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#58435 - 03/19/04 08:09 PM the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
yup, you guessed it, it's about sex.

I feel a little silly even posting about our sex life here... we have our share of problems but all in all we do okay, I feel like I should just consider myself lucky...

But this is one incarnation of the come here/go away routine that I really cannot deal with. I understand that my boyfriend needs a lot of space sometimes, that there are days when he's just been overloaded emotionally and sex isn't something he even wants to think about. That's fine. I understand that sometimes he wants to just be held and cared for with "no pressure" and that's fine too, I can do that.

My problem is that even though I have never been anything but respectful of my boyfriend's boundaries, he always anticipates that I am not going to be. I *know* when he doesn't want to make love--I know it the minute I walk in the freaking house because he is broadcasting it loud and clear on every channel. It is on the brink of actively hostile. It's not the not having sex part that bothers me--it's the way he acts so bristly and defensive, keeping me at arm's length or more from dinnertime onward because if he acts friendly or at all affectionate, I might try to have sex with him 4 hours later. If he just wanted to be left alone all night, I could even handle being kept at a distance--but he does this hostile thing and then wants to be just held and kept close--and I'm not a saint, I get sort of annoyed at being kept at a distance, with no explanation whatsoever, and then expected to act sweet and loving--on entirely his terms--with no time to adjust in between.

And if I ask him what's wrong he gets all pissy and turns it into MY problem (this is one of his favorite old tricks)--there's something wrong with ME, I only want sex, I always want sex, I can't just be affectionate with him, I can't respect his boundaries, etc. Mind you this isn't the reaction I get when I ask for sex. This is the reaction I get when I ask if anything is wrong. And I don't have an abnormally active sex drive, and I don't pressure him to do anything if he's uncomfortable, nor do I give him guilt about it and make him sleep on the couch or whatever. I just want to not have to be made to feel entirely repulsive for the entire night because he is irrationally afraid of me not respecting his boundaries. And it hurts my feelings to be treated like someone who is out to hurt him.

We talked about this a little bit today and he recognized what I was talking about--I asked him if I'd done anything to make him feel like I might pressure him or force him and he said that I hadn't done anything, but he still worried that I might, also that he didn't want to be affectionate with me if he didn't want sex because he was afraid of leading me on (??? although I don't see how sitting next to someone is leading them on)

he asked me if, the next time he felt like he didn't want to have sex, I could help him find a better way to tell me. I said okay but honestly I don't even know what that means. How am I supposed to tell myself that I don't want myself?... it makes my head hurt... it still feels shitty to have to be told a whole bunch of hours in advance, by the way, I'm really not into you today... and does that mean that he just wants me to get the message or does it mean that I still have to do the whole "get out of the room, now come back and hold me right now and shut up" bit and just not get annoyed about it? I know I know it's not about me, but it is about me. There's no way for not wanting to make love to me be not about me. I can deal with it but I can't be entirely objective either.

Any of this familiar, guys? Do any of you know what it means for me to help him to talk to me about this? Does he want a>

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#58436 - 03/20/04 04:31 AM Re: the inevitable...
theo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/28/03
Posts: 1122
sar,
>
_________________________
journey well,
theo dewolfe

- It is gift, and gift will find its way
- I inherit through my choice. I build through my affirmation. It is through my freedom that I nurture, or fade into autonomy
- I was not given to serve life, but to embrace it

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#58437 - 03/20/04 11:10 AM Re: the inevitable...
darp123 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/25/03
Posts: 15
Loc: Maryland
Sar,

Something that his therapist told me has really helped us this past year. She told me to let him initiate sex so he didn't feel pressured to have sex. I found out that my H had an affair and that he had been SA the same night so we were having a very difficult time and I wanted to be close to him so that I knew he loved me and he felt pressured because he thought I wanted sex.

He started going to a therapist about 3 months later and she told us not to have sex for a while and when we started again (a few months later) to let him initiate it.

Take care,
Darp


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#58438 - 03/20/04 06:23 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR
does any of that ring true ? I read your post twice - I had to. It shook me because what you describe is what I did - and still do an awfull lot.

Quote:

We talked about this a little bit today and he recognized what I was talking about--I asked him if I'd done anything to make him feel like I might pressure him or force him and he said that I hadn't done anything, but he still worried that I might, also that he didn't want to be affectionate with me if he didn't want sex because he was afraid of leading me on (??? although I don't see how sitting next to someone is leading them on)
"but he still worried that I might" this smacked me around the head ! pre-empting a 'possible' pressure from a partner, and getting the defences in early.
That's exactly what I do and didn't really figure out until I read your post. Thanks for your honesty and insight there, this is a difficult subject for us survivors to talk about.

I still can't talk about sex with my wife, not in a 'normal' "hey, let's try some wardrobe leaps !" type of way - I just can't ask her to do something that I like, because that's way too close to control = abuse. And equally I can say "do you like that ?" Because I 'might' be offending her by doing so.

So, with sex as fraught with 'danger' as it is, the thought of "the weaker, submissive sex" taking control and making the moves scares the shit out me ( us ? )

That's when it becomes easier, and more effective, to pick a fight - especially when with some practice we can turn the 'blame' back onto you - then the fallout from the fight is less, and we don't have to the sweaty stuff.

Eventually, it can lead to the loss of a sex life. I have gone for periods of 6 to 8 months like this in the past without any great effort on my part, once we learn the technique it's easy.

Now, what you really want to know is "how do we get over it ?" Sadly, I wish I knew as well, I'm getting better, but I'm very seriously thinking about psycho-sexual therapy. The therapy I've had has dealt with the abuse and the acting out wonderfully, and I though that I would just slot back into the rest of "my shit" easily, but I was wrong. It's very tempting to think that we can do the rest on our own.
The therapy I had was like comparing a snipers rifle to a shotgun - the rifle hits accurately and powerfully, like the therapy I had. The shotgun hits everyting eventually.

