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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » on feeling boxed in

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Author Topic: on feeling boxed in
EliotDorian
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I've observed that guys I hook up with are more than capable of being boyfriends to OTHER girls, but it feels like I'm pigeonholed into The Other Woman/The Last Fling, while those other girls get pigeonholed into the marginally better "girlfriend" role. I mean, it's not that I'm not up for casual sex, but still! I'm 23, I'm educated, I've been published, I'm active in the blogosphere, I read... and have NEVER had someone ask me to have a monogamous relationship with him? Only once have I even been *considered* (ultimately dismissed) for something serious. The best I've ever been is "confidant and occasional lover." Anyone else feel this way? How do you deal?

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

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Ecofem
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Hi EliotDorian, it's unfortunate that you're finding yourself in this situation, because it certainly does sound like you have a lot going for you. [Smile]

I think the issue here isn't so much you but these guys: they sound like bad matches for you, so I'd advise looking beyond the circles you've been in for potential dates because it sounds like a rut here. I know you're in the DC metro area, which is huge with over 5 million people. Surely there are some people whom you're attracted to and who will see you as good partner potential, too. And, in the meantime, don't settle for less, because while I know you're open to casual sex, it sounds like it's just making you more frustrated in the long-run!

Where are you meeting these guys? At college? What type of guy are you interested in? Let's brainstorm some new places to look. [Smile]

[ 02-10-2010, 02:53 AM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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EliotDorian
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Well I met these guys at parties in college, from whence I graduated two years ago. I'm in grad school and living with my parents right now although I'm about to graduate, and I'm actively looking for full time jobs throughout the nation and studying hard and staying abreast of news. I don't remember the last time I went out, although I did start volunteering to escort at abortion clinics recently (haven't technically started on account of a blizzard going on!), and there are classes. When the snow lets up, I'm sure I'll go out with friends some more.
I don't have a "type" as such. I also haven't met anyone in the longest time, casual or otherwise. (Except the one guy who raped me in September. He's long gone, and really the circumstances were extraordinary.) I've accepted that I might deal with a lack of any kind of sexual relationship, casual or otherwise, until I move out. Once I do move out, well, cafes, bookstores, bars, okCupid? (I love my volunteering, but my other passion besides reproductive justice is environmental stuff, which is also female-heavy.)
Aside: And a year and a half ago, a guy *had* wanted to talk seriously about where our relationship was headed, which I try to remember just so it doesn't get me down. I dodged those discussions for months, most likely because I felt the universe telling me that he wouldn't be right for me as a boyfriend.

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

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Heather
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Have YOU ever put out there to anyone that you're interested in THEM for a more serious relationship?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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EliotDorian
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Actually, I've avoided bringing up serious relationships. I came close to it with one person but stopped myself because I knew intellectually that although I was intensely attracted to him, a serious relationship wasn't such a good idea. He got frustrated and then just wrote me off entirely.
It might sound stupid, but it's not even that I'm yearning for something serious. It's that I wish someone else would want that with me the way they pursue it with other people who aren't me, and it leaves me thinking, "What? I'm not good enough to take home to your mom?"

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

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Heather
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Here's the thing, though: it sounds to me like you're putting that all in someone else's lap.

I don't know what your stories are from others about how their serious relationships started, but if you have the idea that in male/female relationships that always involves the male person being the one to ask about things becoming more serious, or putting it on the table before women do, I think you're in error. My impression is that tends to vary a whole lot, and also involves people taking those kinds of steps because they have gotten feelings or messages from at least one party that that's where they want things to start heading.

So, if we a) don't put those things out there at all, or send messages that is NOT what we want, and also b) don't bring the idea of things becoming more serious to the table ourselves, that is going to have a LOT to do with why (if and when this is the case) another person doesn't do that, either.

Do you get what I'm saying?

If you don't actually WANT a serious relationship, and send signals you don't, you're not likely going to know if that's what a partner wants, because they're not likely to put that out there just when it comes to protecting their own hearts.

For the record, I felt the same way during various periods of my life, and noticed that nearly every time -- usually in hindsight -- that alas, I was often being either overtly or covertly clear something more serious was not what *I* was interested in. As well, as someone who is often the sexual initiator and sexually assertive, I think there has often been a (probably valid) expectation I'd be just as initiatory and assertive when it came to what I wanted emotionally or per relationship models.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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EliotDorian
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That makes a lot of sense to me. I'm pretty sexually outspoken and initiating too. Do you think it might also be that guys are buying into the Madonna-Whore dichotomy and so assume that just because someone's outspoken and assertive about sex that she's automatically not relationship material? Or maybe I'm being too cynical?

