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#69716 - 02/02/06 10:34 PM Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rabbit Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 91
Loc: San Francisco
Iíve been actively coming to terms with my sexual history for the past three years. To give a Readerís Digest version of my story, I was sexually active with an older male cousin by the age of five. He was taught to be sexual by my fatherís youngest brother, who was confined to a wheelchair. The attention I received from these two somehow filled a void left by my fatherís inattention and both my parentís focus on themselves rather than their children. I have blocked many memories, but that changed a few years ago when I went home for Thanksgiving. My mother threw a big holiday gathering, and invited my father (her ex for over 30 years) and his youngest brother. My reaction was strong and it set me on this path of self-discovery and healing.
So here I am now, 46 years old, single and frustrated. I have been working with a good therapist for the past couple of years. He has helped me pay attention to how my body responds to life.
Last weekend, I had a date with a nice man with whom I have a few things in common. (I have been single for 5 years, and I find it hard to connect intimately) I was excited about the date. About an hour before the date was to begin, I started to get nervous about the possibility of sex with this man. Thirty minutes later, I was ready for the date Ė but my stomach started to roll. I went outside and meditated before my date arrived. I kept telling myself that I was safe and in control, no one was going to hurt me.
The date went well. I learned that we share more in common than I thought and there was a mutual attraction. While all of this was going on, an internal war was raging on two fronts. My g.i. system had me running to the bathroom every hour. The hyperactivity of my colon was only matched by the panic that was rushing through my mind. We came back to my apartment and had sex. As usual, I was not able to ejaculate, but he did and after a few hours it was time for him to go.
To complicate matters, the date ended on an odd note. I said to my date as he was leaving, Ďdonít be a stranger, give me a call.í Either I misunderstood what he said, or he had such a good time that he was comfortable with being sarcasticÖeither way, -my anxiety and hopeless outlook took what he said - Ďoh, you wonít be hearing from me.í Ė and ran with it. I was in a funk for the next two days.
In retrospect, I recognize that I was working in new territory Ė being present while this internal storm was raging rather than running away. But I long for connection and intimacy. Iím frustrated that here I am, 46, and I donít have the skills of a well adjusted man half my age. It hurts to know how far I have left to go on this road to integration.
Do any of you have techniques that help you cope when the past comes rushing back into your present life? Is this anxiety and panic something that youíve been able to put aside? I appreciate any help with this.
I also appreciate this website. My therapist recommended a retreat to me last year, and thatís how I found out about the site. Iím not ready to go to a retreat, but I appreciate knowing this community exists.

_________________________
Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger

Only to someone who has the valor and daring to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife then weave them into a blanket to protect you

There are different wells within us, some fill with each good rain

Others are far, far too deep for that

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#69717 - 02/03/06 05:07 PM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rustam Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 470
Loc: UK
Hi Rabbit,

Welcome to the site, I had the same issues dating, I am in a long-term relationship now and I still have the same anxieties. For me, though itís still a problem, I say no a lot if it doesnít feel comfortable. Knowing I can stop by saying no at anytime eases the fears, once I feel I donít Ďhave toí do something I get more comfortable Getting used to good non-sexual touch through massage and just being cuddly with my partner has helped me some.

I found the book The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz quite good. For me itís been the hardest part of recovery and its still a major problem in my relationship.

Anyway welcome again to this excellent site.

Peter.


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#69718 - 02/03/06 07:16 PM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Rabbit,

I'm not gay, and I have been married and off the dating scene for so long that when I think of "a date" I think of something that's sweet and grows on a palm tree.

But I just wonder if perhaps you are devoting too much attention and anxiety to doing things right and agonizing about how the date will turn out that you really don't have a chance to relax, be yourself, enjoy the other person's company, and "go with the flow".

I think you are really too down on yourself as well. Can I pick out an example? You say this:

Quote:
Iím frustrated that here I am, 46, and I donít have the skills of a well adjusted man half my age.
But when was the last time you met a well-adjusted 23 yo ;\) ! And who decides what well-adjusted means? I think all men who are single and dissatisfied with that status, whether straight or gay or whatever, will be full of tension and anxiety. A great friend here calls it "quiet desperation" and I think he's right. And the hell of it is that we all blame ourselves, as if these problems aren't found everywhere around us.

