My dearest readers! This is to be our last sojourn together. I know, I know. Your fingers now clutch these flimsy pages just as your heart convulses a little in your chest. I, too, will miss you.
For my last article, I would like to cover a topic that I have been asked in person. I have been mulling over it for a semester now. I have avoided tackling this question until now not because I do not believe that the question requires urgency. However, I do believe that the question required a lot of careful thought, and I do not think that I was ready to answer the question until now.
I have just spent an entire paragraph telling you my feelings about the question and still I refuse to tell you what the question is! I apologize for being a bit of a tease.
The question that has been posed to me is this: how do you communicate sexual interest in someone when you are unsure of your ability to commit to a sexual relationship at all? The question was also posed to me with the understanding that this concern may be due to past sexual trauma, though I am unsure of the exact nature.
Bad experiences obviously inform future experiences, but talking about those bad experiences can be very scary.
I think I struggled with this question because I do not necessarily believe that there is any one way to approach it. Therefore, I want to add a disclaimer to this piece (which really applies to most advice, but is particularly salient here): my advice is largely opinion-based and never mandated. Y’all are free to take or to ignore my advice as you wish. Also, because of the general nature of my advice, I think some of it can be applied to other situations in which you are just uncomfortable with certain sex acts, possibly because they are new.
As for my actual advice, I believe that, more than in any other situation, you have to be very clear with yourself about what you are willing to commit to and what you are not. This way, you can articulate what is comfortable for you and more easily identify when the situation has strayed into territory that makes you uncomfortable.
Next, I believe that you should talk with your partner(s). I am not necessarily suggesting that you tell them why you may be hesitant about engaging in any sexual act, in general or in particular, but I do believe at the very least you should make it clear that you are hesitant. Moreover, this may be an appropriate time to outline some clear rules about what you currently are and are not comfortable with (and this is something I suggest for everyone regardless of you level of sexual hesitation) and how you can express discomfort to a partner during any sexual experience. You might also want to have rules on how to stop certain acts through something like a safe word (a word that you would not normally say during sexual encounters that, if said, should cease all sexual activity, at least momentarily) or any other means of communication.
Finally, you might actually want to tell your partner(s) (depending on your level of trust and your particular relationship dynamics) something about why you may be hesitant. I also believe that this can be as simple and vague as “I had some bad experiences and am hesitant about sex, but I really want to explore the possibility with you.” What I do believe is that you should make both your hesitation and your interest clear so that the person or people you are communicating to truly understand their importance to you.
So there y’all are. I hope you have enjoyed your time with me. I have enjoyed your captive attention dearly!