Donate Now
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | 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 2)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 3 pages: 1  2  3   
Author Topic: Phimosis and papules; respect and revulsion
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Robin Lee     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I hope you don't mind me chiming in here. I wanted to comment on what you said about mutual support. I think mutual support really can mean helping each other find other resources and supporting each other through interacting with those resources. So, I think there's room to honour the role that mutual support plays in your relationship while expanding its definition so that it can be healthier for both of you.

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 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 
I very much see the benefit of trying to put more time into self-care. I will note that recently our mutual support has been more along the lines of reminding each other about stuff we need to do, and being congratulatory when we manage it and sympathetic when we don't. So, like, he will ask me if I've remembered my physiotherapy, or we'll decide that we're both going to do a useful thing then check in again after.

One concern I have about this though is that I won't feel able to deny him support if he comes to me needing it, and vice versa.

Also. I have to say that in terms of my actual time/energy, this relationship is not the primary factor in draining it. I have overcommitted myself to all sorts of voluntary work and extracurricular activities (on top of my degree, which is until September) and he isn't getting as much of my time as maybe he should. I feel tired and drained most of the time and every time I have energy it usually goes into one of my projects. Also, in terms of having a support system - in my last city I had a large number of close and trusted friends, with whom I am still in some contact. In my newer city (I've been here since October now) one of the thins which scared me most was building up a support network like that again from scratch. I'm happy to say I do have some good trusted friends here, but recently things have been harder because one person who I trusted quite a lot turned out to be a sexual abuser and it's thrown a shadow over my ability to trust other friends I've made here (there is a very long draft post on this sitting on my laptop now). So, um, yes, onthe one hand I DO have a support network outside him, on the other hand it would be lying to say that it isn't currently quite wobbly and compromised.

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 
(Are you okay, toomanywords, with my stepping away from this for today with the plan to show up again to pick it up tomorrow morning? Obviously you can still talk more with other volunteers, but I'm nearing the end of a busy workday which means my brain is becoming much less useful, and I don't want to serve you poorly.)

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
Re: your first suggestion, to stop this being a sexual relationship... I see the justification for that, but a few things about it worry me.
- We already decided not to do that, and we recently had a good sexual experience. I worry this will seem like it's come out of left field.
- I worry that this will seem to confirm any fears about my attraction to him being compromised by (or at least, weak in comparison to) my attraction to and sexual relationship with my newer partner, especially if we do on to engage in PIV.
- I dont want to lose the option of sex when it still can be good.


I am about to continue my journey in an unlit vehicle. Interacting with this small screen is already making my eyes feel funny, so I may be not replying for the next 20 minutes or so.

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 
Before I go, I can weigh in quickly on these responses:

- We already decided not to do that, and we recently had a good sexual experience. I worry this will seem like it's come out of left field.

• But if you explain the rationale here, the things we've been talking about, won't that make the context clear?

- I worry that this will seem to confirm any fears about my attraction to him being compromised by (or at least, weak in comparison to) my attraction to and sexual relationship with my newer partner, especially if we do on to engage in PIV.

• Again, see above. If it's not about that, and you're clear it isn't -- even though that's something to talk about, because the reality seems to be that you ARE more attracted to this other partner, if it can be put in a more/less framework: you're at least more comfortable with this other partner in some ways -- then would he not take you at your word?

- I dont want to lose the option of sex when it still can be good.
• Even if, in the bigger picture, a sexual relationship isn't healthy for one or both of you right now, and might well be making both of your bigger issues worse? I mean, seriously, can having enjoyable sex now and then justify that potential cost?

[ 06-07-2012, 05:43 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
Yes, I am happy for this to be the end of your involvement with this discussion for now. I am very very grateful that you took the time to arrange a discussion in semi realtime with me despite your very busy schedule.
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 
Yeah, I realise these worries are probably not sensible and more to do with a general reticence about changing the status quo. Thanks for pointing out why theyre not just illogical, but unworkable.
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 
Robin, thanks for your contribution, I dont mid your chiming in at all. I see your point. Thanks for saying.
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, toomanywords: I utterly spaced we had a vet appointment this morning, and I've a houseguest tonight and tomorrow. So sorry about that!

