Sex in a serious relationship

Questions and discussions about relationships: girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers, partners, friends, family or other intimate relationships in your lives.
Mariposa01
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Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Mon Dec 21, 2020 12:23 am

Hello friends, so recently my boyfriend (I'm calling him Jackson in this post, not his real name)and I have had to go long distance due to circumstances that are not necessary for this post. I went to a super religious school and in a somewhat-religious household where sex was never to be done before marriage and was the ultimate sin. This in turn created a lot of religious trauma for myself that I still battle to this day even though I graduated from that high school a few years ago. It wasn't until Jackson that I ever explored my sexuality and before we got together, I 100% thought I was asexual due to the fact that I have never felt any sort of sexual attraction since it was "a sin to lust after anyone".

Now that we are long distance, we have had more little arguments than ever before due to the stress of being long distance and this topic came up tonight which we argued over for close to 2 hours. He says that he is the only one in the relationship that ever initiates (whether sexual or intimate), and is growing bored of it. I told him that I have little to no sexual confidence and have always been that way even before Jackson came into my life. I want to work on growing my sexual confidence since I have always been told I need to be the proper young lady and respect myself in the sense of not being confident sexually and to be extremely reserved and modest.

I have been working on this issue with my therapist but I thought that maybe advice from someone else aside from my therapist and my boyfriend may be able to recommend different things than just "being confident in myself" and "know that I am sexy how I am" (things both of which have said time and time again). If anyone has any ways to help, I'd greatly appreciate it. :)

Sam W
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Dec 21, 2020 7:29 am

Hi Mariposa01,

We can certainly talk about other ways to approach this! I'm glad you feel comfortable speaking to your therapist about these issues, since having multiple supports can be really helpful when recovering from the effects of purity culture.

Let's start by narrowing a few things down. When you say you don't feel sexually confident, can you tell me a little more about what that means? For instance, is it only to do with the ingrained message that wanting sex is bad? Or are there worries about things like body image and whether or not you'll be "good" at sex in there as well?

Too, did Jackson get more specific about what initiating more often would look like?

Mariposa01
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 12:20 am

Thank you for your reply, Sam! In my school and home, sex before marriage was always like "the ultimate sin" and to never do it or you weren't a true "Christian", so I've always felt shame whenever it came to anything remotely sexual because it was ingrained that I didn't love God and that I was "unworthy". I know how stupid this sounds now and don't feel "unworthy in God's eyes" when it comes to Jackson and me, but there's still that little bit of guilt that I'm battling with when we have sex (something I'm also working on with my therapist).

And yeah, I've never liked my body or the way I look and it's always been the issue for my regular self confidence, and before Jackson, I had literally no idea what sexual confidence actually meant until I realized I had none. There's also the expectations I feel like I have to live up to since I'm not his first sexual partner (he and I have both been tested and we're both clean) so I'm always worried that I'm not as good as his other partners before I came along. He and even my therapist told me that my fear of not being good is silly since he's my first for practically everything and I'm still new to basically everything.

In regards to initiating, he said he would like for me to take the lead when we kiss/make-out, and also during sex/other intimate things. I understand his feelings cause if the roles were reversed, then I'd tell him I would like him to take the lead and initiate.

It's my disliking of my body, the fear that I'm not going to be good at stuff, and the small voice in the back of my mind that randomly gives me guilt when we do stuff together. that I would like advice on. Thank you again! :)

Sam W
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Dec 22, 2020 8:25 am

Thank you or all that detail!

Shame-based messages around sex can be really hard to shake, and I'm glad you're working with your therapist to unpack them. If you'd like some extra resources around that, the Impurity Culture series has some to help you out: Impurity Culture: Surviving Virginity.

If body worries are part of the picture, have you seen this series? The Sex Goddess Blues: Building Sexual Confidence, Busting Perfectionism. Are there tips or bits of advice in there that feel particularly relevant to you?

Since it also sounds like the way your boyfriend and therapist are trying to reframe your fears around being "bad" at sex aren't helping, I wonder if some of the ways Heather talks about the concept here might: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/advi ... ood_in_bed.

Mariposa01
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Location: United States

Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Tue Dec 22, 2020 10:22 pm

Hey-lo, and I have an update that I thought I might share since it is dealing with my original post.

So idk if it just took me admitting to someone who has no true ties to me and my relationship with Jackson, but I am beginning to feel more confident in myself. Tonight, I went to his dad's house (where he's currently living due to the pandemic and other reasons) and we finally had some alone time and we had sex but there was no guilt associated with it at all. It was actually like fun, I guess? For the first time I actually felt confident in myself and even did stuff that I would normally be fearful of like taking the initiative and being in control (not dominant but like more vocal about what I want) and it was so much fun.

I want to thank you for your replies and advice and I am still going to work with my therapist about growing my sexual and self confidence, but I feel like I am taking the right steps. Thank you again for all your help and advice!

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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Siân » Wed Dec 23, 2020 5:17 am

Hi Maroposa01,

So glad that you felt confident and able to take the initiative and enjoy yourself! Sex is definitely something that should be fun - why do something you don't enjoy? - so this sounds really positive.

