when sex hurts

Beginning to Date

NOTE FROM ME: Please pardon my absence these past three months. It’s true that life got busy, but the actual reason for the long lapse is due to these being difficult to write, and even harder to post for all the internet. This is not an excuse by any means, merely an explanation. I will attempt to be better moving forward. When last we spoke, it was about my beginning to date and the aftermath of that. Let’s continue that discussion shall we? As always, feel free to contact me ❤

I spent years after breaking up with my first boyfriend celibate and single. At first it was the normal occurrence of picking up the scattered pieces of a broken heart, but long after I’d gotten over him I still didn’t date. I’ve had many people ask why I spent so many years single and, to be frank, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think of that time as a particularly lonely one, or that I was lacking anything by not pursuing something romantic, sexual, or otherwise. I had a few light crushes when I was in college, but nothing truly substantial. I think my choice was a combination of focusing on other things in life, as well as not wanting to deal with the ramifications that would come from talking about my condition with someone else. If I didn’t date, I could sweep this issue under the rug and forget about it almost entirely. This may not have been healthy, but it was certainly easier. When I finally did start dating again, and started to date more often and see a variety of more people, I slowly started to become more comfortable with talking about my condition and realizing that it didn’t make up all of who I was. And that is in large part to that first person I was with post breakup.

I was 23 years old when I started dating again. I was at a party and I saw a guy who I thought was cute. We got a little tipsy, we couldn’t drive home, we ended up cuddling together. Anyone who has ever been drunk at a party and tried to flirt with someone they were interested in knows and understands the precarious position I’d found myself in that night with *Tyler. I was excited when he first kissed me, and had those butterflies in my stomach that I hadn’t felt in a long long time. Those nervous, excited, feelings where you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next but you’re excited to be there with that person. For me however, underneath that excitement was fear. In today’s dating age the type of situation Tyler and I were in often leads to one night stands. Even if I’d wanted to have a one night stand at the time, I wouldn’t have been able to. It had only been one evening, but I really liked Tyler and I wanted to see him again. I was worried about what would happen if I told him I couldn’t have sex with him. Not just that night, but ever. Would he even want to see me again after I told him? I assumed he probably wouldn’t. It is one thing to tell someone you’ve just met that you’re not ready to sleep with them. It’s a much different thing to tell them you can’t sleep with them ever.

Now, I can imagine what you’re thinking. Why tell him that night at all? Why even nurse that thought? You never have to have sex if you don’t want to. And you certainly don’t have to have sex with someone you’ve just met. Why can’t it just be a fun night, see where things go, and then tell him should you so choose? Yes, I fully agree, and want to constantly and consistently stress that you do not EVER have to sex with someone you don’t want to. And you don’t have to have sex with someone if you don’t feel like it. It’s YOUR body and it’s YOUR decision. However, I understand how easy it is to say that in a blog, and how much harder it can be to put that into practice. It is incredibly difficult to be that honest when you’re “in the moment” so to speak. You don’t want to tell someone “no” when you like them. You don’t want them to suddenly change their mind. You don’t want to offend anyone, or seem like you’re not interested, or seem like a “prude,” or like you’re inexperienced…the list goes on and on.

Plus, for me it felt (and to this day still does sometimes) like I’m lying if I say no. Because while no does always mean no, it doesn’t always mean no forever. I felt like a liar if I gave the impression that we could have sex someday. Because while I wanted to, I couldn’t. My saying “stop” was never a result of not being ready, but knowing that the pain would happen should we continue. So I had to say stop before it ever came to that. I wanted the burden to be mine alone. I didn’t want to drag some guy into my problems as it made me feel like a burden. So, while one second I would be very into the moment, the next second I would have to stop. Which, to many, seems like a not now. “Not now” gives the illusion that it could potentially happen later. Later for me was never. Besides, I shouldn’t get these men’s hopes up for something that was never gonna happen right? It also must be stressed that even though I was 23 years old, I was wildly inexperienced both with dating, and with sex. For many, learning is by doing, and I hadn’t been doing much of anything. Most of what I knew about sex I’d learned from ether listening to friends, or what I’d seen through the media.

I suppose there was a part of me that also saw it as a test of some sort. Not a test I was purposely giving, or a test I’d just decided to give one day…more a test that came about from my own insecurities and wishful thinking. If I find myself in this scenario-this one night stand scenario-and I tell a guy I can’t sleep with him, and he stays anyway then that has to mean something right? Then maybe, just maybe, I’m worth more than what is in between my legs. And maybe guys do care about more than just sex. And maybe, just maybe, I can have a meaningful, powerful, real relationship even without penetrative sex. Maybe.

These are all the thoughts I had when I was lying in bed (fully clothed) with Tyler after he kissed me. As you can imagine, it’s a lot to process and go through when you’re distracted by someone else in the room with you. In the end, I decided to “come clean” and tell Tyler about my condition. It’s always better to be honest, and it’s always better to be honest upfront.

Tyler was the first guy I dated who told me he was fine with it and at the time actually meant it. Tyler was the first one who, though I still felt consistently guilty about not being able to have sex, made me-at times-able to move past my guilt. It was an amazing milestone for me. Tyler and I didn’t date for very long. We realized pretty quickly that we worked much better as friends, and are still friends to this day. But I think of my 3 month stint with Tyler as the beginning of becoming ok with who I was, and that it was possible to have a relationship without penetrative sex. And I thank him for that.

It’s ok to feel afraid and insecure and nervous about having sex with someone. Whether it’s due to having health and pain issues like mine, or whether you’re inexperienced, or whether you just don’t feel like it that day with your partner of 30 years. It doesn’t make you weird, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. You’re perfectly normal just as you are, and there’s no right way to have sex or be in a sexual relationship. Even now, in a loving and trusting relationship, I will remind myself of that at times. Because the person you’re having sex with should respect you enough to respect your boundaries. And if they don’t, then do you really want to be having sex with them in the first place?  Just know that regardless of what is going on in your life, so long as you’re healthy, and safe, and consensual, there is no wrong way to have sex.


*Name changed