So, I likely won't be back online until late afternoon Saturday or Sunday morning, but if you want to keep talking then, I'm glad to. [Smile]

Again, sorry for my flakiness!

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
That is okay, I have a busy weekend too. I'll keep an eye on here.

I saw him today very briefly - for about 10 minutes - and felt very affectionate towards him. But also I was thinking about your suggestion of not having sex with him any more, and, well... It kind of felt like it made sense? When he kissed me with more wetness than just a peck it felt a bit weird.

So. Yeah. Maybe a break from or a permanent end to the sex is the right thing. Although that is scary in itself because it feels on some level like the beginning of the end of the relationship. Iunno. I definitely felt warm feelings towards him.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Robin Lee     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
HI TooManyWords,

All changes are scary, so your mixed feelings are understandable.

Having warm, affectionate feelings for him is okay, and there are many ways to express those feelings and to have a relationship. If you do choose to stop having sex with him and stay in a relationship agreeing on where the line is drawn between expressing affection towards each other and being sexual with each other will be something you'll both have to work on.

I think it's important to look at the big picture. While not having sex anymore for the foreseeable future feels hard, sex is something that should ideally feel physically and emotionally good before, during and after. What you've described in your previous posts doesn't really jive with that. So, if you're wavering, that is something to take into consideration.

[Smile]

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 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 
Thanks Robin.

I'm going to try talking to him sometime in the next few days. I'm not sure if I should try to do this in person or on the phone, though.

Huh. I'm wondering if I should start thinking more about my history and issues with sex. Feeling "physically and emotionally good before, during and after" is something that applies to a worryingly small proportion of my total experiences (applied to all conditions and all partners past and current). He's aware of this and my history and stuff - but maybe this would be valuable to talk about with him? On the other hand, I don't want him to feel like I'm... blaming him? I don't know. Maybe I am flailing in the dark.

Where do I go from here? Are either you up at the moment? It's 1am here and I don't need to be active until the afternoon and it would be good if someone is around, I am feeling fragile, today was (unrelatedly) difficult.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Robin Lee     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi, I'm around for a little bit now if you're still awake. If you've managed to get to sleep, that's good too.

I'm wondering what you mean by it seeming as if you would be blaming him?

Also, in terms of whether you should have a discussion in person or over the phone, I think that would depend on the dynamics of how yu two usually have productive discussions, plus, of course, what is practically easiest for you both.

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 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 
I'm here.

I guess I feel like placing 'so your dick really freaks me out' on a spectrum with other stuff in my sexual history (dubious consent, nonconsent, sex as self-harm) seems sort of like an accusation?

Arg. I mean. Basically I am worried about how to address this without being really upsetting for him.

He called me briefly today and said he was feeling really good about us at the moment. I was with a bunch of people and didn't really have a private place to go, otherwise I might have tried talking to him about this then.

Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Robin Lee     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Does he already know that you have anxieties around penises?

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 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. Very much so.
Posts: 75 | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Robin Lee     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
HI TooManyWords,

I'm headed out now for the evening. My brain just took a nosedive into fatigue and I don't think I'd be much good at a conversation right now. Will be back during the day tomorrow, though.

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 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 
Okay. I'm not sure how free I'll be tomorrow but I'll keep an eye out.

It might be that there's not much more to be usefully said here until I've spoken with him, anyway. I think I'm just running round in circles at this point.

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 
Just to pitch in a little on where you and Robin have taken things, I want to suggest something.

I suspect this isn't really just about his penis.

I've noticed, in our discussion, that while yes, that certainly is part of it, that there's a lot of stuff attached to it (and I truly do not intend puns there).

