff wrong. The issues I've had with my current boyfriend in the past are just that--they're past now. I spoke with him, made myself very clear, and things have been great since. Now every sexual encounter we have, I'm up and ready to go. Before we left college for summer break, I was pushing toward more and more sex (and wore my boyfriend out a little) because of how much I enjoy the intimacy and the pleasure shared with him.

There are still some days, not many, when something will be triggered from my past sexual assault and I need to slow down, take a deep breath, and maybe have a good cry. Thankfully, this hasn't happened in quite some time, but every time it did, my boyfriend was right there with me, urging us to take a break for as long as I needed and supporting me 100% of the way. I no longer feel the need to engage in sex to prove anything to myself--I only engage in sex (of any kind) when I want it because I am attracted to my boyfriend and wish to share myself with him.

I'm upset that I've painted such a negative picture of him here for all of you, but I guess thats what happens when I use this site as a place to ask about my issues instead of bragging and going on about everything wonderful in our relationship. I'm not deluding myself into thinking that nothing is wrong with our relationship--what relationship is perfect? Yes, he can pressure me sometimes about anal, but it's not like he's at my throat every day. He's not hounding or badgering me, he's not trying to guilt me into it.

What usually happens is that during intercourse or foreplay, he will try to start fingering me and I will ask him not to. He complies, every time, and stops, and doesn't try again during that time together. Afterwards, he might ask me why I stopped him, and I try to tell him, and he just tries to convince me (with assurances and facts, not bullying or 'if you loved me...' sentences) that anal could be fun. I still see this as pressuring, even if it's subtle, but it's far from unhealthy and dangerous (mostly just uncomfortable). I just need to be more firm with him and say 'no, not at all' instead of 'ehh, well, maybe next time...'

I'm really sorry that I've worried you into thinking I'm in an unsafe relationship, but I promise, I'm not. The relationship I had with my ex was very unsafe and unhealthy for me, so I have a kind of pH test against this relationship and any future ones I may have. I was more asking in this thread how to more firmly tell my boyfriend that, yes, I understand this is something he really wants, but that I'm just not ready at the moment and don't know if I will be. I'm not very good with words, and I don't want to dishearten him into thinking he can't bring new experiences to the table or hurt him.

I really, really, appreciate all of your support and advice, but I promise you, I'm in a relationship that makes me feel more happy and safe than I have in years. [Smile]

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September
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I didn't mean to upset you, LifeEnColor, and I'm sorry if that's the effect this has had on you.

I don't mean to debate with you about whether you feel comfortable with your partner, or whether there are also good parts. You're the best judge of that. And I have no doubt that you do feel happy lots of the time: otherwise, why would you stay with him?

I also don't doubt that there is lots we don't know about your relationship, because you only come here on occasion to discuss specific problems with us. But I think that, actually, this gives us the opportunity to have an unobstructed and less biased view on your partner's actions and on the dynamics of your relationship. Obviously, on the whole, they are balanced by other things - but that may make it hard for you to view those actions in isolation.

Because there is a pattern here, and it's pretty worrying. You say he has stopped pressuring you about intercourse, which is awesome. But now he is pressuring you about anal sex in much the same way.

And he is pressuring you. It's great that he stops when you ask him to, but really, if you've made it plain to him that you're not comfortable with anal sex at this point, then you shouldn't need to be stopping him anymore. The fact that he keeps trying time and again means that he still doesn't respect your boundary and keeps trying to push it. You shouldn't need to find more assertive ways of stating your case: a partner who respects you will listen the first time you say no.

I also completely hear you when you say that you feel your previous relationship has sensitized you to unsafe dynamics. But I'd posit that, if you're explicitly comparing to an abusive relationship, you may not be setting the bar high enough. It's great that your current partner is less abusive, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't get even better still.

I'm not going to keep pushing with this. If you're not seeing it, then you're not seeing it. But, if nothing else, I'd like to ask you to take some time to think long and hard about what we're saying here, rather than dismissing it out of hand. Just keep it in the back of your mind, okay?

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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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Djuna
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Hi there, LifeEnColor. [Smile]

I wanted to say that I agree with Joey - this relationship doesn't seem too healthy to me.

