Straight girl, but scared of boys
August 25, 2011 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm a straight female, I think, but I'm terrified of dicks. And for the past few months, I've been wondering if I'm gay, but the thought scares me. (NSFW)

-I'm 27, female, never had (PIV) sex, had one LTR 10 years ago and have been on maybe a dozen or so dates since then, all after from online dating profiles.
-In my one LTR, we had oral sex, but I was always disgusted by his dick and only went down on him 3-4 times. I would make him tell me when things were happening so I could get out of his way...the idea of him coming in my mouth made me sure I'd gag/vomit. He's the only guy I ever went down on.
-I am absolutely terrified at the thought of having sexual relations with a guy. Terrified. I haven't even kissed a guy in 5 years, and now even that idea scares me. Not even getting to anything nakedness-related - just kissing now seems so scary. Appealing, but scary. (I remember that I did like kissing while doing it, but was always having to really focus on what I was doing, how I was doing, and whether or not I was doing an awful job.)
-Sometimes I find myself having crushes on my female friends. I will have some random colleague and will think, yes, if I was interested in women, that's who I'd want to be with. I have dreams sometimes where I'm dating a woman, or where I'm a man dating another man, and this confuses me even more. The idea of having sexual relations with a woman doesn't appeal to me particularly, but I'm not scared of it like I am scared of dicks.
-I really want to be married, and have kids. When I think about my future, I am completely stuck on that whole thing where it's me, and my husband, and our kids, and maybe a white picket fence in the suburbs. I can feel my biological clock ticking - I want those babies. And I want to have them with a husband. And to do that means sex. And sex means dicks. Gross.

I'm in therapy and take medication for depression. I am terrified, still, though, of bringing this up with my therapist - I just feel uncomfortable thinking I might be gay and saying that out loud (Let me be clear - many of my closest friends are gay, I love them desperately and don't have any issues with them being gay, but...People can be really unaccepting, and I feel like there are enough things about me that make me different, that I don't want to add on any more. I will be the first to admit that I am overly concerned with what people think and that that's something I need to work on.) I do know I need to bring this up with my therapist eventually, though, and I think putting this question here is kind of like my first step towards being able to do that. (Plus, her advice about my general fear of guys/dicks/kissing is exposure therapy - just do it. I may need a new therapist, because that isn't working for me.)

tl;dr...What does it mean if a woman is straight and horrified by penises? Are there straight woman out there like me? If so, what do you do to get past it? Or, does this mean I should explore this possible-lesbian thing? If so, how would you suggest I get over my fears and get going with that?

throwaway e-mail:
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered that you might be asexual? There's a rising movement there, and you can be asexual and still want love and a relationship and kids and a family.

As for exploring maybe being into women, since your major fear is how others might think of you - why not stay in the closet while you see if you like it? I mean, I generally wouldn't not advise being closeted, but since you're not even sure you're into women, being discreet about while finding that out at first could give you the mental space you need to explore safely for yourself. (Caveat: please be honest with any women you get involved with. Some women have been stung repeatedly by straight women's explorations and then abandonments and may not be up for trying that again.)
posted by Eshkol at 9:26 AM on August 25, 2011 [8 favorites]

How do you feel about dildos? Penetration in general? I'm a lesbian who has never had any actual interest in men and their genitalia, but I think penetration is fun and dildos are a useful invention. If you haven't ever really thought about it, it might help you sort out some of your feelings in a useful way (and may be a way to do "exposure therapy" without having to deal with the whole "this is another real person with opinions about the situation" complication.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:26 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Do you masturbate? What do you fantasize about?
posted by kestrel251 at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2011

You need a new therapist because this is an issue that requires therapy. And a therapist you are not afraid to look at this with, and who will really engage with you seriously here.

Don't, however, think that if it turns out you are gay (and I have no idea if you are), that it means you can't have a happy marriage, home and kids. Plenty of happy well-adjusted healthy people were raised by gay parents... I wave that flag!
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

Nobody says you have to go down on your partner if you don't want to.

I think this really is something you should discuss with your therapist: It's not normal to be terrified of even the idea of sex.
posted by pharm at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure you should automatically assume "IF [afraid of penises] THEN [i am gay]". It isn't necessarily as binary as that. Especially since the idea of kissing a guy seems appealing in the midst of the scary.

