Sometimes It's Sweet. Sometimes It's Sour!
December 6, 2010 11:05 PM   Subscribe

What is going on here???

I need a little feedback.

I have 2 woman friends. We are pretty close yet have never had a sexual relationship. Both are uniquely beautiful. When we get together they tell me pretty much everything that goes on sexually in their lives. They love to share. I can see it in their eyes.

My background.....I am pretty handsome and charismatic. People feel comfortable opening up around me. They pretty much always leave feeling better than when they first came. On a deeper level, my lover left her body in May from cancer. It was a very short, intense and deeply loving relationship. I had known her for 4 years. We had got together late last year working on an event. The event had come together so quickly and easily that I realized there was something going here more than work. We got together on my birthday 1 year ago this Friday and within a week she had found that her cancer had spread. I stayed with her through it all, we made love every night as long as we could and she died in my arms surrounded by her close friends.

These are the only 2 women that are this open with me. The issue is that a lot of the time it is really hard to hear. I am a man. At times I feel really good that they trust me enough to tell me. Other times I wonder why are they sharing something with me that is so intimate. It can be painful. Don't they have any feelings?

I guess what I am asking is why would a woman share this information with a man.
posted by goalyeehah to Human Relations (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried telling them "TMI?"
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:08 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Perhaps it's not that intimate for them. Or, perhaps 'intimate' doesn't mean 'secret' to them. Some people share, others don't. Doesn't mean they don't have feelings.
posted by greta simone at 11:18 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

They share with people they like, and they like you. They're just not particularly perceptive of your special needs right now, because you're good at being polite. I'm sure if you said something like "I'm glad we have a trusting relationship so you feel like you can tell me these things, which is why I feel comfortable telling you that sometimes it makes me uncomfortable" or something like that with better wording.
posted by amethysts at 11:28 PM on December 6, 2010

They're not doing it to hurt you.
posted by devnull at 11:31 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

What does "TMI" mean?
posted by goalyeehah at 11:39 PM on December 6, 2010

TMI = too much information
posted by leahwrenn at 11:43 PM on December 6, 2010

Well, I've had close female friends share intimate details with me plenty of times before. And while, on one hand, I'm totally happy to hear them, I've had to stop some of them sometimes and say something like "Look, you realize I've been single for like a year now, right? How about you not make me hornier?" Usually I'd get a laugh and that would be enough for them to get that I was physically and emotionally lonely, and they were not making it easier.
posted by OrangeDrink at 11:47 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

What's going on? I think that they like messing with you. If you do not care for it (and I know I would not like it)...find a way to move the conversation to something else. Sports, perhaps.
posted by naplesyellow at 12:27 AM on December 7, 2010

Because you're in the "friend zone" and some women really like to talk about themselves and have someone who is listening.
posted by mrdmsy at 12:27 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, some people like to talk about themselves or their lives - it's a major way women are encouraged to bond, really (talking in general, not 'talking about sex' specifically). They're not doing it to hurt you, although they may be being thoughtless or they may just honestly think you don't mind. It probably means they have a certain level of trust/comfort in you, which is a compliment of sorts and I understand why you might be looking for a way to discourage the sex talk without discouraging their comfort in talking to you.
posted by Lady Li at 12:50 AM on December 7, 2010

I'd imagine that they think of you as a friend, that is they don't think of you in a sexual way. They feel they can trust you with this information, and feel safe knowing/believing you're not going to act on it.

The downside is that (in my painful experience) if you were to show any sign of interest, they'd suddenly remember that while you're indeed a friend, you also happen to be male, and they will likely lose that feeling of comfort. Furthermore, they might feel betrayed by having opened up to you, while thinking that it was safe to do so. It's pretty unfair, but it happens. The best bet, if you value these friendships, is not to show interest, and to maintain the friendship on a platonic level. Showing interest, more often than not, ends the friendship pretty quickly.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:51 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

It sounds like they're your friends and they like telling you things. If you'd like them to stop telling you these things, tell them plainly that they are giving you way too much information and just move on. Good luck, sir.

