About a year ago, I went on a date with a guy I didn’t know very well, and he raped me.
I was really surprised by what happened. I mean, he did seem like a sketchy guy, but I didn’t anticipate that he might hurt me in such a serious way. We had had conversations. He had looked me in the eye. My status as a fellow human being should have been apparent to him. Why would someone do that?
It made me question the way I view strangers in general. I had spent most of my life trying to assume kindness and trying to love everyone, unless I was given a whole lot of reasons not to (i.e. the person threatens to kill me or something). Now, this doesn’t mean that I liked everyone. But I did have some form of love for people as a whole.
In the year since my rape, I’ve been in a mostly monogamous relationship, until a month ago.
When that relationship ended, I was excited to be free to be polyamorous again. I’ve gone on two dates so far, and I’m finding that dating feels very different than it used to.
I’m finding that I’m afraid of men until they are proven to be trustworthy. I have been doing “background checks” by asking mutual friends about how safe it is to be alone with them. I can now see why many people are afraid of online dating, because you can’t ask a mutual friend to vouch for the people you go on dates with.
I’m also finding myself having confusing feelings about casual sex. Questions are coming up for me, like, “Is it really worth it to have sex with this person?”
Worth what? What am I losing to connect with this person sexually?
I’m also finding myself asking, “What’s the point of sex without love?”
The space between casual sex and a relationship isn’t usually acknowledged in our culture. It’s usually thought of as either completely casual, or a relationship. But it’s completely possible to experience sex, feelings, caring about the person – even if only for one night.
How this used to feel for me:
Sexuality was a way to connect with new people on an intimate level. I got to see their bedroom, their body, the way they interact with their own body, the way they touch and look at my body, how they express being turned on (like the noises they make, the things they say, the things they ask for, how they express feelings of pleasure, etc.), etc. And I never wondered if sex made sense without love because there was always an element of love: my general love for them as a fellow human being, regardless of how much I liked them or could relate to them or connect with them emotionally, intellectually, etc.
I want to learn to open up my heart again and love people in general, while still trying to do my best to protect myself from assault (i.e. by trusting my instincts when someone seems sketchy). It’s confusing for me to know to what extent I should heed my safety concerns, and to what extent they are a not-useful reaction to trauma. For now, I’m going to try to be careful with my safety, while still pushing past my emotional comfort zone when I do feel physically safe.