I would focus on your fears as a thing unto themselves. Maybe this fear is a sign you're gay, but maybe it isn't, and maybe it's just a symptom of a bigger "I'm afraid of what everyone is thinking of me and whether I"m doing a good job" kind of thing. (In other words, maybe you're not so much afraid of penises themselves as you are afraid of doing the wrong thing TO a penis by accident and making the guy hate you as a result; okay, that's a glib way of putting it, but you know what I mean.)

If the idea of "exposure therapy" isn't working for you, maybe finding a new therapist isn't a bad idea either. Especially since you're reluctant to tell her that you're trying to figure out whether you may be gay; I'm not saying that you are or aren't, or even that it's related to your situation, because only you can do that; but not even being able to raise the question with your therapist is a sign that you maybe don't quite trust the therapist. If you do stick to the same therapist, though, tell her that you've been wondering about this. Again, I'm not saying you are or aren't one way or the other, but you have a lot of things you're trying to sort out -- and they aren't all necessarily related.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Plus, her advice about my general fear of guys/dicks/kissing is exposure therapy

IANAT, but this sounds like terrible advice.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:32 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

I am terrified, still, though, of bringing this up with my therapist

Quit wasting your money and your time and bring it up with your therapist already. If they've been in practice more than 10 minutes, they have heard things far "weirder" than this.

Data point: I am a lesbian. A really lesbian-lesbian who has never slept with a guy, though I did have a boyfriend for a few weeks in high school. I have seen penises but never really interacted with them much. I am not terrified of them; I find them pretty uninteresting. Being scared of dicks does not mean you're gay - it means you're scared of dicks and what they represent (to you), and this is something that you should explore with your therapist. You might be gay, or bi, or not. You're not a freak or broken or wrong - you just have some issues to work out.
posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on August 25, 2011 [16 favorites]

You say you're "terrified." Not have a general distaste for, not dislike, not have no interest in, but are viscerally afraid of them. You need to sit down with your therapist and figure out if there's a reason for that. Maybe there isn't, but if there's some trauma lurking in your, trauma that you don't even know is trauma and just accepted as a thing everyone goes through, then exorcising it from yourself is something that needs to be done.

No one is asking you to go from being terrified to absolutely loving dicks. But, clearly, your state is not where you want to be and you need to start really dive into it. Preferably with a new therapist who has advice beyond "bathe yourself in dicks." Because that is awful and possibly dangerous advice.

And to do that means sex. And sex means dicks.

On a completely literal level -- maybe even a useless one, to you -- it really doesn't. We live in, for all intents and purposes, The Future and we have ways of making women pregnant without involving penises into it.
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

Maybe you just need to be with someone you're really comfortable with first, someone you feel intimate with. I'm not scared of dicks... but yeah, they are a little weird! Was the person you were sexual with 10 years ago someone you felt close with, comfortable with, or in love with? I wouldn't be so hard on yourself-- I feel like our culture distorts sexuality a whole lot-- and I've always needed to feel an emotional connection to someone before wanting to blow them... that's not weird at all.
posted by Rocket26 at 9:34 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Look, the Internet can't tell you whether you're gay, straight, bi, asexual, or whatever else based on this, and you're going to need to explore your feelings and concerns about sex in a lot more depth than an AskMe thread can provide. Therapy is definitely the right place for this, because it will take some sustained work.

Still, one thing: I observe that your question uses the language of revulsion and aversion a lot more than the language of attraction — the only even semi-sexual activity you say sounds appealing is kissing. You should try to figure out what does turn you on.
posted by RogerB at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

Disclaimer: I am not a therapist. I have no idea what you should do. However, it sounds like you are not comfortable to address this with your therapist and so, I think, you should get a new one. Or perhaps, like relationships, you should broach this topic with your current therapist slowly. You say that she's told you "exposure" and "just do it" are your options but you've also said you haven't brought it up with her. I think you are having issues with the ideas of intimacy and starting the topic there without jumping to "I fear dicks" is the way to go.

One thing comes to mind, your first intimate encounter was when you were a teenager and you had oral sex only. That sounds terrible!

I'm one of those old-fashioned people that actually thinks oral sex is kind of more intimate in some ways than regular sex. It's very much giving as opposed to give and take (especially with teenagers) and the, uh, in your face nature of the whole thing can be very intimidating. And, frankly, the average teenage guy is just not a great receiver. In my mind, if I had started with oral and never went beyond that in a relationship and then took a loooooong break, I'd be nervous as hell.

