Hi Leather and Lace: I said no to sex so he said no to me. That is my situation, in a nutshell. But now I want him back. I am in my mid 20’s and so is my ex boyfriend. We dated for about 1 1/2 years, and during that time I refused to sleep with him. It’s not that I am a virgin, I have had sex with a few other partners prior to him. The thing is, I had some serious personal issues with sex (really bad experiences) and I just couldn’t “give it up” again without knowing that this man was really the one for me, and that I could trust him and he wouldn’t leave me. As you might imagine, we did argue about this quite a bit, but he hung in there and so did I. He never really gave me any indication that we were going to get engaged, but he made it clear we were “together.” But still, it wasn’t enough for me. Then, one day a few months ago he really got frustrated, and we had a huge fight, and he said he needed to re-think the relationship, and we broke up. In the following months we did have contact and he made it clear that he cared a lot for me and obviously sex wasn’t the only thing he wanted from our relationship, but I still wasn’t ready. I found out not long ago from a friend that he was dating another girl and having sex with her. Now I realize that I really want him back, and that I was being stupid, and I should have said yes to sex with him. I really want him back and I am ready to say yes to sex. I don’t know if he still has any feelings for me and if he would even want me back if I agreed to sleep with him, and I’m really confused. What should I do?
Alison’s Take: You said no to sex and he rejected you. but you weren’t ready to say yes. No one can or should force someone to have sex at any time, for any reason, at any age. However, in today’s world, most people over a certain age, and certainly those who are not virgins or staying celibate for a specific reason, will understand that a physical relationship which includes sex, must be a part of a growing relationship with a partner. When that occurs is highly personal, and I’m not going to put an actual time limit on it. However, asking a young man (with raging hormones) to wait over 1 1/2 years with no encouragement or indication that the physical side of the relationship will mature, is highly unusual. You had to know you were asking a lot of patience on his part!
I am aware that there are other issues not expressed in this question (*but from a different communication) that have made you wary, perhaps genuinely fearful, of having sex with a new partner. Bad experiences in life happen. They are regrettable and tragic. But hearts and minds can heal, and so must yours. You cannot spend the rest of your life avoiding sex with someone who loves you. And even if you do find someone who wants nothing more than a chaste relationship with you, both of you will be missing out on sex, which is a supreme joy of life. Why deny yourselves that?
It is time that you get the counseling you need to get past your issues about sex, or you may never be able to have a full, mature, loving relationship with someone new. To me, that’s a lot more of a loss than saying goodbye to an ex-love!
As to your ex boyfriend, he may still care for you, but he understands that you are unavailable for the full relationship he deserves and desires. He has moved on and has found someone that will give him both her heart and her body. If you try to get him back by saying you will sleep with him now, you compromise yourself. The chances are good that you will feel guilty, and if you break up you will feel even worse about the situation in the end because you did something you know didn’t feel right. And if he rejects you, that will hurt even more. Worse, you are now using sex as a “weapon” to “win” him when it’s really not coming from desire, but from desperation.
If you care for this man, I would advise you to dry your tears, and look towards the future after taking care of yourself while he moves forward with someone new. Don’t ruin his new relationship just as it is beginning to take root. And know that when the time is right, you too, will find someone to whom you are ready, able and willing to give yourself, heart, soul and body. Right now, you are not ready to have a full, loving, mature relationship. Deep down, you know it too.
Tony’s Take: The answer to this question is situation dependent. If you have a reason that a community will stay together then the members of that community need not commit to each other in order to have continuity. If the community is in danger of dispersing then the issue of absolutely commitment becomes much more paramount. To the point. a woman who is in college can have a very active an full social life including a number of men without sleeping with any of them if she does not get deeply involved with any of them because the community will keep them in her sphere and the community will provide diversions for energies which would normally go towards wooing her. Similarly, if she is in a company or an apartment building or living around a group of friends that are low stress relationships, she may again have companionship without commitment. The key here, however, is she cannot expect them to commit without some form of commitment on her part. You cannot proverbially have your apple and eat it too. Once you allow a commitment to form, it starts a clock on the relationship because all relationships in the beginning build or die. She cannot cool down a relationship that she has actively heated up. This is not to say that she has to jump into bed with someone at the first moment but she must allow intimacy to evolve, otherwise it is very unfair on the other person and there must always be the chance of a physically intimate relationship otherwise she is creating a deception.
If the woman is over age 30 and she enters into what would be described as a committed relationship for most men she has started a timer because although understanding most men will expect the emotional relationship to translate into a physical relationship within certainly the first six months and probably three months of the relationship. This is not to say anything bad about males, it is to say that since males are expected to make all of the approach moves he must declare failure and stop bothering her after some period of time. *editor’s note: in this case, the ex-boyfriend finally admitted defeat and moved on.