Donate Now
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Got Questions? Get Answers. » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » Phimosis and papules; respect and revulsion (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3   
Author Topic: Phimosis and papules; respect and revulsion
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[I'm posting this in Ask Scarleteen because I REALLY don't want to deal with judgemental replies. I hope that's okay.]

My long-term partner has a penis. I find this particular item of anatomy kinda difficult to deal with: for a long while, being in the presence of an erection made me feel panicky and under threat, for reasons which aren't directly relevant to this post. A lot of our sexual relationship is focused around kink and forms of sex which don't necessarily involve direct genital contact or stimulation ANYWAY, and we worked very slowly towards reaching a stage where I was okay with doing things like manual sex. So. All was/is well and good and respectful. Neither of us really like the idea of PIV (I'm AFAB trans and he's predominantly gay) but he does like the idea of anal intercourse. I like it in theory, but... he is seriously huge (in diameter more than length, but in both dimensions more than I have ever... accomodated). And I am genuinely quite scared of the idea (even though I know nothing would ever happen without my explicit and enthusiastic request!)

So this is the problem I'm asking about. His dick continues to really creep me out. We've been together for over two years now, and having moved into a poly situation where I am seeing another cis man as well as him, I'm confronted with the terrible realisation that all penises are not created equal, and that I'm considerably more comfortable with the equipment of my newer partner.

It's not just the size, although that a significant reason. One thing I initially noticed about my long-term partner's dick was that he had some very severe phimosis: to the point where (even fully erect) the foreskin was closed tightly over the tip of his penis, with a gap of maybe half a centimeter. Apparently none of his previous sexual partners had commented on it, and he didn't realise there was anything unusual about it. I have a bit of a thing about hygiene at the best of times, and coupled with my quite strong panic-reaction to male-coded anatomy, I asked that he do some gentle attempts at stretching (as recommended on various sites/forums about phimosis) so he could keep it clean and assuage my not-quite-rational terror of 'icky manbits'. Over several months, he made quite a lot of process, and was eventually able to (very occasionally) draw the foreskin back enough over the glans. And, uh, it turns out he has quite a pronounced case of pearly penile papules under there. This caused a lot of initial angst and confusion as we thought it might be some sort of infection: luckily the internet helped us establish that it's just normal variation. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me - I'm still incredibly creeped out by the sight of them. I have a compulsive reaction to squeeze spots - especially whiteheads - on myself and on the face of anyone who gets close enough for me to see them. I try not to do so with other people, because obviously it's a nasty invasion of personal space, but I always feel a strong urge. (I have a similar thing about dandruff and nits, and seem to put them all in the same category of 'parasitic things to be removed with fingernails ASAP'.) These little white spots ping exactly the same compulsive buttons and on at least one occasion I've caught myself on the cusp of trying to pop one. This is, to put it mildly, not appreciated. They also remind me of teeth and spines, which feeds into a lot of half-buried fears about penetration and body horror (see above, panic-reaction to erect penises, etc).

So, uh. I love him very much, but my spectrum of reaction to his dick ranges between distaste, gut-freezing horror, and train-wreck fascination (I will sometimes spend quite some time just, sort of, pulling the foreskin down and kind of staring at it and moving the skin around and watching the papules move - ostensibly to try and desensitize myself, but really I think it's symptomatic of a morbid and probably quite unpleasant fascination). I'd kind of figured this was all just part and parcel of my general-penis-fear, but the poly situation has changed my perspective on this. It doesn't help that my long-term partner and I are now also very long-distance and I see him in a sexual context only infrequently (again, thinking about 'desensitization' to his genitalia - is that in itself just really messed up?).

The upshot is, in the current situation, I relate to the bodies of my two cis male partners in markedly different ways:

Long-term partner:
- quite attracted to physically (things have tapered off somewhat since the beginning; over two years together and a lot of the attraction is from mental/situational things re: kink dynamic etc rather than straight-up lust)
- try to avoid interacting with uncovered penis (which is not too much of a massive issue because BDSM)
- NEVER want PIV; theoretically like idea of anal but JUST NO, IT'S WAY TOO BIG
- experience strong feelings of revulsion re: various physical characteristics of his penis

Newer partner:
- INTENSE physical attraction (we're still full of New Relationship Energy)
- pretty much always get naked together when having sexual contact
- feel increasing desire to do PIV (still not planning it - it's been years and years and I want to be an 100% safe headspace before considering it again) and indeed anal
- am pretty much entirely unfazed by his dick (after some months of easing towards this type of interaction) and indeed think it's rather pretty in its own way

I realise that this is much more of a narrative than a question - sorry about that, it's late at night and I'm just sort of barrelling through stream-of-consciousness to get this post done.