I suspect this is also about what is obviously a very, very complex relationship given your long history, one probably made all the more complex that I imagine there have been quite a few settings in both your lives where you both have been "Other," but not to each other. On top of all of that, it sounds like this newer relationship is actually a sexual relationship that is way more comfortable for you, and it's possible this is even you stepping into something more right for you from something that was where you first got your feet wet? If so, that can always be a tough transition, and in this case, it seems pretty clear it's one you're making alone and where your initial partner has some negative feelings.

I suspect his state of body image, which is obviously really, really precarious, and the dynamics around that between the two of you amplify any way you feel about any part of his body, and probably make negative or wary feelings all the more so, and then those feelings also leave you feeling even worse because of them due to his body image issues. I guess the simpler way of saying that is I suspect you feel like the way you feel about his body or any of it's parts is way more loaded than it would tend to be wit a partner with a healthy body image.

Of course, I also don't know how his body or its parts reflects, if it does at all, on your own sense of gender or body: that could obviously be very loaded, too.

And again, looking at some of the dynamics of all of this, some of them are such a hot mess, it might even be easier to kind of make it all about something much more simple like a body part. I'm not saying you don't feel the way you do about his penis, mind, just that I think all of these things and more are amplifying the negative feelings about his body.

Obviously, if none of that feels true to you, I might be off-base, but just thought I'd toss it out there.

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 am on the move at the moment (using phone!) but I wanted to reply a little bit.

"I imagine there have been quite a few settings in both your lives where you both have been "Other," but not to each other."

Could you expand a little on what you mean by that, please?

"it's one you're making alone and where your initial partner has some negative feelings."

Also this?

"I suspect you feel like the way you feel about his body or any of it's parts is way more loaded than it would tend to be wit a partner with a healthy body image."

This feels like it rings true. That said, newer partner doesn't have a massively great body image either - also is an occasional self-harmer and our most recent sexual experience together ended up being quite fraught and angst because we kept accidentally triggering each other. But generally things with him are good. I dunno, am now questioning how healthy things with newer partner are too - think we need to have a discussion about slowing things down re: whether PIV happens or not and maybe stop any kind of insertive stuff for a while. He gets really self-conscious about talking during sex, and although he's been doing lots of verbal consent checking with me because I have said it makes me feel much safe, last time we were together he got upset (in a sad 'oh no I was hurting you?! I have done a terrible thing!' way, not an angry way) when I said that his fingernails were hurting me during manual sex. (This is not typical and he was not in a great mental place at the time, but.) So I think we need to have a discussion about that and how I can express a no/stop without hitting his anxieties about feeling like he has Failed At Communication and sending him into a guilt spiral. But now I am getting quite offtopic - back to original partner...

"Of course, I also don't know how his body or its parts reflects, if it does at all, on your own sense of gender or body: that could obviously be very loaded, too."

It used to be that the sexual response of my (now ex) cis male partner, and my own sexual response, made me feel dysphoric. It is no longer quite that bad, but. I tend to interpret erect penises as a threat to my own bodily integrity and sometimes a reminder that my own body often feels just wrong. I also have a really nasty sense of guilt that I was most attracted to him during his ED (which I didn't know about at the time) and it can kind of make my brain go off into all these things about fat-shame and my own body issues and stuff.

Over all your analysis makes sense to me I think.

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 
Sure.

What I mean is that as someone gender nonconforming, and for him, as a gay guy, unless you lived in a town/world where either or both of those things was the norm, you two were probably seen as/treated as "other" by others a lot, and certainly, that can make a bond bigger if it was you two having each other's backs in that.

In saying you're making this transition alone, I mean to another partner, if he isn't doing the same or hasn't while you two have been together as a couple.

In terms of talking about your feelings about his body being more loaded, I meant that were you to be with someone where you had some discomfort with their body, but they were pretty comfy with their own body, and mostly figured your issues were that -- yours -- this would be way less loaded.

