Call for sub­mis­sions

Get­ting past sex­ual trauma. Plus: How do I con­front my part­ner about cheat­ing when I only found out be­cause I was snoop­ing?

The Coast - - SAVAGE LOVE - SEX AD­VICE FROM DAN SAV­AGE mail@sav­agelove.net

Q

I’m a 36-year-old straight woman. I was sex­u­ally and phys­i­cally abused as a kid, and raped in my early 20s. I have been see­ing a great ther­a­pist for the last five years, and I am pro­cess­ing things and feel­ing bet­ter than I ever have. I was in a long-term re­la­tion­ship that ended about two years ago. I started dat­ing this past year, but I’m not re­ally click­ing with any­one. I’ve had a lot of first dates, but noth­ing be­yond that. My prob­lem is that I’d re­ally love to get laid. The idea of casual sex and one-night stands sounds great—but in re­al­ity, mov­ing that quickly with some­one I don’t know or trust freaks me out, causes me to shut down, and pre­vents me from en­joy­ing any­thing. Even think­ing about go­ing home with some­one causes me to panic. When I was in a re­la­tion­ship, the sex was great. But now that I’m sin­gle, it seems like this big, scary thing. Is it pos­si­ble to get laid with­out feel­ing freaked out? —Sex­ual Com­fort And Re­as­sur­ance Eludes Dame

A

It is pos­si­ble for you to get laid with­out feel­ing freaked out. The an­swer—how you go home with some­one with­out pan­ick­ing—is so ob­vi­ous that I’m guess­ing your ther­a­pist has al­ready sug­gested it: Have sex with some­one you know and trust. You didn’t have any is­sues hav­ing sex with your ex be­cause you knew and trusted him. For your own emo­tional safety, and to avoid re­cov­ery set­backs, you’re go­ing to have to find some­one will­ing to get to know you—some­one will­ing to make an emo­tional in­vest­ment in you—be­fore you can have sex again.

You’ve prob­a­bly thought to your­self, “But ev­ery­one else is just jump­ing into bed with strangers and hav­ing amazing sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences!” And while it is true that many peo­ple are ca­pa­ble of do­ing just that, at least as many or more are in­ca­pable of hav­ing im­pul­sive one-night stands be­cause they too have a his­tory of trauma, or be­cause they have other psy­cho­log­i­cal, phys­i­cal or lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues that make one-night stands im­pos­si­ble. (Some folks, of course, have no in­ter­est in one-night stands.) Your trauma left you with this added bur­den and I don’t want to min­i­mize your le­git­i­mate frus­tra­tion or your anger. It sucks, and I fuck­ing hate the peo­ple who vic­tim­ized you. But it may help you feel a lit­tle bet­ter about hav­ing to make an in­vest­ment in some­one be­fore be­com­ing in­ti­mate—which re­ally isn’t the worst thing in the world—if you can re­mind your­self that you aren’t alone. Demi­sex­u­als, other vic­tims of trauma, peo­ple with body-im­age is­sues, peo­ple whose sex­ual in­ter­ests are so stig­ma­tized they don’t feel com­fort­able dis­clos­ing them to peo­ple they’ve just met—lots of peo­ple face the same chal­lenge you do.

Some­thing else to bear in mind: It’s not un­heard of for some­one reen­ter­ing the dat­ing scene to have some difficulty mak­ing new con­nec­tions at first. The trick is to keep go­ing on dates un­til you fi­nally click with some­one. In other words, give your­self a break and take your time. Also, don’t hes­i­tate to tell the men you date that you need to get to know a per­son be­fore jump­ing into bed with him. That will scare some guys off, but only those guys who weren’t will­ing to get to know you—and those aren’t guys you would have felt safe fuck­ing any­way, right? So be open and hon­est, keep go­ing on those first dates, and even­tu­ally you’ll find your­self on a fifth date with a guy you can think about tak­ing home with­out feel­ing pan­icked. Good luck.

Q

This is about a girl, of course. Pros: She can­not hide her true feel­ings. Cons: Crim­i­nal, iras­ci­ble, grandiose sense of self, racist, ab­stemious, self-cen­tered, anx­ious, moral­ist, monog­a­mous, bi­ased, de­nial as a de­fence mech­a­nism, ma­nip­u­la­tive, liar, en­vi­ous and un­grate­ful. She is also an­thro­po­log­i­cally and his­tor­i­cally al­lo­cated in an­other tem­po­ral space con­tin­uum. And last but not least: She runs less quickly than me de­spite eight years’ age dif­fer­ence and her hav­ing the lungs of a 26-year-old non-smoker. Thoughts?

—Des­per­ate Erotic Sit­u­a­tion

A

If some­one is crim­i­nal, racist and dis­hon­est—to say noth­ing of be­ing al­lo­cated in an­other tem­po­ral space con­tin­uum (what­ever the fuck that means)—I don’t see how “can­not hide her true feel­ings” lands on the “pro” side of the pro/con ledger. You shouldn’t want to be with a dis­hon­est, mor­al­iz­ing bigot, DES, so the fact that this par­tic­u­lar dis­hon­est, mor­al­iz­ing bigot is in­ca­pable of hid­ing her truly re­pul­sive feel­ings isn’t a rea­son to con­sider see­ing her. Not be­ing able to mask hate­ful feel­ings isn’t a re­deem­ing qual­ity—it’s the op­po­site.

Q

My boyfriend and I love each other deeply, and the thought of break­ing up dev­as­tates me. We also live to­gether. I deeply re­gret it and am full of shame, but I im­pul­sively went through his texts for the first time. I found out that for the past few months he has been sex­ting and al­most def­i­nitely hook­ing up with some­one who I said I was not com­fort­able with. After our ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion about her (dur­ing which I ex­pressed my dis­com­fort), he never brought her up again. Had I known that he needed her in his life this badly, I would have taken some time to sit with my feel­ings and fig­ure out where my dis­com­fort with her was com­ing from and tried to move through it. We are in an open re­la­tion­ship, but his re­la­tion­ship with her crosses what we de­ter­mined as our “cheat­ing” bound­ary: Hid­ing a re­la­tion­ship. How do I con­fess to what I did and con­front him about what I found with­out it blow­ing up into a ma­jor mess?

—Up­set Girl Hopes Re­la­tion­ship Sur­vives

A

Snoop­ing is always wrong, of course, ex­cept when the snooper dis­cov­ers some­thing they had a right to know. While there are def­i­nitely less-am­bigu­ous ex­am­ples (cases where the snoopee was en­gaged in ac­tiv­i­ties that put the snooper at risk), your boyfriend vi­o­lat­ing the bound­aries of your open re­la­tion­ship rises to the level of “right to know.” This is a ma­jor mess and there’s no way to con­front your boyfriend with­out risk­ing a blowup. So tell him what you know and how you found out. You’ll be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to as­sess whether you want this re­la­tion­ship to sur­vive after you con­fess and con­front.

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