BASICALLY: I feel like a terrible, judgemental person for being so grossed out by an intimate part of my partner's body on an aesthetic (and therefore entirely shallow?) basis. I feel like I can't any longer make the excuse "I find dicks triggering" (to him or to myself) because I'm getting along so very well with the one belonging to my newer partner. My long-term partner is aware of all my feelings re: his equipment and has established repeatedly that my comfort zones are sacrosanct and he is happy for whatever type and level of sexual contact I am okay with, which is awesome, but I can't shake the guilty feeling that I should just quit being a shallow bitch (urgh, misgendering slur that I still internally apply to myself) and stop making him feel bad about his body. He has a history of body-hatred, including an eating disorder, and in the early days of our relationship when I was still regularly and intensely triggered by his physical response to our makeouts, he actually had dreams about removing his dick and balls with a kitchen knife to make himself less threatening to me. Which is clearly AWFUL. I HATE the idea that I'm contributing to those feelings; at the same time, I don't think I can just switch off my "eeeeeeuuuuurgh that's disgusting and terrifying" reaction, especially as all efforts to 'desensitize' myself to it just end with staring and prodding that borders on the sadomasochistic (masochistic because I'm staring at and interacting with something that freaks me out, sadistic because the prodding usually ends up making him feel uncomfortable). I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO FIX THIS. And I'm scared that I'm going to get a flood of replies saying just to be a better person, hence, uh, posting this in "Ask Scarleteen" because hopefully the mods will at least be diplomatic. I KNOW that we're not just plain sexually incompatible because we've had lots of really intense and amazing sexual interactions; at the same time, my newfound perspective on how creeped out/scared/disgusted I am by his dick in particular is really worrisome, and I'm not sure if it's becoming worse because of the decreased frequency of seeing him and the comparison to my newer partner. (He also says, given that I have always been adamant that PIV is not an option, he has no idea how he would feel if I did that with my newer partner.)

I am confused and riddled with guilt. I want to treat him and his feelings with respect, but also to respect my own feelings rather than dismiss and delegitimise them (because that never leads to healthy sex or relationships). Any advice at all?

[ 06-05-2012, 09:45 PM: Message edited by: toomanywords ]

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey there. [Smile]

I'm a bit booked to tears over the next couple of days, but I wanted to be sure I could at least start this conversation with you, and if nothing else, get it started by hopefully helping you loosen your grip on some of the crappy stuff you're putting on yourself here.

So, I want to start by saying this: we're all, at any time, comfortable with what we're comfortable with, and uncomfortable with what we're uncomfortable with. Sure, any of us could probably make some judgments, of ourselves or others about certain kinds of comfort or discomfort. Like, we might think or even widely agree that someone comfortable with sexually assaulting people is not a good person, and someone uncomfortable with giving people equal rights isn't either.

But while even then, that can be a bit tricky, I don't think we're talking about anything remotely like that with you here.

In this situation, you're uncomfortable with a part of someone's body, and before you even encountered this person's body, you had some discomfort around that body part in general, for whatever reasons you have.

Now, while I think we can likely unpack some of this with some education -- like the idea that a given penis size is going to mean pain with entry, which I think you might be assuming -- and also maybe some adjustments to how you conceptualize certain things -- like, all protrusions of the body are for squeezing -- I thin that we should start by just accepting and recognizing the discomfort you're having, without judgments.

And to do that, I think a reminder that no one is going to be done terrible harm by any one person choosing NOT to engage with their body part in some way, for any reason at all, especially when that lack of engagement doesn't involve doing things like denying the human rights or being a total jerk about it, like screaming "Eeeeeew, gross!" at them.

