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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Intimacy/Sexuality Catch-22

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Author Topic: Intimacy/Sexuality Catch-22
your-thoughts-please
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Hi!

I initially posted this to reddit, so I am going to copy/paste the first part:

--Begin C/P--

A few months ago, a several-year-long relationship ended (very amicably). However, I find myself in a frustrating situation, and was looking for some insight.

One of the major challenges in the relationship surrounded intimacy/sexuality. Activity was there, but it was largely robotic and unfulfilling, and put strains on other areas. As a result, for quite a long time, I have felt profoundly lonely for a passionate relationship; to be desired, touched, and to engage in sexual activity with a real spark.

While I had not reserved sex for marriage, I had intended to keep it an act of intimacy, preferably only in dedicated long-term relationships (where I could really say "I love you" and feel connected). That said, I was very much in love with my partner, and I am just not ready to fall for someone like that again.

Basically, my former condition for feeling comfortable with sex and imtimacy would require a relationship I am not ready for, but I feel extremely sexually frustrated and am sick of not being active.

Masturbation is unfulfilling at this point; what I am craving is the connection of engaging sexually with another person. I considered casual sex, but I have the feeling it would leave me unfulfilled as well. I also thought I could try to date and just be very up-front that I am looking for exactly zero-commitment activity, but I don't see that being a particularly successful enterprise. I am scared to just "date" normally since I want to avoid leading anyone on.

I am likely over-thinking, and should just begin putting myself out there (bars, events, parties, clubs) and seeing if any sparks fly. However, in addition to being rather pressed for time with studies, the generally wise mentality of not trying to plan these things feels quite crippling when I am consumed by this frustration on a daily basis.

Ideally, I suppose, I could make connections with people I truly liked that ended in oddly intimate scenarios (sharing life experiences on walks, taking showers togther, etc.) and then see how that feels. The idea of having sex without feeling in love makes me feel awkward; that said, I am quite sexually inexperienced, and I don't really know what I am looking for. I considered the tactic of just putting myself in situations, being up-front if things looked like they were getting serious, and then seeing what feels right and what doesn't; I'm not sure how wise this would be.
Anyway, if anyone had any experiences, thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions, etc., I would love to communicate more in the comments.

Thanks for reading and for any advice or words you can share!

Also, please let me know if this would be best in a different forum.

TL;DR: Wanted intimacy/sex in former relationship, didn't get, don't want another relationship, still want intimacy/sex; trying to decide on path forward.

--End C/P--

(FYI, on reddit "TL;DR" is "Too Long, Didn't Read" and is intended to provide a quick summary).

Having slept on it, I would further condense my situation to this: I am craving intimate, partnered activity but am absolutely not ready for commitment. I am looking for a healthy, respectful way to resolve the situation but would appreciate any insight, perspective, comment, etc. that is at all related.

Finally, a last issue is this: at the moment, while I do see plenty of people as physically attractive, it takes awhile for me to be interested in someone -- I really have to like someone's personality and character before I can feel desire for them in an intimate way. I've been trying to broaden my social network, which is going okay, but most everyone that I would be interested in is either taken or not looking for anything at the moment. This lack of desire for a particular person on my part is amplified by the relationship ambivalence resulting from the break-up.

Oh, and in case it is relevant, I am a 22-year-old male interested in women.

That pretty much covers me. Thanks for taking the time to read and for any thoughts you wish to share!

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I think I've got the general gist here. [Smile]

I hear you saying that you very much are craving a passionate sexual relationship or interactions of some kind with someone -- or maybe not just one someone -- right now.

However, I also hear you saying that you don't feel up to or ready for being in love again, or, to some degree, the kind of relationship or intimacy that could provide you that kind of interaction and intimacy.

I hear you saying you don't know if the way where this really would be possible while meeting all your criteria here (potentially, after all, we really can't guarantee passion in any kind of relationship or situation, as you well know from experience) would be a fit for you: namely, seeking out this kind of sexual interaction, but without being in or pursuing a serious romantic/love relationship.