Also, my deep condolences on the loss of your lovely lady.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:09 AM on December 7, 2010

I think someone has to ask you to connect the two parts of your post: you are uncomfortable with these women sharing their sexual lives with you; your lover recently died. You've put these two facts together for us, but you haven't made any connection between them. We don't even know if the women you're talking about knew her. For instance, is it particularly insensitive that they should share this information in your case, because you've recently lost someone?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:22 AM on December 7, 2010 [14 favorites]

I agree with AmbroseChapel. Could you clarify how your lover's death plays into this issue? It might put a different spin on things.

I disagree with the notion that women who share such intimacies do not think of you as a sexual being. As someone who did my share of sharing, before I found it inappropriate, part of the lure IS sharing it with a man.

I mean, when you tell things like that to other women, you see them as competing in your own league. It's like when you're writing a novel and you share writing experiences with other writers. That's good, but sometimes you also want to share it with an admiring reader!
And it gave me, at least, a kick to talk about sexy stuff with a man and knowing it might make him think hot things and knowing we weren't going to do it. A kind of safe flirting and way to raise my self esteem.

At some point I realised I didn't want men to use me that way either, so why would I do it to them? So I stopped. Just saying that other women might act the same way and they might not realise you feel bad about it.

Yeah, say "TMI"!
posted by Omnomnom at 2:36 AM on December 7, 2010

Maybe you need to open up to them, too. I don't think they know it hurts you to hear it. Tell them that you care for them very much, but that when they talk about certain things, it brings up some feelings of what you have lost since your lover died and it hurts.

You'll likely find that they are very understanding.
posted by inturnaround at 5:36 AM on December 7, 2010

Do your male friends talk to you about sex they're having? Does it feel less hurtful than when your woman friends do it? Is it just the idea of anyone talking about sex with you, or is it tied into the fact that they're women?
posted by Greg Nog at 5:41 AM on December 7, 2010

Don't they have any feelings?

You're going to have to communicate with to them that their sharing is painful and/or uncomfortable. They may or may not know, but you can't expect them to know unless you tell them so.
posted by nomadicink at 5:49 AM on December 7, 2010

Thanks Skylit

Ambrose/Omno - It all happened so fast that my friends really didn't get a chance to know her. One of the women did. The other didn't.

The connection is (I don't mean for this to sound weird or corny) with the experience that happened with Renee, I feel my heart more opened, expanded and sensitive then it's ever been before. I also feel that I've been opened to a new life. I'd don't feel that these two events are random. For me it is always interesting when some sort of change happens what follows in its wake. One woman found out about it after we reconnected in September and both know I am now in the process of wrapping up her estate. With one I do feel a strong bond with in that in some ways we are very similar in spirit and have worked well together in the past.

Omno - what you say about self-esteem seems to be a large part of it.

Gregnog - I've always been uncomfortable with most of my male friends talking about sex not because of the sex itself but the way it is talked about. Never been that sort of guy. I also had 5 sisters so I can be in a woman's/women's space and they can remain themselves.

"TMI" advice is good
posted by goalyeehah at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2010

I have done this with men I am fairly sure were not going to make a move on me/didn't like me that way. It's sort of like...there's a window of opportunity after I meet a man who I like, say three months or so, and if it's fairly clear that things are not progressing in that direction or it hasn't been brought up, then I might test the waters with an innocuous remark like this. If he doesn't seem to mind and manages to listen and respond in such a way that doesn't channel obvious discomfort, then I take it as a sign that I can talk about that stuff without bothering him. I wouldn't do this with a man I thought was interested in me, even in a vague sort of way, to avoid misunderstanding.

While I hate the whole concept of the friend zone, it does sort of apply in this case.

Actually, thinking about it, there are two very different reasons I can imagine it would suck to hear this:
1. You like one of them, even a little bit, and you get jealous of the men in their stories
2. They really are in YOUR friend zone too, but you get jealous of friends/people in general having more sex than you do.

It's probably a good idea to clarify one or the other if you ask them to stop!
posted by Nixy at 8:48 AM on December 7, 2010

Maybe they think you enjoy their accounts, as many dudes would. Some women really get off by sharing those details with guys (and need that sort of affirmation). Others just like talking about sex and don't thinking much of it. They might not mean to be hurtful, just entertaining.

