Sunday, September 5, 2010
Let's Talk About Sex: When Bad Past Experiences Become Present Thought
This post addresses an issue that I think some of you have faced and which I feel needs to be talked about. Sandy has allowed me to write about it from my perspective, it’s intensely personal and for some will be TMI. But my wife and I don’t mind shedding light on our more private moments if we believe it could help someone else. After all it's become the main focus of my blog.
Along with the many physiological changes the body experiences during sex, the brain undergoes changes as well. A symphony of chemicals such as vasopressin, dopamine and oxytocin are released, which give feelings of pleasure and bonding. But sometimes in the process the mind can quickly regress to unpleasant past experiences. This happened a few nights ago.
When we got home from work Sandy and I had decided to have a little fun before dinner; a romp in the sheets (or wherever) is a great way to work up an appetite. This was nothing new as we never quite know when the mood will strike us and usually give into it when we're able. We enjoy aggressive sex and were both lost in the moment, caught up in the physicality of it all. Or so I thought.
A few hours later when we were going to sleep Sandy finally broke down crying. She told me that during the time this was happening she felt uncomfortable and not ready, although she wasn't sure why. She realized afterwards that she was experiencing memories of a night when she was almost date-raped. She said it wasn't anything I had done that triggered it, just where her mind went. We cuddled as we talked about it and resumed a more gentle, intimate session of lovemaking.
These things can occur with no forewarning. It was the first time we faced this situation in eighteen years of being together. I had no indication she was feeling this way; there were no verbal or facial cues, no physiological indicators, nothing to tip me off to what was going through her mind. If it can happen to a couple who are this familiar with each other, it can most certainly happen to a couple who have been together a short time.
I'm writing this because many of you have faced abuse in some form, some of you have been raped. Traumatic events like this can be dealt with head-on or repressed, but the after-effects will (I believe) never completely go away and can be triggered quite unexpectedly. If you find yourself in a situation where you're uncomfortable or even downright fearful it's extremely important to tell your partner at the time, regardless of whether or not he's doing anything intentionally to make you feel this way. As a man, I can tell you that no guy wants to stop in the middle of sex. But if your partner cares for you at all he'll understand. If he doesn't, talk it through. If he still doesn't understand or blows it off, you really need to re-evaluate your relationship.
To the guys, no matter how worked-up a man gets he needs to keep his partner's comfort and safety in mind. You owe it to her, and it's something she has every right to demand.
I encourage all of you to please keep the dialogue open at all times, communication should never stop when your head hits the pillow. Never feel afraid to speak up.