That all sound about right?

--------------------
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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your-thoughts-please
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Hello there! Thank you for prompt reply!

I have to admit that I got lost in your second-to-last sentence, but yes, I do believe that you get where I am coming from.

I have learned that I have a rather high sex drive; however, I also fall towards the more romantic side of the spectrum and have thus far been pretty hard-wired towards monogamy. For most of my life, the idea of pledging myself to one person (and then absolutely going to town) held great appeal.

However, this last relationship took a lot out of me, to be perfectly honest. We put alot of energy into combating these (and other) issues, and I am just generally worn out. I am also going to be moving within the next two years, and on a wider scale, I think that when I do settle down I would like to have had a larger body of experience than I currently do. My romantic life thus far has consisted of a small number of long-term relationships, so I I am now looking to do more short-term dating.

That all is secondary, though, to my current predicament. As stated, I feel sexually empty, and this frustrates me significantly. I am an energetic, passionate guy, and I feel like I've had to bottle up that energy for a very long time. For the first time, I'm considering letting it loose outside of the realm I'd previously considered, but that goes against how I've felt for most of my life, making me feel rather cautious.

I basically just am burnt-out on being committed, exclusive, and investing my emotional capital into a romantic partner - it has been a trying year on this and other fronts of my life (though it has had many wonderful parts too). I am not ready to handle that again, but my desires and frustrations are as strong or stronger than they ever were.

I suppose the obvious answer would be to ask people that I find attractive on dates (because, honestly, even if it goes nowhere, I really enjoy getting to know people, and would consider acquiring a friend - or even having an interesting bad first date story - to be a win). Then, if things got intimate, I could then disclose that I am looking for no-strings-attached before any activity actually took place. I'm not sure if this is a good idea, and I would likely have trouble going about it anyway.

I could honestly write for days on this and fear that I am losing clarity with each word, so I'm just going to say that having written the above: yes, I believe that you have a grasp on my situation.

Thanks again, Heather!

[ 04-01-2013, 11:45 AM: Message edited by: your-thoughts-please ]

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Heather
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Happy to help. [Smile]

It sounds like the thing to talk about here might be to talk about sexual relationships outside long-term monogamy. By all means, there's nothing any less valid or okay about those than the alternative, it's really just an issue of if they're something that YOU want and that would be okay for you.

Of course, they're like any relationship, being that how okay they are or aren't is going to have a lot to do with the unique people involved, but there are still some general things we can talk about per figuring out if these kinds of sexual interactions or relationships, in general, are something you want to pursue.

And really, it sounds like in some ways, they might be exactly the thing for you right now, while it also sounds like you have some concerns or reservations about them. maybe you can talk a little more with me about those reservations or concerns?

--------------------
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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your-thoughts-please
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Sweet!

Ok, so don't get me wrong: I have zero ethical qualms with casual sex or really anything sexual so long as all involved are consenting and in a state where such consent is valid.

My worry, though, was that it would not be in line with what I want, since the long-term passion has always been my ideal scenario. I kind of feel like that personal ideal is now impossible lest I either go before I'm ready or just keep bottling up my desires for longer than I would like to at the moment.

As well, this former relationship was my first partner, so I've never really been in most of the situations I'm considering here; thus, I have no real basis for determining whether or not I would feel comfortable outside of logic and conjecture based on my understanding of myself.

Now, that said, I do think that I would be totally into sexuality in a short-term dating situation; something spontaneous actually sounds kind of neat. However, I feel like dating - unless otherwise specified - has the implied notion that both parties are at least somewhat interested in "seeing where it goes." If I do not feel ready for commitment/exclusivity from the get-go, I feel it would be disingenuous of me to allow sexuality to take place without disclosing this information.