Work on it NOW, don't leave it until it's too late.

Dave
PS. Theo is talking sense, once again.

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58439 - 03/21/04 01:38 PM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
hello everyone,

I won't be able to respond properly until tonight or tomorrow but I wanted to say thanks. I know this is a difficult topic for everyone to discuss, Dave, Darp, Theo, I hope you feel brave and honest for replying. I don't feel much of that right now, just very very sad. There aren't enough \:\( s to be as \:\( as I feel right now. I love this guy and he loves me and we've always been able to be partners and friends... even to be friends when we couldn't be partners. It should be able to all just fall into place from there, and it's just not falling into place and it just seems ridiculous and sad. there was a period (longer that 6 months, Dave, don't feel bad) that we didn't make love at all and it was devastating to our whole relationship--I couldn't love the man I loved and suddenly it was like a million other walls went up. Some of this overlapped the period he was acting out the most and that makes sense to me. Not because he was being fulfilled sexually by something else, but because he had more secrets from me, more defenses, and by that time intimacy between us was already sort of a loaded gun--it would have been hopeless even to try at that point--theo I cannot stop thinking about what you said about trying to put up his hands and stop what is coming next. How sad. how sad. Damnit.


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#58440 - 03/21/04 02:58 PM Re: the inevitable...
theo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/28/03
Posts: 1122
sar,
i understand the sadness of the image, especially since it is the truth. in my former marriage, the last three years we were together it was her that was putting her hands up. i think in all that time we only had intimacy about three times. the last attempt was just too painful for me to even discuss, but it spelled the end for us by her actions.

she never did stop with putting her hands up to push me away in fear. that is the difference here with you and your boyfriend. the sadness and the tragic power of the image is intended to be a light of hope because once you can see the fear for what it is there is a chance you can then reach through it and gently hold the hands that are held up to ward off the pain of the past. i know the sadness of isolation, sar, and was never able to overcome it in my previous marriage...but i took what i learned from that and have loved lady theo in ways i never knew were possible. intimacy is about looking into your partner's eyes and being able to see love, fear, pride, arousal, laughter, tears...all of it, and having seen it all in their eyes, to be able to share it with them. that is intimacy. once you can see the hands held up in fear, instead of the adult hostility, your intimacy with him went into overdrive. the pain and heartache is tragic, but the victory of being held by a loved one, even if only by their eyes in undrstanding, is salvation.

_________________________
journey well,
theo dewolfe

- It is gift, and gift will find its way
- I inherit through my choice. I build through my affirmation. It is through my freedom that I nurture, or fade into autonomy
- I was not given to serve life, but to embrace it

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#58441 - 03/21/04 07:29 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Is some of this also about peoples ( men & womens ) natural tendency to take the easy option - ok, be lazy ?

As Theo so rightly says,

Quote:
intimacy is about looking into your partner's eyes and being able to see love, fear, pride, arousal, laughter, tears...all of it, and having seen it all in their eyes, to be able to share it with them. that is intimacy.
This great de>
_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58442 - 03/21/04 10:44 PM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
this is dead serious for me but I have to take a sec first. Dave-- "wardrobe leaps?!?!?" WHAT? Guess I learned something new about England today :p Felt good to giggle anyway. OK, back to posting for real.


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#58443 - 03/21/04 11:14 PM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Dave and Theo, there is so much you guys are saying with only a few words that I don't even need you to explain further, which I guess is good because it means I am starting to "get it" a little. But clearly it's not good.

I'm not going to get graphic or any more triggering than this already is, but given the details of some of his SA it makes total sense that the anticipation of the act provokes more anxiety than the act itself. (I just had to pause for a long while because of the rage and sadness of recognizing how true that must be for him. Theo, I have no doubt that your guess is right on but I don't think I could bring it up with him at all, I don't think the place exists for him yet where it's safe enough to hear that). Within our sex life when it exists he is much more concerned about being spontaneous and random than I am--I've always chalked this up to a kind of typical "male" need for variety etc., but maybe it is also related to this fear of knowing what's ahead, or maybe even to a fear of having to be intimate-- being "spontaneous" doesn't leave a lot of room for intimate talk...

Darp, we didn't have sex for a while after I found out he'd been seeing someone online. That was mutual though... I wasn't sure what I thought of us (or him) anymore, and I think he was just too disgusted with himself. He told me soon after about the SA and in a way, that made it easier for us to have a sex life again. It was important to him, I think, to know that his "abused" status wouldn't hurt the rest of our life (whereas he was entirely prepared to have his "cheating jerk" status destroy it).

Also, I wouldn't say I look on his disclosure fondly (and it still took a little time), but him telling me and me believing and supporting him, was a good new beginning for us... it meant the (re)building of lost trust, it meant that there were answers to be found, it showed both of us that even at the worst, we were committed to each other. It didn't restore our intimacy as partners but it restored our intimacy as best friends (not a relationship prospect for the lazy either). So I do know what you mean, Theo, about hope in this sense.

And no, it's not effortless. I think that's true for just about everyone, even the (allegedly) normal... but I don't know, Dave, if this kind of vigilant avoidance of intimacy could require less effort... I believe that eventually it does but for my boyfriend and I, right now, I just don't see how... I've been beating myself up about the other day (of my original post). Did I say something to scare him? Did I subtly suggest somehow that I might want to make love later on? Was he trying to talk about something and I missed the signal? I don't know what exactly is up here but when you said "sex = desertion" it gave me chills. Because it makes sense to me, sort of, but the message that he gives me is just the opposite one, when he's doing this "make it my fault thing"-- I'm choosing to "desert" him by pushing to get close to him-- he's pushing me away because he doesn't want to be intimate-- but then he doesn't really want to be left alone...