I know you said that times when he's initiated sex while you've been sleeping are in the past, but those times have a lot in common with him trying to start fingering here. It's not enough that he's stopping when you tell him to - he shouldn't be starting until he has your full, enthusiastic consent, especially when he knows full well this is something you're uncomfortable with. Given that he knows how uncomfortable you are, it seems like he's initiating anyway in the hope that you won't stop him this time, rather than accepting that for now, you don't really want to try anal play and it's not something you expect to find enjoyable.

He's initiated sex when you were asleep, and he's now initiating kinds of sex he knows you've not wanted to do in the past. Both of those actions show no respect for your bodily autonomy - your right to decide what you do with your body sexually or otherwise. He shouldn't be touching any part of you when he knows from experience the first thing you're likely to do is tell him to stop. And he does know, of course, that he's consciously breaking a boundary you've made very clear, and hoping you won't be quite uncomfortable enough to make him stop. I can't see any way that he'd be surprised when you tell him to stop, do you agree? So him starting to have that kind of sex with you without checking is an abusive behavior. It is very arguably sexual assault, and I really wouldn't advise having sex with someone who behaves in that manner, however nice they are otherwise. To be frank, I wouldn't be comfortable being in the same room as someone who repeatedly shows no respect for my boundaries, my personal space, my bodily autonomy. I don't mean to be awful, I'm just trying to say how extremely important I think those things are. Does that make any sense? [Smile]

Here's some articles about bodily autonomy and setting boundaries I think may be useful for you to read:
Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent
No, you CAN'T touch my hair.
The Importance of Consent in Everyday Situations
Hello, Sailor! How to Build, Board and Navigate a Healthy Relationship
How can I keep from getting upset when he ignores my no?

And we'd be happy to talk about your thoughts on those, okay? [Smile]

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
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LifeEnColor: did you ever get any counseling after your relationship before this one? I'm sorry that I don't remember if you did or not.

--------------------
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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LifeEnColor
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@September and patrickvienna: Thanks so much for your concern and advice, its really nice to have people looking out for me with these kinds of things. But I have to say, I don't see what he is doing as sexual assault. Yes, he used to initiate sex when I was sleeping, but I told him that I wasn't a fan because I'm not the nicest person when I wake up. I felt more annoyance at being woken up than real anger or discomfort. Once I told him about this, he never did it again.

With the anal issue, I know for a fact that a lot of the blame lies with me. I've given him mixed messages about it. I've agreed to it sometimes (on the promise that at any time I say stop he would), asked nicely for him not to other times, and flat out told him don't go anywhere near there on other occasions before going into any kind of sex. Its the times when I don't lay boundaries beforehand that things get muddled. I didn't tell him no and I didn't tell him yes, so he'll kind of 'ask permission with his finger' during intercourse or foreplay and thats when I become a little uncomfortable and tell him no. This is what I'm talking about--the times when I don't let him know where my comfort-boundaries are. And the fact that they've been so mixed up in the past, I can see why he wouldn't really know where to proceed. Its the moments when he's 'physically asking permission' that make me uncomfortable and feel some pressure. But as soon as I say 'no,' he listens and we can continue. I can't help the fact I feel a little bad denying him something that he wants when he gives me everything I ask for, but I know I have the right to say no. I just can't help that I feel bad about it. Does this make any sense??

@Heather: I tried to get counseling a few times about my past relationship, but I could never really talk about it. I always felt ashamed and nervous and it would just reupset me. I know I probably should seek out help for this, but I don't know how to bring it up in discussion and be 100% truthful with my therapist. Whenever I tried bringing it up, I always left a lot of things out or would change the subject quickly.

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Heather
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I want to comment about the issues wit therapy, but I'd also like to add a few other observations. However, I wanted to ask first, because I don't want you to feel ganged-up on here, or to talk about things you don't want to or aren't ready to.

So, I'd like to say some things about your relationship dynamics and the way you're talking about some of this, things I'm not sure you're seeing as clearly as you could be, or are framing in ways I think either aren't sound or don't serve you. Is that okay with you? If not, I'll just stick to talking about counseling.

