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Consent in my relationship - crossed wires??(40 Posts)
Feeling ridiculously sick and nervous posting this. Asking for kindness and support.
Background: Before meeting my current partner I was in an abusive relationship (between the age of 15 and 21). My ex occasionally got physical, but most of the abuse was emotional/verbal. He was also sexually coercive - I frequently had sex with him to keep the peace, said yes because it was easier than saying no due to his sulking and stonewalling if I said no. He was also the type to badger me for sex, especially after we had a row to "prove" I/we were making up after the row.
As a result of this, I feel very disempowered when it comes to saying no to sex. My current partner and I have had some issues because of it. An example was that for years if I said no, he would say ok and maybe give me a quick kiss before rolling over to go to sleep. For years I never mentioned this but took it to mean rolling away was him withdrawing from me to punish me for saying no. Fairly recently (last year I think?) I finally mentioned it to him and he said that that wasn't the case at all, he was just innocently going to sleep and hadn't realised I felt that way. So now in the same situation we'll cuddle for a bit longer to reassure me.
There have also been numerous occasions where I've had sex with him despite not being in the mood because I've been to nervous to say no. On the few occasions I have said "no" or "stop" or "I'm just not feeling it anymore" he has stopped and it's been fine. But my default setting if I'm not into it seems to be to lie back and think of England, or to be over enthusiastic to get it over with asap.
(tmi warning) We had an incident a few days ago which is really troubling me. We were cuddling on the sofa and I started to playfully pinch/stroke DP's nipples (which I know is something that gets him going) and he got very turned on. He jokingly said "if you don't stop that, we're gonna end up having sex" and I continued (we were sort of wrestling/tickling/playfighting at this point). Then he started taking mine and his trousers and pants of and I said something to the effect of "really? Really?! I'm desperate for a wee though". Important to note that I didn't say no, but my incredulous tone of voice was (I thought) pretty clear hint I didn't want to. We started having sex and I really wasn't enjoying it, felt like I was gonna wet myself tbh, but I reverted to default setting and played along, playing with his nipples again to get it over with asap. Then suddenly he stops and says he loves me, and I say I really wasn't feeling it and was desperate for a wee. He stops/gets off me and I run off to the loo feeling upset. Come back down and he apologises. I went absolutely ballistic, calling him a rapist and saying it was obvious I wasn't into it. He says he took my continuing to play with him after he said "...We're gonna end up having sex" as consent. I argue my tone and "need a wee!" protests were obviously not consent.
So what happened here? Did he knowingly have sex with me without consent? Or did I not make myself clear enough?
My head has been all over the place since, swinging between desperately wanting cuddles/love/reassurance and not wanting him near me. I'm really struggling.
What happens next??
No, i don't think he did have sex with you without your consent. If you were playing along, he would reasonably have thought you wanted to. I think you could do with some counselling regarding your previous abusive relationship as it sounds like there are a number of issues relating to that. If you needed a wee during foreplay, the thing to do is get up and go to the toilet, saying "hang on a minute, I'll be right back". Why did you not do that?
Why are you nervous about saying no to him? It sounds like he is quite reasonable from the rest of your post. If you have a genuine fear of what will happen if you say no, then perhaps you shouldn't be with him.
I think what happens next is you sit down and have a decent chat with him about your sexual relationship and what your needs are. And you realise that this man is not your ex, and has not had a problem with you saying no, so say no if you want to.
Cross wired communication is the real issue here.
He has proven time and time again that he is listening and will stop if you say No.
I'm that case you instigated sex. He warned you but you carried on. At his place, I would have assumed you were totally up for it.
The wriggling can easily be assumed to be part if the play.
Even when you were having sex, you didn't lay wo moving, you did what one would have taken as sign of wanting to havevsex, ie playing with his nipples.
The signals you have been sending have been confusing tbh
The what next is really about you learning to say No and him carrying on checking for consent (which he did)
I think it must have been very upsetting fur him to be told he was a rapist tbh
Sorry but he didn't do anything wrong there imo. Your messages were all over the place.
I'm not sure on this one, was he not allowing you to go to the toilet? Was he forceful?
Either way you need to sit down with him and discuss this seriously, you need to say no when you want to OP and not go along with anything, I think playing with his nipples and going along with it has probably not helped the situation.
Do not play along, do not say yes when you mean no, do not do anything you do not want to do, if he loves and cares for you, it will not be a big deal at all. I think you need counselling to help you stop going back to your default. Sex is a very small part of a relationship but honesty is the key.
End the relationship and find someone with a lower sex drive.
I think you need to get some counselling around your past and attitude to sex.
On this occasion I think it must have been very upsetting for your partner. You deliberately instigated the sexual act, went along with it, asked him to stop, he stopped, then you called him a rapist. You owe him a massive apology and the promise that you will get help x
Thank you so much everyone for your honest but kind replies.