I mean, to put this in another context, were I in a situation where a sexual partner was way freaked about a body part of mine, I might have my own feelings about it, but I'd probably manage them myself or with support from other folks. And per that partner, if I wanted to be sexual with them in a way where those parts were involved? I'd probably just opt out, and pick someone else who WAS comfortable with them to be sexual with, since the alternative wouldn't see like a good thing for myself or that uncomfortable person.

Make sense?

Also, can I ask if you've thought about stepping away from any kind of sex that feels really triggering for you around dysphoria or anything else that big until you've made more headway with all of that?

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
'What I mean is that as someone gender nonconforming, and for him, as a gay guy, unless you lived in a town/world where either or both of those things was the norm, you two were probably seen as/treated as "other" by others a lot, and certainly, that can make a bond bigger if it was you two having each other's backs in that.'


Ah, I see. This makes sense, although I'm not sure it entirely applies to us, because despite being childhood friends we have also always been quite long-distance for most of that.

'In saying you're making this transition alone, I mean to another partner, if he isn't doing the same or hasn't while you two have been together as a couple.'

He has been interested in other people (because yay polyamory!) but thus far only one has been in a position to actually maybe do things with him. They are beginning to explore the possibility of maybe becoming a Thing of some kind, but it's very early days, whereas I've been with my newer person for approx 6 months now and also have various casual funtimes with other people as well (all completely above board and within relationship terms).

'In terms of talking about your feelings about his body being more loaded, I meant that were you to be with someone where you had some discomfort with their body, but they were pretty comfy with their own body, and mostly figured your issues were that -- yours -- this would be way less loaded.'

Okay, yes, this makes perfect sense.

'I mean, to put this in another context, were I in a situation where a sexual partner was way freaked about a body part of mine, I might have my own feelings about it, but I'd probably manage them myself or with support from other folks. And per that partner, if I wanted to be sexual with them in a way where those parts were involved? I'd probably just opt out, and pick someone else who WAS comfortable with them to be sexual with, since the alternative wouldn't see like a good thing for myself or that uncomfortable person.'

Okay. This also makes sense. Hrm. He has made it VERY clear that it's up to me to say what is and isn't okay and that we'd go at a pace I set and stuff - he has never pressured me into engaging with his penis. Though I guess that is still different from actively opting out and saying 'even if you think in the moment that this is okay for you, it usually isn't, so we are going to stop doing this'. In a completely different context this weekend it was made very clear that I am bad bad bad at self-care re: my triggers - people were watching TV, I went 'eek this scene is triggering - okay no don't worry I will just ignore it' and then 30 seconds later I was having a panic attack. And yeah, it is a recurring theme in my sex life that I push myself do things which I think I should do or should want. Re: the later point and dysphoria and stuff - I would really like to point out that it has not been uniformly as bad I described. When I say I 'tend to', I mean, that is the sort of... nasty undercurrent that surfaces sometimes? I feel like there is usually SOME element of steeling myself to something when I engage with penises. But that is not to say that my experiences have been uniformly bad. And initially in my relationship with original partner I did get so, so SO much better with sexual contact and dysphoria and stuff. Strap-ons helped. It's only recently (and mostly with newer partner) that I've even felt comfortable with vaginal insertion. (Anal was fine, because, uh, it fit with us as a 'gay' couple. Since moving towns I've sort of gone back into the closet a bit and am less openly/obviously transmasculine. Am not sure if increased comfort with vaginal insertion is related and part of a general movement in my genderfluidity, or a sign that I'm feeling more comfortable with body as-is, or a function of now being with a cis guy who identified primarily as heterosexual before his attraction to me.) Uhm, getting rambly, am sorry, but - basically - sex and dysphoria is a weird one for me and it's generally getting better and going slowly, it used to be that even having my chest touched made me dysphoric, and in my relationship with my ex I think we pretty much had no sexual contact (that didn't end in sobbing or awkwardness) for the last 6 months or so of it... so. To an extent, I HAVE been pacing myself and avoiding things that make me feel dysphoric, it's just I can't always judge? And I seem to be backsliding?