If that is okay, can you also fill me in on how the discussion you have had about this with him since you brought it up here has gone so far?

can you also fill me in a little bit on this partner's overall maturity, emotionally, and his awareness (or lack thereof) about having a sexual partner who is still in some areas of family abuse and has also been in an abusive romantic/sexual relationship?

[ 05-30-2011, 01:10 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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LifeEnColor
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I don't want to sound dumb, but I don't understand everything you're asking. Are you asking me if you can make further observations? Cause sure you can. I don't really know what you're asking in the second paragraph.

And the discussion I've had with my boyfriend over this has gone the way I've said it has. The first time, he was just asking if I'd consider it. I said 'ehh, maybe. I'm not crazy about it.' But I'm also a firm believer in 'don't know it till you try it.' So even though I was uncomfortable it was WHOLLY my choice to first allow him to try fingering me. After that first experience (which I found uncomfortable) I told him as much and said I wasn't sure if I'd ever be fully up to this, but that I wanted to keep an open mind. He supported me 100% and said we'd take things slowly.

And thats when the experimenting started, and the different boundary lines being drawn for separate sexual escapades. Just look at it from his perspective. He really wants it and he really wants me to like it and enjoy it. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no, sometimes I don't say anything. Obviously since he wants me to enjoy it, he's going to try to initiate it when I don't tell him no. That is not sexual assault--thats just my boyfriend trying to help me enjoy myself even more during sex. Even if he makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes, he doesn't mean to and when I tell him he has, he apologizes and stops immediately. He's not dangerous, he's not unhealthy, and he's not assaulting me.

My boyfriend is on the same level of maturity I am, maybe a little above me in this aspect. I'm not sure how to describe how (examples?) but he is. As far as his awareness towards me as someone who goes through family abuse and has been sexually abused, I'm not sure. He knows I was sexually abused and he knows a little about my family life. I don't talk about my family very much (I'm sure you understand why) and he grew up in a much different home. His parents are still married, they don't drink, his brother played an active role in his life, no abuse of any kinds, very neat and tidy home (mine is terrible) and just a much happier childhood.

I know, and he knows, that he can't understand what I've gone through my whole life. I think we realized how different our childhood lives were when he saw a scar on my hip and I identified as a cigarette burn a drunk family friend gave me once. I didn't think much of it (just that I don't like the guy) but my boyfriend was really shocked and concerned for me. He's very understanding about my past sexual abuse--he's been with me during a few breakdowns I've had and has held and talked me through them. When I wouldn't try a certain position and he asked why, I had to tell him it was because that was one of the positions that my ex really damaged me in and he dropped the whole idea of trying it unless I asked him and encouraged me to speak up whenever I felt even the tiniest bit uncomfortable or afraid. He's doing the best he can and I love that about him, but is there a way I can make him better understand my family life? Or are there any tips on how to further his understand about my past sexual abuse?

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Heather
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Just to be clear: what I was asking about is how your talks about this have gone SINCE you posted about this here. That was a few days ago, so have you talked with him about this again yet, including a firm reminder that any sexual pressuring needs to stop and stay stopped?

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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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While I'm waiting on that, I want to clear something up with you about sound consenting and people seeking consent in sound ways.

quote:
Obviously since he wants me to enjoy it, he's going to try to initiate it when I don't tell him no.
For starters, I think we need to be sure and stay real here and acknowledge this is not just about your pleasure: it's also about his. In other words, this isn't sexual philanthropy. He also wants to enjoy himself. [Smile]

But the big thing missing in this picture is this: if and when a partner has tried something, made clear it didn't feel good about it, and when we've asked them about it before and they've said no, continuing to ask again and again is pressuring and closes the window on full consent if and when you do say yes.

So, if a partner has said no to us before or expressed not wanting to do something, the best way to support real consent is to let them know that the ball is then in their court, and we won't ask about it or try it again until THEY bring it up as something they'd like to try. And if we want people to enjoy themselves and to feel their most comfortable, that's much more likely to facilitate that, too.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Heather
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While I'm waiting on this, I want to throw something else out there for you to think about. I'm pretty sure we've talked about this before, but I think it's important to address and check in with yourself about.

