Very long story short, I’m a woman in the process of getting out of a long and abusive marriage. I’m getting therapy. One factor of that abuse: I’m still a virgin, at least as far as penetration is concerned. (That’s another long story.) If I can even find anybody interested in me, how do I tell them the only stuff I know about consensual sex is what I’ve read about it? The few people I’ve told the full story didn’t believe me at first. All I can imagine is a new person running away.
Various Insecurities Rock Genuinely Inexperienced Newbie
You shouldn’t hesitate to tell someone—particularly a new person you want to have sex with—that you’ve never had penetrative sex before. And while you don’t owe that new person the full story, VIRGIN, you might wanna tell them what you told me. Give...
Subscribe now for only $25/year to continue reading! Is “ethical non-monogamy” just rebranded polyamory without all the emotion, or is it more complicated than that?
...n the full story, VIRGIN, you might wanna tell them what you told me. Give them the outline: You want to fuck but you recently got out of an abusive marriage and you’re getting professional help to deal with the emotional fallout—so you’re not asking them to be your therapist—but you are understandably nervous and more than a little scared about the fucking you’d like to do.
When we tell someone, “I’ve never done this before,” whatever the “this” we’re talking about might be, we’re letting that person know they’ll need to take things a little slower with us than they might with someone who’s had more experience—with penetrative sex or threesomes or being fisted or, again, whatever the “this” we’re talking about might be. And if we’re in a delicate place emotionally, letting the other person know we might be overwhelmed by big feelings—and big feelings aren’t always bad feelings—shows them we’re taking their comfort into consideration too, VIRGIN, because what we’re saying is, “I don’t want you to feel blindsided if I’m suddenly overwhelmed.”
And if the new person you share these things with responds by running away—if your worst fears are realized—tell yourself that person did you a favor. Because if they run away… they weren’t the right person, they weren’t the person you hoped they were, and you’re far better off finding all that out before you have sex, VIRGIN, not during or after. It may be a favor in a shitty disguise, VIRGIN, but it’s still a favor.
Because the first time you have penetrative sex you want it to be with someone who feels honored that you chose them, not burdened, and who understands they have a special responsibility to make sure you feel safe before, during, and after. You are a gift. It’s a privilege to get to have sex with you—it’s a privilege to get to have sex with anyone—and being someone’s first, whatever first we’re talking about, carries a special responsibility. If someone doesn’t want that responsibility, VIRGIN, or if they can’t handle that responsibility, they don’t deserve you. The wrong ones will run away. The right one will stick around.
I’m married and it’s… okay. We’re more like friends raising our son together than anything else. There’s no sex, but I’m whatever about that. But I’ve had on and off feelings for a coworker and friend for a few years now. I don’t know if it’s love or lust or whatever. I thought if I admitted my feelings to my crush, it would help me figure things out. It didn’t. I thought it would go one of two ways. Either he would say he didn’t feel the same, avoid me, and I would move on and get over it, or he would lean into it—he would let me know he was interested—and I would talk things over with my husband and we would go from there. But nothing changed. When I told him he basically replied, “Oh, no worries,” and acted the same. We’re still friends, but that’s it. My husband would be down to open things up, I think, as we’ve talked about having a threesome before. But I don’t have any interest in doing that if my crush isn’t into me, because I’m really not interested in anyone else. And to add to the complications, my crush has a girlfriend. What the hell do I do? Just sit here and yearn forever? Cause I’ve been doing that for about three years now and it’s getting old.
What Happens After This?
You’ve already done what a lot of people around here—around here in the comments thread, around here at this particular cultural moment—would’ve strongly urged you not to do: You hit on a coworker! A coworker in a relationship that probably isn’t open! Most opposite-sex relationships aren’t.
If you hit on your coworker and he responded with “no worries” and he hasn’t treated you any differently since… what the hell is happening? One of two things happened. You either hit on him so subtly he didn’t realize you were hitting on him, WHAT, or he decided to pretend you didn’t hit on him because he isn’t interested in cheating on his girlfriend with a married coworker and/or you aren’t the coworker he would cheat with and he doesn’t want you to feel bad about the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing you did that day, WHAT, so he’s pretending you didn’t do that thing.
If you want absolute clarity from him, WHAT, you’ll have to risk the dreaded direct question: “I hit on you the other day—because I have a crush on you—and ever since I’ve been wondering if that registered and, if it did, what you think.” (Good luck with HR if he got it the first time, wasn’t interested, and “no worries” was his way of saying “no thanks.”) Whatever you decide to do, whatever does or doesn’t happen with your coworker, don’t wait any longer to talk things over with your husband. It’s better to have that conversation about opening up your marriage without the added pressure of a DTF crush waiting for you back at the office.
Polyamory seems like a beautiful concept to me. People have such an amazing capacity for love. However, where I used to see the word “polyamory,” I now frequently see the term “ethical non-monogamy” used instead. What is the difference between the two if any at all? Is the latter just another symptom of American culture’s emotion-phobia or am I missing something? I don’t just want to fuck; I want to love the people I fuck. Am I alone in this poly ideal?
Pondering Over Linguistical Yens And Meanings
You’re definitely missing something.
Ethical non-monogamy (ENM) and polyamory don’t mean the same thing—indeed, a few years ago polyamorous folks were complaining about people who just wanted to fuck describing themselves as polyamorous, which is probably why someone came up with the term ENM. To clarify, not confuse.
Think of it like this: Bob and Carol decide to open their relationship on the condition that sex with other people be kept strictly casual—no repeats, no regulars, no feelings. So long as Bob and Carol honor the agreement they made with each other when they opened the relationship, POLYAM, and so long as Bob and Carol don’t mislead their casual sex partners—so long as they don’t encourage outside sex partners to think a relationship is possible when all they wanna do is fuck—Bob and Carol are practicing non-monogamy in an ethical fashion. So, Bob and Carol are ENM, but they’re not poly. (Bob and Carol, please note: It’s just as important you don’t allow your outside sex partners to assume a relationship is possible; if someone might reasonably assume you’re single and open to dating, you have a moral responsibility to proactively inform them you are not.)
Ted and Alice, on the other hand, have a different agreement. They’re in love and committed to each other, but they’re dating other people and open to forming committed and concurrent romantic relationships with their other partners. So long as Ted and Alice are honoring the rules and conditions they set for themselves, they’re practicing non-monogamy in an ethical fashion. So, Ted and Alice, like Bob and Carol, are ENM, but they’re also poly.
And just to make things a little more complicated, POLYAM, while all healthy and functional polyamorous relationships are ENM, not all poly relationships are open relationships. Some triads, some quads, some quints, etc., are very much closed—they’re polyamorous and ENM, but no one else is going to be invited to the join the shared Google calendar.
With my 53-year-old pop culture reference out of the way (Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, which was released in 1969, is streaming now on Apple TV), POLYAM, you are not alone in wanting to love the people you fuck and fuck the people you love—the people you love romantically, of course, not your parents or siblings and other family members. But you shouldn’t assume that people who are ENM without being poly aren’t interested in love or fear intimacy. Two people can be very much in love, POLYAM, while having strict rules about keeping things casual with outside partners.
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