In other words, this does not HAVE to be "fixed," because you don't have to engage with this person's penis if you don't want to. And their life will so totally go on if you don't. I hear your concerns about them having their own body issues, but you couldn't fix those for them no matter what you did or how you felt: that's their own stuff to work on, and they're probably going to make the most headway with that outside the bedroom. Sex as therapy is....well, it's not very good therapy.

In other words, you couldn't love all over his penis and make him feel magically better, and you choosing -- should you -- not to be intimate with his penis isn't going to make things worse for him, either.

Maybe we can start by letting you talk about how you feel about all of what I just put out there with that first?

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the considerate reply, Heather.

It's 4am my time so this may be a little... incoherent.

Re: size equating to pain, I find it very very hard to believe that it doesn't. I'd also mistakenly got the impression that he had managed to actually tear someone's sphincter due to his girth - this was a misapprehension of an anecdote along the lines of "I once dated this guy who thought he take me without training with beads first, hoo-boy was he wrong". So, um. Even after finding out that he didn't mean he'd ended up ripping his date a new one, I'd still spent maybe a year thinking that!

Re: not squeezing things... yeah. I probably should work on that. My face is currently covered with crispy scabs because I had an uncharacteristic breakout of spots and did a fingernail armageddon on them. :/

I haven't quite screamed "Ewww, gross!" but my panic reactions are/were still quite strong. The first time we had any kind of sexual contact, noticing his erection under his jeans left me a sobbing heap. And, uh, the first time I saw the papules I may have blurted out words to the effect of "Lovecraftian horror oh god IT HAS TEETH"... He understandably found this upsetting.

Thank you for the affirmation that this doesn't need fixing. I am now going to wordvomit some feelings at you, as sorta-requested.

I feel like I should be working to 'fix' this because he has been working on 'fixing' things for me. When there's a conflict of wills/desires, things tend to go in my favour, and his whole project to be able to draw back his foreskin was entirely for my benefit/at my request (which makes me feel even worse that it's had the opposite effect re: making me more comfortable with his penis).

I know that sexual contact doesn't require any particular type of genital contact but I kinda just feel that if I can't get over this it might be a constant negative thing hanging over our sex life because of having to avoid it. I worry that every time he e.g. keeps his pants on throughout and then I order him to finish himself off while I'm elsewhere or watching his face intently, no matter how much fun it is, there will always be another knock at his self-esteem because of the avoidance of his dick.

I'm sorry to say I don't feel I can really buy "you choosing -- should you -- not to be intimate with his penis isn't going to make things worse for him, either." He's told me he finds it upsetting that there's a part of him which I find scary and threatening and gross, even though I assure him that I don't find HIM any of those things. (Another terrible guilty admission here - despite being overweight myself (5'3 ish and apparently 12st4 (I stood on someone else's scales the other day) and knowing lots about HAES and body-acceptance and the like, I do also find the amount of fat he's carrying to be kinda unnattractive. When we first met (many many years ago) he was significantly leaner - but, uh, he was suffering from an eating disorder, so I think I can safely assume that his current shape is closer to his 'natural' one (although his struggle with depression currently causes lots of comfort eating, he says). Last night his body-hatred had reached the level of wanting to self-harm, and he called me to ask for an assurance that he wasn't fat or ugly and that I was still attracted to him. I kinda choked re: 'fat' and just told him I thought he was gorgeous. I have no idea how to deal with this either: per HAES, am trying to see 'fat' as neutral descriptive term which DOES describe how his body carries adipose tissue; on the other hand given his history of EDs its clearly a really triggering concept for him; on the other other hand I can't deny that I DO on some level find his body fat unnattractive. This doesn't stop me from thinking he's gorgeous in a whole bunch of other ways, but. :/ )

It is now past 5am and I really should sleep. Thanks again for the reply, Heather.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It seems to me like if we could do some back and forth here without too much lag, that would probably work best for such big, big stuff.

When you're back up, want to let me know what time you can be around where if you want to respond, it doesn't have to be at an ungodly hour for you? [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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm awake at the moment but need to be doing things for the next few hours. After that I'll be free, although using a mobile device.

The insomnia and the board posting aren't related. (Well, okay, the night before last I did stay awake refreshing for a few hours. The night after that was entirely my own fault.)

I guess I'll ping this thread when I'm around later, and see if you're online?