Really, to be earnestly ready to have sex in a way that's always fully consensual all around, you've got to be able to speak up for yourself, and not go silent or feel you can't speak up. Obviously, you're not there at least sometimes, still.

Have you thought about what you need to get there? If so, what do you think it is you need for that to happen, both in yourself and with a partner?

And about how it might be wise to think seriously about putting sex with anyone on hold until you ARE there and can always be there?

On the issues of helping a partner to better understand how to be a good partner to someone with abuse history, has he done any reading at all on the subject? If not, if I gave you some titles, do you think he would?

[ 05-30-2011, 08:25 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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LifeEnColor
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I know that my lacking ability in speaking up stems from my past family abuse. In my home, I was only ever allowed to be 'happy.' I wasn't allowed to be sad or angry and if I was, I was yelled at and guilted and ignored. So for my whole life, I've felt that my emotions have been stunted--like I don't really know how to feel or express them very well. I don't know how to react in some situations where the emotional response should be obvious, because I wasn't allowed to exercise my feelings. Thankfully, this is one thing that therapy has helped me with, and I think I've improved a lot. So lack of speaking up to my partner isn't because I'm afraid or uncomfortable with him, it's because that's just what I was taught for many, many years.

I'm not sure what I would need to help get me to a place where I can say my feelings loud and clear all the time. My partner is totally supportive of me and helps try to coax them out of me when I clam up. On this issue, I've never come right out and told him no and to not ask it of me again and that if I wanted it, I'd bring it up. It's always been a big maybe, skewed either one way or the other in various situations. I know that he doesn't think he's pressuring me or see what he says and does as pressure. But I know that if I sat down and told him about it, he'd be very apologetic and not ask me again and agree that I'd be the one to initiate it the next time.

I'm not sure if he's done any reading on the subject of a partner with past abuse. I'm sure that if I gave him something to read, he would.

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Heather
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So, you still haven't sat down and talked with him about this yet?

If not, how about starting with a letter, where you write all of what you can't say out loud yet, to get you started?

The thing is, I feel like you really need to know, not guess, what happens when you do express this to him, when you do tell him he's pressuring and make clear it needs to stop.

It also sounds like if he doesn't know some of what he's done is pressuring and/or nonconsensual, he NEEDS to know that. That doesn't have to be something you teach him, either. He's an adult, he's choosing to be sexual with others. It's on him to educate himself about this.

How about if I give you some links to a couple pieces on that, and then some books/links around being a partner with someone who survived abuse? Then, you can give him those, and that letter, and we can maybe check in on this in a week and see how things are going?

Maybe during that week, you can look at the same things yourself and do some reevaluation?

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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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LifeEnColor
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No, I haven't spoken to him about it yet. We're both busy during the days, so we barely text much until later at night. Then sometimes we'll Skype or, most times, we won't get to actually talk because we're still busy. Most nights we only call each other to say goodnight and to have a good day tomorrow.

And I know how he'll react when I tell him. He's going to be very, very apologetic and probably pretty down on himself for pressuring me and not knowing it. I'll be seeing him (hopefully) in about two weeks, so instead of writing a letter, I can just tell him face-to-face right then?

I would appreciate the links about being with a partner who survived abuse. He's doing fine now, but it would be nice if he understood me even more and could help me through it even better.

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Heather
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You know, this sounds really, really important to me. We're different people, I know, and you don't have to make my choices, but I will say that if I was in this spot, making time for this conversation and having it any way I can ASAP would be at the top of my priority list.

So, can I check in and make sure this is really about a lack of time, or if it's about you feeling scared or intimidated to bring it up? maybe feeling worried about what you might feel or do if he doesn't react soundly and supportively?

I'm just not sure why you're waiting. I suggested the letter because you expressed that you've yet to be able to ever tell him no, flat out, and never been able to set a hard limit, and never been able to make clear he needs to stop asking. So, I was suggesting an alternative that might be a first step you're more able to accomplish right now.

