A Few Thoughts
Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. I did have a few thoughts on the subject, naturally. 🙂
I think the important thing to realize about dating or anything of a sexual nature is that everything you do in that arena is tied so completely to your sense of self. While I didn’t have any issues in some areas of sexuality, (I have always been straight, for example. I think being molested by a male as a child made me even more straight, since I still shudder at the thought of being touched by a man.) there were many things about dating and romance that were difficult because of self-esteem issues. I made bad choices out of feeling that I would not find anyone else who wanted to be with me, I acted needy and clingy for no good reason, and all the other things you associate with low self-esteem.
It was only when I began to get a better sense of my self that I could see the act of going on a date for what it is. It really isn’t that big a deal. Certainly, you want to make a good impression, and you want to see if there’s a good fit, sort of like a job interview really. On the other hand, it’s not the end of the world. If there isn’t much future for the relationship, it’s still a night out, it’s still a chance to practice social skills, and it can be a fun experience if you can put it in the proper perspective.
In response to the specific question, yes, I think many, many survivors struggle with their sexuality, in many different and individual ways. But it’s important to remember that going out on a date, or flirting is just that. Nothing more. Flirt all you want, it’s harmless. Go out on dates, go out and socialize with people. Do as much as you can while still maintaining your own sense of safety, and self, and see what happens. Having dinner with someone who asked you to dinner doesn’t mean you’re going to make the choice to be in a sexual relationship with them, it can really just be one dinner. I find that to be a large issue among survivors as well, maintaining boundaries.
The only way to really work through these issues, to my mind, is practice. Seriously, if you’re unsure if you’re attracted to women or men, or struggling with feeling any attraction to either, then just spend time with various people and get used to being around people and think about what you’re attracted to, what you’re not, what kind of people you want to be around, which you don’t, etc. Ultimately the answers we seek as survivors about dating are to be found in our interactions with other people, not in a book any advice I can give.
The voice of experience speaking. Sounds like sound advice to me and yes, I also agree that there are boundary issues as well as huge self esteem issues.
I had to laugh at your statement that “I think being molested by a male as a child made me even more straight, since I still shudder at the thought of being touched by a man” because you can’t get any straighter than that, which makes you a typical male because most men I know would shudder at the thought – as a matter of fact, most Lesbians would agree with you as well =)
Its been thirty-seven years since I was first molested, and I still have issues buried deep inside of me from its life long effects that disable the soul…most of us will carry this with us throughout our lives with no escape.
This looks like an interesting conversation. I’ve been out of the dating world for such a long time, tho, that I’m not sure i can comment. Just wanted to pop over and say hi. Haven’t been around much lately, sorry. Hope all is well with you and much luck in the new job.
Thanks! I understand all of this in my head. But in practice, I still feel nervous and scared even. I’m all rubbish when it comes to asking anyone out (low self-esteem again). Social things are still a big no-no for me. Anything more than 2 is hard for me. But if it hits around 10, I try to avoid it. I suppose I have to put myself at risk to see any benefits. Thanks for your sound advice though.
In practice, we all feel nervous about the possibility of rejection, but the proper amount of perspective can be a great motivator. (Seriously, you have nothing to lose, even if you turn to rubbish and nothing comes of it, you’re still right back where you were before you started, living the same life. There’s nothing you’ll lose from it.)
Give yourself some room to grow with social interaction. Some people just aren’t that social to begin with, so it’s not a huge deal if you feel the need to be in small groups. Test your limits slowly and carefully, take small steps to stretch your comfort zone. You’ve got the rest of your life to work on this, the important thing isn’t being “cured”, it’s making progress.