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds good. I have a meeting for about the next three hours, and today isn't going to be a big board day for me, but I can make the time to pop in for you, so just give a shout.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thank you so much. [Smile] I'm here now! I'm currently on a laptop and then shortly will be on a smartphone for the next few hours.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ooh, just noticed from the timestamp that you'll be in your meeting another hour. No worries then. [Smile]
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm wrapping it up shortly, so will be here soon. [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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, what I'd like to open with, even though I know it's loaded, is the idea you've voiced that you're not incompatible.

Because from where I'm sitting, it is looking to me like you two really are a pretty bad fit in some big ways.

In a nutshell, he came into this with what clearly sounds like some MAJOR body image issues, body issues which remain major, obviously, and which it sounds to me like he's going to need to make a lot more progress with even to be in a healthy sexual relationship with someone who thinks every part of his body is the most awesome thing of ever. You can into this with what sounds like some major issues about a body part he's got and which is part of his body image issues.

And it sounds like the dynamics in parts of your relationship around that -- and possibly beyond, I don't know because you haven't talked much about the other parts of your relationship -- haven't been at all healthy for either of you. It sounds like you're both triggering each other a lot, like both of you are a barrier to dealing with your own stuff in some pretty big ways, and like the way some of this has been managed (and I use the term managed very loosely here) has been pretty darn unhealthy for the both of you and FROM the both of you.

It also sounds like your attraction to this person and maybe bigger feelings about them have been changing, ebbing. And when I talked about you having the option not to engage with him sexually or with his penis, it was curious to me that you didn't seem to consider that might mean not being sexually involved with him at all.

So, I'm wondering if we can't talk about those impressions I have, and maybe about where you're at in even staying in this relationship, period. How you think it still really benefits the both of you, etc.

I've got more, but I think that's the best place for us to get started.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi! Sorry! I'm here again. Didnt think to check until after the extra hour. Composing a reply now.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
NP.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay.

I'd like to hear more about what you consider to be the unhealthy elements here.

One thing I wish I'd made clearer is that this intensity of negative feeling is something I see as a relapse. When we got together, we were both a lot worse. We have helped bring each other up to a much better ground-level sanity/happiness. A lot of the difficulties between us - sexual and emotional - surfaced when I moved even further away than before. We are currently in a situation where there are very few spaces in which we feel safely able to be sexual with each other, due to parents/housemates. To put this in perspective, when we living closer together, he would stay with me for about a week per month and we'd probably have highly enjoyable sexual contact three times a day. At the moment we're seeing each other more like once a month, for a few days at a time, in places neither of us feel truly comfortable. I've also been under a lot of stress with regards to my new living situation.

I didn't consider ending our sexual relationship in my reply to you, but it is something he and I have discussed. Changing trains now and don't want to lose what I've typed so posting this - part two shortly.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I can certainly go through what I'm seeing that has me concerned about it being healthy for either of you.

• Indeed, you saying things to him like that thing you barked out about his penis does sound hurtful, and also sounds like something that, ideally, you should have chosen to keep to yourself as a thought. So, I wonder about why it was exclaimed to that person out loud.

• Him calling you to validate his body image or talk him off a ledge with it, rather than calling someone NOT intimately involved with his body, like a counselor, friend or family member.

• Him having a history of body image issues, but choosing to be with someone who obviously triggers them. I'd say him having dreams of mutilating himself in order to make you more comfortable makes very clear he's being triggered very intensely.

• You feeling like your sexual choices in terms of not doing what makes you uncomfortable mean his self-esteem gets worse: I can see why you'd think that, at the same time, in a healthy sexual relationship where people are really ready to be sexual with each other, both people need to have strong enough self-esteem that if and when a partner doesn't want to do something sexual, they have the resilience for that not to throw them off a ledge.

• You saying, "When there's a conflict of wills/desires, things tend to go in my favour," suggests that there's a big imbalance in the relationship, period.

• It also sounds like the way he sometimes deals with his body and talks about it is done in a way that triggers YOU.

• You being in a sexual relationship where you feel obligated to do things outside your comfort zone for fear of ill effects on the other person's precarious mental health. For that matter, it sounds like he might feel the same way in some respects.