The flip side of this is a bit more encouraging. Just as the problems so often come down to how we view ourselves, so do the answers.

Just some thoughts.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#69719 - 02/03/06 10:32 PM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
george of kent Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/28/05
Posts: 305
Loc: delaware
I came out of the Navy, out of a marriage, and out of the closet all almost simultaneously at age 41; and almost immediately fell into a gay relationship that is now 26+ years and going strong. So, I'm not a good source of dating advice (gay or straight) except that I sense a deep truth in what Larry says. In a long term relationship or in a one night stand, it only truly "works" in a positive self affirming way when both people are relaxed, don't have a hidden agenda, and just let nature take its course.
In this regard I guess some things should be negotiated beforehand - what activities, positions, "roles", etc., are fairly reliable turn ons -- and what are definite turn offs. I don't suggest a full clinical discussion on the first date by any means, but sometimes we need to clear the air -- and, contrarily, some times things just unfold nicely, with no prior negotiation and expectation, and spontaneously wonderful things just happen to and for both people.
So, Rabbit, what do I mean by all this rambling? I guess I'm suggesting, as much as possible, try not to take this adult consensual sex stuff too seriously.
When it happens, IF it happens, enjoy and be grateful -- and when it doesn't (and it won't be a "home run" every time) just shrug and dust yourself off and step back up to the plate for another pitch.
Everybody here has "been there" in one sense or another, and we have a shared history of childhood sexual "train wrecks", so don't be too hard on yourself, and keep coming back.
Love, etc.,

_________________________
"We are only two and yet our howling can encircle the world's end.
Frightened, you are my only friend.
And frightened we are, every one.
Someone must take a stand -- Coward, take my coward's hand"
Arthur Laurents

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#69720 - 02/04/06 05:58 PM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rabbit Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 91
Loc: San Francisco
Thanks for the warm welcome and thoughtful words of support.

I was completely disconnected from the source of my 'automatic' responses to stimuli before. Now I am beginning to understand that it's not a conscious choice but a subconcious/less than thought out response to events from the 1960's.

I count the increased awareness of what is going on within as a sign that I'm on the right road. It's embarassing to realize that I'm behaving like the petulant child in the backseat who cries, "are we there yet?" That realization activates the more adult part of me that can smile into the rear view mirror and say, "no, son, not yet, but we are getting closer."

Thanks again guys.

_________________________
Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger

Only to someone who has the valor and daring to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife then weave them into a blanket to protect you

There are different wells within us, some fill with each good rain

Others are far, far too deep for that

Top
#69721 - 02/04/06 06:11 PM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Rabbit,

That's so important that you recognize the kid in the back seat. He's the child who was hurt and needs to feel safe now. Your attitude is spot on. He needs a strong parent figure who is in charge but listens to him, respects his feelings, and takes him seriously.

Much love,
Larry

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

Top
#69722 - 02/08/06 06:06 AM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rabbit Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 91
Loc: San Francisco
Thanks for the input, guys. You are appreciated.

Any of you have positive experiences with group therapy? While I acknowledge that others must have similar feelings to those I have, I'm not sure I believe that I could drop into a group of like minded individuals.

_________________________
Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger

Only to someone who has the valor and daring to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife then weave them into a blanket to protect you

There are different wells within us, some fill with each good rain

Others are far, far too deep for that

Top
#69723 - 02/10/06 06:39 AM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
sophiesdad Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/30/05
Posts: 462
Loc: Florida
Hello, Rabbit and welcome:

First of all, if you are considering a group for male SA survivors, I can say from experience that it can be a powerful and positive experience. I would suggest that you make sure that it's for male survivors only - the reason is that I have heard when males end up going to survivor's groups made mostly of women, there is a sense of discomfort within the groups. Many times, women survivors are very uncomfortable with men in their groups because most times it was a man who assaulted them.

The group that I had joined provided a very close friend in the long-run who I can count on to listen to me when I'm not feeling so secure. He knows EVERYTHING about me and I about him, so there is no shame in expressing whatever I feel because we have both heard and seen the worst of each other's lives.

It is a little scary walking into a room in "real time" - computers tend to provide a nice feeling of anonymmity. However, you have to remember that the men you are going to interact with are just as frightened as you, have been abused as well, and are not there to judge anyone - rather to support.