I think you are all right that I have been sending mixed messages. I feel stupid for over reacting and being horrible to him. I found the whole experience very triggering and completely lost the plot with him.
I agree I should definitely seek help to get over my past - does anyone know any good organisations for this? I have already done an online freedom program but didn't find it very useful tbh.
I wish I could get over my fear of speaking up. I will suggest in the meantime he explicitly seeks consent. And of course I will apologise to him for calling him a rapist and shouting at him. I know I sound so selfish, but I hadn't considered how that must have felt to him; was too wrapped up in my own head
I expect that organisations such as Relate might be able to provide psychosexual therapy. You could also ask your GP. You need to find something that is in person, not online.
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I have had a similar relationship to the one you describe in your op. I completely understand how it makes you feel . With my lovely dp he will stop when I ask him to and always takes no for an answer but sometimes like you I am afraid of saying no or stop. Almost in case he doesn't. Lots of talking about it has helped a little. He always makes sure I'm ok before we start and he is really good at knowing when I'm not really into it and will stop. It is hard though.
You must be under enormous pressure as you frequently have sex when you don't want to, because you're too afraid to say no. That may not be his fault, but the fault of your previous abusive partner. The fact is, lots of sex that you didn't want is going to build and build resentment, and that's going to blow: like this incident.
I'm actually wondering, when you played with his nipples this time - did you even want sex? It sounds like you might not even have wanted it then, but wanted to "do the right thing"?
I would apologise to him and tell him this is a wake up call and actually you have a lot of hang ups around sex that he doesn't know the depth of, and this is going to be your impetus to change that.
If he's worth hanging onto, he'll respect that and give you space and time.
Good luck - your past sounds horrid, and even though on what you've said the issue here is communication, it doesn't mean you haven't had some awful feelings
Peppa, thank you for that post. It does help to know I'm not the only one. You've hit the nail on the head, I'm afraid to say no incase he doesn't stop or incase he hits me or lays into me verbally. Even though he never has!
God, I'm such a dick, overreacting in this way... I've lost sleep, not eaten and been tearful for days. And he didn't do anything wrong! Just having outsiders confirm that, rather than me worrying I'm minimising, has really brought me some clarity.
Off to compose an apologetic, heartfelt email to DP (he's at work). Poor bloke.
He didn't do anything wrong and he's probably shocked by your reaction.
I think you should seek counselling for your past asap as your last relationship is starting to dominate this one.
Apologise to him. Explain were your reaction came from and have a look into counselling. It will be okay. It's hard to reset your thinking to that of a person in a "normal" relationship who doesn't have to be scared anymore. We will both get there.
Cabrinha - In answer to your question, I started to tease him just because it's sometimes we'll both do; turn the other one on when we're just chilling. For example I can be doing the dishes and he'll come over and kiss the back of my neck then walk off, or I'll squeeze his bum or nipples and waltz off into the shower. It's a normal, playful thing we do.
I was confused reading your op and I'm not sure if you knew or not if you wanted sex although your behaviour made it look like you did.
I think he should have stopped and checked in with you when you said you needed a wee. But it seems like he is usually responsive to you. I wouldn't prostrate yourself with apologies, but you do need to clear things up and do some work together.
But here you continued doing it when he said you were making him want to have sex with you.
I'm quite alert to things that some men (and women) will claim are actions of women who "wanted it really" when it comes to forcing sex on them, and they very rarely fly with me.
But this is different to pinching someone's bum then wandering off to the shower, this sounds like a sustained period of foreplay, effectively. You did something to turn him on, and then kept doing it knowing he was getting very turned on. He then actually said he'd want to have sex if you kept doing it, and you did, that is as close to you saying "I want to have sex" without actually saying the words aloud. You continuing to engage in a sexual act with him when he's told you it would lead to sex-there is no way someone would take that as anything other than you want sex (with your partner) too.
Think of it this way, if I'm doing sexual stuff to DP and he says to me "that's going to make me come" and I continue doing it, then clearly I want him to come. Even if I said "really?". I can't then acted surprised/annoyed if a few minutes later he comes! If I didn't want him to come (eg because I wanted to have sex or for him to do something to me first) then that's my cue to stop doing what I'm doing.
Don't know if that helps explain it. Sorry if TMI.
Only read your original post so far, but he did nothing wrong my lovely.
I think you should look into counselling - I think your previous relationship is messing with your head very much so
You should have some counselling op. Your DP seems, like a good egg & he did nothing wrong IMO
He is NOT your ex. From your post he respects you and loves you. He's everything your ex wasn't. Communication is key in every aspect of a relationship. In my opinion when he said we will have sex if you carry on , you carried it on because you wouldn't sex in his eyes. To call him a rapist was harsh. You need to apologise and be more open with him. Maybe a new word when you're not into instead of " stop or no "
Maybe counselling could help aswell
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