I used to think that he never initiated sex. He does... I just have to read his mind first. He sends out a very weak signal and if I don't pick up on it very quickly, he drops it. I'm thinking now that part of it is frustration on his part over what he may see as "not being heard" on this... although he's not saying anything... for every time I "get it" I'm probably missing it a few times as well. The same thing goes for what he likes and doesn't. He probably thinks I'm ignoring him in all sorts of important ways. Unfortunately asking seldom gets me anywhere.

all right people.
not deserting anyone,
still his friend
even when it's an effort
SAR


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#58444 - 03/22/04 08:36 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR
It's getting a bit weird here, every post someone makes I recognise another bit of myself

Quote:
I used to think that he never initiated sex. He does... I just have to read his mind first. He sends out a very weak signal and if I don't pick up on it very quickly, he drops it.
Like this bit here. Oh boy do I recognise that !

And the sex = desertion thing is about associating sex with someone who deserts us after they've finished with us.
It's hard to admit, but I bet we all got 'something' out of our abusers. I got protection from older boys at school and cigarettes. Bum deal eh ?

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58445 - 03/23/04 02:22 PM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Yeah this sounds pretty familiar.. my sex life with my partner hit the skids when he entered SA therapy back in September 2003. We did not have sex for months on account of his flashbacks and the rollercoaster of feelings... even today he still cant sleep in the same bed with me too often and when he does he has to be wrapped in flannel from neck to toes.

The sex life has improved somewhat recently but it is still not where I'd like it to be. What I found interesting was even after some therapy and we were starting to resume sexual activity I found that afterwards he was pretty hostile to me... definitely some unresolved issues there (MOM issues as he is discovering).

We are still working through it - he has been getting some advice on this - how to desensitize himself, how to buld trust, how to bust through the feelings that he is being used, resolving issues about being controlled by his mom, how to let me control and then take control, how to initiate and let me initiate, to share and give and take. All of the lessons for that are coming from his mens SA group therapy. He's been in a group for six months and we both think that its beginning to pay off. At least the whole issues is not so much of a heavy weight around our necks anymore.

You do have to remember as a partner that this is NOT about you although it is oh so personal. I konw how hard this is to be in - I was there in September and sometimes I still find myself there - its an odd angry, sad sort of floaty dissociated feeling that I had when I was confronted with this. And it was particularly bad because it coincided with him popping the question - man... visions of a sexless marriage were dancing in my head... and I would like to say I was the model of understanding and compassion about it but I wasnt - I picked my share of "poor me" fights about it I hate to say!!!

I guess, without being able to resolve the situation I realized I needed the following things from him:

a) reassurance that he wanted to have as normal a sex life as possible and that he was committed to getting the help he needed to work through things and have a better sex life

b) confirmation that he still found me sexy and attractive and was attracted to me and wasn't acting out as a diversion

and

c) acknowledgement that this must be hard on me - without feeling compelled to do anything about it (understanding that I was not pressuring him) (big step).

That made a big difference for me. We are slowly regaining what was lost (sex life) and it is truly in a sense of learning all about intimacy - for both him and me - rather than just "sex for sex" - I think we are beyond the part of the relationship where we just want to lay around and have sex all day anyway.. we are at a point (2.5 years together, planning a wedding in September) where our whole relationship is changing and deepening.

With work this situation WILL change and resolve itself - you do have some work cut out for you though with all the distancing that is going on. Building trust, etc. will be a challenge. Hopefully you have a trusted therapist for both you and him and even both of you who specializes in trauma/sexual abuse?

The whole "come here go away" stuff is a classic example of the aftermath of trauma - the "anxiety wobble". The key is for him to continue to work on reducing the anxiety through whatever means possible (therapy, and other means - i.e. exercise, meditation, spirituality, etc). When a trauma survivor (any kind of trauma) is triggered he or she just does not make sense.... its just the way the mind/body discharges anxiety "come here- go away'yes/no I hate you/I love you/ I need you/You are no good for me/ black/white/ red/blue/ yes/no"... When you encounter that kind of stuff its best to NOT try and have any kind of heavy discussion at that time. Wait until the survivor is not so triggered and not so anxious he is much more logical!


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#58446 - 03/24/04 01:09 AM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
***this one may trigger***


Dave,
Quote:
the sex = desertion thing is about associating sex with someone who deserts us after they've finished with us. It's hard to admit, but I bet we all got 'something' out of our abusers.
I think, for my boyfriend anyway, it is specifically about desertion and self-blame regarding his choice of "friends"... who gets that label of friend and what it means... I think that a lot of what he "got" (or told himself he got, to make it bearable for himself) out of the abuse was "friendship" with the "big boys"... and even after the abuse ended he was a very promiscuous teen, I think because he thought of sex as a measure or a proof of friendship (maybe an offering of friendship?)

Meanwhile this results in blaming himself for his choices, both the choice to be promiscuous and repeat the "desertion" and for his choice in "friends"--because they weren't really his friends, the rest of the time they were as hateful and uninterested in him as all the others, so it was a "friendship" he had to keep trying to win over and over, then as he grew older and still had to deal with some of these boys he began to see how much he didn't want to know them or be friends with them, and then he had a hard time making normal friends because he was so promiscuous--and abused--kind of an "I know more than you, I'm not living in your world" thing? mostly in his own head though...