If it makes you feel any better, I think getting comfortable with genitalia takes time. I think that most women when falling for a guy are not falling for dicks. The enjoyment of those things comes after an appreciation for the person and a building up of intimacy. You just haven't gotten there yet. You seem like you are stuck in the teenagerness of intimacy where everything is new and thrilling (which can feel very scary) and haven't been in a relationship long enough to get over those jitters.

You will need to take things slow with a guy and not let your mind wander to those intimate aspects of your potential relationship before it's time for that. You're in control of that.
posted by amanda at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

On lack of good reading comprehension, I would like to amend my "just bring it up with your therapist already" to "find a therapist you feel better able to bring this up with."
posted by rtha at 9:35 AM on August 25, 2011

Being a lesbian isn't about being scared of male genitalia, its about being sexually attracted to other women. When you say 'crushes' - are you actually lusting after these women or do you just think they'd make good partners?

I think you need to explore your fears about sexual contact with men separately from the 'gay' issue because, really they're not related. If the only reason you think you might be gay is that you're afraid of men (and their parts) then I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're not gay.

Maybe you need a new therapist but you say exposure therapy isn't working for you but also that you haven't kissed a guy in 5 years. I think you probably do need to 'just do it' - you've done it before and you liked it but for some reason you've created a mental block where you're afraid to do it now. Maybe that's because you're afraid of where that tends to lead but IANAT. If you're not happy with the way your current therapist is tackling the issue then find a new one.
posted by missmagenta at 9:37 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

You can try dating women without labeling yourself as anything.

You can get married and have children with a woman.
posted by John Cohen at 9:38 AM on August 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

How long have you been on antidepressants? A common side effect of SSRIs is a lack of sexual drive, and a lack of sexual drive might be part of why penises gross you out.
posted by girih knot at 9:38 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

IANAT, but this sounds like terrible advice.

It's an approach that works very, very well for many phobias. Whether it's appropriate here nobody is in any position to say, qualified or not.
posted by pharm at 9:43 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

(Sorry, that should be: "nobody here is in any position to say".)
posted by pharm at 9:44 AM on August 25, 2011

I do know I need to bring this up with my therapist eventually, though, and I think putting this question here is kind of like my first step towards being able to do that.

In essence you've answered your own question by saying this, because this is indeed the answer. If your therapist is worth anything at all then they can also be trusted with your insecurities about saying it.

I'm going to just do a complete spitball here from the information you've laid out and say that I don't think it's exceptionally likely that you're gay. I may be completely wrong about this, but here's the thing: Being freaked out by men doesn't mean you have to like women. You say the thought of being with a woman doesn't appeal to you, and the thought of kissing a man does.

What I think - and this is just what I think - is that there's something a little deeper going on here that is maybe slightly beyond the scope of what a community weblog can provide a complete solution to. I have no idea what it would be. Or maybe you just find dicks gross and that is that - and that is okay too and there are nevertheless a lot of options available to you and there's no reason you shouldn't have a fulfilling sex life with someone amazing on terms that are comfortable to you. So: Talk to your therapist, or if you really feel like you can't, maybe find another one with whom you're more comfortable. And good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2011

Yeah. Being afraid of male genitalia doesn't mean you are gay!

It sounds like you have some pretty severe issues surrounding emotional and physical intimacy.

Start there with a new therapist.
posted by jbenben at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

-In my one LTR, we had oral sex, but I was always disgusted by his dick and only went down on him 3-4 times. I would make him tell me when things were happening so I could get out of his way...the idea of him coming in my mouth made me sure I'd gag/vomit. He's the only guy I ever went down on.

You've got this at the top of your list and describe it as if (a) oral sex by you on him is a requirement, and (b) oral sex is an essential prerequisite to penis-in-vagina sex. Neither of these is true. If you don't enjoy it, just till him and don't do it. If he rejects you for not doing oral sex, dump him. The right guy will be respectful of your likes, dislikes, preferences. Don't even bother trying to deal with this particular part in therapy, it just ain't necessary and it's a perfectly normal dislike. In therapy, with a new therapist, focus on getting over the current kissing hangup and back to where you were when you enjoyed kissing. From there, move to feeling comfortable about a little nakedness and then to considering vaginal sex without oral preliminaries. The right therapist can get you to that point, and with the right, respectful guy you can try it out, without even looking at his junk if you don't want to.
posted by beagle at 10:01 AM on August 25, 2011

