A sexual partner is a temporary person in my life

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Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
I think I found this cognitive distortion in myself. I have worked hard to rewire my brain and define the boundary between a friend and a sexual partner.

And I have come to a place where my mind says... a friend is usually long term... and a sexual partner is usually short-term...

It sort of feels like a cognitive distortion... except when I word it that way it doesn’t feel so black and white... it feels like a guideline... and it feels helpful too because before... before I became self-aware... anyone I had sex with I felt a sense of loyalty and commitment toward.. undue as they hadn’t earned it... and now I am trying to gain back my power as an individual and as a sexual adult who seeks that connection with others... but it has to be in a way different from ever before... hence the new “rule”—or new thought, it doesn’t have to be a rule, so maybe it’s not a distortion... but rather... a proposal, a question, what would it be like if that were my value?

I can hear some pretty negative words pop up... cheap... loose... easy... and those are distortions for sure... not true, not true... so... this post is about cognitive distortions being transformed through curiosity into questions...

I think I’m looking for sounding boards, responses from people who recognize similar thoughts or feelings in their own sexual healing and recovery...

I know it’s not logically true that all sexual partners are temporary, but that feels the safest to me, to promise myself they will go away. I see this as a kind of safety switch, falsely promising to protect my emotions from attachment wounds.

Maybe there’s another way... to promise myself that I can hold myself no matter what... even if a sexual partner wants to hang around... to promise myself that I can protect both my heart and my space at any moment. Hmmm....
 

Sideways

Sponsor
I hear you. Similar type of core belief.

For my own sake, my partner’s sake, and for any chance at a healthy partnership in the future? My partner is only going to have to put up with becoming friends, then intimate, then sexual. In that order. Because I haven’t figured out how else to shift the belief.

Am interested if others have.
 

The Albatross

MyPTSD Pro
I do. I relate. Almost shared on your diary then found your post here. I actually have been really "insulted" when a "friend" expresses an interest in me in that way. I was hyper sexual as a young person... but not with friends. Stilly have the dysfunction and have expressed it differently. But it is both physical and psychological, and my mister has issues too. So I'm celibate in marriage. But yeah... sexual partners are short term. Irony of irony the relationships I value, partner & friends are non sexual. Not much discussion here ever at length about sexual dysfunction issues... haven't made much progress there.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
This is a great thread as I deal with sexual ideation daily.

My temporary lovers are only in my head though.

They maintain a very real place with the other parts of me who make love with them and are made love to by them.

However the very long term lover and friend who has feelings and needs and wants shares the most intimate places with me and (I was going to say I'm not afraid)

That's not true, I am afraid.

You can't be that vulnerable and not be afraid, or I can't, but it's really hard and takes practice. Or it happens by itself and I had to get used to it?

Dealing with this for me is chronic and constant.

My wife knows everything about me. She accuses me of being furtive and secretive. That's how I like sex to be.

I don't have to work at it though with my partner it works. I just have to work at making it work for her lol.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
My temporary lovers are only in my head though.

Same—not one in real life yet! One problem is that if we act friendly then I put them in the friend category. Fortunately this means I am gaining friends! :)

the relationships I value, partner & friends are non sexual.

This resonates as a growing reality for me. I unconsciously sexualized my friends and co-workers my whole life, I saw them as potential sexual partners. Now my mind is smart enough and safe enough to try something else and it is enjoying defining friendship in a new way that feels more sustainable.

Maybe it’s not that I especially prefer non-sexual partnerships and friendships but rather that I’m finally able to experience them and my mind and body are enjoying the experience and proud of the shift.

Maybe I need to be patient and trust that my mind and body will figure out how to integrate sexuality into my new awareness *when the time is right.*

My partner is only going to have to put up with becoming friends, then intimate, then sexual. In that order.

This seems ideal!

I am reflecting that I had reversed that order all my life. The sexuality was like a way that I would try to ensure care from someone because I was unaware that it was possible to care for myself.

My current dilemma with adopting this ideal schema is that if they fit the friend category then I want to exclude them from the sexual category. Hmmm...

Also, I hadn’t considered how a friend with intimacy might be a category separate from just friend and separate from friend with sexuality. I am imagining this means that there are some intimate friends where there is not a sexual desire, but the intimacy is desired. This resonates with me because my dance friends share intimacy on the dance floor but I do not want sexual contact with them.

Perhaps that is where some of my uncertainty is coming from. Perhaps I am starting to become aware of various levels of intimacy present in friendships and wondering about the connection between friendship, intimacy, and then sexuality.

I think I am trying to keep sexuality separate because of fear of losing myself and losing the intimacy because...