If you're here and plan to reply soon, I would appreciate a short note to that effect before you do a 'full' reply, so I know to stay up (or indeed, if you're here and leaving shortly, say that too and I will head off to sleep). We should also maybe at some point try to arrange this at a more friendly time for both of us to be online because I do not think I am at my most coherent in the small hours, especially given that I am having a way tiring weekend.

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, toomanywords: was just checking in one last time before getting ready to mellow out to soon hit the hay, so yeah, no big replies for me tonight.

Tomorrow, I expect my working hours to be between around 7 and 4 (PST). Holler if anywhere in there works for you, and I'll make a point of trying to be around then so our back and forth can be a bit more at the pace it was the other day.

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 will be definitely free from 10am your time. Hope this is cool.
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 
Need to finish up a column, but I'll hop by in around an hour, when I will hopefully be finished! [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: 68237 | 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 here. [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 not quite finished with what I need to be, but we can at least get started and hopefully I can toggle between here and there.

Maybe the best way to get started is to just get kind of a check-in from you about where you're at right now versus where you came in here with that first post? That way we can figure out together what our best direction might be from here.

[ 06-11-2012, 12:45 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 Heather. Feel free to devote your full attention to the other task in the meantime, I don't want to take you off work - just wanted to register my presence. [Smile]

Okay, so, it's been quite a journey - maybe a shift in thinking - for me in the course of this discussion so far. I'm gonna see if I can do this in list form rather than give you another wall of rambling text. (Also, because these are the pseudonyms I am using in my as-yet unfinished 'yikes please help' post for another section of the forum, I am gonna refer to my long-term partner as Cal and my newer partner as Mark. Because pseudonyms make it easier than giving a description of each person each time.)

- I acknowledge that my feelings about Cal's body, particularly his penis, are not based solely on an aesthetic dislike, but interact complexly with how he relates to his body, how I relate to cis-male bodies in general, and my long and fraught emotional history wtih him.
- I acknowledge that I am under no obligation whatsoever to engage sexually with Cal's penis, or indeed with Cal. (He never made me feel obliged - this was internalised social pressure I was putting on myself, I think.)
- I acknowledge that it is probably the healthiest thing for both of us if our relationship makes the transition to being a non-sexual relationship for the moment, although I am still somewhat worried about how to discuss this with him. I plan to attempt this this evening, perhaps very soon as I am currently alone in a house for the first time in many days.
- I acknowledge that it is probably healthiest if our relationship remain non-sexual until Cal has worked through more of his body-image triggers, and until I have reattempted sorting out some of my body-image and gender triggers.
- I acknowledge that it is possible, or even likely, that even when we have sorted these things out, our relationship may not become sexual again. I have mixed feelings about this.
- I acknowledge that this may be the beginning of the end of this particular chapter of Cal and I being romantic partners rather than close friends. I do not find this a pleasant thought but I realise it is a possibility.
- I am coming to also realise that maybe my sexual relationship with Mark is not as utopian as I thought, and that perhaps we should slow down, especially in terms of my considering engaging in PIV (for the first time in many years) since I appear to be in a less okay headspace in that regard than I thought, and I really do not want to be succumbing to internalised ideas about the 'shoulds' of sex.

I think that covers things? It all sounds very logical but the way I'm actually feeling is a bit more tangled and wobbly than I can express. I am not enjoying this process even though I recognise it is probably healthy and necessary.

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 this, this gives me a really good idea of where you're at right now.

If you're thinking about having a discussion with cal tonight, it sounds to me like the most pressing thing at the moment I could help you with is sorting out what you want to say and how you can feel able to say it. In other words, doing some coaching with you, if you want it, so you can at least start having a talk about this tonight (I don't expect it can all be talked about in one evening).

