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Dating, sex, basic human connection is hard. We’ve got just the snack to help. Ask An Alfawhore, the sex and love advice column from the tell-it-to-ya-straight, sex-positive, uber feminist older sister you always wanted is back. This week: dealing with the excitement and stress that new relationships bring.
Dear Auntie Alfa,
I’ve been seeing someone and, while it’s new, things seem to be going well. We’re vibing, having fun, and clearly very attracted to one another. And while I’m into it, I can’t help but catalogue all these things that may pop up as problems in the future. I mean for now it’s all clothes off good fun, but there’s this nagging part of me that keeps evaluating certain things I hear and thinking hmm, how will this show up later and should I be concerned? Things like… a lack of stable relationship history and so on. Am I stressing out before I need to stress out? Or are these the “red flags” that, post-breakup, everyone talks about having seen and ignored?
First let’s just take a minute to celebrate the fact that you’re sufficiently turned on. Kudos, to both you and this newfound sexual partner. Happy that the clothes off time is bringing you good fun. Way to be.
Now, to the less fun part of it all. I think that the older we get, the more the beginnings of relationships err on the introspective side. Back in our youth it was all shy laughter, clothes ripping off, should-I-send-them-this-YouTube-link-that-made-me-think-of-them type thoughts. Perhaps back then we were more focused on figuring out whether or not someone liked us… rather than whether or not we wanted to open ourselves up to someone. And I think it’s really quite good that you’re focused on the latter. It means that somewhere along the way you’ve taken stock of your own needs and desires, and that, my dear one, deserves more than just a kudos.
Not that age matters really. It’s all just a construct, isn’t it? Duh. But also, experience helps. And let me tell you as an auntie I’ve had YEARS (erm, decades) of experience in both the beginnings and endings of relationships. Chances are you know yourself now more than you have at any other point in your life, and that means you’re entering into each situation with a different head on your shoulders. Of course you’re thinking about certain things in a way that is causing you to reflect on what you want and what you don’t want. That’s natural, so stop freaking out on yourself about freaking out. Now, what I urge you to do is not let those reflections become points of anxiety that you dwell on. You say it’s the early stages, so I suggest you let it all play out a bit. As my therapist keeps telling me, you only know how things will work out/what they will become if you actually “take yourself to the experience.” So take your little turned-on self there and by there I just mean try to be present with it.
Try not to “catalogue” all of the things you aren’t frothing at the mouth over. After all, these are just mere humans you’re hanging out with and I assure you they aren’t perfect. Keeping a running list of the concerns seems like you’re setting yourself up for it to not work out. Sometimes experience leads us to believe that relationships are all the same, when they just aren’t. This person wasn’t your previous partner and you, most likely, aren’t the same person you were when you were with that former flame. So holding on to negativity in this way so early on isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Are you enjoying spending time with this individual? Are they making you laugh? Are they respecting you and your boundaries? Do you feel like each time you hang out you are becoming more and more comfortable with them? Are you excited about the thought of spending more time with them?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then ride Sally ride.
Of course, if there are these stand-out signs that this person is awful, or mistreats people, or if they happen to refer to past partners as “psychos,” there is cause for alarm. But if they just haven’t had a long-term relationship up until this point I don’t think they should be written off forever. People are on different life timelines and I’d hate to think of you missing out on someone great just because they’ve never fully committed to someone else before. That said, maybe you know you want a committed partnership and you’re not willing to undergo the possibility that this may not lead to that. If so, your best bet is to communicate where you’re at and what you’re looking for and gauge the response of said sexy partner.
Additionally, we all know that each relationship, however short term or long term, requires work. Reflecting on my personal dating history, it’s clear that there are some relationships that required more than others, namely those with folks who hadn’t experienced healthy partnerships before, who needed a bit of hand-holding in terms of communication, etc. etc. And let’s not sugar coat it- that shit is work. So again, be realistic about your expectations and your willingness to engage in some of the hand-holding that may or may not be required. And if your gut is telling you that you’re just not up for it, that is more than okay. For as we know, dear Skeptical, there are plenty of sexually fulfilling ways to get our fun, partners optional.
But if you might be willing, then keep on with your clothes off good times and see how it goes.