This week, Dr. Faith is dishing professional advice on finding a partner online who will respect your boundaries. Don’t want to meet in real life? Totally okay! Prefer to remain anonymous? That’s cool too, as long as you’re both on the same page. Read on for all the details.
Hi, I’m a 24-year-old man who grew up in a very conservative, very NOT sex positive atmosphere, and have a situation I could use some advice on.
The most I’ve ever done is kiss a woman, and that was several years ago. I’ve had pretty extensive health issues and haven’t had the chance to meet many people despite being a fairly confident and attractive guy. Over the years, I’ve looked at porn, but in many ways it just made me feel lonely. My taste is for the more romantic stuff.
For quite a while, I’ve been unable to meet women in person because of my health issues. Over the past few years, I’ve had several “encounters” online. Most involved voice chatting while one or both of us touched ourselves. Afterwards, I usually felt really embarrassed and would lose contact with the woman because the only time I wanted to talk was when my horniness was enough to overpower embarrassment. This lead to me being very standoffish unless I wanted something sexual. I know that’s wrong, but even knowing my tendencies, it’s hard to break it (though I’m trying).
So at some point, I started specifically seeking women online to help me become more comfortable with being sexual. Mostly, talking with me about sexual stuff in voice chat. I’ve run into a lot of problems with this, and could use some advice.
1) As a guy online looking for something sexual, I generally outline what I’m looking for (as above), but a lot of people will assume I’m lying or being manipulative in order to get something from women.
2) Sites set up specifically for finding sexual partners seem like mostly people who are experienced or have specific kinks that I’m not into.
3) Many people I talk to don’t respect my boundaries. I’m VERY uncomfortable seeking this stuff out and want anonymity, but many people I talk to want to do too much too fast, send too many pictures, and expected me to just ignore all my boundaries, which isn’t ok. I respect boundaries and they should too.
4) I’ve tried a few sexuality communities, but I find it hard to break into those communities when I’m not comfortable with group interaction.
5) Sometimes I find someone, but I’m just not attracted to them. I don’t have super high standards when it comes to looks, but there have been a few times where I would get off then feel kinda grossed out by it and generally feel bad about the whole situation.
6) The woman I talk with probably isn’t going to get much from the situation. The most I’m comfortable with is voice chat. I’m not really knowledgeable enough to role-play. Sometimes I want to go quickly, but most of the time I’m very nervous and kinda need to be eased into being sexual. I guess I need verbal foreplay.
So to sum it up, I do not know how to find someone online and that’s becoming a problem. In person isn’t an option right now. Do you have any advice?
I totally see why you are frustrated and upset. What you are looking for isn’t easy to find. Dating in general is not that damn easy, and you have other stuff going on that makes it even more limiting. I think your discomfort and unease has been made worse over time by accidentally jumping into situations that aren’t really right for you, and going past your boundaries to the point that you find yourself unhappy, uncomfortable, and disconnected.
I have so many questions I wish I could ask you in order to better answer your questions. It seems you feel stuck in a few, limited online options – but I suspect there may be more ways to find the slow connection you’re looking for. There’s women out there looking for the same exact thing as you, you just have to find them! And, I hope you find a therapist who specializes in sexual intimacy that can help you navigate these issues more fully. But I’m gonna try my best, OK?
1. Because so many people DO lie and manipulate online, you may get lumped in with them. The best thing you can do is say honestly “If my situation seems weird and untrue to you, I respect your fears and concerns. There are a lot of liars and manipulators out there, and you don’t have any way of knowing that I’m not one of them, other than what your own gut instincts and history tell you. If my situation makes you uncomfortable, I totally understand if you would rather move on.” Ultimately, you can’t prove this is the truth and that you’re not really a conservative politician with a wife and eight kids trying to get some online side action. The best you can do is honestly put your story out there.
2. There are a lot of spaces online for sexual role-play, mostly for wild varieties. There are less platforms for more vanilla relationship dynamics. Fortunately, some dating sites do have categories for online relationships only. I’d focus on those, rather than the fetish and kink rabbit holes on Tumblr.
3. I hope you are discussing boundaries right away. If you aren’t, it’s totally time to do so! Clearly state what is okay with you, and what’s not okay, up front. If the boundaries start to get pushed, you have to speak up immediately. Boundaries shouldn’t be completely rigid, but also not completely permeable. You want to find a balance and communicate that well. A lot of people are seeking care and attention online and people rush right in because they are trying to meet that need. If you are seeking authentic connection instead, express that. Reinforce that you want to make it more real, and that means slowing down. If that is not what your partners are looking for, then it’s okay for you or them to move on.
4. Getting comfortable with a group takes a while, and that makes sense. In online groups, people are being quite vulnerable with interests that are outside social norms and they want to feel safe while doing so, and maybe they don’t want to be found out in their day to day lives, so everyone is extra careful. Being allowed into communities will absolutely take time. If you find a group that fits your needs, whether or not you want to dedicate that time and effort is up to you.
5. It’s time to be more honest with yourself regarding who you are attracted to. It may seem like its not real because it is online…but it IS still real, and when you are virtually intimate with people you aren’t attracted to, your body is treating the situation like a violated boundary, the same as if it happened in a bedroom. When it come down to it, we like what we like. If someone doesn’t do it for you, it’s okay to tell them they are an amazing person but you don’t feel that sexual connection with them and they deserve to be with someone who does.
6. The speed of the encounter is also a boundary, and requires explaining to your partner exactly what you’re looking for, what you want and need, and what you’re able to give or not give in return. If you know you tend to end things after a few encounters, let them know so they don’t expect an ongoing relationship. If someone is wanting a quicker exchange, that’s entirely okay for them, but it’s not your cup of tea, and you need to express that so they aren’t surprised and frustrated later.
I wonder, what would it be like for you to start seeking other connections with people (online or off) that aren’t related to sexual intimacy, but based on shared interests? You may or may not meet potential partners that way, but you definitely won’t feel so alone, and it’s good practice on setting limits, conversing with people, and building relationships. It can slowly build different types of connection, and takes a ton of the pressure you are experiencing right now out of the dynamic. Solo sex is always a better option than shitty partnered sex. And its not an inferior sexual experience. Take care of yourself. It’s OK if that’s your main vehicle of sexual satisfaction while you build new relationships and define your boundaries in more proactive ways.
Another option? I don’t know your financial situation, but there are paid erotic chat services that may fill your current desires for connection with respected boundaries.
– Dr. Faith