So maybe for the two of us, now, the lack of desire is about him not wanting to have to "prove" anything to me--in terms of our friendship, or his wealth of sexual knowledge, or what we're "getting" from each other? Maybe he'd have an easier time telling me how he feels if we weren't such good friends? (oh gee, that is another sad one) And maybe about continuing that cycle of self-blame-- if he is so bad at choosing friends, and I want to be his friend, I can't be good for him because he doesn't have good friends? Or, I'm lying to him, because I should know that he doesn't really have friends? Or that once I know about what a deviant he really is, I'll never want to have sex with him again (thereby withdrawing my promise of friendship), or, I'll only want to have sex with him (thereby withdrawing my promise of friendship)...

Well if it wasn't weird before it is now. I think it's just moved out of even the "really crazy logic", I don't know how any of that last part makes sense. I just know that it sort of does...

SAR


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#58447 - 03/24/04 01:54 AM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
PAS

Does it ever stop with those so-called moms? I have noticed that he keeps his distance from me after he's spoken to or seen his mother, but I am not sure if he's being distant or hostile in a sexual way... I think that woman is just so needy and tiresome that he decompresses from their encounters by avoiding anyone who might NEED anything from him, sexually or otherwise. And I can't say I blame him.

I wish my boyfriend wanted to be in a men's group of anything. Even if he were comfortable enough around men to be in a group of them, I don't think he'd ask for--or listen to--their advice--mostly we are the ones being asked for advice :rolleyes:

and I guess some of that is earned because when we have talked about this stuff at a "logical" time, we have done pretty well giving each other both a)reassurance and b)confirmation... you're right though it is that c) that's the big one:
Quote:
acknowledgement that this must be hard on me - without feeling compelled to do anything about it (understanding that I was not pressuring him) (big step).
it seems that for my boyfriend any attempt at this ends up back in the land of self-disgust and guilt. And since I am not looking for him to feel disgusting and guilty, and I am not trying to pressure him to do anything--including admit to and apologize for things that are not his fault, which is how he would view such an acknowledgement-- I've been backing off about this, and this is where I get the poor me thing--"you don't know how I feel" or "you can't deal with how I feel"--I'm not proud of that either but it's hard for me when I DO wait until he's in a good place, and I DO think hard about what I want to say and I DO try to be patient and non-threatening... and get literally zero words back from him...

really at the end of it all, I am not so upset about his desires or lack of desires on any given day, any given week for that matter, although I'd rather not go back to months of nothing at all-- I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him. I am not as hurt about the actual "not tonight" as I am about the way in which it's said.


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#58448 - 03/24/04 07:12 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR
Quote:
"I know more than you, I'm not living in your world" thing? mostly in his own head though...
this is so similar to my internal monologue that I used when fantasizing and acting out - "I know things that you dont, I do things that you dont"
It was part of the process of putting myself down, convincing myself that I was a 'pervert' just like my abusers. I did anything that increased the guilt and shame, and it's a hard act to kick.


But kick it I have \:D and it feels bloody good.
It was hard work, and I still have my moments of putting myself down, but they're getting less and easier to fight.

Quote:
I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him. I am not as hurt about the actual "not tonight" as I am about the way in which it's said.
So if I can do the hard stuff, why cant I do this ? \:\( What's so hard about saying "Sorry love, I'm not in a good place right now. Maybe a hug will help ?" Why do I still use defensive methods to keep her away instead ?
Is it because I fear the sexual contact that might follow on from an innocent hug ? Because logically I know that any sex that follows a true supportive, emotional and loving response to my pain would very likely be wonderfully intimate and rewarding for us both.

Hell ! we're a difficult bunch to deal with. :rolleyes:

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58449 - 03/25/04 02:59 PM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>Does it ever stop with those so-called moms? I have noticed that he keeps his distance from me after he's spoken to or seen his mother, but I am not sure if he's being distant or hostile in a sexual way... I think that woman is just so needy and tiresome that he decompresses from their encounters by avoiding anyone who might NEED anything from him, sexually or otherwise. And I can't say I blame him.

My fiance's situation is kind of the opposite.. but generally results in the same behaviour towards me. His mother just talks and talks and doesnt give him a chance to get a word in edgewise.. she just orders him around, ignores him, and tells him all kinds of stories about Mabel this and Mrs. whomever this who fell down and broke her hip at the nursing home.. its so alienating for him. He doesnt even have a clue who these people are. She *does* manage to take time out from her incessant broadcasts though to a) give him guilt trips about not calling home often enough and b) spending too much money on our new home (the real estate market in our town is insane.. we got a GREAT deal on a house.. she just can't comprehend that a good basic bungalow is over $250k here)

Also visiting his parents is also a royal treat - not .. his parents have a really shabby, cluttered house to which I am allergic (dust and mold), she rarely has food in the house when we come to visit, the bed he sleeps on when there is affectionately called the "chain link fence".. but of course they wont go out of their way to make the house any more comfortable, instead it is US being ungrateful..... (of course not being married we MUST sleep on different floors of the house.. we are complete utter disrespectful sinners if we even THINK of being in the same room or heaven forbid the same bed.. I mean who do we think we're kidding we're only 35 years old, just bought a house together and have a wedding date set for September.. what sinners we are!! (ok sorry about the sarcastic rant)

>>>>I wish my boyfriend wanted to be in a men's group of anything. Even if he were comfortable enough around men to be in a group of them, I don't think he'd ask for--or listen to--their advice--mostly we are the ones being asked for advice

Yeah thats one of the thigns that they do talk about in his group - there's an unrealistic expectation on the part of many survivors for their partners to a) be perfect b) listen and accept unconditiojnally and c) fix all their emotional problems

My fiance didnt initially want to go to this group either.. he was about as comfy in a mens group as in a room full of hungry polar bears...

