Triggering partner

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Yusuke22

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My partner is my biggest trigger, which isn’t unusual. He’s who I spend most of my time with and who I have sex with. Triggers aren’t entirely avoidable and I know they’re not all his fault. It’s when they are his fault that I really struggle, though. I was sexually assaulted when I was a teenager. It happened multiple times at the hands of multiple people. They were all older than me, most of them much older. My boyfriend has a thing for inter-generational porn (think old men having sex with teenagers). This is really triggering for me. Even just watching regular television together can be difficult, because teenagers are so often sexualized on tv, and I’m sitting they’re upset by it while he’s turned on by it. I’ve asked him to stop consuming this type of porn, but he hasn’t. He says it’s not fair for me to take something away from him that is positive for him, just because it was negative for me. I don’t think I’m asking too much here. But I’m so used to hearing that I am, that I’m questioning it.
 
Hey @crob529, I understand that you are upset and understandably disturbed by his behavior.

May I ask how you formulated your request, does he know why his behavior bothers you so much? I don't know your dealings with each other, if you ask someone to change a behavior because it harms you, it would be easier for me if I get a reason for it that I can understand. For me, a simple "it makes me sad" would be enough, but I also know people who would first see an attack on themselves.

But even independently of that, I would find such consumer behavior quite questionable.
 
Hey @crob529, I understand that you are upset and understandably disturbed by his behavior.

May I ask how you formulated your request, does he know why his behavior bothers you so much? I don't know your dealings with each other, if you ask someone to change a behavior because it harms you, it would be easier for me if I get a reason for it that I can understand. For me, a simple "it makes me sad" would be enough, but I also know people who would first see an attack on themselves.

But even independently of that, I would find such consumer behavior quite questionable.
Hi and thank you for responding. We’ve talked pretty extensively about why this bothers me. He knows it reminds me of the times I was assaulted. The more I talk about it, the more I think this is a him problem, not a me problem. People have told me to find someone else to love, that I shouldn’t expect him to change for me, and while that is a sentiment I would often agree with, I don’t believe watching pornography that features teenagers is healthy for him, either.
 
He says it’s not fair for me to take something away from him that is positive for him, just because it was negative for me. I don’t think I’m asking too much here. But I’m so used to hearing that I am, that I’m questioning it.

I don’t believe it’s unreasonable TO ASK anything of the people we’re partnering up with… from what color socks they wear, to adopting a child. From robbing a bank in Hong Kong, to amputating an eyeball.

Asking isn’t demanding.

We can ask. They can say no. Or yes. Or maybe. Or try negotiating to find a place that both of you can agree with. Or in whatever other way their conscious dictates.

Which is what he’s done.

Regardless of whether you think it’s fair, or asking to much? HE thinks it’s unfair and asking too much. That’s his answer to your question. It’s asking too much for HIM.

No matter what the ask is? There will be people who

- are enthusiastically on board
- conditionally agree, under specific circumstance
- willing to go along with it, even though they don’t agree with you
- don’t care one way or the other
- unwilling to go along with it, even if they agree with you
- conditionally disagree, unless specific circumstances are met
- flat out refuse

That’s on them / that’s their right and responsibility to make choices in their own life. Not a you-thing. You have the right to ask, he has the right to say that’s too big an ask for him.

Now the ball is back in your court… how important is this issue to you?
- Important enough to attempt to negotiate terms / find a compromise you can both live -happily- with? IE A win/win where you’re both happy with the outcome, instead of only one of you happy with the outcome.
- Important enough to break up over?


It’s when they are his fault t
From both experience & observation…It will help a whooooooooole lot once you can tackle this avoidance symptom, and not blameshift your triggers and stressors onto the people around you, (or at least be actively working on checking yourself when you find yourself doing so).


Living with partners who have equally strong preferences as we do + triggery awfulness
The example I usually give when talking this type of trigger/stressor (porn, since most people have very strong personal preferences about porn) is my own trigger with lights.

I’ve developed a way of living with lights that I am perfectly happy with… but being around other people, and especially living with them, means that I am often triggered &/or stressed by how they either

- habitually turn lights on/off
- prefer to turn lights on/off
- feel as strongly as I do, in an entirely different way.

Some of these people It’s an easy ask of them, for others it’s a more difficult ask, others an impossible ask.

Now… I COULD work on my own shit, so that the lights are no longer a trigger or stressor for me; the same way I’ve blunted and nixed other triggers & stressors. It’s a completely reasonable and valid course of action, even arguably the most sensible one, as it’s not the lights (or porn) that are the problem. It’s that my brain has turned a completely normal thing into a massive overreaction….It is 100% a me problem / my responsibility.

I’m NOT GOING TO work on those particular triggers and stressors, or at the very least they‘ll be the dead last ones I tackle, very simply because I strongly prefer to live this way. For many different reasons. I’m lucky enough to know that because there was a time -about a decade- when I did have all my triggers & stressors nixed. Lighting wasn’t even stressful, much less a stressor, or trigger. So I got to try out a whole helluva lotta different ways to live with lights, and find my own personal spectrum of what I love-like-DGAF-dislike-hate.

When new trauma, loss of coping mechanisms, and increased stress took all of my unprocessed trauma and KATHUNKED open like Pandora’s box, returning me back to being symptomatic to my eyeballs? None of the ways I actually prefer, or am even willing to tolerate, dealing with lights triggered me whatsoever. Even a good chunk of the ways I dislike or hate living with lights aren’t attached to triggers/stressors. All my triggers and stressors? Are attached to ways I’m not willing to live with, if I have any choice in the matter.

So, yes… I may nix getting triggered by lights at some point, but? I will still refuse to live that way by choice.

It creates some interesting & ongoing challenges in certain relationships (where the relationship is more important to me than being happy about how the lights are turned on/off). But any strong preference does that. Whether I’m ALSO triggered by it, or not.
 
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We’ve talked pretty extensively about why this bothers me. He knows it reminds me of the times I was assaulted. The more I talk about it, the more I think this is a him problem, not a me problem

Yeah this look like a no go. As Friday put it very well, its on you now to decide how important this issue is to you. But the way I see it you already know whats right for you.
I wish you much strenght and all the best :)
 
Hi and thank you for responding. We’ve talked pretty extensively about why this bothers me. He knows it reminds me of the times I was assaulted. The more I talk about it, the more I think this is a him problem, not a me problem. People have told me to find someone else to love, that I shouldn’t expect him to change for me, and while that is a sentiment I would often agree with, I don’t believe watching pornography that features teenagers is healthy for him, either.
I also think this is a "him" problem.

Being "alone" is so much better than being in the type of relationship you have described. It does not mean you are condemning him or all things about him, but it seems you have recognized it is time to move on, for whatever reason.

Easier said than done. Except maybe you're already almost there.
 
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