Those are just the highlights, but hopefully that gives you the general gist.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, he and I have talked about changing our relationship structure from a sexual one to an asexual one. The infrequency of seeing each other and all the above-discussed issues have made our sexual contact quite fraught and I have felt under vast amounts of pressure to 'improve' and 'perform' (I hasten to add that I don't feel like this pressure is coming from him, but from my own guilt/shame, which is a known issue). We have seriously considered going asexual, and indeed, ending the romantic part of our relationship for the foreseeable future as well.

Re: an asexual relationship - his suggestion - I felt that that would be a different kind of pressure, and it might cause feelings of guilt or not being 'allowed' to feel attraction or initiate any sexual contact.
Re: becoming friends rather than partners, we faced this idea with a measure of sadness but also hope -even if things don't work out between us now, then that doesn't mean things won't work out in the future. We have a very long history of being interested in each other - we are very old friends - and several years in the past we were sort-of together before realising things weren't right for then.

Changing trains again - one more post to come.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(Also, has either of you had any counseling at all for your own stuff? If so, are either of you still getting any?)

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I see you've replied: I'm going to carry on with the third part of my initial post before responding to that.

We decided not to break up because, essentially, even if things do turn out to be not right for now, we aren't ready to give up. And things ARE getting better. Which leads me to: stuff we're doing now.

Given that the rarity of seeing each other has resulted in some sexual encounters that feel really pressurised and ultimately upsetting, we have been making an effort to spend time together in situations where sexual contact would not be expected. Things like going out on dates together somewhere in between our respective homes, or spending time with each other in group situations. There's now generally a focus cuddling and talking, and it's been really lovely and fun and happy.

We've also had a long talk about our relationship model, and while we didn't end up deciding to be officially asexual or to break up, we did decide that we'd trial not using words like 'boyfriend' or 'partner' to each other, and see if that felt like it was reducing the pressure on us when together. (This is something he brought up first, saying that although his feelings for me hadn't changed, our 'in a relationship' status on Facebook seemed inaccurate. I later agreed that I felt maybe this was contributing to the pressure I felt to be the perfect partner. )

I realise in writing the above that it does look very much like we are moving slowly towards not being together any more. Huh.

I do have a counterpoint - the last time I saw him, we had a place to ourselves and ended up having sexual contact and it was a lot of fun. Although PERHAPS on some level I was feeling like if we did manage to do so it would magically fix everything, I don't think that that was the only thing going on: I was also turned on and enjoying myself, and he very definitely was. It was something much closer to the sort f sexual contact we had early on in the relationship (holding and kissing each other while leaving actual genital manipulation to the person who possesses said genitals) but it was good.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, I take it by asexual, you mean platonic? As in, a relationship without any kind of sexual activity?

For sure, btw, I think that we can be in sexual relationships -- or any relationships -- that aren't best for us without the sex always being lousy. We can even have great sex in those sometimes, so I don't think having sex that feels good sometimes -- or period! -- is a sound way of determining if a relationship is healthy.

For example, on that, often in very physically and emotionally abusive M/F relationships, people report that everything else is good, but they really enjoy the sex. So.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I was in counselling for a number of years (and had a course of CBT for a related phobia) which included talking about my issues with penises/penetration/gender. However, to cut a long story short, I now have good reason to believe that my counsellor was emotionally abusive, or at least not acting with my best interests at heart. We are no longer in contact. I am on the waiting list for more CBT on the NHS in my new city, and have looked into private counsellors who offer CAT as well. The CBT people have told me (erroneously, in my opinion and that of other people) that I should not be receiving multiple types of therapy at once so I am not sure how to proceed here. I have phoned CAT counsellors a few times but been met with answer phones only. Getting help has fallen off my radar recently, to be honest. I'm really busy, I've never been great at self-care, and when I do remember then the focus is on managing my physical health problems instead.

His line is that he won't get counselling until he no longer lives with his parents, because he couldn't bear them finding out. I believe he has severe depression which is exacerbated by his being stuck with them. He attempted suicide several years ago (they are unaware both of this and their part in driving him to it) and has been living with them in a sort of unmoving state since. He says he didn't really start processing or recovering from it until about when we started being a couple, and I have done a lot in terms of supporting him through this. He plans to move to the same city as me when he can get the money together - something which we hope will also improve our relationship (although we are very aware it's a gamble, he has assured me that he wants to get away from his home town ANYWAY and there is nowhere better for him to move to)

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, by asexual I meant platonic.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for that overview.

