Question: I have a problem when it comes to being attracted to people. The best way I can explain it is I basically have no “friend zone.” If I have a lot in common with someone, I find myself wanting to be intimate with them. I try to be discerning about the people I actually try to initiate anything with. If I feel as if they have no interest in me, I don’t bother; but this still results in a lot of rejections, which confuse me.
It’s not that I think I’m awesome, but my barriers to desiring intimacy with another person seem to be much lower than they are for most people. My question isn’t, “How do I get more people to sleep with me?” Rather, “Why do I insist on making myself vulnerable to everyone I have anything in common with?” Is this indeed a healthy approach to sex? And, if so, how do I stop feeling this way?
Dr. ZZ: While it seems as if you have a handle on your preferences and forms of sexual free-will, it appears as if you have difficulty figuring out how to deal with others’ free-will and with how your decision-making processes diverge from those of others. Obviously, many people have a different set of standards for sexual encounters than you do. Though these are neither better nor worse, chances are few of them have to do with your being particularly desirable or undesirable.
Some people, for example, are in the search of a long-term monogamous relationship. Others simply don’t engage in casual sex for reasons of preference or concerns about safety. Some may not be interested in your gender or don’t “hop into bed” with strangers. Still others may know that they’re too drunk to get aroused or to consent to sex at the moment you happen to hit on them. The possibilities are endless.
To find it less confusing why other people may not want to have sex with you requires empathy. Although there may be better indicators than you’re using for discerning who’s actually a good prospect for casual sex, I would ask you to examine a couple of points you made in terms of your own boundaries and attitudes toward sex.
Your use of the word “vulnerable,” for example, is curious. Is it the act of putting yourself out there and asking for sex that prompts you to feel vulnerable, or is it the fact that the sex itself is not always as easy, effortless, and emotionally carefree as you expect? Chances are there’s something in the way you tell yourself your sex life “should” be that doesn’t conform to your actual lived experiences. Perhaps a little bit isn’t really enough to be satisfying.
Secondly, you may want to examine the way you tend to fall in lust with anyone you like. Perhaps there’s a way of creating a friend zone by turning down the volume on your sexual interest in people for a second, and listening to other, subtler clues – the degrees or different types of desire at play. Chances are some people are more physically attractive, and other people’s minds are sexier than their looks.
Likewise, some of the people you like would surely make better jogging buddies, dance partners or artistic collaborators than sex partners, yeah? To get unconfused about rejection and to attempt to create a sliver of a friend zone, you may want to work on differentiating the people around you in terms of characteristics other than sex, and consider the ways in which you may be more vulnerable than you think.
Question: I went on a date with a guy a little over a week ago, and while he seemed nice enough at first, further evaluation has led me to believe that, although he’s a nice guy, I don’t have any desire to strike up any kind of friendship or romance with him. The problem is that prior to this assessment, I agreed to maybe having dinner again. He has since texted me twice, stating that he really wants to see me again, and soon. I don’t want to “let him down easy” or be completely brutal, but I am having a hard time finding the words to say,
“Sorry, I was wrong. Let’s not be friends.” I guess one upside is that I’ll be leaving Bali in about six weeks, so I never intentioned for this to be a long term anything. The downside is that he mentioned the possibility of meeting me in Europe once I return from Bali; so my mind has already raced ahead to worst case stalking scenario. I know that once I let him down, I have no control over how he takes it. At the same time, I don’t want to be cruel or ambiguous about my intent to never see him again.
Dr. ZZ: He’s probably harmless, but it’s also important to trust the feeling in your gut that made you think of the word “stalking.” The optimum approach is to keep your reply short without explanations. Excuses like “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” just motivate a stalker to kick into high gear. A simple “I got your emails. I enjoyed meeting you, but I’m afraid I must decline a second date. Sorry! Please take care” ought to be sufficient.
A cool guy will just say something like “Sorry to hear that! No harm done.” An uncool dude will demand explanations so that he can shoot them down or reply with angry rebuttals. If you get “Can I ask why?” in response, you’re better off not answering. Ditto for “But you said…” You don’t owe anyone a second date.
Dr. ZZ has a Ph.D. in Counseling and a doctorate in Natural Healing. Drawing on a background of over thirty years as a professional therapist, she offers self-help in the areas health, relationship and personal growth. All queries are answered by email and, if they appear in print, are subject to editing. Please email your questions : <firstname.lastname@example.org> All identifying information is kept strictly confidential.
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