In defense of therapy: Exposure therapy, when done well, is a lot slower process than just throwing a bunch of X at the person. Done well, it starts with a lot of techniques for stress reduction, recognizing signs of impending stress/panic, etc, relaxation techniques, logical examinations of where the phobia is irrational/illogical (IE, a simple spider is 99.99% not likely to kill you dead with their lazor eye beams). Exposure therapy is NOT 'sink or swim' more 'lets learn how to swim'

If I was her therapist, working from what she told me, my first thought would be 'well, exposure therapy is a good step'. a rough draft of the process would be visualize the phobia, talk about phobia, look at pictures of the phobia, look at reasonable facsimile of phobia, then the object itself. This can be done in a day, or months, depending on the people involved.

I do think a trip to the adult toy store might be worthwhile, if Anony is up to it. Also, many guys would be just fine not getting oral.

Sex is weird. Sex can be funny. Sex is not exactly the huge deal we make of it. It truly is not a big deal that you are a virgin at 27 (or 90) its never too late. (and yeah, in this day and age, there are plenty of options that don't involve the Traditional Marriage to Pregnancy path) I would, however, recommend Anony get a little more stable and less anxious before taking them. Best of luck :)
posted by Jacen at 10:05 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh, and Anony might want to find a therapist who specializes in sex. If she lives in a halfway decent town, there is one. Does not mean that s/he is the right therapist for Anony, but its a thought. Nothing wrong with seeing two therapists at once, either :D
posted by Jacen at 10:07 AM on August 25, 2011

It can take a really long time to figure out this whole sexuality thing. In fact, people who are completely straight often don't "figure it out" very fast either; their sexuality just matches the default assumption, so it appears that they know what they're doing.

You can absolutely be a lesbian without having gotten to the point of thinking "oh, I want to sleep with her" about women you meet. We live in a society where no one (especially not women) really gets to figure out what they like sexually; instead, we get a huge amount of media pressure and social pressure telling us that of course we like this or that thing, doesn't everyone? Those assumptions, that pressure, can generate fake feelings that overwrite our real feelings. There's pleasure in liking what you're supposed to like; there's pleasure in succeeding at the things that society values.

It took me a long time, for example, to sort out the pleasure I felt from being sexually desired by men (flattering! yay, I am like all the other girls!) from my actual wishes about sex with men (usually no thanks, unless you're gender-non-conforming). For a long time, I mistook my feelings of pride, relief and happiness at being desired for actual desire. This meant that I felt like I didn't want to sleep with women - "wanting" to sleep with someone was basically "I want to feel good about him wanting me". I didn't recognize the feelings I had about women - I literally could not identify the actual sexual feelings I was having, the actual visceral stomach-butterflies feelings. (It was just like an early eighties coming-out cliche!)

I also projected a lot - "she is so lucky - any guy would love to go out with her!" or "most guys are too stupid to see how pretty she really is!" And it eventually hit me that what I really meant was "I think that girl is cute".

You can also come out fairly late in life. We have this cultural narrative now that everyone "knows" when they're young and starts the coming out process in their teens - and that's good, we have that because a lot more kids are safer coming out when they're young. But a lot of people only sort this stuff out when they're older.

The "sex with men is physically icky" part doesn't mean anything for your orientation. Many GLBTQ folks have enjoyed sex or physical contact with the gender they're not primarily attracted to - some gay men occasionally sleep with women they like but still identify as gay, some lesbians occasionally sleep with men they like, etc.

When I think about "this is physically icky", I think of resentment and fear - maybe someone resents having to have sex they don't want; maybe they resent being unable to express what they really do want; maybe they resent a bad power dynamic in the sexual relationship; maybe they resent the gender conformity that they feel they have to perform to get sex; maybe they resent the feeling that they have to "perform" sex correctly, that they don't have the freedom to enjoy it they way they want because they must be correct. Maybe they're physically afraid of pain or loss of control; maybe they're afraid of doing something wrong or being made fun of; maybe they're afraid of what enjoying sex would mean about them; maybe they're afraid that sex won't actually be fun even if they relax into it. That can relate to sexual orientation, but it doesn't have to.

To me, there's two separate concerns in your post - the "maybe I'm a lesbian" piece and the "sex with men is physically icky" piece. Those things don't need to have the same explanation .
posted by Frowner at 10:07 AM on August 25, 2011 [17 favorites]

Let's sum up:

You are 27.