If that sounds like the right place to go today for you, can you maybe tell me a little about your worries in discussing this with him, and maybe some things you want to express but think will be challenging for you?

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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. [Smile]

So, things on my mind (because yay, list format seems to work well!)
- Not hurting his feelings or in any way exacerbating his body image issues.
- Making him feel like he is still loved and valued and wanted.
- Reassuring him that he is not in danger of being 'replaced' by Mark, given that he has already expressed insecurity about that, because that Mark and I are not long distance (and all the aforementioned sex things). Cal phoned me the day before yesterday to say that he is feeling way more comfortable with my relationship with Mark now - I'm worried that this is in a part a function of having pretty good sexual interaction with Cal last time we were alone together. I'm also worried that Cal will almost be reading this as: Cal expressing comfort with me/Mark gives me 'permission' to move on to the next 'stage' in switching to Mark as a primary partner and ceasing sexual contact with Cal. (Cal is, if it wasn't already very obvious, quite insecure - he was even more so in the early stages of our relationship, to the point where for the first few months he was wondering if I was going to shout 'gotcha!' and reveal that this had all been revenge for his poor treatment of me earlier in our history.)
- On the other hand, being honest that maybe this IS in some way the beginning of end, and I can't promise forever.

... and now I'm kind of at a loss, and I'm not sure if I've answered properly but I'm beginning to blood-sugar crash so will post this and then go acquire a cup of tea and biscuit.

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 
Gotcha.

So, let's start with what looks to me to be the easiest and move towards what's more challenging.

quote:
Making him feel like he is still loved and valued and wanted.
In a word, to me, this is the basics. Be nice. own your own stuff. Use kind words. Make room for him to have whatever feelings he has about all of this. Affirm and reaffirm your love and care for him.

Now, "wanted" is a little tricky, because I'm not sure what context you mean that in. I mean, if you're investing all this time in trying to make things work for both of you, he's clearly valued and you clearly want him in your life. If you mean sexually...meh. I'm not sure that's something you really can do with this or even should do. And this is another place where if he can't handle NOT being sexually wanted, that hearkens back to what I've said about my concerns he has the resiliency at this point to be in a sexual relationship at all. That has to be something he has, and it's not something you can give him. Know what I mean?

quote:
Reassuring him that he is not in danger of being 'replaced' by Mark....
While I certainly wouldn't frame this as making any kind of promise, and I'd absolutely not be dishonest about it, I think if you can talk a little about how you're reevaluating BOTH these relationships in terms of where YOU are at, like you've been talking about, that should help a lot here.

Also, you're in a poly framework. You know this isn't a "choose-between" thing, so you can reaffirm that if need be, too. And if things get rough in this talk around this, you might also find a kind way to express that even were mark not in the picture, these issues with you and cal would still be there and wouldn't magically vanish. mark or no Mark, you have this stuff.

I also don't know what conversations you two have had in all your negotiating your poly relationships and frameworks, but I assume in order to do this, you both expressed this WAS something you could handle and both DID want, etc. So, revisiting some of those agreements and conversations as needed might help if things get sticky.

Which gets me to the tougher bit.

quote:
Not hurting his feelings or in any way exacerbating his body image issues
Again, you're going to e kind, and your intent here isn't to hurt him. Your intent is to try and do better by both of you, to change things so that, ultimately, you're both in a better place than you are now.

But you know, changes can be scary and when we want things we might not be able to get or keep, it can hurt. You can't control that, and it should be okay for you to both have any hard feelings you have. If parts of your relationship might be going away or put on the shelf, that's a loss, and we all get to feel sad or hurt about loss.

In terms of his body image stuff, if you're going to be talking the way we have been here, you're going to be taking a LOT of ownership of your own feelings. This isn't about his body or it's value. It's about how YOU feel, and how YOU are reactive to it and the bigger stuff around it.

