Help a girl say no.
March 5, 2012 10:16 AM Subscribe
Late-twenties female in need of new strategies for handling intimate encounters and avoiding disassociation during sex and shame afterwards.
I've had a string of one night stands or periods of casual sex in the past few years, and I'm beginning to realize that they haven't been all that great for my feelings of self-worth. I enjoy sex, but I think it's mostly because I feel validated by the other person's attention and the sensual experience of human touch, which is, yay, awesome. However, I am not good at dealing with the casual nature of these encounters, and I've been disappointed to find the other party disinterested in either a more substantive relationship or in further intimacy. This has happened a lot.
I was reading on Ask Metafilter about a person's suggestion that great sex with the right person at the right time is one of those amazing experiences, and it made me realize just how uncomfortable I've felt in many of my sexual encounters. Even though I am a fully consenting adult, I guess I've felt passive, used, and disconnected from my body during many or most of my sexual encounters. For whatever reason, this often leads to me to pursue similar situations in the future, if only to find someone who will treat me better and be the one. Obviously, this hasn't worked out for me.
I've been frustrated/angry/scared with at least a couple sexual partners, and I really think that sex is something I'd like to keep off the table until I know someone a bit better. Honestly, it's probably around the clothes off / penetration stage that I start to get weirded out and go someplace different. I love cuddling, playing footsie, stroking, and it's hard for me to imagine cutting those things out - but once I start on that path it's really hard to back off or set boundaries. At the moment, I am working on cutting down on drinking during dates. I'm also trying to remind myself how much more comfortable I feel with people when I can communicate with them openly. But I still have trouble slowing thing down when they start to go too fast and spend a lot of time convincing myself that what happened was okay when I feel kind of gross and ashamed. However, I also feel validated by human contact, even if it's intermittent and I tend to look at one-night stands or whatever as proof that I am desirable. And I love that romantic flirty period of kissing and feeling aroused.
So, for people who've had similar difficulties, how did you manage your desire for intimacy with a knowledge of your limits? How did you avoid fixating on intimate attention as a sign of a person's interest? Or how did you manage to hold your own in romantic encounters and learn the language for sex, whether it's stopping, initiating, or asking for what you want? I'd like to be one of those independent take-charge women in sexual situations - it seems like the mature modern way to be - but maybe it'd be easier to wait for a situation where I felt more comfortable and I'd find it much easier to communicate? Specifically, if there some kind of script I could use when I have hard time saying no - just something in my own head to boost my confidence enough to be okay with declining sex? For example, when I find myself on a person's couch at 2am making out and they're like, "hey, want to go to my bedroom?" Because in my head I'm like - "well, isn't this what I wanted and how can I say no now?"
*Possibly relevant details: Most of my sexual fantasies are ones of submission and humiliation. This confuses things for me. In my fantasy world, I like rough and submissive sex and humiliation. But uhm, I don't really like the way those things really feel.
**I've had one boyfriend of a few months and I did feel way more comfortable with being sexual with him.