You are a virgin.

You have declined to have intercourse with men.

You have dated tons of men and never had intercourse-sex with any of them.

You've had other kinds of sex with them and really, really not been into it.

You find male genitalia disgusting.

You have dreams where you're dating women.

Oh lady. I feel for you! You're not doing what you want. And the truth is, you know, you could actually be a LOT of different things? So let's table the whole "what am I" question, and work on finding things for you to do that you enjoy. Whether that's no sex, some sex, particular kinds of sex, sex with particular kinds of people or something else, that should be your goal. DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND THE IDENTITY WILL FOLLOW.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:10 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]

Being afraid of dicks doesn't make you gay. That's kind of like thinking that being afraid of hamburgers means you're a vegan.

You have a phobia. Talk to the therapist about.
posted by BurnChao at 10:13 AM on August 25, 2011

As others have noted, what struck me about your description was that you used words like "terrified" and appear to have an extreme aversion to having sex with males. At first, I thought you might just have a personal space issue, meaning the idea of "swapping spit" so to speak (with anybody) just grosses you out. But when you comment on having sex with females, that same extreme aversion does not come through in your response. You state that having sex with a woman doesn't scare you, but it doesn't particularly appeal to you either. Sort of a take it or leave it attitude. Also, you state that the thought of being gay scares you; it makes you very uncomfortable; and you are terrified to even bring it up with a therapist. This suggests that you are homophobic...don't get me wrong....this doesn't mean you want to banish gay people back to the closet. But it does mean that you do have a problem with it, despite the fact that some of your closest friends are gay. And if you are gay, the homophobia might cause you to desperately search for any other explanation for your aversion to sex with males. So, you might have to deal with that homophobia before you can sort it all out and move on.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 10:19 AM on August 25, 2011

Everyone is acting like whether or not you are gay is an actual fact which is simply unknown to you and to us at this time, and that if we had more information, we would know.

But possibly, you are simply a woman without strong sexual drives, who never found sex with men appealing, and who has an opportunity now to decide what kind of sexual orientation to pursue.

Figure out what/who you prefer, then we can all pick out a modern categorical label to slap on you.
posted by General Tonic at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

It can take a really long time to figure out this whole sexuality thing. In fact, people who are completely straight often don't "figure it out" very fast either; their sexuality just matches the default assumption, so it appears that they know what they're doing.

This. I'm heterosexual, and was sexually active accordingly at a young age, but I gave myself a good solid fifteen years before I would say with confidence "yes, I am heterosexual, because the fact that I simply am not attracted to men is stopping me from being intimate in any capacity with men, while having sex with women is something I want to do without hesitation."

So agreeing with those above: focus on your fear with your therapist, and stop worrying about what it means for your sexual orientation. You need to focus on why you are afraid.
posted by davejay at 10:22 AM on August 25, 2011

If you feel like you can't talk about this with your therapist, definitely find a new one. The difference between a therapist who's adequate and one with whom you click is night and day.
posted by corey flood at 10:36 AM on August 25, 2011

I can't comment about the sexuality issue, but I just wanted to point out to you that in my personal opinion, oral sex is way scarier and more intimate than PIV sex. You say you were grossed out by giving oral sex, which is not crazy uncommon (especially since it sounds like you were a teenager at the time). Oral sex means getting really close to a penis, tasting it, putting it in your mouth when you kind of need it for breathing... it's always struck me as requiring way more comfort with penises than PIV, where you're using a part of your body that's kind of designed for the purpose and it's not all up in your face. Also, depending on the guy's level of gentleness and understanding and um, size, oral sex can be kind of scary. Basically, I'm wondering if you had some bad early experiences of oral sex, were pretty naturally freaked out and decided OK, I'm scared of dicks in this situation and thus I can't ever have the much scarier! PIV sex. In fact, plenty of people like sex but aren't fans of oral sex. That's totally OK. If you decide to try getting physical with men again, just go super slow and remember you don't have to do anything you don't want to. Any guy who would pressure you into dick contact is kind of a dick himself. Or maybe you're asexual or gay- I just wanted to bring up the possibility that maybe this stems from your maybe-not-great early experiences.
posted by MadamM at 10:47 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

For me, I don't like the idea of sex with a guy I'm lukewarm towards. I don't even wanna kiss him! So, being scared of the dick is a sign, in my opinion, of issues stemming from your childhood that has nothing to do with your orientation. If you have crushes on your female friends, you could just be in admiration of them. Doesn't make you gay.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 11:15 AM on August 25, 2011

If you're not comfortable discussing even (especially!) this with your therapist, you are either seeing the wrong therapist or are preventing yourself from dealing with one of your real issues. Your married-with-kids-and-husband future fantasy is probably going to be far more inconvenient and possibly destructive to try to live out until you find out what (if anything) you need in the sack. Meanwhile, your fear that you might be gay is not really rational.