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"What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if no one asks to see 'em?"

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Heather
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That'd not be my first thought, no. But I can certainly recall times when I did think it was that simple, and would agree there are some people for whom that may be true. I just personally would be doing my level best to avoid sleeping with those people, and the last thing I'd want with a person thinking that way is a relationship OR sex. [Smile] Because, umm...yuck. I do think if someone is thinking that way, you can probably figure it out, though, just in a sexual relationship or interchange.

My deeper thought on this would be that people tend to like to, validly and soundly, protect their hearts. And that if someone is sending clear signals they're not interested in something, most people are not going to put that thing out there as something they are interested in. Instead, they'll only put that out there to people who they think or feel are likely to be receptive to it.

I also think it's pretty human for people to assume that if a person is clearly an assertive person, and puts what they want out there in one respect, they're likely to do so with other things. And in your case, that seems to be true: you make clear you don't actually WANT a serious relationship with anyone, you just want them to want one with you. So, they may not be picking up on you wanting a serious relationship at all (because you don't), or may even be sensitive enough to pick up on that you want them to want something you're not interested in actually participating in (which would certainly incline a person who didn't want to get hurt not to put that out there).

Know what I mean?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Ecofem
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Hi EliotDorian [Smile] ,

You and Heather have discussed a lot of great points, so I'll just add a few more things to think about.

I know that I'm not really someone who tends to look for relationships (and doesn't like to be hit on unless I really like the person) so there have definitely been times where I was sending the "not interested" vibes and/or wasn't really actively looking to date. I was pretty aware of it though so it was OK. I think it's also understandable that someone who's so busy, who does so much cool stuff, is going to have different priorities, at least for awhile. [Smile] And I think living at home is totally understandable, especially if you consider the astronomical rent prices where you are, but it also sounds a bit to me from other posts that you're finding it to be a hinderance when it comes to starting something serious. It need not be but it can be a mental block, for sure.

While I'm not big on doing certain activities just to meet potential dates, I do think that it can take getting out of your familiar surroundings (in terms of grad school functions, parties with people you already know, etc.) to meet new people. I think once you start to find "groups" of guys who interest you, it'll be a lot easier, if that makes sense? There have been times where I was new to an area, making great friends but only meeting a few dates here and there (and they weren't always available) but it wasn't until a few months later when I started getting to know extended friends of friends and it was like jackpot! (Not to say that people are prizes, of course, just rather that it can take awhile but then feel worth it.)

When you're interested in more actively dating, I think it might also help to start setting your sights on fellow liberal, politically active/activist "young professional" men in their 20s, like ones who are working for a non-profit during the day and doing a hybrid of hanging out friends/volunteering/going to "cultural events" in the evening and weekend (like museum lectures, concerts, poetry readings, trail cleanups-- all that great stuff DC has to offer!)... 'cause the DC area is certainly full of them!! I'm not saying that there's anything inherently bad about dating guys in college or grad school, but it sounds like you're focused more on really jumpstarting your adult life and these adult men are probably going to share more of your interests and appreciate you for who you are and what you do, i.e. "Wow, she's so knowledgeable about reproductive policy and an outspoken blogger!" OK, not everyone is going to react that way but some people are and those are people you'd probably be more interested in anyway... and it could also help with networking. Since you said environmental stuff, here are some current offerings of the DC chapter of the Sierra Club that is super active and seems to have good stuff, and there are also more grassroots groups if that's more your stripe. Here's the Smithsonian Events calendar (mind you many things were cancelled due to snow!) I've never been there but I've heard a lot of good stuff about Busboys and Poets, which has a busy calendar. And the Black Cat always has good stuff. (All this makes me wish I were living closer to DC again, although I'll pass on the near constant traffic jams!)

Also just to throw it out: I'm a big fan of making the first move, so to speak, and I believe that in the Mid-Atlantic region (and surely elsewhere), except in really conservative circles, it's more often the girl/woman than the guy pursuing the relationship in the first place these days. If and when you're wanting to look more, I don't think it hurts to be active in asking out on dates-- there are probably going to be a lot of "oh wait, not so interested" but that's all part of dating and the more people you're meeting, the more chances you are to find someone who's mutually interested, which also means that those times when you aren't, it doesn't feel quite so much of a letdown because it's like "OK, too bad but I'm moving on!" [Smile]

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