The reason he went was because he was very much interested in us going to a couples therapist a few years ago (I bet he thougth this guy would "straighten me out"!!) because we were having real problems and he just didnt want to break up.. and it was a real suprise to him when after about 8 sessions the therapist said I dont want to see you both here anymore, I am just wasting your time and money because I think you both need to go to work on your issues independently - I was referred to someone who specialized in anxiety disorders and he was referred to this mens group and STRONGLY urged to go and attend the anger management and healing groups.

>>>it seems that for my boyfriend any attempt at this ends up back in the land of self-disgust and guilt. And since I am not looking for him to feel disgusting and guilty, and I am not trying to pressure him to do anything--including admit to and apologize for things that are not his fault, which is how he would view such an acknowledgement-- I've been backing off about this, and this is where I get the poor me thing--

Yeah this one is tough. I am REALLY hard assed when he gets like this - I say "I am stating my point, I am stating my needs which I have every right to do... and I will NOT allow you to turn this on me and make me into some kind of ogre that I'm not".. we had this damn argument last night in fact.

I HATE HATE HATE being given such emotional power over someone.. its just horrendous. its really HIS business how he chooses to feel and I just HATE when people feel crappy because they just think of them selves as a POOR POOR victim (this happens all the time to me at work and also with my parents) shee -it these people are ALL adults and should damn well stop blaming me for their problems. If I had a dollar for every time someone blamed me for their problems... I digress... sorry for the rant again.

>>>"you don't know how I feel" or "you can't deal with how I feel"--

When I get that shit from him I go "Oh really??? I have had just about as much shit and abuse in my life as you.. maybe more..... I sometimes flip back "you dont know how it feels to rescue your semi-comatose father from the police station after getting arrested for DUI", and "you dont know waht its like to rescue your half dead father from drug and alcohol overdose and commit him to a mental institution and almost lose him due to his own stupidity, on more than one occasion".. and "you dont know what its like to have dated a guy who liked to smash his elbow in your temple in the middle of the night and claim "sleepwalking"... and "you dont know what its like to have your father come home from work (when he still had a job that is) and smash household objects in front of you while screaming profanities and calling you a self centred arrogant bitch"..

I have my WICKED WICKED abuse "battle scars" too but I REFUSE to let them get me down and refuse to consider myself a victim any more, and refuse to let those experiences as an excuse to a) wallow in self pity, b) cop out of life using drugs or alcohol and c) not make something of myself. For some reason I take it on as a personal challenge.. I"m a very competitive person and its like "oh yeah I'll fuckin show YOU!!!" and for some bizarre reason people think I've got it "all together" and many people try to latch on.. if they only knew I was a hair away from cracking up most days......

>>>I'm not proud of that either but it's hard for me when I DO wait until he's in a good place, and I DO think hard about what I want to say and I DO try to be patient and non-threatening... and get literally zero words back from him...

Thats called stonewwalling and its a pretty ineffective approach to managing anger. Its frustrating. When my fiance does it I am pretty hard assed with him too.

>>>really at the end of it all, I am not so upset about his desires or lack of desires on any given day, any given week for that matter, although I'd rather not go back to months of nothing at all-- I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him.

YOU SOUND LIKE ME!! It took me YEARS to convince him that its OK to be where is and not to want sex or to have to be alone or whatever, but its NOT ok to try and badger me into a fight, its NOT OK to stonewall me, its NOT OK to keep me at a distance and its NOT OK to be rude, insensitive, cold, calloused, abusive or disrespectful in delivering such messages.

I only did this through a) walking away when he was acting REALLY off the wall and b) repeating until I was nauseated that its ok for him to feel waht he feels and want what he wants but it is NOT ok to treat me with disrespect. And if he continues to treat you with disrespect you have every right to walk away.

As Dr. Phil says "you teach people how to treat you" and with my fiance I had to teach him what was OK and what was not. I have found the tough love approach has worked.. it has been frightfully scary as there has been a lot of escalation of threats when I tried this.. but we got to a major, serious LOW a month or so ago when I just said, after the most vicious diatribe of filth out of his mouth (after a wild dangerous car ride in which he showed blatant disregard for my safety) I was just so calm and matter of fact and said "we already discussed this and I have no choice but to leave you.. what kind of a message am I sending you if I dont leave you now. You have put me in the most difficult position and I a SO ANGRY at you for doing that.. but I dont have any choice" and I left him alone with his thoughts for a few hours. Man that really shook him up.

You HAVE HAVE HAVE HAVE to be strong with this otherwise this behaviour may not change. You do have to have the guts to stand up for yourself and take a risk otherwise it may be very difficult to enact such a sea change in the dynamics of the relationship. It scared me shitless but to be honest I got to the point where I was so sick and tired of his shit and his abuse that I didnt care anymore. And i figured what would be the loss - yes I would miss him but I could do without his abuse and hostility.

Blah.. this is just my story though.. hopefully things wont get to that point with you but if they do, I'm here to help you through.. its tough but for me it seems to be working.

P


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#58450 - 03/25/04 10:00 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
PAS
He's a lucky guy.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58451 - 03/26/04 08:14 AM Re: the inevitable...
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
SAR

I am so sorry about all this. I really don't know I have any advice to offer, as my girlfriend and I do not yet have a sexual relationship. I know that I do the 'push away' thing rather often, but I do not think I am hostile about it. I just rather withdraw from everyone, and stay rather quiet and uninterested.

I am not sure what to tell you, as for what he is wanting or what you are wanting, or how to say what you want and need. I am not sure why, with someone understanding as you as girlfriend, he can not just say, 'not tonight', and not have to be angry or upset with it. Although I do understand that sometime it is hard to feel that we deserve the respect we get from you. So maybe that self doubt creates the hostility? I am not sure.