Finally, again, I am having to rethink my views on sexuality. I've never progressed to intercourse - something I would very much like to do - but have always invisioned it with a particular set of emotions. I long for the sweaty, rolling-around, mix of gasps and laughter kind of passion, but always imagined that it would be the result of love I felt for another person. I'm not ready to love like that again.

To be honest, I'm also just looking to chat about this - at the moment, I feel like there's no one I can talk to completely candidly without violating someone's confidence. I thank you for this resource.

Finally, there is one other issue, but maybe we can set it on the backburner for the time being. I keep worrying myself that I have various sexual issues: that I've been abusive, that I may be a pedophile/ephebophile/whatever, things of that nature. I think I'm just worrying myself over nothing in the interest of making sure I give complete disclosure to any sexual partner, but these have been on my mind. That said, my main point is above.

[ 04-01-2013, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: your-thoughts-please ]

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Heather
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I was just asking about you, personally, with sex outside the context of a romantic or serious relationship, not anything more general. After all, this is about figuring out what's right for YOU, where there are no right or wrong answers with this.

By all means, when we enter into any kind of relationship or interaction with someone else where we know what we want and don't, it's sound to put those things on the table at the appropriate times. So, if and when someone else you're seeing or might see hasn't, or you think they might be assuming that pursuing anything sexual means pursuing a romantic relationship or something more serious, and you know you're not up for that, then what you do in that situation is just say that. And really,if and when you pursue these kinds of more "causal" relationships or interactions, it's just one of those things you get used to putting out there and talking about.

Mind, I'd say some of this is about shifting from one phase of life to another: as people get older, that everything is or must be about romance, being in love, or something long-term is something most people tend to phase out of (if they started there), or stop making assumptions about in the first place.

So, ARE these kinds of more "casual" (for lack of a better term) interactions something you think you'd like to explore? Or, do you think that's not something you want or would feel comfortable with, and you'd prefer to just kind of stay where you are until you do feel up to and interested in something more serious or romantic again?

(Per your last paragraph, that sounds like a lot to tackle, so how about we make some more headway with what you first brought to the table here before forging into that stuff?)

--------------------
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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your-thoughts-please
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Gotcha! I stated that general view only to mark that, indeed, I do not consider what we're calling "casual" relationships to be any less valid or somehow "wrong". My only concern was that they may not be the correct thing for me.

As for the last (paragraph), yeah, I think holding off on that stuff is the way to go.

Now, as to the main question of whether or not the described relationships are things I would be looking for: I don't know.

I do know that I am unhappy where I am, so I should change something, whether by learning to better cope, shifting my objectives, or otherwise.

I am not sure how I would react in such a scenario, so I suppose my best bet now is to try it and see. While I am largely looking for sex (or cuddling or wrestling or what have you), I'm also just interested in cool interactions and meeting neat people, so putting myself out there and being open to seeing what comes up does sound like a solid plan.

This brings up three issues:

1) As I mentioned above, I am having trouble meeting people I find attractive. This is not to sound egotistical or judgemental at all, there is just a certain kind of person that I am generally interested in: benevolent, naturally curious, physically attractive, a little silly, and a healthy mix of dedicated but irresponsible (the kind of person who studies hard in school but likes to get hammered drunk at a concert). I'm doing my best to try to meet more and more people, but it's a slow process.

2) In my inexperience, I worry about it being just super awkward in a particular way. When with a loving partner, there is a clear impetus: kissing, an act of affection, is perfectly suited to a loving relationship. Making out is the same way, as is sex. I've never really experienced desire without love/commitment before (I am aware of how naive I sound throwing "love" around left and right, but it's a short way to describe the relationship dynamic I'm talking about). I worry that I would find such actions just downright awkward or anxiety-inducing. I dunno, though, they also sound exciting. Again, I think I should just try it and see.