Sure, having a different sexual orientation than you or others expect is attached to some inconveniences. So are skin color, shortness, fatness, baldness, poverty, and other traits you have no real control over. But those inconveniences pale in comparison to being as unsatisfied by your sexuality as you seem to be. The fact that you are depressed, have feelings of attraction for women but don't act on them because of what other people expect of you or how they react may suggest answers. But whatever the answer is, your denial of it is bound to cause you greater pain than whatever lack of acceptance you suffer at the hands of the ignorant.

None of this means you're gay, of course. But I'd be willing to bet that dealing with whatever sexuality issue(s) you might have will do a lot to help with your depression. Find a therapist you can trust and explore this with him or her.
posted by Hylas at 11:39 AM on August 25, 2011

Do you get sexually turned on? Do you get wet thinking about certain things? Do you masturbate? Do you do it because, goddamn, you absolutely have to or because you think you ought to, or that it might help some "problem" you think you have? Or do you feel no desire to do it at all? Does sex fascinate and excite you? What kind of sex? What kind of actions? What kind of scenarios? Involving whom?

Be honest with yourself about these questions, leave what you think you should feel at the door, and that way lies the answer to the question "What am I about, sexually?"

You may be more or less asexual. You may have a low sex drive. You may be gay. You may be straight. You may be bi. You may not have located and homed in on the particular kink or person or thing that turns you into a pulsating sex beast. But the way to discover which of these possibilities (or others) is true is to stop thinking about what you think you are, or should be, and open yourself up to whatever you might be.

As for penises, yeah, they're ugly little trolls, but they're silly and ridiculous too. In the right light and with the right guy they can even be sort of cute, if you drink a few glasses of wine and squint a bit. Maybe it'd help to try thinking of them that way. :-)
posted by Decani at 12:25 PM on August 25, 2011

As for penises, yeah, they're ugly little trolls, but they're silly and ridiculous too.
:,( pout

No seriously, I think exposure therapy might actually work. If done by a skilled and talented professional. Someone that has actually handled fear of spiders and blood and rape and molestation and PTSD – because exposure therapy really works on that fear. (Source: acquaintance with PhD in psychology - exposure therapy and OCD.)

Nth-ing that you can't really tell if you're gay yet, or not. (From your post, I'd guess you weren't gay.)

It's like you're interested in horseback riding, it is appealing as you said, but when you're around an actual horse it scares you. This means you're scared of horses, while being interested in horseback riding. The fear is some different primal part of you than the drive itself.
posted by krilli at 1:08 PM on August 25, 2011

Oh, one more thing. I believe in the sexual orientation spectrum. We're all more or less homosexual and heterosexual, it's all mixed up. And it's OK. That's what I believe.

And in fact, here's a data point:

As for me, sometimes I find myself having crushes on [guys]. I will have some random [guy] and will think, yes, if I was interested in [men], that's who I'd want to be with. I have dreams sometimes where I'm dating a [guy], or where I'm a man dating another man, and this confuses me even more. The idea of having sexual relations with a man doesn't appeal to me particularly, but I'm not scared of it like I am scared of [horrible evil clowns].

But I'm straight. Straight enough to dedicate myself to straightness. So. Yeah. For me, this not-particularly-sexual-crushes-on-ladies thing isn't really a differentiating factor, and does not disprove the theory I favor in this case, which is that your sex drive and your fear are simply two distinct factors.
posted by krilli at 1:13 PM on August 25, 2011

I don't think it's at all strange to have qualms about oral sex. When we're young, we're taught that genitals are for getting rid of waste and that we should wash our hands after we go to the bathroom. The assumption follows that it would be kind of weird (and definitely germy) to intentionally get up-close and personal with that part of the human body.

But then we get older and suddenly people seem downright enthused about the idea of getting as close as possible to what used to be a no-man's land. Um, what?

