||[Jan. 2nd, 2018|12:35 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
I went to my second therapy session on Wednesday last week; my first since resolving the insurance issues. This therapist is more likely to allow longer periods of silence while I think and/or organize my thoughts. That may be experience on their part, or a style thing. Either way, I feel a little anxious when neither of us are talking, but I think I'll get used to it and that it's beneficial for me.
I've only been in one relationship, I told them (the therapist), that I'd made an independent choice to be in and that I initiated. And that one was with someone I'd known for most of a decade and who I knew had been interested in me in the past. In my other relationships, I just responded to an expression of interest in what I think was a sort of automatic mirroring process.
I believe, as objectively as I can, that I very much want to be in my relationship with Danae. I think she's an amazing person and she is a wonderful partner to me. But I also feel that I've had very little agency in forming either the relationships that I've been in or the sexual experiences that I've had. I want to have more agency in my life in a lot of areas, and that's certainly one of them.
I'm also too scared by my past experiences of being pushed into things I didn't want and/or unable to express or be aware of what I do want. I feel that I can't express sexual agency in the way I would like to in a safe way, or decline to take part in something that I'm not mostly sure I'll be content with later.
They asked me what would need to be in place for me to feel safe. Did they mean internally, or externally I asked, before I answered my own question by saying that they probably meant either or both. They did.
I don't have very good ideas about the internal part. Externally, though, having someone with me came to mind immediately. Danae and I have talked in hypotheticals about going together to one of the Chicago dungeons (BDSM is included in my thoughts on this, though I'm primarily thinking of affection and care right now) and letting her mediate my interactions with other people so that I have someone I trust and feel safe with to protect me while I try to grow in this way. For numerous reasons, this is not something she is up to doing these days though.
Thinking after the session though, I synthesized a number of thoughts into a crazy idea that's slowly been feeling less crazy.
I've been reading self-reported accounts of casual sex on the appropriately-named Casual Sex Project web site. I've come to several conclusions, including:
Many people's communication skills suck ass.
Many people make really stupid decisions when horny.
I'm disturbed by how many people are very willing to opportunistically cheat on their partners. (The latter two could possibly be reduced by reducing the first one.)
However! There are a few metaphorical gems out there. People who met other people who were nice, respectful, and caring, and who behaved within bounds set by each other. As I commented to Danae, it may sound odd but the hottest and most enjoyable of these stories for me are the ones involving people who communicate well and are explicit about expectations and consent. Not because of what they may have done with each other, but because those are the people with whom I'm able to somehow identify.
So what if I post a personal ad on Craigslist? It would be geared toward attracting a male person, or one who is comfortable in a physically male body, who is compatible with me to be friends and play partners with. I'd describe myself and my interests. I'd explain that what I really want is a friend who enjoys playing together and who I can feel mutual affection and care for. I'd talk about my universally negative experience with men, and how much I really want to have some positive experiences. I'd explain my issues with consent and my need to have someone making sure I'm safe. I'd explain that I need to be able to decide I'm comfortable and initiate snuggling or petting as I feel comfortable doing so and knowing I'm not feeling pressure from a partner. And I'd explain that I'd want to meet them at my place, with my partner around, while I get to know them over board games or Factorio or through discussion of books or politics or what-have-you. And that if we progress to physical affection and sex, I'd want to do that with her in the condo as well.
It would be a very strange personal ad, I know. Maybe nobody would read it, or everyone who does would think it's absurd or laugh at it, and that's fine too. But if the right person did happen upon it and read it and contact me, maybe it could be a really positive thing.
Since we would both know from the beginning that I'm looking for a play partner, I wouldn't be quite as scared to initiate physical things with them because I wouldn't be as worried that I'll make them uncomfortable.
One concern is that I'll feel pressured to initiate out of concern for their expectations in having come to meet me. I'll have to think about that and figure out what to do. For that, or for any reason I'm feeling uncomfortable, I think I'd have a subtle way to let Danae know that. Then I'd have her help to make sure I'm able to express my disinclination toward sex, even if I'm terrified of rejecting someone.
I anxiously and embarrassedly ran this idea by her in the car on the way to my parents' place for New Years Eve and asked her to think about how she feels. I think it's possible that that one or two other people might be willing to be my safety blanket in this way too, but she's my first choice. I'll see what she thinks, keep thinking about whether I really want to proceed, and figure out where to go from there.
And now I am scared to hit the post button because I'm worried that people will tell me this is really unfair to my potential new friend in some way I haven't thought of, and that will make me feel embarrassed and thoughtless. But I'm thinking again of my target audience; someone like me. If I saw that personal ad, I think I would respond. Maybe that's the most important consideration for me in trying to find someone whose thinking is enough like mine in the ways I hope for it to be.