I wish you good luck, and wish you well always.

leosha

_________________________
Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

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#58452 - 03/26/04 10:15 AM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Blah we had yet another argument this mornign about this whole issue too... not the sex part but the "pushing away"... he's so stressed about the upcoming wedding and the house purchase that he's choosing to diffuse that stress by doing things that DONT remind him of the house/wedding (i.e. spending a lot of time with his friends and NOT spending time with me).. I'm starting to feel like his mom.. dispensing an allowance, allowing him to borrow the car, feeding him dinner, and sending him on his way to see "the guys".

Anyone else see the obvious bizarre logic here???? (relationship leads to house purchase and wedding, house purchase and wedding leads to stress, stress leads to avoidance of partner and erosion of the relationship that justifies the house and wedding.....)

And in the discussion he started trying to analyze my feelings, trying to logic his way out of it.. somehow insinuating that I need to go see a shrink to work on my "feelings of loneliness" rather than just acknowledging the fact that we barely see each other these days... I got SO MAD!!!

SA or no SA there's still a giant gap between "guy think" and "girl think".. I dont think its necessary to analyze why I feel bad, or why I am feeling lonely, or why I am happy... when I feel something I feel it and dont feel any reason to justify, explain, analyze, etc. I just feel what I feel, and go with it, while he spends hours and days and weeks mulling feelings over, trying to figure out what to do.......

The gap between the sexes is so wide sometimes... which makes this whole issue of SA and how best to deal with it, how it affects relationships, etc. so hard. I think even at the best of times its hard for a female and male to see eye to eye, let alone when you throw a giant stressor that has serious repercussions on intimacy in there!!

On an up note, at least he listened to what I have to say... we are finding the Dr. Phil book "relationship rescue" very useful. My fiance responds pretty well to it because its pretty direct and it really does address the guy point of view.

P


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#58453 - 03/26/04 07:26 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR

Quote:
"guy think" and "girl think"..
Now we're in dangerous territory ! :rolleyes:

NOBODY - least of all us - is ever going to give us the definitive thinking on this.

And you're latest fight is just a case in point. Guy's ( as a rule ) don't "do this stuff" - and you're probably better off sending him off with his mates to watch the ball game at a bar.

Why women keep asking us "do these shoes look allright with this dress ?" is one of life's eternal mysteries. Hey, we choose shoes because they FIT !

But it doesn't mean we don't care, we ARE different, that's the attraction and the reason you're not all lesbians and we're not all gay men !
( No offence to anyone ! )
We can still 'feel' what's going on inside our heads emotionally. The problem is we can't always articulate it, and it's the same with shoes. When you choose something hideous, we'll tell you, if it's ok and you seem to like it, then that's just fine by us.

We just seem to take longer before before we finally say something.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58454 - 03/27/04 09:14 PM Re: the inevitable...
wrangler Offline
Member

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Virginia
SAR,

I am jumping in to this discussion a little late I guess, but then I just now saw it. So far I have only read your original post, so forgive me in advance if I am repeating someone else. (Sometimes it is helpful for me to reply before I read the replies because I get confused about what I was originally thinking.)

Quote:
He does this hostile thing and then wants to be just held and kept close--and I'm not a saint, I get sort of annoyed at being kept at a distance, with no explanation whatsoever, and then expected to act sweet and loving--on entirely his terms--with no time to adjust in between.
I used to drive my wife crazy with this sort of thing and, believe it or not, it was as frustrating for me as it was for her. First things first: I ALWAYS wanted to want to have sex. AND I was reasonable sure that I had to have sex at some point to keep a marraige. BUT it was so infrequent that I did really want to have sex and then when I did the mood was so fragile it usually ended in a fight anyway.

The pressure of sex being required in a marraige was a very negative infulence for me. And I am reasonable sure that my next partner is going to need some pretty open views about sex. The problem is that sex is a *very* hostile thing for me. With it I was wounded, violated, shamed, isolated... and now love is not equal to sex. But it was to my wife. So I always felt like not having sex was like me saying I do not love you.

All this gave rise to the sort of push-pull evening you described... I did not want to have sex, but because of that I needed to be affectionate to compensate, but that aggeravated the fear of sex and the fear of sex aggravated a fear of abandonment based on knowing my wife was unsatisfied, which meant I needed to be reassured, but that reassurance might lead to sex, which i do want to want, but right now am afriad of... I hope you can get a sense of the inner turmoil.

I am certainly not justifying the behavior or the expectations it places on you. But for me that situation was very confusing and upsetting and it was quite difficult to even develop some understanding of what was happening. For me that understanding is:

1. Sex is hard to share with someone I love; this causes some internal upset for me.
2. I assume the person I love will leave me if I dont have sex with them (often enough).
3. Fear of abandonment causes me to temporarily disregard my own emotional state.
4. The love/fear/disregard combination give rise to a lot of emotional upset that expresses itself in unpredictable ways.


A lot of the stuff in that list is not defined very well... how often is often enough? But such is the nature of the things that bother me the most. The list doesn't have to be well defined if it is operating outside of my conscious thought and just making me a grumpaluffagus.

George

_________________________
"Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." -Mary Schmich

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#58455 - 03/27/04 10:06 PM Re: the inevitable...
wrangler Offline
Member

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Virginia
Wow. What an intense thread! SAR, I am glad you started this topic... these responses really have me thinking.

First, when I wander in the Family and Friends I can get a little sad. My divorce will be final in a few days. I'm not really torn up about losing the marraige; during the past few months I have really seen how we were never going to get better... and that is what makes me sad here. I know you and PAS and the others here feel frustrated and afraid and lonely and so on, but you TALK TALK TALK about it!! You talk to each other, your partners, other survivors here... you TALK until you understand.