It can be a very liberating experience to be able to share very painful and potentially embarrassing parts of your life and know that those around you have the very same feelings, fears, anger, and hurt. And, a good group moderator will never make anyone feel compelled to share until he is comfortable.

I would highly recommend it as part of your healing journey.

Second, as to the date: I know that it's very hard to gather the courage to even go out with someone. We tend to get into our heads worrying about the "what ifs". I think it's even more so for those of us who were SA as children because we are super-critical of ourselves and always have that underlying fear of rejection because we feel "tainted" (at least that has been my experience).

When I was still single, I tried to remind myself that my ultimate goal of any date was simply to enjoy myself with no other expectations. Whatever happened, happened. When you set it up that way, you are not disappointed. And, you have to realize that many of the people you date may not be interested in furthering a relationship.

when you least expect it, someone may drop in your lap completely by surprise. I found that the more we try to chase the elusive "relationship" the less likely we are to be rewarded.

I would suggest (in my humble opinion) that you concentrate on your personal healing journey, try to spend some time just socializing with friends and take things very slowly on the dating front. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more confident you will grow.

Life is full of paradoxes and I have found in my 40+ years of living that the most important thing is to work on yourself, be gentle with yourself, and everything else will seem to fall into place. This doesn't mean that there will not be ups and downs, but you will gain more and more strength throughout the years.

SD

_________________________
There are no unresolved issues - they just didn't resolve themselves the way we would have liked. "Grinder and Bandler - Neuro-Linguistic Programming"

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#69724 - 02/14/06 06:44 AM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rabbit Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 91
Loc: San Francisco
I'm honored by the thoughtful and compassionate responses. Thank you.

It's been helpful to share this step in my journey. I've been richly rewarded. I've got two nice dates under my belt. I navigated some choppy water, but I've made a pal for now.

More significantly, I'm more confident and relaxed. Small steps in the right direction.

_________________________
Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger

Only to someone who has the valor and daring to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife then weave them into a blanket to protect you

There are different wells within us, some fill with each good rain

Others are far, far too deep for that

Top
#69725 - 03/07/06 06:12 AM Re: Dating anxiety **triggers**
Rabbit Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/05
Posts: 91
Loc: San Francisco
I'm writing to share my experiences, motivated by gratitude as several ideas offered here in support have been dead on, and quite helpful.

I've been on a few dates with the same man now. The terror that comes from childhood experiences of humiliation and complete rejection still comes to visit, especially as I'm on the phone making plans to get together with my pal. I have a terrible time asking for what I want in this life. More often than not, I have an anxiety attack before I see this guy. Only one anxiety attack persisted until I was actually on the date. Happily, it harmlessly dissolved when I saw him smile.

I have learned that I can usually parent my own inner child and find some calm relief. When that isn't working, I'm learning that there are a few friends of mine who are willing to listen to me.

My childhood version of self preservation comes with a strong belief that there aren't many people on this earth who will not put me down hard when they have the opportunity. It's a huge step to begin to lean on friends, and know which friend is best with whatever issue.

I've been surprised by some of the mental formations that have sprang forth as paper tigers to my progress. At one time, I looked at this man I'm seeing and all I could pay attention to was his physical resemblances to my abuser. Yes, there are some similarities, but it's not like they are dead ringers. It took a lot of self awareness to work through that one!

In the past, when I would attempt to form connections with other men, I'd create a rationalization for all the turmoil I felt inside. These rationalizations led me to be terribly critical of the object of my affection, and I now realize that I was even more critical of myself.

Now, as these disturbances crop up in my life; I'm more open to exploring the possibility that the source of my emotional disturbance might just be one more of those childhood rationalizations yielding to my adult curiosity.

I still have a long way to go. I have a tendency to opt for an altered, more relaxed state before I go out on my dates. I've got plenty of sexual dysfunctional issues to work my way through. And my inablility to articulate what I want is part and parcel of a larger inability to trust enough to be a good communicator.

In this moment though, I'm happy that I'm learning to be in relation with another man. I'm more present. I'm committed to taking small steps forward, and being happy as this chapter of my life's story unfolds.

_________________________
Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger

Only to someone who has the valor and daring to cut pieces of their soul off with a knife then weave them into a blanket to protect you

There are different wells within us, some fill with each good rain

Others are far, far too deep for that

Top
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