Do you want to talk about any of the ideas that have come up any more? We're here any time if you do.

Mariposa01
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Wed Dec 23, 2020 11:33 pm

I would like to talk more about purity culture since that was such a huge part of my life and still is part of my home life as well. What are some logical ways if there are any (besides knowing that it is my body and I pretty much can do what I want with and to it) that I can get over the guilt that I sometimes feel after sex or other moments? I read Hannah's article and it helped me with the understanding that I am an adult and it is my body, but I am open to more suggestions and advice anyone may have. Thank y'all :)

Sam W
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Sam W » Thu Dec 24, 2020 9:06 am

Okay! One thing that can help is to find even more resources or accounts by people who have either gone through purity culture and escaped it, or from people who approach sex positively through a religious framework. "Damaged Goods" by Dianna E. Anderson is one, and "Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms " by Matthias Roberts is another. The more frameworks you have the push back against the shameful messages, the more luck you may have in eventually shaking the guilt.

Too, if this is still part of your home life right now, do you want to talk about ways to counter those shaming messages in your own head when someone you live with expresses them?

Mariposa01
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Location: United States

Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 12:08 am

Thank you Sam for those resources!

And regarding my home life, it's more so the pressure that my parents put on me to still present as the "perfect Christian girl". My parents sort of disapprove of the way my boyfriend's tattoos (which is dumb imo). Sometimes my mom will tell me that the way I dress is suggestive and not appropriate. But the way I dress is modest in comparison to how other girls my age dress. I don't intend to be a "pick me girl" or snobbish when I say that. Like compared to the other 20 year old girls on my college campus, I definitely dress more modestly in comparison to them but I've always been in love with more vintage styles so that's how I dress.

Anyway, it's one of those unlearning everything I've been taught things, which I definitely have been doing since I started college last year. Thankfully, my college and most of its student body is very open-minded which is odd considering I am in deep MAGA country (I live in Appalachia). Like I said, I pretty much have to un-learn all the hurtful stereotypes and biases that I've been taught whether by the church or by my family members. But I would like to talk about different ways to counter the messages.

Mo
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mo » Fri Dec 25, 2020 5:49 pm

I do think that being exposed to a lot of different people and belief systems can go a long way towards countering some of those messages, so it sounds like your college experience has been and will probably continue to be helpful in that way. It makes me think about people I know who were raised with pretty horrible homophobic beliefs and also grew up not knowing any gay people personally (or at least no one who was open about it), but made gay friends after leaving home and realized very quickly that the things they'd been taught weren't true at all.
When you get to know people who have tattoos and premarital sex, who follow a different religion or no religion at all, etc. and learn they're just people with their own good and bad points but are clearly not inherently bad or immoral, that's when a lot of very rigid teachings about what is and isn't acceptable behavior start to fall apart.

Beyond that, this is a really basic thing to do but I do find it helpful, sometimes, to remember that when someone's beliefs are very different from mine and they're criticizing my beliefs or choices, whatever they're saying is their opinion and not some universal truth. There are times when it helps to say "that's just your opinion" in my own head as I hear those sorts of comments. It isn't always practical to argue directly (although there may be a time when you do feel like you can engage your family on some of these issues) but just reminding yourself that you aren't breaking any sort of moral law but are simply making different choices might help.

Mariposa01
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Location: United States

Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Fri Dec 25, 2020 11:44 pm

Thank you Mo! I'm not trying to flaunt it, but I have been diagnosed by a professional with OCD which affects both my mental and physical well-being. So mentally, it is hard for me to take a step back and look at things a different way than I've always known, and physically I have routines that I have to complete each time I do something and even "match" actions (ex.: if an uncomfy feeling happens to my left hand, I have to match that feeling on my right hand). Which is partially why I have such a hard time mentally getting confidence and such since it is a foreign feeling and I obsess over the new feeling to a point where it becomes uncomfortable for me.

And your advice about remembering everyone's beliefs are basically opinions and not universal truth really sets it into perspective like it is totally okay to have sex before marriage as long as the parties are consenting adults. I will try to reinforce this idea when it comes to my family says hurtful things or even when my fears start getting the best of me.

Sam W
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:24 am

Since you've been diagnosed with OCD, are you currently working with a counselor around it? If so, do they feel like someone with whom you could raise the issues of sexual shame and how that interacts with the OCD?

Mariposa01
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Location: United States

Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Mariposa01 » Sun Dec 27, 2020 10:17 pm

I've been seeing my therapist since June and she is the one who officially diagnosed me. Since I'm finally getting comfortable with talking about my sex life with other people, I've opened up to her a lot about how I thought I was asexual (but now I know that I don't exactly fit that anymore lol), but we haven't gone into a lot of detail about sex and mainly just focus on other issues like college and friendships, and my relationship with my parents. But my next appointment with her is coming up this week so I will definitely be talking about the sexual shame I feel and how that pairs with my OCD.

Sam W
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Re: Sex in a serious relationship

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Dec 28, 2020 7:55 am

That sounds like a great plan!


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