I get the cognitive disconnect. It's not exactly an intuitive practice if you're schooled in proper hygiene. Those practices reinforce the idea that a dick is pretty much the last thing you'd want in your mouth. I wouldn't assume that your objections are strange or illogical. It could take time to see that part of the anatomy in a different light.

As for the fear of PIV sex -- do you have any evidence to suggest that penetration would be physically painful for you? Is tampon use unpleasant? Do gyno exams cause pain or discomfort? A physical issue could be a significant source of your reluctance to even consider having sex with a man.

With or without a therapist, take some time to think deeply about why you're scared of penises. It could have very little to do with your sexual orientation.

Feel free to MeMail me if you want to continue discussing this.
posted by delight at 1:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Recommended reading for you on the "I may like girls but want the picket fence life" thing: Strangers in Paradise (long comic book/graphic novel series) by Terry Moore. Covers that but good with Francine.

I had one friend who was bisexual--dated guys in her teens, ended up with a lady. I'm not sure if she ever had sex with any of the guys, but she told me one time that she was kind of weirded out by dicks. So I suppose that part isn't so unusual.

But shoot, if your only contact with dicks was unpleasant blow jobs, well, no wonder you're freaked out! Theoretically, if you're seeing a nice fellow, he should uh, make the moments of sexual contact more pleasurable for you than that. But definitely do therapy first before you attempt dating any (should you want to).
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:48 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I favorited Frowner's post above and wanted to add that I had a very similar experience coming out. It took me years to move from thinking other girls were pretty and maybe I just wanted to be like them or look like them to realizing that I was sexually attracted to them. I think our culture permits women to find other women aesthetically pleasing without being labeled 'gay' automatically, so it can be hard to tell if your feelings are appreciative or romantic.

I dated a few guys before I came out, though, and I was never AFRAID of dicks so much as unenthused by them. (I was actually surprised the first time it hit me that straight girls actually liked dicks, and did not just grudgingly tolerate them). So your fear may not mean that you are gay; you could be asexual, or just averse to intimate touching in general. It also sounds like your anxiety has been spreading (from sex to kissing) the longer you go without having physical contact. That's definitely worth talking about in therapy, and I think it's totally normal to get more nervous about something as you feel like "oh god, I haven't done this in months/years/etc."
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I do know I need to bring this up with my therapist eventually, though, and I think putting this question here is kind of like my first step towards being able to do that.

Leaving aside the issue of your sexuality: Good for you for knowing that you need to bring it up, and good for you for working towards that. I know from personal experience just how terrifying it can be to share your fears and anxieties with other people, even therapists, but it's worth it in the end.
posted by asterix at 4:37 PM on August 25, 2011

From the OP:
First, thank you so much for all of your thoughtful responses. I am amazed by how insightful people on ask metafilter can be! (For instance - yes, the first relationship/oral sex experiences were pretty traumatizing, and that boyfriend was a fairly crappy guy who pressured me more than he should have.) I have a lot of thinking to do.

My initial thoughts:
-Yes, for sure the sexuality thing isn't black and white, and "boys are gross" does not equal "lesbian". I'm glad people pointed it out, though, because I do need the reminders that my logic is way flawed.
-It seems like the consensus is that it's just a not good thing, and not a normal thing, to be so fearful about guys' bodies. It's something I absolutely want to/need to figure out and get past, because it's also indicative of just being emotionally/physically intimate. And getting past that probably will mean finding a new therapist.
-I am now having this big realization that this really does boil down to being incredibly too concerned with what others think of me. And the fact that I'm thinking about girls may have more to do with the fact that I'm more comfortable being emotionally close to girls than I am with guys, than with my sexual preferences.

Again, thank you so much! If anyone else has had similar experiences they could share, either here or at my email, please let me know!
posted by jessamyn at 4:37 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

yes, the first relationship/oral sex experiences were pretty traumatizing, and that boyfriend was a fairly crappy guy who pressured me more than he should have.

I'd put my money on this being a BIG part of it.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:12 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have a whole lot of advice for you, but as a man, I'll say this : if you do get involved with a man, please be up-front with him about this. If the guy really digs you, there's a good chance he'll want to help you through it. But if you don't tell him, and all the while you're acting weird cause you're terrified of his dick... that's not the kind of thing that makes for happy relationships.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:55 AM on August 28, 2011

« Older Hot movies in powerpoint   |   Is consulting for me? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.