Affection and sex seem to run together for me. I am not exactly sure why and I do not know what to do about it, but I am now aware of a pattern. In many relationships I find that once a certain level of affection is reached, I become painfully aware of sex or sexual overtones. Sometimes they are real, but many times they exist only in my mind. Once the relationship reaches that point I become afraid that my behavior, particularly my manifestation of affection, is some sort of overture for sex. I believe that my affection for that person is actually a desire to have sex with them. I never act on this belief, but it severely limits any more growth in the relationship. Do they want to have sex with me? Do I want to have sex with them? Are they afraid I want to have sex with them? Am I doing something that looks like I am signaling a desire for sex? Is sex appropriate in this relationship? Do other people see this relationship as one bound for sex? Is this relationship bound for sex? Am I sexually attracted to them? These questions and many more like them cripple my ability to relate to the person. I become consumed by sex even though there may be no possibility of it happening. For example, this has crippled relationships with other men even though they were not gay and I am not gay.
This debilitating consumption is not rational or based on logic. It is simply something that I cannot shake. One of the most frustration elements is the fear that others will see something sexual in this relationship. I find myself trying to dispel this idea in my conversations with my friends. I diminish the relationship and mask my affection. I omit activities or ideas that seem the least bit suggestive that I like the other person. I try to cast the relationship as one of detachment. And in trying to convince my friends of these things I seem to convince myself. Worse still, I never really knew what *anyone* was actually thinking. I just conjure up the worst and run with it.
If I really do find that I am sexually interested in the other person it is over. I become so awkward and preoccupied that I can barely stand to be around them. The feeling of desire when it is not appropriate to act on scares the hell out of me. I believe that I am on the verge of doing something incredibly stupid. Maybe I make a pass at them or say something I shouldn’t. Maybe guilt reduces me to the point that I cannot look my (ex) wife in the face. Even though I have not actually done anything I feel the same as if I had raped my friend. This is horrible because I would never do such a thing so feeling like I have done it nearly destroys me.
I was in a bar tonight to pick up some take out food. While I was waiting a very attractive girl looked me in the eyes (I tend to look at people’s eyes when I scan a room). She was sitting very close to where I was standing. She said “hi” and I wanted to drop through a hole in the floor. Instantly the interaction was sexualized. If I struck up a conversation with her everyone would see clearly that I was trying to have sex with her. I mumbled something back to her and after a few moments she turned away and started talking to someone else. I stand there thinking “what is wrong with me?!?” But I have no answer. Fear has me in its clutches. My food comes and I quickly push my way out of the bar.
Now I sit here, lonely, and writing. I still don’t know what to do. I have never been as lonely as I am tonight, and I have been *very* lonely. I feel isolated from the world. I feel unable to see the truth in other people. I can only see in them those things that I am afraid of. Everyone seems threatening. They are threatening because I am afraid I will take advantage of them if I form a relationship with them. The worst part yet is that I can comfort myself with fantasies of the abuse inflicted on me. At the lowest times I find myself craving to be back there with that man. I want his touch and his illusion of compassion. I don’t know why this feel good to think about, but frankly it does ease the loneliness.
Then the disgust seeps in. How can I enjoy those thoughts? How can I want to return to him? I don’t know what is wrong with me. I can’t imagine why I want a relationship that I know to be abusive even while I fear other relationships becoming abusive. Maybe I do know an answer. Regardless of the truth, I believe that every sexual encounter is abusive to one of the participants. Sexual desire moves me closer to abuse because it is the first step of sex, and affection (even an innocent, friendly sort) moves me closer to desire. I *definitely* do not want to abuse anyone. So the cure is to seek sexual gratification where I know that I am the one being abused. Then I can imagine that I am in control of the amount of abuse. But that is pure imagination.
Can you comprehend the misery of a man’s life when he winds up equating affection with abuse? It is truly a horrible and lonely existence to feel that you are abusing someone by showing affection for them. I suppose that having acknowledged this I just need some time to work though it. But I am not sure that I am at the all-you-can-eat time buffet. Will I have enough? Or will the restaurant of time close before I am satisfied? More fear. More apprehension. More paralysis. More loneliness. More of my life.
"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