3) While I am quite confident socially, I am not confident romantically. From this last relationship and other past experiences, I do not intuitively feel like an attractive person. I believe myself to be one intellectually, but I just have a hard time believing that another person would actually want to be sexual with me. I don't think I'm ugly, I don't think I'm (too) weird, but the feeling "hey, this person might be into me" just isn't often there. Also, I can be socially quite awkward; I do great in a group, but one-on-one, I don't hold up so well. Finally, while I approach people on the street often, I'm not so good at doing so in a sense that lead to a date; my flirting skills are likely just out of practice.

Editing: There is one last hangup I have. Along with those other issues we're deferring to later conversation, my past relationship experiences, family situation, friends that have faced challenges, etc. have all affected my current state. I would like to be able to be open sexually; one of my current emotional desires is to have someone with whom I can just be a totally open book. However, I think that to do so in a casual scenario would be unwise, since many of the "secrets" I would like to be open about are not mine to reveal but those of people I care about (not to mention that ones like I mention above would likely be a rude ending to any evening, though I think most of those issues are not real and I'm just overzealously worrying). In my head, part of the fun of being sexual with another person is that it allows you to be vulernable; I would not like to have to feel guarded in my first experience with intercourse. (Note: I'm not thinking of sharing my life story as a part of foreplay or something, I just worry that the knowledge that there are things I couldn't share would hinder my ability to feel comfortable).

Finally, just talking with you here is already helping me feel better and making my situation feel clearer and brighter in my mind. Thank you!

[ 04-01-2013, 01:24 PM: Message edited by: your-thoughts-please ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Well, having a hard time meeting people you find attractive sounds like something that really doesn't change the issue of whether or not you want to pursue sex outside a given kind of relationship. In other words, if you're having that issue right now, you're going to have it regardless, you know?

For sure, pursuing sexual relationships or interactions in these m,other models would be new to you and outside your previous experience. So, like anything new outside someone's experiences so far, there's going to be a learning curve, and while you're in it, you may feel less confident and comfortable than you would with things that aren't new and where you do have experience.

I'm not sure I'm with you that it's so much more clear with an ongoing partner. In fact, it sounds like even you know that that's not so from your previous relationship. Really, I think it's more about individual relationships and interactions than any one model making "rules" that are so easy and clear versus another. Especially when you consider that with ongoing romantic relationships so much of what seems like clarity is actually, in reality, often assumptions where people aren't always so clear, or on the same page, at all. Personally -- and certainly what I know from work, too -- as someone who has experienced a very wide range of sexual relationships over decades, I don't feel I can say any one model is somehow more clear than others when it comes to sex at all.

If that was too murky or obscure, give a shout, and I'll try and be more clear about it.

I also hear you saying that right now, you might be having a bit of a confidence deficit, especially in situations you're not familiar with. That, though, to me, is another thing that's less about a given model for these interactions and more about if you just feel ready after your last relationship to pursue new relationships of any kind with others.

And you might not. I mean, we can want a thing, but not be ready or up for it. We can be uncomfortable in one way -- like not having the kind of passionate sexual interactions or relationships we want -- but might be just as uncomfortable with those or what they involve, so it can be a choice of in what way we think we'd be more or less comfortable. (And, of course, more casual sexual interactions, like I said, don't mean we'll have passionate connections, either: sometimes we will, sometimes we won't, just like with ongoing romantic relationships.)

--------------------
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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your-thoughts-please
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You're sharp!

I think you may be misinterpreting some of what I'm saying, but you've also cut me fairly well to the quick (I mean that in a good way!) and given me a well-structured lot to think about!

Thanks again. I may (not sure) reply more later, but I need to switch to other tasks now, and I don't want to write reactionarily - this is a lot to consider before exploring further.

You rock, Heather.

[ 04-01-2013, 01:46 PM: Message edited by: your-thoughts-please ]

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Heather
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I try, and thanks! [Razz]

By all means, feel free to sleep on any of this, and I'm happy to pick up more conversation with you about all or any of this whenever you'd like. [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

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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