If you don't want to candidly tell them that they're being hurtful, just go with the TMI route. Every time they start talking about it, calmly interrupt them with, "na-ah, let's not go into TMI", (change subject) "TMI again, that's none of my business", (change subject again) "whoa, I'd really rather not hear this!"
posted by Neekee at 9:04 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

*don't think (not "don't thinking"). doh!
posted by Neekee at 9:06 AM on December 7, 2010

The third link when I google you is about you giving a talk about sexuality, saying things like "ecstatic sex is everyone's birthright". If I knew you and knew you gave speeches like that, I'd probably assume you would have no problem hearing all about my sex life (I never talk about my sex life, but if I were one of the people who did I'd assume you wouldn't mind being told all about it). Also, yes, you're very good looking! So that most likely feeds into this on some level as well.

If in fact you want to talk about sex in general but not sex in particular, then I think you need to say something. The TMI mentioned above with a big smile is perfect. But I don't think it's surprising they're bringing the topic up in the first place.
posted by hazyjane at 10:04 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Assuming you're 40+ years old, if these are considerably younger women (20's), they might be naive enough to be relating to you as someone more as a mentor or older friend, than someone who considers himself a sexual option to them.
posted by availablelight at 10:06 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

The third link when I google you is about you giving a talk about sexuality, saying things like "ecstatic sex is everyone's birthright".

Yes, I think these women are telling you all this stuff because they are relating to you in your public role as "sexuality guru," rather than in your private role as "friend". They're not "messing with you"--they're confusing your two roles, the same way people ask doctor friends for free medical advice at parties.

If that's not OK with you (and I totally understand how it might not be, particularly while you are in the midst of coping with bereavement), you need to tell them. I know it's not fair, but that's one of the downsides of having a public life--sometimes it intrudes on your private life.

My deepest sympathies on the loss of your fiancee.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

they might be naive enough to be relating to you as someone more as a mentor or older friend, than someone who considers himself a sexual option to them

I don't know if that's "naive" so much as "human nature." (Especially given the OP's public role.)

You sit on Santa's knee and tell him what you want for Christmas; you don't expect him to ask you for anything.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2010

I'm so sorry for your loss. Renee was a very lucky woman to have you.

I agree with what others have said about how, in your professional persona, you come across as a sexual healer/counselor. (I just peeked at your profile and the link to your website). Your women friends are probably seeing you in that role when they discuss their sex lives with you.

Often, people who have the healer archetype in their personality inspire others to open up and be very comfortable, and are so giving, and seem so wise, that it doesn't occur to the other party that the healer can also be wounded.

I think if you were to tell them honestly that you are still grieving your loss and it's painful to hear about their happiness right now, they would respect and honor that request. And if they don't, they may not be true friends.
posted by xenophile at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My female friends and I often have explicit conversations about our sex lives. It's really not at all uncommon for women to discuss those things. It sounds like your friends are comfortable enough with you to see you as "one of the girls" and converse with you like they would with their close female friends.

Nthing telling them that it's "TMI", but do it in a friendly way, without any undercurrent of "how could you be so insensitive to me," because I seriously doubt they're intentionally trying to hurt or tease you, they just feel very close/comfortable with you.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2010

Obviously I'm an outlier here but I've always hated the expression "TMI." Even with a smile it sounds critical and dismissive.

I agree that you have to tell them, but I'd phrase it something like "I appreciate that you're so comfortable with me, but because of my recent bereavement, details about other people's sex lives can be really hard to hear."
posted by tangerine at 9:51 PM on December 7, 2010

I'm so sorry for your loss, goalyeehah.

I agree that your role as sexuality instructor could have a lot to do with this. Especially because you mentioned growing up with sisters, that women can be themselves around you, etc. But honestly, the first thing I thought is that they might be sexually attracted to you and want you to view them as sexual beings. Not merely to boost their self-esteem, but to genuinely attract you to them.

I don't think you'll know the answer unless you pursue the topic with them, but it certainly seems possible to me.
posted by Majorita at 1:25 AM on December 8, 2010

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