Despite women’s progress in shedding some of the shame attached to their sexuality, there is an over-arching message that many women have received through time, warning them not to have sex on the first date “or it will ruin your chances for a second date.” The religious, biological, scientific, and self-esteem related implications of this message are beyond the scope of this post. But the fact remains: In general, women are held to a very confusing and difficult standard when it comes to having sex early in a relationship. It just is that way.
It’s both noble and self-sacrificing to stay in a relationship because leaving would crush your partner. You’re loyal to the core, but also profoundly dissatisfied. Now your struggle is to balance the vow you made to your partner to stay in the relationship against the emotional drudgery and the desperate longing to be free.
You just had the best first date. It’s the beginning of something great. There was absolute connection and immediate intimacy. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I do believe in the certainty of an intense connection. I believe you can have a first experience with a person that’s so powerful it encourages you to imagine a future full of possibilities. What happens when he says he’ll call the next day and he doesn’t? When he hasn’t returned your texts?
Summer feels like a time for growth, for change – a time to reconnect with yourself, start new projects, and maybe even get serious about making a relationship happen. There are countless reasons why, despite your readiness, a relationship may elude you. In my practice I have seen many themes emerge that can explain why people are single when they don’t want to be. Working to find self-compassion and patience for the reasons you got to this dissatisfying and frustrating place can help you begin to feel less stuck. While of course there are many, many reasons why you might not be in a relationship right now, we will look at some of the most common themes that contribute to the pain and, at times, shame of being single when you so don’t want to be.
When you were young and your relationship was new, your needs were relatively simple. The things that excited you about your partner were chemistry and the blissful feeling of reciprocity – you were in love and you were loved in return. It was intoxicating. You were validated both physically and emotionally. Especially when you’re young, or in a new relationship, these blissful, pure experiences can take the relationship a long way.
But as both you and the relationship get older, with your initial, simple set of needs already met by your partner, a new more sophisticated set naturally sprouts up.
It can be extraordinarily painful to be in love with a person with whom you have a friendship/sexual relationship, who is kind, compassionate and a “good friend”, but is unable to reciprocate your adoration. How can you navigate that relationship in a way that is not consuming for you? It’s hard not to feel as if you are losing yourself. In order to be “in” it and keep it alive, you continually infuse life into the relationship, if you can call it that, by having to compromise your well-deserved longings for more. You try to convince yourself that you are okay with less in return, just to keep the connection. You may pretend it is not so, but this experience levels you and shatters you over and over. You become more confused about what you deserve and can have in this or any potential romantic relationship for that matter. It also heightens the desire, the incentive, the overwhelming “need” to win over this person once and for all so that your self-esteem will be “restored.”
Remember back to your first relationships: was one person the pursuer and the other the pursued? Especially when you were experimenting with what it meant to like and then love someone, there can be imbalance in the relationship—one person is more invested in pulling the other close. This imbalance creates the experience of insecurity for the pursuer. And amid this insecurity, instead of participating equally in the creation of a relationship, one person may use the tools at their disposal in the attempt to engage their partner in emotional reciprocity.
Sex can be one of these tools.
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