So, can I ask who else is or has been his support and help with all of this BESIDES you? And how has he done the processing and healing he has? Obviously not with a therapist or counselor, so I'm wondering what that process has involved for him, especially since it doesn't sound, so far, like he's actually doing very well at all, and it does sound like he's still sometimes in pretty severe crisis.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Um. Pretty much nobody. He lives somewhere quite isolated and the majority of his friends have moved away from the area. The ones who are still around, I don't think they're the types to talk about intimate feelings, although I know some of them are at least aware of his suicide attempt.

While I was still living in my previous city, he became quite good friends with some of mine, and I know he is in contact with a few of them still but I dont know the details of what they discuss.

He has been a lot better than he was, honestly. The following paragraph is based more on what he's told me run on things I've observed. In terms of processing/healing - I think the biggest thing is that he started making plans for the future again. After his attempt, he just stopped thinking about where he wanted to be or what he wanted to do. He worked in a retail shop and lived with his parents and was, as I said, moving through the world in a sort of dream state. He has now properly understood that he IS still alive, he has lived past 16, and although he's (his words) 'lost' the seven years since his attempt, he still has a lot of life he can live. He's got a better job in a field he wants to go into and is working on a university application. He feels like he is alive again. I'm not denying that he still has one hell of a lot he needs to work through, and I have repeatedly encouraged him to see a counsellor, but he is adamant that he won't until he has left his family.

(In case you're wondering where I was during those seven years - although we were childhood friends we were out of contact for a lot of that time, and he only told me about his attempt after we started dating.)

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
*than on things I've observed
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Okay.

So, him having NO other support than you in this is, then, another thing I'd add to the unhealthy list. Big time. Unhealthy for both of you. Big time.

It also sounds to me like he's really done very little work at all to help with his history of EDs and poor body image. Planning for the future is a good thing, to be sure, but that doesn't actually address any of that stuff at all.

I didn't realize you'd known each other since childhood. Can I ask if you feel like that might make you feel more attached to all of this, and less able to NOT have some limits with him around things like being his sole support or engaging in things that you aren't comfortable with?

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(A little veer, by the way, in terms of you getting therapy you want: I don't know where you are, but I wonder if you've gotten connected to any trans health resources near you if there are any? If not, and there are some, this might be a way easier route for you to get what you want.)

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm sorry - when you said "all of this" my mind went to the general depression rather than the ED specific things. Sorry. I'll now talk about his ED.

He used to walk 12 miles a day on little to no food, then force himself to throw up. He would sometimes binge and then force vomiting. This was round about the same period of his life as the attempt. He is now at a stage where he still has a difficult relationship with food: he misses meals sometimes, and comfort eats. He has not forced vomiting in a long time. His mother regularly tells him he is fat and lazy, while also providing him with lots of food high in sugar and fat and encouraging him (and anyone else visiting) to eat large meals including dessert. She would take it as a sign of ingratitude if he refused and made his own dinners (she is very protective and does not want him to move out.)

When I was still living in my last city, on the first day of his visits he'd often not eat at all (travel makes him nauseous) bit then subsequently he'd move towards eating regular meals with me and my housemates by the end of the week. We had lots of talks about how him eating food is necessary for survival and doesn't harm anyone else (he had a sense that whenever he ate, Something would go wrong for other people and it would be his fault). I made an effort not to pressure him into eating at particular times but just to make it clear that there was nothing WRONG with him eating.

I hope this is useful/illuminating? I can talk more about his relationship with exercise if that would also be useful, but I'm conscious that using this touch screen takes forever and there are several of your points I've yet to address.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Re his body image more generally, I know it's unhealthy to hang your good self-image on someone else' perception of you, but I'm afraid that's something that we both have been doing. Feeling desired by me has been a big boost to him. And I KNOW it doesn't sound like I'm (very) attracted to him from what I've said here, but I am - I love his smile, his eyes, his hair, his hands, his shoulders... and in terms of kink, we click SO well.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, it can be a boost, that's not bad. But there's a difference between having body image amped by a partner, and having it be dependent on them. A really big one, you know?

