Startled by a tender moment - how much to give in?
May 18, 2014 7:35 AM Subscribe
For the past two years, I've developed an very stable and satisfying dating style that suits me for the time being - I maintain a certain emotional distance and all of my sexual relations fall very easily in the platonic category - I've thus far avoided any complications. However, I was completely startled when a friend I had expected to sleep with ended up being intensely sweet and now my system is a bit shaken up. I'm not sure how much to give in to this feeling I'm having for him. In a way, I can't remember what's normal to be feeling in these situations.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Me: late twenties cis-female, self-employed. Very comfortable with polyamory and non-standard relationships. Some history of anxiety over romance that has been resolved for many years, but still rears its head in the form of hesitation or confusion when these situations come up.
Him: We'll call him Tom. early thirties cis-male in very similar circumstances. Don't know too much about his romantic history, but I know that people in our circles would both regard us as emotionally extremely independent - neither of us would be seen as likely to have a formally declared boy- or girlfriend, though its not out of the question.
So, Tom and I have been emailing a few times a month since last June after the first time we met while I was traveling. I found him attractive and we flirted a bit when we met but the emails we've exchanged have been pretty dry back and forths about our shared interest. I ended up traveling again a few weeks ago and Tom offered to set up an event for me in his city. I was excited to hang out with him in person and get to know him better - it seemed possible that we might sleep together but I wasn't positive and I didn't put too much thought into it.
When I arrived in Tom's city, he made a point of meeting me right away even though I'd come a bit early. We really hit it off right away - joking and flirting a whole lot. I was happy about this - yay, new friend. I don't relax in this way so quickly around most people. We went home together and went straight to his room and had sex. Then we had sex again. Then we had sex in the morning. Then we had coffee, cuddled, saw a movie and had sex again. Then I stayed an extra night, and in the morning we had sex. I had to get to my next destination and he had work that morning so we parted ways.
We've been texting a few times a day since I left. When we parted we didn't say anything like "When can I see you again?" or "I'm going to miss you", but again that isn't really my style to pursue that kind of thing.
So, all this sounds pretty normal so far telling it that way. But the first major complication for me involves a drastic change from the nature of the hook-ups I've had for the past 2 years. I actually haven't even kissed anyone or shared any kind of "sweet" affection in about 8 months. (I enjoy bdsm so there is plenty for me to do that isn't kissy) I do this semi-deliberately - I'm not opposed to it, but I've just found that it simplifies things when I want to make sure a casual sex partner stays platonic. Its a habit that I've become so comfortable with that when I sort of did want to kiss someone recently, it seemed so extreme and confusing that I decided to abstain. Tom and I kissed a lot. It felt really normal, and really easy. We cuddled and joked around physically, and we looked into each other's eyes when we had sex. I know that this sounds normal...but its not for me. I haven't let anyone treat me like that in a long time, and it felt so right that I didn't even stop to question it for a minute.
I feel so confused by this presence of affection and romance. In fact, I'm downright upset - when I think about it I start crying. I don't understand why its so confusing to me. Am I just emotionally unprepared to face something like this? Does this mean that I should try to "chill out" and keep my distance or will resisting just up the tension? Am I supposed to say something to him?
When I write out what happened and the aspects that are confusing to me and imagine someone who is used to more conventional dating patterns is reading it, it seems so obvious that we are just two people who like each other. I should be happy, he was really sweet to me and its nice to connect with someone.
One theory I have involves the high level of self awareness and self control I've developed over the course of figuring out how to have multiple partners without driving myself crazy. I almost feel like I don't know what to do with this feeling of being "swept away". It interrupts the lifestyle that I'm leading. I don't know how to evaluate if it is going to cause me problems. I have a hunch that I'm overthinking it, but I don't know how to not overthink it.
I'm not concerned about this being a semi-long distance relationship (we live a couple hours away from each other and both of us travel very regularly) and I'm also not worried whether he reciprocates my feelings. Insecurity isn't really an issue with me at this point. I just feel confused? How do I straighten this out in my head?
Any resources on accepting love/affection/feelings would be welcome.