My wife locked her thoughts away and washed everything out with "if we can get George fixed, I know I will have a happy marraige". I bought this shit for a long time, and now that I can see it for what it is, I can also see how different you guys are from her. So this is your BIG kudos... I know it sucks, but you should really pat yourself on the back becuase you are doing really hard things that some people just refuse to even try.

At the risk of oversimplification, the commonality in this thread is communication, and I think three channels. Each channel can get blocked by fear, shame, pride, confusion... they are

1. Me-Me Can I make some sort of conscious (silent) declaration about how I feel? Or do I just feel intense? It is still pretty frequent that I have trouble communicating my emotions to myself in some intelligible, coherent way.
2. You-You See above.
3. Me-You / You-Me Supposing I feel fear, and I can think to myself "I feel fear", can I say to you "I feel fear". AND supposing I say "I feel fear", will you actually hear "He feels fear".

In my own marraige basically all three of these were completely jammed. Having been working on the only one of these I can, I know how friggin hard it is. But looking at it like this helps me see where to stop working. There is nothing I can do for the you-you channel. I can help if you ask, but I cannot take the lead.

And the me-you channel... well that one is just fraught with peril as you guys were discussing.

Lastly, on the theme of the original quesiton, I really do believe that sex got twisted in my mind and when feelings of arousal come (whether mine or hers) the threat level goes up fast. Even on the best days I was always "aware" of the potential for danger and fear doesn't do much for making love (though it doesn't hurt acting out too much and this is another bum deal).

So having sex so loaded and so (seemingly) neccessary puts me in a dangerous situation where I might trade sex for security. But my wife (not being abuser) is aware of the lack of love and loses her own drive. Bang. No sex. The situation is one that will feed on itself and as Dave said, it needs attention, the earlier the better. What to do about it I have no idea!

I cannot even begin to say how discouraging all this is for me. I mean, I am divorced and trying to think about getting "out there". But I am *scared to death*. I have no idea how to begin a relationship... and it must be begin, as there are absolutely no prospects in the group of people I know now. Sigh.

George

_________________________
"Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." -Mary Schmich

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#58456 - 03/28/04 02:03 PM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Something I've been thinking about concerning this thread/ expectations/ innocence...

I am the last one to venture into the man think/woman think debate (especially because I usually end up on the "man think" side of the divide and if there's one thing I'm not, it's a man ;\) ), but I DO think that a lot of men buy into (at least partially) this myth of female partners as having two sides... I'm not explaining this very well but you guys probably know what I mean... the woman who is sweet and innocent and nuturing on the one hand and then suddenly becomes an entirely different "sexual" woman-- or the related myth that there are two "kinds" of women, the sexy women and the sweet women.... and for a LOT of people, this sweet/sexy translates into good/bad.

Clearly, all people have different moods, emotional states, etc., and are capable of behaving differently in different situations, and the sweet woman IS the sexy woman, just in a different context-- but women don't deal with "splitting" their male partners like this, it's okay for the caring friend/ father to our kids/ guy who takes out the trash /sexual partner to be all part of the same picture.

So, for a man who doesn't want sex, or who associates it with bad things, maybe it's easier to set up expectations for a caring partnership that don't include sex... or maybe, he will become more vigilant and defensive about bringing sex into the picture at all because in some way, it really does result in a "transformation" of his partner?

Dave, you said, "Is it because I fear the sexual contact that might follow on from an innocent hug?" And it got me thinking, what makes a hug innocent? Because I know that for my boyfriend, the only way that he could qualify that hug as innocent is if there were NO WAY that sexual contact could follow from it, ever. To him, "innocence" means "no sex." If sexual contact, even intimate and loving contact, resulted from the innocent hug, then the innocence of it is negated and ruined, and this causes the "sick and dirty" thoughts to come in... HE ruined my innocent hug, I meant it to be friendly and sweet and his disgusting sexuality contaminated it... either that, or, I'm manipulative and only want sex, and I was trying to trick him into it the whole time. And I do have to wonder if some of this "innocent affection=no sex" equation comes from a myth fed to men about how their wives should be one way in the kitchen and another way in the bedroom.

You know, I never know if this stuff comes from myths about gender roles or from other beliefs about what's acceptable/moral in a sexual relationship... because I was brought up to think so differently from my boyfriend and from most of the other people I know about sex and love. I guess I was just taught that all sex was the same, and that it was all terrible and scary, but once you were doing it, well then you were just as bad, whether you were married or not, with a man or a woman, etc. etc.

Obviously there are things that I don't think are okay, but in general it was easier for me to turn "sex is bad" into "sex is not bad" than to turn it into "sex is good under these circumstances and bad under all others" which seems to be how most people are raised. It's easy for me to think that all of our sex problems ARE problems with me because I really am the oddball when it comes to this stuff \:\( Maybe there is something about this sort of, I don't know, "conventional" morality that feeds the intimacy problems of survivors? PAS:
Quote:
we are complete utter disrespectful sinners if we even THINK of being in the same room or heaven forbid the same bed.. I mean who do we think we're kidding we're only 35 years old, just bought a house together and have a wedding date set for September
My boyfriend and I weren't allowed to sleep in the same bed in his parents house when I was PREGNANT. They wanted us, and the baby, to LIVE WITH THEM, but him to go downstairs and sleep on the couch every night and me to stay in the room with the baby. Then when we didn't want to live there, he was ungrateful and abandoning them and setting himself up to fail... oh but that is all another story... this kind of thing is just difficult for me because I really do have no idea about what is "normal" and what is just BS within these conventions. I don't want to disrespect anyone's actual beliefs about sexuality (least of all my boyfriend's) but so much of it just seems silly to me, so most of the time I just keep my mouth shut.