I have to be frank: I don't really think he's doing so fine now in terms of being a sound partner for an abuse survivor. I understand and accept that you do, but some of the things he's been doing -- like initiating anything sexual without asking or choosing to continue being sexual with you when you're non-communicative and unable to be verbally communicative -- truly are not fine from the perspective of both real consent for everyone, and from what those of us know who are very educated around and experienced with what survivors really tend to need to be in healthy relationships and to be healthy in relationships. If this isn't something you have gotten a lot of information around yourself, or haven't talked about with the therapist helping you with recovery, maybe you aren't as aware of these things as you need to be to best take care of yourself, either.

I'll gather you up some links for both of you today.

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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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LifeEnColor
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I'm not afraid of his reaction. I know how he'll react, almost to a T. I just know it'll also make him feel sad that he's been pressuring me, and what kind of person in a relationship wants to make their partner feel anything but happy?

We just get to talk so little that I'm not exactly leaping at the idea of making one of our few conversations about something like this. And you'll probably tell me that that's another sign of me being uncomfortable or something, but I know it's not.

I know he's not doing this on purpose. He's not a bad person. He's not a bad boyfriend. He's never assaulted or hurt me. He loves and takes care of me. This pressure he's put on me hasn't been intentional. I'm not the perfect girlfriend so I'm sure I've pressured him or upset him in some ways too and I never knew, but that doesn't make me a bad person and it doesn't make him a bad person either.

If I don't know all the little things that will help me be in a relationship after my abuse, how could he know? We're both trying to learn together and we're not going to get everything right the first time, but that's certainly not his fault or because he's an unsafe partner.

Thank you for gathering up links for me.

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Heather
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quote:
I just know it'll also make him feel sad that he's been pressuring me, and what kind of person in a relationship wants to make their partner feel anything but happy?
I don't disagree at all with your sentiment here, but I disagree that not having this conversation supports that.

In other words, yes: a partner who cares about you would want to be sure they aren't ever pressuring you. But if, as you say, he doesn't know he is, keeping him from that information so it keeps happening more and more assures that a) you remain pressured and thus, unhappy and b) keeps him in a dynamic where he's likely to continue unhealthy dynamics.

So, if he really wants to make you happy, wouldn't he want to know, ASAP? Wouldn't he be even more upset to discover you've been keeping this from him than he would to have you bring it up, set your firm limits, and hold him to ONLY a sexual dynamic which is healthy for you both?

See what I'm saying here? I agree with your sentiment, but I think your logic about continuing a silence is deeply flawed.

No one is talking about good or bad people here. At least, I'm not. Instead, we're talking about healthy and unhealthy relationships and dynamics. One thing that makes things being unhealthy WAY more likely is a lack of clear, open and honest communication, in a pretty constantly flowing channel, and that includes about the challenging stuff. Avoidance and silence is great for supporting unhealthy sexual dynamics and unhappiness.

I don't think these are "little things," the things we've been talking about. I think real consent in sex is a pretty huge thing for most people. But you're right, none of you can just guess at how to handle this here, but both of you have the ability, and have, to use resources available to you to find out. For you, you've had a therapist who you have the ability to be honest with and ask for help from: you can still connect with that or another therapist, be fully honest about the whole of your abuse history, and get some help in healing and navigating your relationships best now. He could look into same. And he could be somewhere like this asking these same kinds of questions, just like you are.

And you both can read things. And with that, those links! [Smile]

So, here's what I've got as some good starting points:
• Driver's Ed for the Sexual Superhighway: Navigating Consent
• Does Your Relationship Need a Checkup?
• http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/navigating_sex_and_sexuality_after_a_long_history_of_abuse_and_assault
• http://partners.aest.org.uk/
• http://www.kalimunro.com/article_sexualabuse_and_sex.html

And a couple books for you both:
• The Survivor's Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Child Sexual Abuse by Staci Haines
• When You Are the Partner of a Rape or Incest Survivor: A Workbook for You by Robert Barry Levine (the tools in here are applicable to survivors of many kinds of abuse, not just these)
• Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life by Jasmin Lee Cori
• Outgrowing the Pain Together by Eliana Gil

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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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LifeEnColor
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Thanks for the links. Hopefully they'll be helpful.
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