Since he has a history of (totally untreated, no less) EDs and negative body image and self-image, they probably will be triggered some by all of this, maybe even a lot. But that is really, really not on you to try and control beyond being kind and loving and owning your own shit. It's not healthy for either of you to try and do that, because it's not going to help him get any better and it's only going to make your relationship more whack, IMO.

But maybe around both of these concerns, you can perhaps have some supports to refer him to if he needs them?

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
Loved/wanted:
By 'wanted' I mean like he is an actively desired presence in my life, as opposed to someone I care about but still don't see often (like many of my old friends from before I moved), rather than necessarily 'sexually wanted'. Although I guess there is an element of that too, because there are many things about him I still find very attractive, as discussed earlier. But okay - your response here is helpful and illuminating either way. Thank you again.

Not being replaced:
Talking about the re-evaluation in both camps actually is quite a good idea. I've been mostly going with the side of discretion when it comes to talking with Cal about issues with Mark or talking with Mark about issues with Cal - the two of them don't have any kind of relationship with each other beyond being nodding acquaintances (see: living on two different sides of the country) and it seems like a breach of privacy for the person being discussed, as well potentially unwanted dumping-on the person on the receiving end. But I guess what I'd really be doing here is talking about what's going on in MY head about how I relate to my sexuality, full stop.
You're right that poly should mean that choose-between isn't really relevant. However, I think it's kinda relevant re: Cal's history with poly. Years ago he was in a poly situation with another girl and guy. He gave a lot of support to the girl in question re: her mental health problems, and she got a lot happier and more confident - and then proceeded to break it off with Cal and date the other guy exclusively (the relationship between Cal and the other guy was basically, as I understand it, threesomes and fun times, without the deeper feelings or seeing each other one-on-one). So Cal felt like he was being used as her 'training wheels' and then left for someone 'better' once she didn't need his help any more.
Again, thanks for the advice on this bit - it all seems really sound.

Body image and feelings:
I don't have much to say to that, except that you're making a lot of sense and I guess I will just try my best to be kind and to not consider things my fault if things go wrong.
Some supports/resources would be awesome.

I'm really grateful that you're taking the time to do this with me, it's being very eye-opening. (I am also vaguely cursing myself for not coming to you when I was having serious problems with my ex - I was considering it for YEARS but was always too scared to ask, I guess because I knew the answer would be something I didn't want to hear.)

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, I'm happy to do it. Glad I can be of help.

You know, I think it's safe to say that at one time of life or another -- and personally, I have been in this spot MANY times, and it was something it took me a LONG time to make a peace with -- we are going to be someone's transition. That's not even the best word, and I'm always struggling for the right one, but I mean a person someone is with where we/our relationship/our interactions play a part in moving them forward to something or someone else.

Honestly, I think some of how I made my piece with what, in my pissier moments, I called "being the transition person," was coming to the notion that this may be who all of us are with everyone in life, period, we just don't always see it. I mean, relationships are about growth, and meaningful relationships and interactions -- or heck, even stuff that isn't but shows us what we want/need or don't -- will change us. And sometimes change means we move on or away.

Don't mean to get super-esoteric, but my point is, I understand Cal's discomfort with that space, but really, all of life is impermanence, and we all have to develop some kind of comfort with that. we can't hold on to upset about that so tightly that the people who come into our lives are scared they have to stay, even when it's not right, or we'll break or they'll be the shitty people who used someone as "training wheels."

I guess what I'm saying is that that's something else that sounds like his work to do. You know -- and jeez, is it clear from how much energy you're investing in all of this -- that's now what you did or are doing. If your actions and care here don't let him know that too, there's nothing you can do about it.

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
Oh, resources! Am I getting right that you're both in the UK? If so, if you don't mind giving me some general idea of where he's at, I'd be glad to try and make a little list of support resources.

--------------------
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: 68237 | 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 
(Dinner time - disappearing for a short while!)
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