SAR


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#58457 - 03/28/04 03:00 PM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
George,
Quote:
So this is your BIG kudos... I know it sucks, but you should really pat yourself on the back becuase you are doing really hard things that some people just refuse to even try.
I feel the same way when I see guys like you and Leosha, also dealing with your own sadness, fear, frustration, etc., trying to learn and explore and help others even with problems that may not have a lot to do with what you're going through right now. I also take a look at some of the relationships I see on these boards and sometimes just get overwhelmed with how difficult it is for any of us to communicate, to understand. But I think we are moving in the right direction by talking about it... so thanks for jumping in.

So much of what you say sounds familiar to me-- I think the inner turmoil you describe is a lot like what my boyfriend goes through, right up to the "not having sex is like saying I don't love you..." I wonder if he sometimes gets it backwards, starts doubting the love because he thinks if he loved me enough, the sex would just happen... of course I don't think this... but I wonder if he thinks that I do... I don't doubt his love, but I doubt sometimes that he really wants to want to have sex.

this is going to get (more) complicated... I don't like lying, even if it's well-intentioned, and to me, doing things that you don't want to do to please someone else is an example of this kind of lie. So, if I think that he doesn't want to want sex, but he's telling me that he is because he knows it's what's expected, then I'm going to get mad about that... if he's telling me what I want to hear, because he means it, but I think he's saying it because it's what he thinks I want to hear, then I don't want to hear it. And, how could he want to want sex, I think, if sex is really so hostile and fragile? This goes back to what you were saying about communication which is SO right and important:
Quote:
Supposing I feel fear, and I can think to myself "I feel fear", can I say to you "I feel fear". AND supposing I say "I feel fear", will you actually hear "He feels fear".
This is true for all kinds of communication--often, our words to others don't "come out right" even to ourselves, and we KNEW what we meant... and whether the words come out right or not, we have no idea what those words will mean to someone else.

So when he says hostile and defensive stuff to me, even if I am patient and intuitive enough to hear the underlying "I want to want sex with you, but wanting to have sex with you is hard for me," sometimes that becomes "I don't like or want sex, but I feel that I need to reassure you that I sort of like and want sex" in my mind. And THAT gets me annoyed... I do think that if both parties can step back and realize that there are many places that communication can go wrong, that it makes a huge difference. Each of us just taking the responsibility to say "I might not be hearing this person correctly" already signifies a willingess to work on what's going wrong. It sounds ridiculous but my boyfriend and I have literally fought for days, about two different things--he's so convinced that the problem is what happened Wednesday night, and he thinks that's a stupid thing for me to be mad about, so when I try to talk to him about Thursday night, he gets all annoyed and says things that I think are about him "changing the subject"... but then he doesn't understand why I say he's not willing to talk about what's wrong because he thinks he is...it's like "who's on first"... we're getting better about this, mostly because we can laugh at a little because it's SO ridiculous.

Veering a little sideways... PAS, you said:
Quote:
in the discussion he started trying to analyze my feelings, trying to logic his way out of it.. somehow insinuating that I need to go see a shrink to work on my "feelings of loneliness" rather than just acknowledging the fact that we barely see each other these days... I got SO MAD!!!
Maybe, some of the problem here is about what each of you "hear" from the other's actions... I told my boyfriend the other day, that if he wanted to go out with his buddies and play video games 23 hours a day, but the one hour a day he spent with me, I felt like that was all he wanted to be doing for that hour, that it was important and special to him like nothing else, then I wouldn't care so much about the other 23. But the fact is, I do have my own scars too and they probably would keep me from hearing "you are important and special to me like nothing else, all I want to do is spend time with you" even if he spent the 23 hours with me and the one hour out with the guys.

My boyfriend and I have almost directly opposite work schedules and it's hard for us to get time in for our relationship, both of us rationally "know" that we need down time away from each other but both of us have a hard time giving the other one permission to go sometimes... honestly, if he said, "I hate not seeing you so much, I think it sucks, I miss you all the time, I have so much stress right now and I'm going out, bye," I would wish him a good time with the boys and find something else to do... it's just that he never says the first part... and for him, the fact that I need him to say it means that I'm not sure how he feels about not seeing me very much, and he thinks that I should already "know" that he doesn't like it, and if I ask him, he hears me saying that I am doubting him.

All right.
Peace everyone

SAR


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#58458 - 03/29/04 11:52 AM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>Veering a little sideways... PAS, you said:
Quote:
in the discussion he started trying to analyze my feelings, trying to logic his way out of it.. somehow insinuating that I need to go see a shrink to work on my "feelings of loneliness" rather than just acknowledging the fact that we barely see each other these days... I got SO MAD!!!
>>>Maybe, some of the problem here is about what each of you "hear" from the other's actions... I told my boyfriend the other day, that if he wanted to go out with his buddies and play video games 23 hours a day, but the one hour a day he spent with me, I felt like that was all he wanted to be doing for that hour, that it was important and special to him like nothing else, then I wouldn't care so much about the other 23. But the fact is, I do have my own scars too and they probably would keep me from hearing "you are important and special to me like nothing else, all I want to do is spend time with you" even if he spent the 23 hours with me and the one hour out with the guys.


I think whats tough for me is to HEAR those words and SEE that he would prefer to spend a lot of time AWAY from me.. its just so damn confusing when someone's words say one thing and their behaviour seems to say another. I start to put more belief in what someone DOES than what they say.. its easy to lie verbally.. but hard to lie with the other means of communications. Besides, most communication in this world is non verbal anyway...

But yeah you are right when you said that you would look at what his actions are saying to me.. to me, his actions are saying that he wants to avoid me. ANd I am sure that my own scars are filtering out the good and emphasizing the bad.

P


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