You can't be that vulnerable and not be afraid

I wonder if I could ever be that vulnerable and still be brave and not feel dropped off a cliff when it’s over? Hmmm...
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
Opposite compass, just get the logic.

I need to trust the person, & would not be friends with someone I don’t trust.
So if friends it is already letting them in very much in many ways, because of the trust.
Sleeping together might be just other way of how, given it is not hurting anyone else.

The other compass has it if it’s the enemy with mutual care/them helping me with my goals for mine, mighta work with that.

But then, I have a lot of thoughts on sexuality that are not categorical & are hugely situational and more about choice & consent than the formalness of the relation. Since been so pretty burned in so close and formal.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
I have a lot of thoughts on sexuality that are not categorical & are hugely situational and more about choice & consent than the formalness of the relation.

This feels very helpful. Part of the cognitive distortion is categorizing relationships as a way to (falsely) protect myself from the associated emotions. “Choice and consent” is a phrase that seems useful for not boxing myself into formalities. And it’s much different than lack of boundaries.

I think I created those categories to assist me with my boundaries but perhaps there are other tools which are more useful. If I develop my ability to choose based on the situation and to practice consent maybe I will not feel such a strong need to compartmentalize.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
It seems to me and this could be my projection and past spillage, this is a boundary issue in such that you do not know how much you can handle psychologicaly and preferred to categorize possible lovers you have not even met than focusing how to increase your strength to be ready whatever life throws at you...
When you reach having strong psychological boundary, you would not worry this too much. It would be like you touch fire, ouch, move your finger. Never confusing friend and short term lover. Or confuse them but have the ability to recover and make different decision. Your dissecting thus though says you are on the right path and will click if not already.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
this could be my projection and past spillage,

“Past spillage” I like that imagery. Sometimes we ooze out our past—I feel it—and that colors our present experiences and interpretations.

Thanks for the vision of the future—yes, on my way there!
 

The Albatross

MyPTSD Pro
I like what grit shared. True enough for me. Compilatory issue being that sex was modeled as "power" for me and apparently I preferred that to being subservient or victimized (thanks dad). Ironically as a married woman with PTSD, sex with my spouse became problematic as it wasn't "just" sex... too loaded a "marital" issue with both psychological and physical pain issues for me to deal with. I could handle me... just not take on my partners issues. Dunno if it makes sense really... but suffice it to say when sex became long term loving intimacy with a "life" partner... it all became too much. Not just for me but for my low sexual drive spouse and as I tried to heal that area, his issues (and he has them) came out. We decided we valued the relationship over sexual dysfunctions... but of course that's precarious and subject to change. Like a peg legged man walkin' a tightrope.
 

Self-Determined

MyPTSD Pro
I could handle me... just not take on my partners issues.

This feels very much relevant. And I think this is partly what is driving my thoughts on this. If the sexual partner sticks around then I must hold their emotional issues too, and I don’t want to do that.

However, having written that, I realize that a non-sexual intimate partner might also want me to help them handle their issues. And even non-intimate friends might want me to handle their issues as well! In fact, as I develop better friendship skills, and more reliable friend relationships, I have found that I need to be careful about not getting into an enabling position in the dynamic, which tips the power balance from that of equals to old patterns stemming from childhood programming. I find that the more I like someone the more I am in danger of slipping into an enabling role... however... that might be changing... I think sometimes... that when I like someone a whole lot, like in a teenage way, whether it’s a friend or intimate friend or potential sexual partner... that might be sign that I need to check in with why the person is invoking such a strong response in me... am I transferring rescuer qualities to them? Is a small part feeling like this person will be my new caregiver? I am going to learn to temper myself, for the sake of my future self, who does not want to be consumed or owned by anyone. Not right now, at least. Love is kind of like slavery if the people own or consume each other. It can feel so good in the moment but the come down can be uncomfortable and painful.

So I’m just wondering to myself if, as I get better at navigating the space between myself and non-intimate friends and intimate friends, if that will help pave the way for navigating the space between myself and sexual partners. I think it will! And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be, like a natural progression... that makes sense, it’s congruent...

And it makes sense why my friendships and intimate partnerships would have been so difficult before I became aware of the CSA since I was exposed to sexuality from my caregiver right off the bat in my life. It’s like I was doing it backwards, starting at the most intimate place and moving backwards into friendship. Now that’s shifted—progress!
 

The Albatross

MyPTSD Pro
I just meant the sex part of partnership/marriage. I could handle my own but not get all up in the middle of that issue with a spouse/partner. Everything else, no problem.
 
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