And okay: he still needs treatment for his ED behaviour, big-time. (And not from you: even if you had the education to help him, the kind of relationship you'd have would make you treating him totally inappropriate and pretty useless, if not undermining. that's not to say you caring for him and trying to be supportive is a bad thing, it's not. But that's clearly not what's been going on here, instead, it sounds clearly like you have been his ONLY help with this, and that just isn't healthy or sound for either of you.) And he also needs to not be in an environment where he is encouraged to have disordered eating. With that, there are certainly things we could talk about with him getting help, including help potentially just getting the hell out of there.

But I feel like that would derail what you really asked about here, save that I think the level of help both of you need right now really, really underscores how night unto impossible it is right now to be in a healthy relationship together, particularly when it comes to sex.

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Your assessment re: knowing each other since childhood sounds bang-on. I'm really worried about putting details on here because of identifiability, but we may well be past the point of no return here anyway. Some other things which are probably salient - we confessed feelings/attraction to each other when I was 14 and he was 15, and had something which at the time he refused to acknowledge as a relationship but involved long talks on the phone (including phonesex). After a short while he panicked about getting into something with me because "once it starts it has to end" and became cold and cruel towards me, eventually cutting off contact. I later learned that his guilt over how he treated me was another factor in his suicide attempt, as well as the issues with his parents and sexuality.. When we got together in our 20s, he very much had the attitude that he needed to atone for the past. So - and this has only just properly crystallised for me, funnily enough - this probably goes some way towards explaining the power imbalance you identify and indeed my feelings of responsibility for him and his mental health.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(By the way, would you rather I replied in longer posts, or are these short chunks okay? I'm finding it easier to do it this way because typing on my phone is SO SLOW and I don't want to leave you hanging, but on the other hand if you'd rather us not having several threads going on at once then that's fine too.)
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(Re: trans groups and counselling, I did try exactly that - unfortunately they didn't have a referral system or even a recommendation list. One of the youth workers gave me a personal recommendation for a counsellor, but having looked at her website she doesn't look like she'd be a good fit. Her approach looks a bit too spiritualist, flowers-n-crystals for me to be able to relate to. I'm also wary of psychodynamic counselling generally now, as I believe my precious counsellor was of that school, and I dont want a repeat of that experience. I am looking for something more constructive and task/analysis focused, hence looking into CAT particularly.)
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(However this works for you is totally fine by me.)

And so, with that last post, sounds like there's a history of codependence here, too.

You know, what I'd strongly suggest at this point, for now, is the following:
• Take a break from this being a sexual relationship. Period. Make an agreement about it being platonic for now, with option to revise later, after some of the other things I'm going to suggest.
• Each of you commits to taking some of the time and energy you are putting into your relationship into your own self-care instead, and including seeking support from people other than each other.
• Commit to NOT trying to be each other's therapist anymore. Like, ever. I get why, I think, this dynamic happened, and I know that's blunt, but do you know what I mean?

How do you feel about those suggestions?

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
(I'd be happy to help you look for more resources for therapy through the trans resources in your area if you'd like at some point. Just holler if so.)

--------------------
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: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I feel like these are good points/ideas. I am now going to respond in more detail.

I am definitely up for not being his therapist, and have tried repeatedly to encourage him to find other sources of support. The last time we discussed this dynamic was a few months ago now, after (through discussion friend who is training to be a counsellor) I determined that feeling like his therapist was probably a factor in the souring of our sexual relationship. He told me that he was better than he had ever been and didn't want or need me to feel pressured to fill that role. At the time
I felt a bit better after that discussion, but it doesn't seem to chime with either his doing things like calling me and asking to be reassured he isn't ugly (something which, yeah, is pretty normalised for us in BOTH directions) or with his strongly-held and oft-stated belief that we should both be holding each other up as much as we can.
Be right back - travel problem occuring, need to make a phone call.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
toomanywords
Activist
Member # 76247

Icon 1 posted      Profile for toomanywords     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
*discussion WITH a friend who is etc

Also I think I might not have expressed that last sentence properly in my rush to sign off so I could make a call. He doesn't mean that we should be pouring all our energy into each other, more that he sees mutual support as a very important element of a relationship.

More reply on its way, just wanted to get that out there.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3

Google
Search Scarleteen