Dirty dealing

Hi again: the advice you'd given me before was excellent, thank you so much. After discussing it with my boyfriend I decided not to have sex with him. Which is good because it's all going downhill now.. and if I had lost my virginity to him I'm positive I would feel a lot more cheap than I already do. I made a deal with him. He would stop drinking, and I would take my pants off for him. Sounds a little off, right? But I didn't think I'd have to till until at last a few more months! It's only been 2! Yesterday some friends and I were discussing how older men like younger women... my boy friend is 6 years older than me. I didn't think it was too wrong at first because I'd known him 3 years and just got together with him 2 months ago. But not all of my friends know, and one said "what would man that old (27) be doing with a girl that young (18)" that's kinda close to my boy friend and I's ages. So it got me thinking "what the hell am I doing?!" and the same day I was going to see my boy friend. I talked to him about it... and he said: "no baby you don't see me not valuing your opinions, I don't think it's wrong, you're much older than your age, I'd never use you" and he always mentions us being together in the future. and he says he 'loves' me. I don't love him. and I haven't said it to him either. But his actions speak louder than his words. Last night was the worst. We were making out and touching and stuff and to be honest I wasn't exactly feeling it..we'd just had the serious discussion like 3 minutes before! Then he undid my jeans and tried to take them off and I said no and he said "you promised" and said 'yes i did but i didn't think it'd be this soon' and he kept trying and I kept saying no.. then he just.. stopped. he moved away from me and i just sat there not knowing what to say.. he said "u took them off before" and I had, even I don't know why I didn't take them off again. We sat there in silence until I finally got off the bed and got ready to leave. I stood there and he was still laying down and I asked him what's wrong he said nothing, what's wrong with me. I said nothing and it was just silence again! I said I had to go and he said ok come here. I went to him and he hugged me and we started kissing again and he pulled out his thing and had me give him a handjob. I went home, called him, he said he'd call me later. He didn't. not one call not one message, nothing. he hasn't called all day. What a way to make a girl feel cheap ey? I feel like that was the last straw. He got angry with me because I wouldn't take my pants off? I just don't know what to think. I feel like ending it with him. I was seriously much happier when I was single, and had a whole lot more respect for myself. I've never felt so low about myself, and I just don't know what to do about my situation. Could you please help me out?
Heather Corinna replies:

Really, all I needed to do was to get to your second paragraph, and then read your last few sentences to know that a) this guy isn't good news and b) you really don't want to be in this relationship, which I'd say is a very good thing.

Can you imagine your almost-thirty-year-old self making a deal with someone your age now in which YOU quit a habit which wasn't good for your health only if THEY did something sexual for you that was ONLY for you? Heck, can you imagine yourself at any age accepting that "deal" with someone else, rather than telling them YOU were responsible for your habits, and that sex as payment for you taking care of yourself would be a heinous thing for you to ask for or accept?

Ultimately, with a deal like this, he wins no matter what, and you lose no matter what. Whether he gets you to do something sexual for him that's about what he wants, or he stays drinking, neither benefits you, both benefit him, and this whole spiel is just really outer limits. If he has a drinking problem, it's his responsibility to fix that, for himself and by himself. If you wanted to help support him in that, that support might look like things such as helping him by not asking to go to bars, maybe going with him to an AA meeting, supporting him around friends who were pushing him to drink. Supporting a partner in quitting a bad habit does NOT look like giving them any kind of sex or parts of your body in exchange for them taking care of themselves. No kind of sex should ever be used between partners as something to barter with, or give as a reward or payment. It's not realistic to expect to have a healthy sexual relationship with someone with this kind of thing going on: healthy sexual relationships require that sex is always optional, and also always about both people feeling good about everything physically and emotionally, not just one of the two people.

Too, doing any given thing once for someone doesn't obligate you to do it again. A partner who suggests that it does, especially in such a manipulative way -- in other words, in order to try and convince you to do something that HE wants which you've made clear YOU don't -- isn't being a partner, nor are they having sex WITH you. What you're describing here in your post is someone seeking sexual services from you, not something intimate that is mutually beneficial with you; that you're as happy to be a part of as they are. And even at times when what someone "asking" in that way is for them to do something to YOU, that's still more about what they want, and about manipulation and control, than it is about what you want or are enjoying.

Per his age, there are some age-disparate relationships between people which are perfectly healthy, and even when age creates differences, those differences are recognized and are something one or both parties works with to be sure that disparity isn't exploiting anyone or causing power imbalances. But there are likely more not-so-healthy relationships with a big age difference, especially when we're talking about one party being a teen woman and the other an adult man (and the gender difference alone can create a power differential, then the age difference on top of it another). Too, there certainly are some older people who like to date younger people because they know the younger people aren't likely to be as savvy as their same-age peers. (For future reference, too? When someone way older goes on and on to you about how you're more mature than your age, chances are very good they're feeding you a line: it's no secret that's something younger people really like to hear.) And this guy saying he doesn't devalue your opinions and would "never use you" is a bunch of hogwash: in the sexual dealings with him you've talked about here, he very clearly disregards your feelings, and also seeks to manipulate them. He very clearly seeks to coerce you into doing things you don't want to, through things like this "bargain" you struck, through the silent treatment when you don't want to engage in sex when he does, by suggesting you owe him per stating that since you've taken your pants off for him before, you should always be doing it whenever he wants you to again. But even if he were your same age, the way he's behaving would be a real problem, the controls and manipulation would be an abuse, and the relationship clearly would not be a good one for you.

I hope that you can also recognize that it's both unproductive to beat yourself up about any of this, as well as just...well, not that sensible. It can be really hard for many people to see a manipulator coming in advance, and it often takes people some time to realize that's what they're dealing with. In the meantime, it's pretty natural to sort of fall into playing their games, and to try and make things better by trying to play by their rules. So, yeah, it sounds like you've also not made such great choices in some of this, but what's done is done, and you CAN have a better idea of what's going on at this point and make sounder choices for yourself now and from here on out, including, with any partners you have later, not making "deals" when it comes to sex, and only engaging in things both when you really want to, and for their own sake, not as a way to compensate someone for something, or as a way to try and get them to do something for themselves you wish they'd do. Sex of any kind should never be a "have to" situation, always a want-to, on everyone's part.

I feel like this should be the last straw, too. I feel like you should end it with him, too. And I feel like you'll be happier without him, too, both with others and just with and for yourself. It's really clear that this makes you feel lousy about yourself, and what relationships should do are make you feel GOOD about yourself. You say you don't love him, and it doesn't sound like you even like him (which is understandable, since he sounds like a jerk). It's also never surprising when someone treating you this way makes you feel low about yourself: of course it does. I think you'll feel a whole lot better when you stand up for yourself and dump this chump, gal.

(One last thing? Literally? It's usually a very good indicator when we're moving too fast with sex when we have a hard time calling genitals by their real names, and instead need to call a penis a "thing" or a vagina "down there." Obviously, I don't suggest you have anything sexual to do with this guy anymore no matter what, but the next time you're dating someone, it might be something to bear in mind. If you're not comfortable talking about sex candidly, you're probably not comfortable enough to be DOING sex, okay?)

Heather Corinna • Scarleteen Founder, Editor & Advice-Slingin' Sister • Author, S.E.X.!

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