From Sex to Silence

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Dear Hoopers,
I just started dating this guy. We knew of each other for a little while but recently have been talking/texting everyday for almost a month. We have hung out one-on-one before and I can tell that he really likes me. He says sweet things to me and acts affectionately. The problem is that I have these bad memories of dating guys or being interested in guys who used me, kept me around just to hook up with while being dishonest, and now I associate having sex with “the beginning of the end”. To me, it symbolizes the point where things go downhill, because the guy gets too comfortable. I really like this guy, and most of me doesn’t think that he’ll bail after having sex. The other part, albeit small, is getting a bad case of deja vu, and I don’t want things to change because I’m starting to really like him. How do I stop these reservations based on experiences that happened way before him?
-From Sex to Silence

Dear From Sex to Silence,
Because you’ve had poor experiences in the past with sex and expectations, it makes sense to have this looming fear. Your reservations are based on real experiences. So if you don’t like what has happened in the past, what are you going to do differently moving forward?

Is he interested in you or is he interested in getting in bed with you? Sometimes this can be hard to decipher. You noted texting and talking, but have you gone on dates? Is he trying to get to know you? It’s important to establish an understanding of what you both want in your dating life (e.g., looking to settle down, staying single, etc.) If you are looking for something more serious and he isn’t, then chances of him bailing are high. Sex or no sex, if he isn’t looking for a long term relationship and you are, then you will most likely be let down.


Instead of obsessing over how a guy feels about you, stop to consider how the guy makes you feel about yourself.

-Kate

If you are fed up with different “sexpectations,” then reflect on your past relationships, take some notes and try not to replicate. What was it about these that ended up in disappointment? Was it jumping in the sack too soon? Be forward, ask him what he’s looking for in a relationship. Let him invest in you, make future plans and know that by no means will sleeping with someone grant you a relationship card. Instead of obsessing over how a guy feels about you, stop to consider how the guy makes you feel about yourself.
-Kate

Dear From Sex to Silence,
People come to dating for many different reasons but those that stick around just long enough for sex and then leave are in the minority. Perhaps for some of them disconnecting after sex wasn’t the goal but just simply how it happened. Since most relationships aren’t meant to last forever, the connection between the dissolution of the relationship and sex may be unrelated.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to know who is interested in a long term relationship and who is only interested in sex. These are the difficult challenges of dating and relationships, including that we never truly have a guarantee about someone’s heart or about their intentions. This forces us to trust our gut and to know that playing it safe in relationships probably won’t be very fulfilling either.


This forces us to trust our gut and to know that playing it safe in relationships probably won’t be very fulfilling either.

-Dr. Ryan

For this current relationship, one option may include having a conversation in which you set sexual boundaries. Explain that you want to focus on your relationship connection and to better understand who he is before considering a sexual relationship. You may even want to set a time limit on how long you are planning to wait. By taking sex off the table for a while, you may find that a sex-and-leave guy will fall off the map pretty quickly. You may find that this creates a safe space to see how the relationship goes.

However, you may also find that setting this kind of boundary doesn’t work for you; that sex is an important part of the dating experience. I would encourage you to reflect on what you desire from a relationship, particularly where sex is involved. We can never guarantee that a partner will be with us forever, so if that is the only successful outcome for sex, it will forever be too scary to consider.
-Dr. Ryan